OK. I know some of you hate Negan. Last season was a downer. Sure. But I love Negan! He’s a great character! I’ll admit things could have been handled better, his introduction and last season. But I still think there are a lot of interesting places you can go with Negan and The Saviors. This episode tries to go there and partly succeeds. Some of the dialogue is dumb and there are at least 100 references to the penis in this episode (“thick and veiny show of force”). Lots of testosterone! But, overall, I found it to be a very good episode filled with surprises. I just hope TWD pulls the trigger on some of these characters before the Winter Break.
THE UNNECESSARY FLASHBACK
“I like killing people.” Negan
The episode begins with Father Gabriel praying in his church in Alexandria. He prays for a fruitful death and that he finds his purpose. He is preparing for death but the show is also preparing us for his death.
We then see a sleeping Gregory being awakened by creepy Simon who has brought him pancakes that he made himself! Remember Gregory left The Hilltop to warn Simon and Negan about Rick’s plans. The scene is cute but unnecessary.
We then see Gregory trying to explain to Negan and his top lieutenants about why he came to warn them and to say he had no idea that Maggie was still alive. All bullshit and Negan knows it. Simon tries to back Gregory and Negan warns him about ‘back sliding’. My eyebrows raised but I didn’t think much about it until I was watching Talking Dead and Lisa Edelstein (House) theorized that Simon was top dog until Negan came along and took over. The reference to ‘back sliding’ actually made sense and added a layer of complexity. Maybe that will be explored maybe not but it made for an interesting back story for Negan and Simon.
The flashback ends with Rick and the gang arriving and Negan and his team stepping out for the chat that we witnessed in the season opener. Interesting but it didn’t really add much to the story.
NEGAN AND CREEPY ‘GABEY’
“See, I killed the widow’s husband and the ginger, but I didn’t get them killed. That was your boy Rick.” Negan
We then move to the present with Negan and Father Gabriel stuck in that trailer surrounded by walkers. These scenes are the best part of this episode. Father Gabriel believes everything happens for a reason and that being stuck in that trailer was meant to be. He may have found his purpose: to hear Negan’s confession. We get to hear Negan talk about his life before the apocalypse and if you’re familiar with the comic you will probably already know his back story. He talks about working with kids (he was a high school gym teacher) and tells Gabriel that when he came along this group was a mess, that he was the one to bring order and safety and therefor saved lives.
Gabriel finds a moment to take him out later. He grabs the handgun Negan took from him and shoots at Negan, missing. He then locks himself in a separate room. The following scene is like being in confession which the priest on one side and the penitent on the other, except here, Father Gabriel goes first and confesses his biggest regret. He tells Negan what he did to his parishioners. Negan responds to this genuinely, I believe, and reveals his biggest regret. He tells Gabriel about his wife, his real wife. He says that he cheated on her and took her for granted. She got sick before all the zombie stuff started and died soon after. He couldn’t put her down. That was his weakness. Gabriel opens the door and says, “You’re forgiven”, to which, Negan promptly pops him in the nose.
As they feel no one is coming for them they decide to make a break for it. Negan bashes in the head of a walker and they proceed to cover themselves in walker guts. He lets ‘Gabey’, as Negan calls him, keep the pistol and Negan has Lucille. They walk out amongst the throng of walkers. I mean, it reminded me of getting on the subway at rush hour! Gabriel trips over a walker and the jigs up! They start having to fight for their lives! They reach the stairs and Negan says, “Oh damn” as a bunch of walkers fall on top of them.
Meanwhile, inside The Sanctuary, Simon tries to keep it together but they know that someone in their group has been helping Rick. Eugene, of course, feels all eyes on him but Dwight backs up Eugene’s assessment of their situation. They are in a pickle. When Eugene goes to Dwight’s room to thank him he notices Dwight’s chess set. He picks up a piece but the pieces are still wet with red paint and he gets some on his finger. He sees this red paint on a bag that may have been used by the traitor and Eugene puts it together. Other problems arise when the workers come up to complain about the heat and lack of water. Simon tries to calm them but everyone thinks Negan is dead and they are starting to get antsy. But before things get out of hand a familiar whistling is heard. Negan and Father Gabriel emerge. His presence assures the workers and they all kneel before him. “Thank God for you, Negan!”, we hear someone yell. Father Gabriel just shaking his head.
Negan has Father Gabriel put in a cell and has a little chat with Eugene. He knows Eugene is smart and can figure out who the rat is. He assures him that if he does he will be well rewarded. If he doesn’t he assures him that he will kill him quickly. “I have your back, either way”, Negan tells him. Great.
When Eugene goes to see Gabriel to bring him some welcome goodies he finds the padre shivering and sweaty. Gabriel says that they need to get the doctor out of there so that he can look after Maggie. Maybe that was his purpose? I think he got bit while they were fighting those walkers. He wanted his death to be fruitful and getting the doctor out to help Maggie may be his dying hope.
RICK AND DARYL
Rick and Daryl find the driver of the truck still alive but barely. The Savior tells them that everyone at that outpost is dead. “Neither side won”, he tells Rick. He does describe the three survivors so Rick knows that King Ezekiel, Jerry and Carol made it but all the other members of The Kingdom perished.
They find dynamite in the Saviors truck and Daryl packs it into his bag with the intention of blowing up a hole in The Sanctuary so that the walkers can get in and kill everyone inside. Rick has a problem with that, though. The workers in there are no0t their enemy and he doesn’t want to put them in danger. But this is the ‘new’ Daryl. This Daryl is in the same mindset as Morgan and Tara. He doesn’t care about those workers. He wants revenge at any cost. He blows off Rick and plans to do it anyway. Here is where we get another shocker. Rick tries to stop him and Daryl punches Rick! His buddy! His bro! Rick ain’t taking that! They start fighting! Rick tosses the bag of dynamite back towards the car which is soon engulfed in flames. The explosion destroys the truck, the guns and the dynamite.
This does not mean that Rick and Daryl are okay, though. Apparently, there is one more piece of Rick’s ‘plan’ that needs to be carried out but he must do it by himself and on foot because Daryl drives off on his hog and leaves him. Will this bad blood lead cause real problems for everyone? The preview seems to set up further conflict over the ‘prisoners’ that Jesus brought to The Hilltop. Tara and Daryl seem to be up to something. I have a bad feeling about this.
UP, UP, UP……….A HELICOPTER?
Rick is walking along the road all by his lonesome when he hears something. He looks up and sees a helicopter! Whaaat? Is he seeing things? Where did this come from? Is this another group yet unknown to us? Rick looks completely bewildered. It’s a great twist!
He eventually ends up back at the garbage dump and that means he’s going to try and make a new deal with Jadis and The Scavengers. I don’t know. That seems like a bad idea. These guys can’t be trusted!
The photography in the trailer was especially good.
I want to see flashbacks to what Negan was doing before the apocalypse and at the start of it.
Daryl has gone loco. He’s going to get someone killed. Or maybe this season is finally his time? (Stop yelling at me!!!!)
I don’t think I want to see Eugene turn on Negan and go back to Rick’s side. He’s a formidable opponent. I want to see him help Negan and become like the Bond villain of the apocalypse!