“Some crazy shit, huh? You probably think I’m a lunatic.”
Rick’s back! Well kinda. We see a bit of him this episode. This season has been about the balance of power being displaced so it makes sense that Rick doesn’t have the same presence this time around (though I know he’ll save the day when the time comes). ‘Sing Me a Song’ is definitely all about Carl and Negan.
We pick up with Carl and Jesus where we left them, stowing away in the back of a truck bound for the Saviors’ compound. They get close to the end of the journey and Jesus suggest they should jump. But Jesus jumps and Carl stays behind on the truck. This kid is clever, even Jesus scolds himself for falling for his trick and jumping first. Then the episode starts to mirror the comics, pretty directly in fact. Once they reach their destination, Carl bursts from his hiding place and guns down some Saviors on his mission to kill Negan. As someone who loves the comics it’s really cool to see them replicated on screen, sometimes shot for shot. After this introduction Negan takes Carl under his wing and gives his the grand tour. They start by visiting Negan’s harem of wives, which is another very creepy detail of life under Negan. A shout out to Chandler Riggs who handled this entire episode very well, his anger right to Negan’s face felt naïve on his part but it was great to see someone finally stand up to this guy.
The Carl and Negan scenes are brilliant, and straight from the comics. As he is shown around The Sanctuary we start to see a weird relationship form between the two of them. It appears that Negan actually likes Carl, or respects him. He makes a good point that it’s impressive someone Carl’s age planned this infiltration by himself, maybe he sees himself in him. A lot of people online seem to think this week’s episode was all about showing us how horrible Negan is (again), and how brutal life under him must be etc etc. But I think those people missed the entire point of the episode; it humanised Negan. In one scene Negan asks Carl to take his eyepatch off. Carl does so and Negan mocks him and makes fun of his gross eye. When Carl seems sad about it, Negan genuinely feels bad and apologises. He’s a monster, but he’s human at the end of the day. He has a code, even if it is a messed up one. Negan might rule through fear but he has kept a large group of people, larger than any we’ve seen, alive and thriving. His methods are despicable but at the end of world, you have to do extreme things to survive. In this episode Negan has become a much more complicated and three dimensional character.
And Jeffrey Dean Morgan completely kills it as Negan in this episode, he is phenomenal. The scene I mentioned earlier where he apologises to Carl is the standout but there are others, like his scene with Olivia. Somehow he manages to be so despicable yet supremely likable and funny. One minute he’s breaking balls with Fat Joey about treating Lucille like a lady, and the next he’s ironing someone’s face. Speaking of, seeing someone’s cheek peel away from their face like cheese on pizza is one of the more toe-curling scenes of gore this shoe has ever done. It’s not the goriest, the victim lives too, it’s just very gross. AND it’s another example of a key scene from the comics being replicated perfectly on screen. The show seems to be drawing direct parallels between Rick and Negan too. At the end of the episode we see Negan and he looks like Rick with his grey stubble and white t-shirt, sat on Rick’s porch with Judith on his knee. The moment Negan picked up Judith there was a collective gasp. But he actually seemed pretty loving to her, almost as much as her own father. A theory that in the coming episodes Negan will kidnap Judith (she of course didn’t make it this far in the comics) is starting to add up.
With that all being said, when the moment comes for Rick to take on Negan one-on-one (and it will) I will be firmly on the side of Team Rick. We get to see our favourite bearded deputy he is on a supply run with the always likable (and best damn Kevin Spacey impersonator in the apocalypse) Aaron. Sadly though we don’t get to see very much of him, just a few short scenes. At the end of the episode he and Aaron have found their way into an area of woodland previously occupied by a very-well stocked survivalist. This is the cool stuff no one praises the show for; the world building. There is everything you need in the episode to build a picture of the guy, and of the life he led but the show only hints at it which is neat. Rick’s portion of the episode ends with him and Aaron faced with a lake full of walkers and a house boat full of supplies right in the middle. I can’t wait to see how they tackle this, though I guess they’ll end up having to give the majority to Negan next episode anyway.
The show has some of the coolest supporting characters and it was awesome seeing them have a chance to shine. Gabriel’s sweet burn to Spencer (“You are a tremendous shit”) was excellent and again cemented TV Gabriel as a thousand times better than his comic counterpart. Michonne got some story too. She made a walker roadblock to trap a Savior and get a lift back to the compound. Though with Negan leaving and going right back to where Michonne came from, this plot played out like a comedy of errors. Bonus points to the show – Michonne was whistling Omar’s tune from The Wire as she rounded up walkers. Yo, Michonne’s coming!
That was one thing this episode did something different to recent episodes, it focused on a few groups of characters for the episode. I like the character centric episodes, but another one might have pushed a lot of fans over the limit and I can understand that. This episode also sees Rosita and Eugene making a bullet to kill Negan. They have a very interesting dynamic now, the two of them were brought together by Abraham and now he’s gone they seem to grate on each other. Or, at least, Rosita has no patience for poor Eugene. The episode ends with them back at Alexandria with Negan, Rosita ready to kill him. It will be very interesting to see where this goes. I’m not sure the audience could handle another big death.
This was the best episode of the season so far. It felt like not a single moment was wasted and that every line had purpose. Plus we got to see some of the very best comic moments on screen. I’m not sure how regular watchers must feel, but to a comic reader this episode was almost perfect.
Next week it’s the midseason finale. I’m terrified to find out what gives Rick that scared look.
Reviewed by Jack