‘The Walking Dead’: In which the writers remember that they are supposed to make Negan a somewhat sympathetic character at some point.

The Walking Dead
“The Lost and the Plunderers”
March 4, 2018

Making my job significantly easier for me, the writers decided to break up this episode into chapters devoted to individual characters. For instance, we begin with:

MICHONNE

Michonne and Rick finish burying poor dead Carl — Rick symbolically placing his gun on the cross that marks the grave before even more symbolically reconsidering and placing it back in his holster. Rick then grabs a walkie-talkie from a dead Savior before heading into their house one last time to collect supplies. On her way inside the house, Michonne notices Carl and Baby’s blue handprints on the porch and has a sad; Rick does not.

They load up the Phoenix van with the supplies, but then Michonne gets it in her head that they need to extinguish a fire that is burning a gazebo because Carl used to sit on top of it. Which I guess is a reason. Playing fire fighter, fighting off zombies, playing fire fighter, fighting off zombies, playing fire fighter, fighting off zombies. They finally retreat from the gazebo fire and drive away from Alexandria forever. Bye, Alexandria! You were kind of an all-around shitshow from the beginning! Bye!

In the van, Michonne wonders if Carl was trying to tell them to stop fighting the Saviors, and suggests that they could pull over and read the letters that he wrote them, but Rick is all, YEAH, I’M NOT REALLY READY FOR THAT RIGHT NOW, THANKS. And then Michonne discovers that Carl wrote Negan a letter, too, and is like, “Dude.”

Rick then announces that he needs to go talk to the garbage people because they’ll be Savior targets, too, and they’ll still need their weapons.

But when they arrive at the dump, they find themselves caught in an Indiana Jones-style booby trap, but instead of a giant boulder that comes crashing down at them, it’s a wall of garbage, with zombies all around. GREAT PLAN, RICK. WAY TO GO, BUDDY.

president show thumbs up

NEGAN

In the Sanctuary, Negan is barking orders over a walkie-talkie to FIND RICK, complaining to that one asshole Savior, Simon, that Carl played him, before remarking with admiration that the kid “is built for this shit.” DRAMATIC IRONY.

Simon asks to be given the job to find Rick, but instead, Negan assigns him to pay a visit to the garbage people. Simon is SUPER STOKED to do so, and suggests that it’s time to “eliminate” them, but Negan is like, “NOPE. You are going to go in, deliver the standard message by taking one of them out, and then leave. They’ll fall in line accordingly.” Simon disagrees, and insists that they need to kill all of the garbage people and Hilltop, that they need to just cut their losses already. But Negan is like, “NOPE. What we do is save people, and it’s hard, but it’s right their in our job title, so.”

Some other Saviors then deliver Maggie’s coffin message (“We have 38 more; stand down”) with its bonus zombie inside, and Simon recognizes it as one of his Outpost men, so now he’s SUPER PISSED.

Negan:

calm down rhony ramona

ENID

After she accidentally but on purpose killed that ocean people grandma, Enid and Aaron are dragged back to their compound where they are handcuffed to a radiator while the ocean people go outside to discuss what to do with them. After Enid tells Aaron she’d kill ocean grandma again because she had to, the ocean people come back inside and Cindy orders them to take Enid and Aaron to the beach and execute them.

“I mean, you could do that,” Enid begins, “or … you could avoid the whole mess you’ll start with our people once they find out you’ve killed us. You’ve met them. You think they won’t come back here and kill errrrybody?”

Cindy’s like, “Yeah, fine, just get out of here and never come back.”

And then the ocean people drop them off in the woods.

But Aaron’s like, “I am totally going to follow them and convince them to join our fight. Because there’s nothing women love more than when men explain to them why they’re wrong. You go back to Maggie and tell her what’s going on, BYE!”

QUESTION: What the hell is this “Red Machete” thing and do I have to pay attention to it? Just wondering.

SIMON

Simon leads a group of Saviors to the dump, where he confronts Haircut about making a deal with Rick. She insists that she was delivering Rick to the Saviors, but Simon doesn’t believe her.

simon bullshit the walking dead nope.gif

But Simon then assures them that all will be forgiven by Negan, they just have to turn over all their weapons. Haircut’s people are not pleased with this, but she orders them to hand them over and they begrudgingly comply. Meanwhile, Simon admires Haircut’s bad cat art, and asks about the solar panels and helipad and Chekov’s gun in the back, but she doesn’t offer any answers.

Simon then decides that he’s still not feeling enough remorse from Haircut, and shoots her old man friend. He demands that she apologize, she does, he decides it’s not satisfactory and shoots her lady friend. He demands that she apologize again, and now furious, Haircut punches him in the face. In response, he orders his men to “light it up,” and they massacre the garbage people but for Haircut who has to watch in horror.

Back at the Sanctuary, Simon delivers the guns to Negan and claims that he delivered the “standard message.” Which is pretty fucking brave when you think about it considering any number of his men — or Haircut — could rat him out to Negan, BUT OK. And then a Savior delivers a walkie-talkie to Negan, saying that Rick is on the phone.

JADIS

So, for timeline purposes: Rick and Michonne arrived at the dump after Simon’s massacre, which is how Rick and Michonne found themselves surrounded by art zombies. They climb the heap of trash to safety where they find Haircut stripped down to her nightgown? For some reason?

Haircut then gives an uncharacteristically wordy soliloquy about the dump, using full sentences and everything, at the end of which Rick is like, “Well, you suck, and all of your  art friends are zombies because of you.” He then picks up a car door and fashions it into a shield/weapon, explaining to Michonne that they are going to run for it. Haircut asks to come along, but Rick is like, “NOPE.”
 
Running through the art zombies, running through the art zombies, running through the art zombies. As they near the door, Haircut asks them to wait for her once again, but they just leave her because Rick is a monster.

Alone, Haircut leads the art zombies to a giant person disposal, where they all fall in and are reduced to person mush.

She then goes to her food stash, grabs a can of applesauce and eats it more intensely than anyone has ever eaten applesauce ever.

OK, but a few questions:

  1. WHY DID SHE STRIP OFF HER PROTECTIVE CLOTHING? I get that it signals that she is vulnerable and in mourning, BUT COME ON.
  2. If she could have led the art zombies into the person disposal all along, WHY DIDN’T SHE DO THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE? Again, I understand that she is in shock and this just happened and she may not be in the place to think of her friends as actual threats to herself and she didn’t want to be the want to have to do the final deed, but at the same time, was her plan to just sit there on top of the heap and wait for Rick to SOMEHOW come along and rescue her? Because that is not much of a plan.

 

Finally, RICK

Rick tries to justify being such a dick to Haircut to Michonne, but Michonne is like, “You think that Carl would be OK with what you just did?”

This leads to Rick pulling the van over to finally read Carl’s letters to himself and Negan, after which he places that call to the Saviors. Rick informs Negan that Carl is dead, and Negan is genuinely upset by this. Rick then goes on to tell Negan that Carl had written them both letters asking them to knock it off, BUT HE’S NOT GOING TO KNOCK IT OFF, HE’S GOING TO KILL NEGAN.

Negan is like, “Yeah, yeah, got it. So how did Carl die? Was it us? Was it a grenade?”

And Rick has to be all, “WELL, NO. He was bitten while going out to help someone.”

After Negan tells Rick he’s sorry and that he had plans for Carl, that he was “the future,” he points out that this is all Rick’s fault, on account of Rick being a shitty dad. Nice talking to you, bye!

Just a couple of thoughts about this episode as I am typing this on the run:

  1. WAY TO GO, EVERYONE, IN TURNING HAIRCUT INTO A VENGEANCE MACHINE. Simon and Rick both were unnecessarily monstrous to Haircut, and she has VERY GOOD REASON to come after both of them. ALSO, TOO, SHE HAS A FUCKING HELICOPTER, YOU IDIOTS. So now we have to just sit and wait for that Chekov’s helicopter to come out sometime in the last act of this season.
  2. The purpose of this episode — and the real reason Rick and Simon were both so shitty to Haircut — was to set up some contrast against which Negan could be made to look human. It’s interesting, the comic readers have long loved Negan, and insisted that he is a complicated character, but on the show, he has stubbornly remained a one-note villain.
    This episode, in which he serves as a moral anchor to the Saviors combined with the sympathy that he expresses to Rick over Carl’s death, is supposed to make him a more sympathetic character overall. The problem I have with this is that the only reason the writers are even making this half-effort is so as to justify Rick’s ultimate decision to spare Negan’s life, and I think this is all a little too little and a little too late, but whaddya gonna do?
    kingsley-shrug
  3. What was up with the blue paint? Michonne finds the handprints Carl and Baby left  on the porch in blue paint, and then Haircut was painting with blue paint when Simon arrived and killed everyone, getting blue paint on his shoes in the process. Simon then notices the blue paint on his shoes after lying to Negan. I am probably overthinking it, but I am guessing the blue paint represents that mark that other people leave on us — Michonne, who saw the handprints, tries to serve as Rick’s conscience, his Jiminy Cricket; and Simon, who is stained by the blue paint, has that mark on his conscience.

ALRIGHT. I’M GOING TO BE LATE AGAIN NEXT WEEK, SORRY. BYE.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.

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6 thoughts on “‘The Walking Dead’: In which the writers remember that they are supposed to make Negan a somewhat sympathetic character at some point.

  1. The red machete storyline is a call-back to Terminus. Rick buried the machete before they arrived. He told the Terminus leader about it and promised to dig it up and use it to kill him. Which he eventually did in Gabriel’s church. This is how Rick got it originally.

    Oh, it was Carl’s gun Rick hung from the cross (a call-back to Shane’s death in the books).

    Liked by 1 person

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