Previously on The Walking Dead: this song got stuck in your head for an entire week…
THE STORY SO FAR:
Rick, Michonne, Carl, and the rest of the crew receive an earlier-than-expected visit from Negan and the Saviors/Saviours, who have every intention of taking everything they want (including every firearm that they have) and laughing in their faces about it to remind them of who’s in charge and who isn’t. And we get a full ninety minutes of this. Because one hour of Negan going…
…just wasn’t enough.
WHAT WORKED IN THIS EPISODE:
Seeing Andrew Lincoln spend all ninety minutes going back and forth between expressing how broken and helpless he feels in Negan’s presence to how he wants nothing more than to use Lucille to strike down with great vengeance and furious anger Negan and every other Savior/Saviour in sight, and how very close he came to doing so.
Rick to Spencer, who was really, really, really stupid enough to throw Abraham and Glenn’s deaths in Rick’s face while calling out his supposed lack of leadership: “You say anything like that again to me, I’ll break your jaw and knock all your teeth out. You understand? Say yes.” It becomes very clear in that moment that the Rick Grimes of old, the one who was willing to rip someone’s throat out with his teeth and then stab another person to death 815 times because Carl’s life was in danger…that Rick Grimes is still alive and well, and willing to strike if and when necessary. Just not against Negan, who clearly has him outnumbered and outgunned.
Dwight, who was so kind to remind us that despite how last week’s episode made us feel just a little bit of sympathy for him and how he ended up a Savior and that maybe he’s not as committed to being a Savior as we originally thought….decided to use this episode to piss all over that goodwill and be an insufferable and unlikable dick to Rosita as he ordered her and Spencer to go out and get Daryl’s motorcycle for him…right after taking their guns, taking Rosita’s hat, and then taking her canteen simply so he could empty it out right in front of her. Oh, Dwight. I will set off every reggae air-horn in existence when Daryl and/or Rosita takes that motorcycle back from you and uses it to run over the other side of your face. Repeatedly.
Rick and Father Gabriel lying to Negan and making him believe that Maggie is dead. As great as it may be to have Carol, Morgan, King Ezekiel, and Shiva as an ace in the hole when the time comes to get the drop on Negan, the only thing deadlier and more determined than all of them combined is a heartbroken, grief-stricken, and pregnant widow on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
Rick opening up to Michonne about his friendship with Shane (who he understandably hasn’t spoken about in years) and admitting to her that he knows that Judith isn’t his biological child. and that she’s the result of Shane and Lori sleeping together. He clearly doesn’t care and that isn’t stopping him from loving and protecting her, but it’s something that he had to embrace and accept so he could focus on ensuring their survival, much like he has to do to keep Negan from killing anyone else he knows. It was a well-done moment by both Lincoln and Danai Gurira, and it’s moments like that which keeps me watching.
That, and the fact that Dustin pays me in Twizzlers. (Any and all Red Vines enthusiasts can go straight to Hell)
This scene here between Negan and Father Gabriel, who really must have stolen every Gillette Fusion razor he could find in order to stay looking so fresh and so clean in the Zombie Apocalypse…
(swoons for the next several minutes until Dustin takes a break from bugging him about whether time-traveling aliens appeared in tonight’s episode to remind him to get back to work)*
Oh yes…and Jeffrey Dean Morgan continues to knock it out of the park with every second of screentime he has as Negan. The malicious swagger, the semi-charming demeanor (and if Third Eye Blind is now stuck in your head, you’re welcome), the cheerful and enthusiastic usage of profanity…JDM is clearly having a ball playing this character. And just when you’re almost fooled into thinking that he’s likable and not all bad, the smile disappears, the look in his eyes becomes cold and hard, and he reminds you why he’s leading the Saviors/Saviours and why Rick and company both hate and fear him in the first place. Especially when, after forcing Rick to carry around Lucille for the entire episode and show gratitude to him for his supposed generosity, Negan tells Rick: “I just slipped my dick down your throat and you thanked me for it.” It’s stuff like that which makes me hate Negan and makes me really look forward to when Rick finally strikes back against Negan and the two of them clash. And I hope it’s worth the wait.
This has nothing to do with the episode, but one of the very, very, very few good things to result from the apocalypse that we were all hoping to have cancelled last Tuesday is this Twitter exchange between a Jeffrey Dean Morgan parody account and He Who Shall Not Be Named But Is Still Less Likable And Tolerable Than Voldemort:
@realDonaldTrump Wanna meet Lucille? She's thirsty— Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgarn) November 10, 2016
WHAT DIDN’T WORK IN THIS EPISODE:
The extra running time given to this episode. Yes, we get to see in excruciating detail how Negan and the Saviors/Saviours function in rolling through Alexandria and taking what they want and humiliating Rick and company with everything they say and do, but that also could’ve been done in just an hour. Please don’t go the Sons Of Anarchy route and start going overboard with these needlessly overlong episodes. Especially with all of the shit you get regarding pacing as is.
TO SUM IT ALL UP:
I get that there is supposed to be an element of tension and suspense regarding this storyline and how it’s supposed to proceed, but the sooner that Rick and company are able to start turning the tables on Negan and the Saviors/Saviours, the better. Because despite having Negan around to grab the attention of viewers and make us all worry, it will get very old very quickly to keep seeing him do nothing but swoop in to crack jokes and shit all over Rick and his people in every episode.
*You’re not the only one to look at that above photo and do a double-take to make sure that it’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan and not his equally handsome doppleganger Javier Bardem, so take some comfort in that.
This episode of The Walking Dead was brought to you by “If It Be Your Will” as performed by the late, great Leonard Cohen: