“Little pig, little pig…”
Finally, after years of waiting, the Negan fans got the episode we’d all been waiting for. It’s not a Negan-centric episode entirely (like the Governor ones back in season 4) but Negan definitely has the A-plot. And sure, we’ve had Negan episodes in the past but this was the first time we could genuinely root for him – as the honest to god good guy no less. After being freed from his Alexandrian prison last week (we still don’t find out who by) Negan is quickly caught up by Brandon, the guard in Alexandria we saw a couple of episodes ago. It soon becomes clear that Brandon is not there to return Negan to his cage, instead he idealises him and wants him to start up the saviours again. Brandon blames Rick for the death of his parents, who we assume were saviours in the war. He even provides Negan with a new leather jacket and even a new Lucille. For me, Brandon is a meta character – representing the type of Walking Dead fan who cheers for Negan even when he was doing the most horrific things (something I myself have been guilty of in the past). His purpose is almost to prove to the cynics in the audience that Negan has changed; to give audiences a sense of how far he’s come by comparing him to a character who is as awful as he used to be. It works too and not just because Negan is being compared to literally the worst person ever. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is given plenty of time to explore Negan’s softer side, even bringing up Negan’s late wife (hopefully we’ll get a flashback soon too). The conversation he has with the ill-fated Milo is fantastic and really proves that Negan has changed.
The other plots this episode were great too, if not quite as strong as the Negan one. One that came out of nowhere for me was the Ezekiel and Siddiq plotline. We knew Ezekiel has been on edge as of late, an exit from the show for the ex-King was definitely on the minds of some fans. But that exit being through not a walker or a whisperer, but through cancer? That’s a tough pill to swallow. To see the larger than life King being taken down by something so human is an interesting idea, one that I feel will give one final dimension to the often 2D King character. Siddiq has got his own problems too, what with the PTSD he’s been trying to hide. I’m sure it will continue to bubble just below the surface before it presents itself in a few episode’s time. I doubt it will end with Siddiq’s death but could this get another of the good guys killed? Elsewhere Magna and Yumiko were continuing their lover’s spat, finally giving us some good scenes with the two of them. It’s been a long time coming but I can finally see big things on the horizon for them both (perhaps Yumiko could take Michonne’s comic plotline now we know she’s an ex-lawyer and Michonne actor Danai Gurira is soon to leave the show?)
Elsewhere we got some Connie x Daryl stuff for the shippers (of which I’ll reluctantly own up to being) and the end of the episode saw Negan head of, suited and booted, straight for whisperer territory. He’s definitely on the way to his comic book plotline but whether he’ll return to Alexandria with Alpha’s head is anyone’s guess. It’d be a shame to kill off Samantha Morton so soon as she’s great in the role but I suppose Gamma could replace her. The whisperers in the comic lost a lot of steam in the post-Alpha issues. However, with only a handful of episodes left this mid-season (and if the last ten years of The Walking Dead have taught me anything) one thing’s for certain; things are about to get a whole lot worse for our group.