This week’s episode of The Walking Dead “treated” us to a full hour of Negan being Negan, and boy howdy did it all move slow. Molasses in January. School boys to school with heavy looks. Turtles. Three-toed sloths. Other…slow things.
Anyway. Unlike the show, I’ll go ahead and dive right in…
The episode opened with, like…some dudes. Savior dudes. Eating. And waiting for zombies to get out of the road. They were talking about trip wires and, I don’t know. Traps? Look, this episode was an hour, and it was SO LONG I don’t really remember. But apparently there are traps maybe.
The zombies finally shuffle off and the guys head back to Savior-land. Carl and Jesus pop out from behind boxes in the back of the truck, which like…they didn’t get caught? The whole time the Savior dudes were sitting there eating veggies and watching the zombies? Whatever.
Jesus tells Carl they need to jump from the truck, because they’re just doing recon, right? Not something dumb like infiltrating the Saviors’ compound in a suicidal bid to kill Negan, right? Carl says sure, you’re right, duh, but you jump first to show me how it’s done.
Then Carl waves bye-bye to Jesus’s bitch ass and finds a really big gun to shoot up Savior-land with.
Meanwhile, Aaron and Rick are still out on their scavenging mission. They find this weird fence with a sign on it that says “Keep Out, Dummies!” and of course they hop it.
Back in Alexandria, Rosita and Eugene are leaving, as are Spencer and Father Gabriel. Rosita is dragging Eugene to the bullet-making plant so he can finally make her the bullet she asked for like 4 episodes ago. If that doesn’t show you the season’s pace, I don’t know what will.
Eugene is reluctant, but Rosita bullies him into it and eventually she gets her bullet. Aaaand I’m done with that dumb sideplot back to the fun.
Spencer tells Father Gabriel he hates Rick and thinks Rick is a terrible leader. He blames Rick for his (Spencer’s) parents’ deaths, and he says he hopes Rick doesn’t come back from the scavenging trip. Father Gabriel tells Spencer that his thoughts don’t make him a sinner, but they do make him a “tremendous shit.” Maybe best part of the episode honestly and for real.
Gabriel is done with Spencer’s whining, so he gets out of the car and heads back for Alexandria, while Spencer, in a snit, heads into the woods because WHY NOT?? He finds a zombie up on a platform thing, and there’s a bow and arrow up there with him. He pulls them all down and finds a note written in Latin in the zombie’s pocket. Um I mean sure cool cool cool.
In Savior-land, Negan is dragging Carl all around the place. He takes him to his “harem” and introduces him to his “wives.” Apparently one of them, Amber, went off for a tryst with her actual husband, and as a result her actual husband messed up the trap thing from earlier. He offers to let Amber go back to him with the implied threat that they’d be put on the fence as zombies, but she swears she wants to be with Negan and tells him she loves him.
It’s just as icky as it sounds, which is the POINT, but that doesn’t lessen its ickiness.
Negan takes Carl back to his room and makes Carl remove the bandage over his eye. His reaction makes Carl CRY which nearly caused me to FIGHT my actual television because that’s my brave, surly son!! After I simmered down enough to keep watching, Negan then added insult to injury by making Carl sing to him—hence the episode’s name. “Sing Me a Song” wasn’t a reference to anything except another dumb Negan power play.
Okay, uh…what else? Right, Negan irons the dude’s face, the dude Mark who messed up the zombie corralling so he could have fun with formerly-his-now-Negan’s wife Amber. It was just as gross as it sounds, and we got lots of long, meaningful shots of Dwight in case we missed the fact that this was the same punishment he received when he, his former-now-Negan’s wife, and his sister-in-law escaped. In case we missed the entire episode about it. In case we fell asleep or something.
Carl and Negan go back to Negan’s room and chat some more, and then Negan decides to…take Carl home. Just like that. As they’re pulling out we see Jesus on the top of the truck and I actually laughed out loud because what??
Negan orders Dwight to take Daryl back to his cell, and while he’s there someone slips a note under the door. It says “Go now” and taped to the back is a key and a match. I guess the note-passer is probably Dwight’s wife, because Jesus done R-U-N-N-O-F-T, all stealthy and shit on top of a truck.
In Alexandria Negan makes a fat joke at Olivia’s expense, then offers to have sex with her. She slaps him, so that was good. Then he asks Carl to take him on a tour of the house and he finds Judith. He acts all lovey-dovey and decides maybe he’ll stay in Alexandria. Ugh.
But I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself, because that’s how the episode ended.
Michonne builds a pile of zombie corpses on the road, and a Savior lady stops to investigate. Michonne takes her hostage and demands the woman take her to Negan. The woman tries some dumb trick thing, but Michonne is not having any of her white nonsense, and reluctantly (at gunpoint) the woman puts the car in gear and drives away.
Aaron and Rick find another sign by the same guy, and it’s really long. Like the man wrote an essay. It says if they’re alive to read the sign, then he must be dead because he hasn’t shot them. Okee doke. They keep walking and come to a pond full of zombies, and on the other side is what we must assume is a cache of good good shit.
Spencer managed to translate the Latin note and found his own stash of good good shit: weapons, food, medicine, etc. I honestly tune out about 99.8% of what Spencer says, so he made some noise about turning it over to Negan but I don’t remember what. Rosita was mad, though, but then that’s just. A natural reaction when Spencer opens his mouth.
Did I mention that this was a slow hour of television? And when I say hour, I mean FULL HOUR. Ninety minutes with commercials, which thank God I didn’t have to sit through. Not only was it slow, but it was repetitive. Aaron and Rick find a mysterious stash of goods. Spencer finds a mysterious stash of goods. Negan bullies his “wives.” Negan bullies his men. Michonne didn’t take that lady hostage until the last 10 or so minutes, and that was pretty much the most exciting thing that happened.
Naturally I didn’t like Negan, though he was slightly (SLIGHTLY) less monologue-y this week. And I love Carl very much—a sentiment I don’t share with much of the internet, apparently, which just shows you how appalling this fandom truly is. Not that everyone has to agree with me, of course, but I mean, it’s Carl. I love Carl.
I don’t understand why The Walking Dead feels like it needs 16 episodes a season, then gives us these bloated, slow, boring filler episodes. If they did one “significant shot” of Dwight, or glance between Dwight and his wife, during Mark’s face ironing incident, they did 20. WE GET IT THANK YOU. But I guess with a full hour to fill, you’ve got time to really drive that message home.
This episode wasn’t quite as useless as 45 minutes of Negan being an asshole in Alexandria, but it wasn’t much better, either. I really don’t like that they tried to make Negan…more human, I guess. More genuine. Like you can’t spend 6 episodes, plus the season finale so really 7, making him out to be this middle school bully of a villain and then expect me to be like “aw okay” because he plays with the baby and seems for-realsies sorry that he made a kid cry. I’m all for characters having nuance and dimensions, but the way they’ve crafted Negan thus far is utterly dimensionless, so at this point it just feels like they’re trying too damn hard.
I know the scene between Carl and Negan about Carl’s missing eye is directly from the comics, but as I’ve said before, some things work better on the page than on screen. Negan seems to be one of those things, and the scene just felt. I don’t know. Cruel? But that’s silly because all of Negan’s scenes feel cruel. I believed him when he mocked Carl’s injury, but I didn’t believe him when he apologized for it, and we were supposed to believe him. He was supposed to come across as sincere.
The acting wasn’t the problem. The writing and directing weren’t, either. The problem is what the show has established so far, and what they’re now expecting us to believe. If that scene had happened 3 or 4 episodes ago (maybe during the Dwight/Daryl ep? I dunno) I maybe could’ve gotten on board with it. As it is, tonally and thematically it just didn’t work.
Some comics spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution
Of course there’s also the problem that, while I get why Carl and the other characters might be afraid of Negan and believe his threats, as a viewer I don’t, really. He’s not going to kill Rick, Carl, or Daryl. He’s probably not a threat to Judith (despite her comics’ fate, I don’t think the show will go there). I’m more worried about Michonne and Rosita than any of the white dudes. And at this point I don’t feel like Negan is a threat to Rosita because he’s such a nasty villain, but rather because OF COURSE the show would kill the only Latina character. I mean duh.
We all know The Walking Dead has a serious race problem, and a fairly serious lady problem, too. Following through with Rosita’s death and using the excuse “it happened in the comics!!” is bullshit at this point. Does anyone really care how closely they’re sticking to the source, considering all the changes they’ve made so far? It’s amazing to me that they keep justifying the (violent, disgusting) deaths of PoC with that stupid excuse, when one of the show’s most popular characters is a white boy OC.
Obviously I don’t know either way if show-Rosita is going to follow in comics-Rosita’s footsteps, but lately they’ve been sticking pretty close, even when it doesn’t entirely make sense (see my rant, above—or literally anything I said about the season premiere).
End spoilers you can come back now
Do I understand what the hell they’re doing this season? Absolutely not. Am I enjoying the journey anyway? Um. Not. Really? I mean, it’s slow and boring with occasional bright spots, but honestly the bright spots just make the rest of it look that much worse.
Please save us, King Ezekiel. Rescue us, Maggie and Sasha! I’m losing my ever-loving mind over here.
Episode Grade: D for Dull, like last week if there had been dudes
Images courtesy of AMC, corlgrimes, and cookiesordeath