“I haven’t killed anyone that didn’t need it”
- The episode finally took the time to flesh out of Negan and his psychotically misled good intentions. We saw a bit of this last season in his interactions with Carl but this episode really put to light how Negan views himself, as a Savior (you see, his gang isn’t just using it as a catchy name!). He sees himself as the only one that can keep people from dying, and if he has to kill 1 or 2 to save 100, then that’s a fair trade. We even got a quick look at his life before the apocalypse, something the comics devoted an entire mini-series to. In order to convince Gabriel to help him get back to the Sanctuary Negan tells him what he thinks is his biggest sin. In a super rare moment of emotional vulnerability Negan relays how much he loved his wife, Lucille, for whom he named his bat, and how he cheated on her even though she was terminally ill and when she eventually died and turned he couldn’t finish her off. You almost expect him to break into laughter at some point, it’s only at the end that you realize the truth in his pain. What makes Negan so damn interesting is that he is so evil, but so clearly thinks that what he’s doing is the way to save lives. If nothing else this episode made abundantly clear that Rick and Negan share more similarities then the Atlanta Sherriff would like to admit. The main difference between the two is that Negan makes no effort to hide the fact that he ejoys the things he has to do while Rick seems to lament them…in the end the result is the same. I mean look at the recent assaults on the savior outposts, indiscriminate killing, no attempt to pursue a peaceful resolution. I mean even in war there are supposed to be prisoners…only Jesus gave pause to ending lives. If it wasn’t clear enough through Negan’s revelations, all you have to do is look at Rick’s first scene with Daryl wherein they “interrogate” a injured and now helpless savior.
- The setup around the Gabriel/Negan scenes was pulled off beautifully. The trailer itself slowly becomes more degraded throughout with more and more walker arms reaching in. You can feel the claustrophobia and imminent doom approaching. Though that wasn’t my favorite part. Gabriel opens the conversation by asking Negan if he’d like to take confession, which he unsurprisingly balks at. The director manages to force Negan into confession by having Gabriel escape to a closet at one point, so when Negan finally confesses to Gabriel he’s doing so through a door….exactly like one would do in a Catholic confessional.
- Dwight begins to show some real leadership ability. The character always had a bit of depth but this new layer makes you think that maybe there’s more lying in wait for the scarred one then just the lot of a turncoat spy.
- Gregory. Just Gregory. I suppose it’s a testament to the Xander Berkely’s performance but I really, really can’t stand that guy. Every moment on screen is just cringe-inducing. Speaking of…
- Eugene. Whatever charm that Harvard hillbilly speak ever had has long worn off. They need to scale it back and have him either do something worthwhile or die. Wow, that sounds way harsh when I read it back but…you know what, still accurate.
- Daryl going rouge and fighting Rick. It may have been short lived, and I get that he’s always toed the line of a team player and a loaner but he’s built a strong relationship and changed his character over 8 long seasons, I wish he’d have been stronger for a little longer, showing that Negan broke him diminishes all of that and just makes for more conflict in an already full field of story that is starting to draw itself out.
- Not much to see as far as walkers go with most of the episode showing only arms reaching into the trailer where Negan and Gabriel are hold up. We do get the unwelcome return of the blood and guts camouflage we first saw in season 1. The sound effects are the real winner here with a gross squish sound emanating from the corpse as Negan digs around to cover himself in the entrails of some nameless zombie. Patience is a virtue and once they make their escape from the trailer we get some great looks at some of the most decayed corpses we’ve seen thus far. Walker of the night goes to the one I’m calling concrete zombie…not sure what the deal with him was but he has some caked on concrete barnacles stuck to its face, grayed from time and rot. Just gnarly!
Next Week on The Walking Dead!
- Rick visits the Trash kingdom 2.0
- The trial of Gregory
- We finally check back in at Alexandria.