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It was a game of two halves in Episode 7 of The Walking Dead's seventh season; it was a return to form as we finally saw Negan's stronghold, while the Alexandria group went scavenging beyond their gate, with more than one storyline woven together. Michonne went on a one-woman mission to infiltrate The Sanctuary, Negan aimed for world's Greatest Dad 2016 with Carl, and Rick and Aaron stumbled along a "sign" of trouble.
The pair came across the land of Leslie William Starton, then not heeding his words, continued into dangerous territory. There was a threatening, but informative, note of what lay ahead. So let's look a little closer.
Signing Your Death Warrant
"My name is Leslie William Starton and I am armed with a Ruger 10/22 (crack shot can hit targets 70 yrds). ARS is 7 (shit you not!): AK-47, Grenades (TRY ME) and several handguns & rifles of antiquity (collector/enthusiast). You are not smart to have not listened to the first sign, you will not survive and my conscience will be clear because you have been warned. I will not hesitate to protect my home, my food supplies, my ammo. Congratulations ! The only way that you have possibly read this far without being shot means that I am dead - have at it assholes"
What charming penmanship!
It also sounds that Starton's bountiful supply could help with (at least part) of their Negan provisions situation. Firstly, a Ruger 10/22 looks like it would be a lovely addition to Negan's stash of weaponry. Afterwards we see Aaron and Rick STILL ignore Mr. Starton's warning — to be fair, it sounds like he has some pretty cool stuff. They come across what appears to be a houseboat, but still no Leslie, so, who is the man behind the boat?
Season 7 is definitely taking a more nautical route and at times has been criticized for being more like Fear The Walking Dead. Don't worry, we aren't there yet, but the prospect of TWD taking the end of the world to the water could be an interesting one. We see Starton's houseboat is surrounded with its own security system of floating undead corpses. Episode 6 referred to the undead as "bobbers" and it hard not to see why. Having your own bobbing minefield of gnashing jaws prevents unwanted visitors swimming up to your front door.
One of the most interesting parts of the apocalypse, and one we are yet to see, is the idea that someone in the human race was prepared for this; whether he got his sh*t together pretty quickly, or he was already stocked up, Starton seems ready for whatever doomsday has to throw at him. Network TV is spilling over with shows on how to build your own nuclear bunker/fight off the undead, thanks in no small part to the popularity of AMC's show. The CDC itself actually has its own Zombie Class 101 on how to survive should the world go tits up, so why does no one seem ready for any of this among the baseball bat swinging and eye patch wearing?
Starton could be the answer to this; we already saw his rather threatening note that promises a bounty of food and ammunition, and he doesn't mention that there is anyone else with him. I am imagining a hardened Navy Seal who has filled his houseboat with enough weapons and provisions to last a long time and decided to go it alone. For a long time the biggest threat has been the humans still left around, not the rotting corpses of the walking dead.
Preparation is key.
Not since Dr. Jenner have we seen anyone truly prepared for the apocalypse, and even he was thrown into it by his job at the CDC. Baking cookies in Alexandria may seem like the perfect way to watch the world fall apart, but no one really seemed prepared before the impending swarm of zombies, let alone now.
With Starton not shooting up Rick and Aaron, it is all too easy to assume he too has kicked the bucket, but what if they meet him in Episode 8? This being The Walking Dead, he is almost certainly dead, but it would be cool if we met the badass of the apocalypse. He could have laid a trap for the dynamic duo, you don't know what all this time floating around a lake can do to a lonely man.
Even if the Starton story does lead to a dead end, how long until a doomsday prepper does come along? Shows like LOST and The Last Man on Earth always have some uber-prepared nut in a contamination suit knocking around in some sort of bunker, so where is TWD's version? We demand some apocalypse nuts, and we demand them now!