Previously, on The Walking Dead…
Negan and the Saviors visited Alexandria to obtain supplies. While they were there, Carl threatened Negan. Later, while tracking the Saviors from the Hilltop, Jesus discovered Carl stowed away on the same truck heading for the Sanctuary. Rick told Michonne that they can build a life by following Negan’s rules, but she disagreed. Back in season 6, Eugene and Abraham found an old factory where Eugene could manufacture bullets.
Michonne revisits the site where the Saviors burned the mattresses on their return trip from Alexandria. Tracking the exhaust fluid left from a vehicle, she walks down the road, whistling. Two walkers are attracted by the sound and begin to follow her. She takes them out casually and proceeds to drag one of their bodies off screen.
On their scavenging trip for Negan, Rick and Aaron wake up in the back of a truck. As they begin to head out, Aaron opens the truck and notices something that they didn’t see the previous evening, pointing it out to Rick.
Elsewhere, the truck heading to the Sanctuary from Hilltop is stopped, the drivers sitting on the back of the truck and chatting while waiting for a herd of walkers to pass. As soon as the herd clears up, they head to the front and continue on their way. Carl and Jesus emerge from hiding spots behind the stacks of crates and boxes, and Jesus cuts a slit in one of the boxes. As he looks out of the truck and sees them pass a statue, he begins to squeeze a bottle of syrup out of the back, telling Carl that he’s using it to make a trail because he believes they are close to their destination.
As the truck nears the Sanctuary, Jesus tells Carl that they should roll out of the back of the vehicle and follow on foot. Not thrilled with the idea, Carl tells Jesus to show him how it’s done first. Jesus does – but Carl remains on the truck and waves to him.
The truck enters the Sanctuary and comes to a halt. Carl hides in back, choosing a gun from the Hilltop loot and loading it. As one of the Saviors begins to remove the box that Jesus slit, the contents – liquor bottles – spill and break on the floor, causing him to jump and see Carl in the chaos. Carl shoots him and emerges from his hiding spot, revealing himself to the Saviors. He tells them to drop their weapons; he only wants to kill Negan, and no one else needs to get hurt.
Negan enters, impressed by Carl’s bravery. He says, “Kid, I ain’t gonna lie – you scare the shit out of me.” Carl shoots out another Savior and Dwight tackles him to the ground…but Negan makes Dwight back off. Negan tells Carl that he’s going to give him a tour of the Sanctuary, offering Carl his hand. As a concerned Daryl watches on by the fence, the camera pans to reveal the grandiose size of the Sanctuary (I guess Negan needed to have a base that suits his own personality).
When Carl doesn’t take Negan’s hand at first, Negan claims that he (Carl) is lucky to still have a hand – as is Daryl, he says, who continues to watch on from the fence. Realizing that he doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter, Carl takes Negan’s hand and is pulled to his feet. Negan instructs Dwight to take Daryl and go prepare some food, saying, “Damn, I’m not going to have time to screw any of my wives today!” Wait a minute, any of his wives? He has MULTIPLE wives?!?! Somehow, that shouldn’t surprise me…
Carl asks Negan what he will to do him. Unimpressed, Negan tells Carl, “Do not shatter my image of you. You’re a badass. You’re not scared of shit. Don’t be scared of me. It’s a disappointment.” Moreover, he tells Carl that he doesn’t want to “ruin the surprise,” and he leads Carl into the Sanctuary.
Inside, Negan demonstrates his power to Carl as he addresses the Saviors, telling them that everyone can benefit from hard work and following the rules. Carl notes that everyone in the group kneels when Negan addresses them and that they only rise when he tells them to, indicating the level of respect that he demands.
In Alexandria, Eugene and Rosita are departing on foot. At the same time, Spencer and Father Gabriel are heading out in a car. They offer to take Rosita and Eugene along with them so they can search for supplies together, but Rosita refuses – she already knows where they are headed, and they won’t be doing anything for Negan. Spencer tells her that they must produce for Negan because that’s where Rick has gotten the group, and he confesses to thinking he can do a better job as a leader than Rick. Rosita shuts him down and tells him to leave her alone.
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan takes Carl to visit his wives. He calls over Sherry, who has been consoling a distraught young blonde woman on the couch. He takes her to the side and inquires about what happened with Amber (the blonde woman) and Mark (another Savior). “What we talk about when you’re not here is none of your business,” Sherry says. Though Negan is impressed by this response, he continues to prod her, claiming that he heard Mark skipped an assignment to be with Amber – a huge no-no, since rules are what keep them alive. Sherry confesses that Amber has “made a mistake,” and she begs Negan to “go easy on her.” He asks if he’s ever hit one of his wives, and Sherry responds, “No…but I know you. There’s worse.”
Negan approaches Amber, telling her that if she really wants to return to Mark and work for points, he can make it happen – but cheating on him is unacceptable. Amber breaks down and tells Negan that she will stay, apologizing and telling him that she loves him. Carl watches on as Negan tells her that it will all work out and kisses her on the forehead before approaching Sherry again. He gloats over how well he has just treated Amber, and Sherry says, “You’re an asshole.” “I know,” he responds, “but the messed up thing is you like me anyway. You know the truth, just like me.”
As Negan and Sherry kiss, Dwight and Daryl enter the room. Daryl, holding a plate of food, exchanges a glance with Carl as Negan makes them wait until he’s done with the kiss. He then tells Carl to grab the tray from Daryl, who inquires as to why Carl is in the room. Negan responds with Sherry’s words: “What we talk about when you’re not here is none of your business.” He then instructs Dwight to prepare the iron and to get a mop for Daryl, leading Carl from the room. Daryl stares after them and shares a glance with Sherry before being dragged out by Dwight. Sherry sits and takes a drink, a tear falling down her face.
On the road, Rick and Aaron have discovered a private property that may have supplies. Even though the owner could be on site, they agree that they must push forward. “We have today and only today to find something,” Rick states.
Elsewhere, Spencer and Father Gabriel drive down the road. Spencer asks Gabriel if hating someone is a sin; Gabriel responds that actions are what really matter in the end. Spencer confesses that he hates Rick and that he thinks he’s not qualified to be in charge, especially in comparison to someone like his mother, Deanna. Though Gabriel defends Rick, Spencer continues to badmouth him, stating that it’s Rick’s fault that so many people have died. He confesses that he thinks it would be best for Alexandria if Rick never makes it back from his supply run, and Gabriel tells him to stop the car. Spencer does so, and Gabriel says, “What you’re saying doesn’t make you a sinner, but it does make you a tremendous shit.” And Gabriel proceeds to head back to Alexandria on foot. Gabriel. Look at how far he’s come!
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan leads Carl to his own private living quarters. He sits down with Carl at the table, telling Carl that he wants to get to know him better because he is unique for someone his age; after all, he’s just a teenager, and yet he was able to track Negan and kill two of his men. “And you’re smart enough to know that I’m not gonna let this slide,” Negan says.
As punishment, Negan reveals that he wants Carl to take the bandage off his eye. Carl protests, but Negan asks, “Do you really want to piss me off?” Carl considers this and slowly begins to unwrap the bandage from his face. As soon as Negan sees the wound (and Carl’s empty eye socket), he immediately begins to tease Carl about how “disgusting” it is. But this clearly is a sensitive spot for Carl, who begins to cry. And this appears to hit Negan hard. “It’s easy to forget that you’re just a kid,” he says, apologizing. Apparently, Negan actually has a softer side – who knew?
The two are interrupted by “Fat” Joey, who has brought Negan Lucille; apparently, he left her by the truck during the frenzy with Carl earlier that day. Negan tells Carl not to cover up his eye because no one will ever mess with him once they see it, and he then turns to address Joey. Joey hands Lucille off to Negan, and Negan inquires about his treatment of her on the walk over. “Did you treat her like a lady?” Negan asks, including a very colorful and – ahem – sexually suggestive statement to tease Joey before telling him to exit the room.
Negan uses this interaction as an example of men screwing around with each other, telling Carl that his father should be teaching him about this kind of thing. He asks Carl what he likes to do for fun…and, when Carl is unresponsive, he gets an idea: “I want you to sing me a song.” Carl protests, but Negan claims that he wants something in return for Carl having killed two of his men (apparently, seeing Carl’s empty eye socket wasn’t good enough). He threatens Carl with Lucille, and Carl sings a broken and nervous rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” as Negan practices smashing in heads in the background. As if this whole scenario couldn’t get any weirder.
“Lucille loves being sung to,” Negan says as Carl finishes the song. “It’s about the only thing she loves more than bashing in brains.” Intrigued by the choice of song, he inquires about Carl’s mother, and Carl reveals that she is dead – and that he was the one to shoot her so she wouldn’t turn into a walker. “Damn, no wonder you’re a little serial killer in the making!” Negan says, another example of “breaking balls.” He then tells Carl to get up and follow him, as the iron should now be ready.
Downstairs, the Saviors have gathered by the furnace. Dwight stands nearest to the furnace; Daryl stands nearby, mop in hand, behind a man sitting nervously in a chair. As Negan enters from above, all of the Saviors – and Daryl – kneel (I’m guessing that after some time, Daryl has learned that cooperation is the key to his survival for the time being). Negan addresses the room, claiming that he wishes he didn’t have to go through with this…but he does. “Why?” he asks. The room responds, “Rules keep us alive.” Negan says that this is correct – the rules are what keep them going, and if anyone breaks them, they will be punished.
Negan has the Saviors rise to their feet and heads over to Dwight, who passes him the iron. The man in the chair is revealed to be Mark, Amber’s former partner who skipped duty to be with her. Sherry consoles Amber in the background and Dwight averts his eyes (the iron being fresh in his own memory) as Negan presses the iron to the side of Mark’s face. As Mark screams, Carl shares a horrified glance with Daryl. Once he is done, Negan pulls the iron away and hands it off to Dwight. Daryl is instructed to clean the puddle of urine underneath Mark, who has both wet himself and passed out. “I hope that we all learned something today, because I don’t ever want to have to do that again,” Negan proclaims, and Sherry and Dwight share a glance. As Negan leads Carl from the room, Amber stares on at the scene in horror.
In the woods, Spencer uses a rope to get a crossbow off of a walker stuck in a tree. As the crossbow comes down, the walker falls to the ground as well. He loots the body and discovers a note, smiling as he reads its contents.
Rosita and Eugene arrive at the old factory. As Rosita begins unloading supplies, Eugene claims that he has decided he doesn’t want to make a bullet for her after thinking things through. He doesn’t want to stop her from getting revenge on Negan, but he thinks she needs to hold off until they can come together as a whole group to face the Saviors. Rosita argues that if there’s a chance that one bullet can kill Negan, then Eugene needs to make it. She claims that Eugene owes both her and Abraham, shaming him by telling him that he is a weak and useless coward. This hits Eugene hard, and he gives in. Aww, poor Eugene.
At the Sanctuary, Sherry and Dwight smoke in a corridor. Dwight tells Sherry not to “beat herself up” over what happened with Mark and Amber, but she denies having a part in it. “Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Dwight responds. Sherry claims that their deal with Negan was only supposed to affect the two of them, but Dwight tells her that would be impossible. Sherry says that they should leave before someone sees the two of them. “We’re not doing anything,” Dwight says. “No,” Sherry responds, “we’re not,” implying in a way that they also aren’t doing anything to stop the horrible things that Negan does (and has done).
In Negan’s room, Carl asks if he can put his bandage back on, and Negan refuses his request. Carl asks why Negan hasn’t killed him, his father, or Daryl. Negan responds that while Daryl is going to be one of his “soldiers” and Rick is going to be a producer for him, he still needs to wait and see how things play out with Carl himself. Negan asks Carl what he thinks should be done with him; Carl replies, “I think you should jump out the window to save me the trouble of killing you.” Negan is impressed, and Carl expresses that he thinks Negan won’t do anything to him. “If you knew us – if you knew anything – you would kill us. But you can’t.” Negan tells him that perhaps he is correct, and states that they are going for “a ride.”
Outside, two trucks begin to depart from the Sanctuary, Carl and Negan sitting in the front of the second truck. The camera pans down from above, and we see Jesus lying on top of the roof. They stop for a minute and Negan calls Daryl over, telling him that he’s taking Carl back to Alexandria. “If you do anything to him…” Daryl starts, but Negan tells Dwight to put him in his cell as a “time out” for his back talk. Dwight drags him away, and Daryl looks at the top of the truck as the engines begin again. As the trucks head out, we see that Jesus has disappeared from the roof.
Back in his cell, Daryl hears footsteps approaching. They stop at his door, and someone passes him a note under the crack before leaving. It reads, “Go now,” and a match and what appears to be a key are attached to the back. (My guesses for who sent this? Jesus, who may have snuck into the Sanctuary; Sherry, whose past conversations with Daryl indicate that she has a tremendous amount of guilt over what has happened to him; or Dwight, who may have been inspired to take action after his conversation in the stairwell with Sherry.)
On the road, a car stops at a blockade of walkers. A woman exits to clear it, but Michonne holds her at sword (katana?) point, forcing her to drop her weapons. Michonne commands her to take her to Negan, and it is now clear that this blockade is what she was working on at the beginning of the episode. As Michonne holds the Savior at gunpoint in the car, the woman’s efforts at retaliation prove to be futile.
In Alexandria, Negan makes an uninvited visit to Olivia’s house with Carl, inquiring as to where Rick is. Olivia confirms that he is out scavenging for the Saviors, and a pleased Negan says that he will wait until Rick returns. Olivia laments how low they are on supplies; “We’re practically starving here,” she says, and Negan begins to taunt her because of her weight. When she breaks down in tears, Negan tries a different approach: he apologizes for his rudeness and, since he might be waiting on Rick for a while, he tells her, “If you’d like, I think it would be enjoyable to screw your brains out.” Olivia promptly smacks him in the face, and he responds, “I am about fifty percent more into you now.” And, let’s be real…aren’t we all? You go, Olivia!
Negan tells Olivia to make them some lemonade, and she hurries off. He requests that Carl take him on a tour of his own house, and Carl does, watching in the background as Negan does things just because he can (i.e. running water, playing darts, etc.). And, in the final room on this tour, Negan discovers Judith. “Look at this little angel,” he says as he picks her up, and the oh crap look on Carl’s face says it all.
On their scavenging trip, Rick and Aaron discover another sign on the property, indicating that the man who owns (or, owned) the land has plenty of weapons and other supplies. They continue on to find that the man’s supplies are on a boat in the middle of a lake, surrounded by walkers submerged in the water. “Today and only today, right?” Aaron asks. “Yeah,” Rick replies, and the two move forward.
Rosita and Eugene make it back to Alexandria, and she thanks him for making her the bullet. She apologizes for the way she spoke to him earlier, but Eugene will not accept the apology because he thinks she meant what she said. At the same time, Spencer pulls up to the gate, a stash of food and other supplies in his car that he discovered using the note that he took off of the walker’s body. Spencer confirms that he plans on giving all of the supplies to the Saviors, and the gates open for them to reveal the Sanctuary trucks inside.
Outside of Rick’s house, Negan and Carl sit on the porch with a pitcher of lemonade, Negan rocking Judith and humming. He states that maybe he shouldn’t try so hard to keep Rick and Carl alive. “Maybe I should just bury you both down in one of those flower beds, and then I can just settle into the suburbs.” Somehow, I think that threat is very real.
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I am finding Negan to be an extremely interesting and colorful (albeit brutal) character; Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays him with such glee, and the mix of terror and amusement that I feel every time he’s on screen is something that I believe is truly unique to this show. Moreover, the relationship that is building between Negan and Carl is absolutely fascinating to watch. It’s strange and dysfunctional but, at the same time, I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
From a storytelling standpoint, I felt like this episode did an excellent job at building up to the midseason finale. Spencer is clearly living on borrowed time with his extreme opposition to Rick, so I won’t be surprised if he is the one to go next week. There’s the possibility of Daryl finally escaping the Sanctuary, which is something I’ve been hoping would happen for a while now; I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he is successful and that the note wasn’t actually a trap. And finally, I’d like to note that the scavenging trip that Rick and Aaron are on reminds me of the Rick and Hershel plot from the midseason finale back in season 2. That storyline was all just a ruse for a jaw-dropping conclusion (the Sophia reveal), and I can’t help but feel that something similarly huge is happening here.
For those who play No Man’s Land, this week’s Season 7 mission is Michonne killing walkers to build her blockade.
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