The Walking Dead: Five to watch and one to watch out for

The Walking Dead - Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)Photo by Gene Page/AMC
The Walking Dead - Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

Power presents itself in many forms on The Walking Dead. Each week we’ll look at five key influencers possessing game-changing potential, and at least one person to watch out for.

The Walking Dead returns in just a few days and with it, the continuation of “All Out War”.  Sudden power shifts can come about at any time, and given the setbacks already suffered by both sides, it will likely take a big move from a key player to gain a winning advantage.

Here are five players, well-positioned to shake up the balance of power heading into the mid-season:

5. Eugene Porter

Eugene - The Walking Dead - Skybound and AMC
Eugene – The Walking Dead – Skybound and AMC /

Until recently, Eugene did not fit the profile of an influential “big picture” player. That all changed though when he seemingly switched sides and started working for the Saviors. From manufacturing bullets to innovating escape strategies, Eugene has earned Negan’s trust and a seat at his table of lieutenants.

Eugene’s new role as a high-level adviser to the Saviors could spell trouble for Rick’s uprising. However, there is still a faint glimmer of hope that Eugene is playing a long game of deception, waiting for the right moment to turn on his new allies.

4. Daryl Dixon

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) - The Walking Dead Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – The Walking DeadPhoto by Gene Page/AMC /

Daryl has not been the same since he was captured by the Saviors. An impulsive act led to his imprisonment, but more significantly, caused Glenn’s death. Carrying the weight of that responsibility while enduring daily torture at the Saviors’ compound transformed Daryl’s view of the world. He once held the belief that there were still good people out there that could be integrated into a functional new world reality.

Fast forward to season 8 and Daryl’s faith in those outside of his circle has evaporated. Equating trust with vulnerability, he has forged his own vengeful path forward and has abandoned his blind loyalty to Rick. Daryl’s inability to contain his anger has already  proven to be a liability to the group and his next move could cost them even more.

3. Rick Grimes

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln)Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

Forever defying the odds, Rick has risen above his past cycles of grief to unite the colonies of Hilltop, The Kingdom and Alexandria to create a formidable fighting force. Though on the defensive, Rick still remains in a powerful leadership position. The revelation that Carl’s days are numbered however, opens the possibility that he could suffer another setback of “Lori” proportions. How he handles this loss will determine whether he is able to lead the alliance to victory, or whether he will crumble and leave a void for Negan and his Saviors to exploit.

2. Negan

Negan - The Walking Dead - Skybound and AMC
Negan – The Walking Dead – Skybound and AMC /

Down but not out, the always jovial leader of the Saviors seems unfazed after being driven from his stronghold by his pet nemesis, Rick Grimes. Negan is unambiguous when it comes to justice, order and, believe it or not, preserving as many lives as he can.

Say what you will about his methods, Negan’s leadership has never faltered, nor has the devotion of his followers. Rick may have inspired some momentum, but Negan’s counterattack and Carl’s tragic news might give the Saviors enough of an opening to regain lost ground.

1. Carl Grimes

Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes) - The Walking Dead Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes) – The Walking DeadPhoto by Gene Page/AMC /

Don’t count Carl out yet. No one has more power than he does going in to the second half of season 8.  Carl’s final wishes could spell the end of Rick’s obsession with killing Negan and a  change in tone could end the war peacefully.

If the writers are looking to end the conflict story line neatly, Carl’s last words could easily serve as the catalyst.

Who to watch out for:  Simon

Simon (Steven Ogg) Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Simon (Steven Ogg)Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

Negan’s right hand, Simon has afforded himself plenty of latitude when it comes to his “Negan-by-proxy” presence. His charisma may not be in the same league as Negan, but his methods of persuasion are just as brutal. Unfortunately, in order for the latter to be successful, the former is critical. When the alliance launched their assault on the Saviors’ compound, Negan went missing. Simon immediately stepped in to take charge of an unruly group of worker bees and the results were disastrous. The incident almost escalated to a full-blown mutiny until that familiar whistle rang out and Negan emerged from the chaos. With Simon’s eagerness to fill Negan’s shoes falling flat, will he employ extreme measures to redeem himself?

More from Undead Walking

Who will have the power to change the world next week?

Find out when The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 25th at 9PM (EDT).