This is going to be kind of a long one, so I’ll keep the intro short. This post is a write-up for a massive spread (24 cards) that I did for season 8 of the Walking Dead. I broke it down into each of the communities involved, and then the main characters for whom I wanted more insight. Check back as the season airs, because I’ll be going over how the cards play out as events unfold. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Rick: 3 of Pentacles
Teamwork, collaboration. Alexandria couldn’t take down the Saviors alone. Neither could the Hilltop, or the Kingdom. The Saviors represent a common enemy to all three communities, forming common ground on which to build a strong union, a mutually beneficial alliance. We’re going to see Rick and the others working together not only to fight the Saviors, but to build a new and better world afterward.
Michonne: 7 of Pentacles Rx
Constant toil, dissatisfaction, anticipated results. As much as Michonne wants to help Rick build a better world, there’s still a lot of work to do beforehand. Rallying and training troops, planning and executing several attacks (the Sanctuary must fall, but there are also outposts to take out, and we don’t even know how many of those there are). Michonne is willing to put the time and effort in, but seeing the fruits of her labors will take longer than a few episodes.
Daryl: the Star
Balance of hope and effort. The first thing that popped into my head when I pulled this card was one of the Kingdom’s mottos: “Drink from the well, replenish the well.” I also thought of the moment at the Prison, when Daryl awkwardly accepted the thanks of a boy for providing the community with food and protection. Daryl has it in him to be a pillar of whatever community he’s a part of. I see Daryl becoming more involved with the Kingdom, getting back to a place of people respecting and admiring him for the work he does and the hope he inspires.
Carl: 5 of Swords Rx
Combatants, antagonists, spoils of war. There was nothing pleasant about taking the guns from Oceanside. It was necessary, but it would have been much preferable to have had them agree to help fight the Saviors. The fact that many of those weapons are now in the hands of the Scavengers makes the theft all the more unsavory. I’m seeing this card as retrieving the guns and supplies from the Scavengers, and maybe attempting to make amends to Oceanside.
Endings, change, evolution. Last season, Rosita really opened up to Sasha. She talked about how she’d gained her skills and knowledge (which she hadn’t told anyone before); she regretted wasting time being angry with Abraham. Rosita is learning that her emotional walls don’t protect her from getting hurt, they just keep her from really knowing and being known by others. Seeing Sasha give her own life in order to give Alexandria a fighting chance was a wake-up call. Rosita is realizing that this is a world where anyone may die at any time, which means that you need to connect with others here and now.
Tara: 10 of Swords Rx
Recovery, liberation. Tara was ready to kill Dwight when he showed up in Alexandria with Rosita. He killed Denise, he tortured Daryl, he’s been Negan’s righthand man for as long as she’s known him. What sticks in my mind is that Rosita brought him to Alexandria rather than killing him outright because she wanted Daryl’s take: she didn’t trust Dwight, but she trusts Daryl. And Daryl is willing to give him a chance. I see this card as Tara letting go of some of her anger and hate; trusting in Daryl’s hope (the Star), and possibly even forgiving Dwight.
Gabriel: 9 of Wands Rx
Unprotected, alienated, vulnerable. Gabriel hasn’t really been on his own since Rick and the others found him at the church. He’s been through a lot, learned and grown, and is stronger now than he ever could have imagined he could be. Even when he was kidnapped by the Scavengers, he had faith that Rick would find him. This card looks like Gabriel will be put to the test again, separated from the others, with only himself to rely on.
Aaron: 8 of Swords Rx
Great difficulties, hard work, improvisation. Aaron wanted so much to see a diplomatic solution to the situation with the Saviors, to give them what they wanted, and avoid more bloodshed. When he and Rick handed over the supplies from the boat, they were informed that those supplies weren’t enough, and he was promptly beaten. Every interaction with the Saviors has shown that there is no reasoning with them: you can’t reason with crazy people. This card is showing that Aaron is really and truly ready to accept that fighting is the only option, the only way to survive.
Jesus: 2 of Wands
New possibilities, opportunity, collaboration. Jesus has been a runner for the Hilltop since he arrived there, always on the move, never allowing himself to get close to anyone. Until now. As he said, helping make Maggie and Sasha a part of things, made him a part of things. This card is indicating this newfound sense of belonging, of working with and for others, of community.
Maggie: 3 of Wands Rx
Reward for labors, hesitancy to act. Though these meanings seem at odds, I think they fit Maggie rather well. She has been working towards a future non-stop, bringing the people of the Hilltop together in a way that Gregory never could; truly leading. The scene that comes to mind for me with this card, is when Maggie brings Daryl a plate of food, and then pauses for a moment to wipe away tears before reentering her trailer. She hasn’t really had time to grieve for Glenn. I think we’re going to see a little of the grieving process come through, even as she continues to work on building a future for the people of the Hilltop, and the other communities.
Enid: the World Rx
Fixity, unfinished work. When we met Enid, she was by far the toughest, most capable person living in Alexandria. She was also keenly aware that the people around her couldn’t protect her or themselves. She ran away. A lot. She didn’t want to get close to others because she feared losing them, feared the grief that would follow. The bond she formed with Glenn, and the bond she formed with Maggie through their mutual loss of Glenn, has given her a new perspective: what’s the point of living, if you live alone? We’re going to see Enid taking her relationships, her sense of being a part of the community, further; we’re going to see her fight for these relationships that she once shied away from.
King Ezekiel: Page of Pentacles
Reflection, work, realistic outlook. King Ezekiel never set out to be the ruler of the Kingdom. He was just some guy who showed up with a tiger in tow. He’s had to learn as he goes. He thought he was doing what was best when he decided to keep his people in the dark about the deal with the Saviors. As he told Morgan, secrets are a “burden of leadership” rather than a privilege. Now that the fight has begun, the messenger aspect of this Page is going to come into play: his people will have to be informed of the deal if they’re going to fight alongside Alexandria and the Hilltop. This card shows that King Ezekiel’s leadership, though his people will probably be less than thrilled at having been kept in the dark, will remain strong but adaptive. His ability to provide food and shelter, to create a home and not just a place to live, will ensure that his people will follow him into battle.
Jerry: 9 of Swords
Sorrows, doubt, grief. I love this cobbler-eating, axe-wielding puppy dog of a man! His enthusiasm, friendliness, and loyalty are rare, and should be highly prized in these dark days. This card, however, points to an emotional crisis for Jerry. He’s seen what the Saviors are capable of, how little they value the lives of the people who produce well for them, let alone their enemies. We’re going to see Jerry face some dark times, some fear, and some loss. This card gives me the feeling that this season is going to be hard on Jerry.
Morgan: 3 of Swords Rx
Recovery, healing old wounds. Morgan’s moral and ethical journey has been one of my favorite things about the Walking Dead. To deal with the loss and grief he’s endured, he’s adopted a very black-and-white view: “All life is precious”; “To injure one’s opponent is to injure oneself.” But when Morgan killed Richard, he entered a grey area: perhaps one must sometimes injure oneself to injure one’s opponent. By twisting his ethical code, he regained the trust of the Saviors, and bought the Kingdom time. I think we’re going to see Morgan letting go of some of the rules he’s set in place for himself; sacrifices have to be made to protect those you love. All life is precious, but not all survival is living.
Carol: Knight of Swords
Skill, valor, critical thinking. Carol, like Morgan, has suffered great losses, and gone through a lot of moral back-and-forth. To be with others is to open oneself to the possibility of loss. Though the figure in this card looks action-oriented, the card’s energy is about mental action: planning, organizing, strategizing. I see this playing out as Carol taking stock of the situation, getting all the facts she can, and trying to find ways to accomplish goals with as little bloodshed as possible. We’re going to see action, but more along the lines of the attack on Terminus, rather than the handling of the outbreak at the Prison.
Negan: 6 of Swords Rx
Disclosure, resisting new perspectives. This is a man who will not see the world any way but his way. There’s no room for dialogue, for outside perspectives that might clash with his view of the way things should be. Such a narrow approach to leadership opens up the possibility of mutiny; rigidity leaves no room for growth. There have been rumors that this season will give us some insight into Negan’s backstory, and this card indicates that as well.
Simon: Temperance Rx
Competition, disunion, unease. The reversal of this card indicates a lack of balance, of give-and-take. Simon is Negan’s righthand man. But so is Dwight. I’m seeing this card as an imbalance of influence: Simon whispers in one ear and Dwight whispers in the other. As we know, Dwight says he’s switched sides and wants to see Negan taken down. So far, it seems that neither Negan nor Simon have any idea. I think we’re going to see Simon lose some of his influence over Negan.
Dwight: 10 of Pentacles
Inheritances, home, legacy. The interesting thing about this card to me, is that it can be viewed as being part of the community shown, or as being outside the community and looking in (depending on how you view the old man in the image). I see both aspects playing out for Dwight this season. Like Rosita, I don’t trust Dwight, but I trust Daryl; and Daryl is willing to give Dwight the opportunity to redeem himself. So Dwight is both part of the Sanctuary, and not part of the Sanctuary; part of the opposition and not part of the opposition. This card gives me the feeling that he really does want to see Negan taken down: he wants to do right by Sherry, to do something she would be proud of.
Eugene: High Priestess Rx
Secrets revealed, misjudgment, intrigue. There’s a sense of isolation to the High Priestess; the focus of the self (self-interest) is increased in the reversal. Eugene is a selfish coward. Before the events of the first episode of last season (which I call “the Lucille Ball” because I’m a horrible person), Eugene truly thought he could muster the courage to be a survivor and a good man. Fear of the unknown (how far the Saviors are willing go, the odds of beating them) keeps Eugene stuck. As the battle is waged, some of these unknowns will be revealed. As Eugene’s eyes open to the brevity of his choice, I think that Sasha’s faith in his ability to do the right thing will weigh particularly heavy on him.
Ego, manipulation, communication. From the first moment we met Gregory, his need for status was obvious: he wants the authority and prestige of leadership, but he doesn’t want the responsibility. He can’t even remember the names of the people he claims to lead. The people of the Hilltop have finally seen what real leadership looks like, thanks to Maggie. It’s not Maggie’s strength that bothers Gregory, it’s his own weakness, and the blaring appearance of that weakness in the contrast. When we last saw Gregory, he was heading to the Sanctuary to tattle on Maggie and Jesus. He clearly hopes that the Saviors will overthrow Maggie and put him back in charge. Let’s just keep in mind that Spencer tried the same thing with Rick.
Oceanside & the Dump
Oceanside: Ace of Pentacles
Material comforts, fruits of one’s labors, tangible resources. This card shows a garden surrounded by rich vegetation. There is an abundance of resources (people, weapons, food), but an isolation as well. The women of Oceanside have found a safe place to live, but their lifestyle is unsustainable: if you kill anyone who crosses your path, your community can never grow. The garden in this image also has a gate, a way into the wider world. They have gotten a glimpse of what is happening outside their community, and it’s lead to some of them wanting to join the fight. I think we’re going to see Oceanside reaps the rewards of the fight, but whether or not they take part in the battle isn’t clear yet.
The Dump: King of Swords
Logic, facts, military affairs, discipline. There’s a shrewdness to this card, a sense of analytical thought, and judgement based on facts gathered and weighed. The Scavengers made a deal with Rick because he promised them something they wanted, and they saw that he was capable of following through on his promises. Even when they decided that they wanted more weapons than the vague “lots” they’d agreed to, Rick went out and got more guns to keep his end of the bargain. They made a deal with Negan because they saw that he had more people, which logically increased his chances of beating Rick. Now that the first battle is over, there’s a need to reassess the situation: Negan has he numbers, but Rick has the passion to win; Rick has fulfilled his end of the bargain, Negan went back on his word and lowered the promised payment. For a community that “takes and doesn’t bother,” this whole affair seems like an awful lot of bother.
(I included two characters who are, as of the season 7 finale, missing. As we haven’t seen them die, I included them in the spread because, well, I watch the show and I know better than to assume someone is dead just because we haven’t seen them in a while.)
Heath: 6 of Wands Rx
Disloyalty, deferred hope, waylaid news. Heath’s crisis of faith was revealed during the conversation he had with Tara in the RV: he was tired of constant toil for little reward, and he was beginning to see sense in the idea of guaranteed survival at any cost. He couldn’t stomach what had been done at the Saviors’ outpost. He wasn’t sure the ends justified the means. He wasn’t sure it was worth it. He was disheartened, disillusioned, and generally afraid. As far as he knew, Tara didn’t survive the fall off the bridge. Having not returned to Alexandria, he couldn’t know what happened to Glenn and Abraham, to Daryl and Carl. I have the distinct feeling we’re going to see Heath at the Sanctuary, working for points.
Sherry: 4 of Cups
Dissatisfaction, pains of love, weariness. Sherry made serious sacrifices to save Dwight’s life. Surviving seemed worth the moral compromises. But after a time, she started to second guess her decision; the disgust and aversion to what she had agreed to became overwhelming. And seeing what Dwight did to Daryl, the thought that Dwight had truly become one of the Saviors made the sacrifice seem empty: why save his life if he has to lose his soul to stay alive? This is another case of someone not having all the facts, not knowing the true motivation or thought-process of another. The image in this card makes me think of Dwight showing up at their home, beer and pretzels in hand, to find Sherry’s Dear John letter. She was so focused on the horrible things she saw Dwight do, she couldn’t fathom what good he might still do.