‘The Walking Dead’: WE HAVE TO GO BACK

The Walking Dead
February 10, 2019

We begin, interestingly, with a Michonne voice-over, narrating what happened in the first half of the season: new beginning, REVENGE!, Negan, Rick died, now it’s six years later and there are new things to worry about.

Specifically, the Whisperers who have killed Jesus. Moments after Jesus dies, the group manages to collect Jesus’ body and get out of the cemetery, locking it behind themselves. This, however, doesn’t do a whole lot of good when some of the zombies you’re escaping from are actually zombie LARPers and can just unlock the gate themselves.

They’ll figure that out soon enough.

That morning, they find some horses, which makes transporting Jesus’ body considerably easier. Michonne thanks Daryl for his help and talks about how much it will mean to the Hilltoppers to have his body and some closure, the unspoken thing being that they never received that for Rick. BUT HEY! Ultimately that lack of closure will prove be a GOOD THING when you’re reunited with Rick in one of those three movies he’s going to make. So buck up!

Dog begins barking and the group notices some walkers which they herd onto a bridge. There, they kill all but one who turns out to be a real live girl who begs to be spared. When they ask her how many are in her group, she is all, “Just me! You’ve killed everyone else! So, no need to worry about that anymore!”

Michonne and Daryl are skeptical …

… but there’s no time to parse her logic because WALKERS! so they just drag her along with them back to Hilltop.

AOnce at Hilltop: sad face about Jesus.

Michonne and Daryl drag their new friend to the cellar prison where they scream at her for her name. Cowering and miserable, Girl insists that she doesn’t have a name — none of her people do — but it doesn’t even matter because they’re all dead now. They were just good people doing what they had to to survive and now they’re all dead thanks t Michonne and Daryl’s people. Dead and nameless. Yep. All dead. That’s the ticket.

Michonne doubts this story …

… and demands to know if her people know about Hilltop. Instead of answering, Girl begs that they stop asking so many questions and just leave her alone.

Michonne SIGHS HEAVILY and leaves. Outside, she visits with Tara who informs Michonne that she’ll be taking in Lady Gaga’s group, because it’s literally the answer to WWJD. Michonne thanks her and informs her that she’ll be leaving in the morning — her people need to know about this new white people foolishness.

Michonne then warns Daryl that keeping Girl is a risk, and he knows what he has to do if she doesn’t talk.

Elsewhere, Dr. Mullet is in the infirmary having his dislocated knee popped back into place by Dr. Siddiq. After, Dr. Mullet tries to confess his love for Rosita who is like, “OH HONEY NO, THIS IS NOT HAPPENING,” before running out of the infirmary to go puke in the bushes. This is where Dr. Siddiq finds her and she confesses to him that she’s pregnant with his baby — from the time they were messing around before she hooked up with Father Gabe.

And because they choose to have this very private conversation directly beneath his window, Dr. Mullet overhears the entire thing.

As Jesus’s grave is dug, Henry sits with Daryl and whines about his hangover — GET USED TO IT, KID — but notes that the fresh air is helping. Well don’t get used to THAT, Kid, because Daryl’s shoving you right back into the cell in a couple minutes. Henry apologizes again, insisting that he was just trying to figure out who he is at Hilltop in an explanation that no teenager has the self-awareness to possibly come up with.

As Michonne packs up the wagon for their ride back to Alexandria, Aaron tells her she was “right” — they have everything they need in Alexandria, and they need to stay inside where they are protected. Michonne then reiterates to Daryl that he needs to continue questioning Girl. They then agree that bringing Jesus back should help Hilltop move on because in case you missed it the first time they alluded to it: THEY NEVER FOUND RICK’S BODY.

After Jesus’s funeral, Daryl returns to the cell to continue his questioning of Girl. And she reveals a few things: there were around 10 of them in their group; they don’t use names; they wear the skins to blend in and be left alone by the walkers; they don’t have a camp with walls because walls are ~AHEM~ bullshit …

… they killed Daryl’s people because that’s what they do; and her mom is still alive and out there but PLEASE LEAVE HER ALONE.

At some point, Henry pleads with Daryl to stop harassing Girl, and Daryl stomps out of the basement. Girl thanks Henry for being her knight in shining armor and introduces herself to him: her name is Lydia. BUT! Daryl listens into their entire conversation from the window above, because Daryl is smart like that.

Out at the gate, Enid welcomes Lady Gaga into the community and then worries to her about Nice Savior who went out looking for Michonne, Jesus et al, with Uncle Melvin. But Lady Gaga’s all, “Nah, Uncle Melvin’s got this.”

Funny story: Uncle Melvin does not got this.

Nice Savior and Uncle Melvin went out to rescue the group who went out to rescue the group who went out to save Dr. Mullet. But instead of finding their people who are back safe and sound at Hilltop (well, with the exception of Jesus), they find themselves on the wrong side of a shotgun held by a remarkably sassy zombie with excellent manual dexterity. Uh-oh!

Over in Alexandria, Negan has discovered that Father Dum-Dum left his cell unlocked and he decides to go for a little stroll. First, in a very bold choice, he sneaks inside his captor’s home and steals a compass from Judith’s room.

But then instead of taking off in the dead of night, like a dumbass, Negan waits until it’s light before trying to scale the fence. That’s where Judith finds him and, Rick’s gun fixed on him, orders Negan to get his ass back in his cell. “Nah,” says Negan, instead promising that he will be good, not hurt anyone and never show his face here again. Judith relents but 1. insists there’s nothing out there for him anymore 2. promises that if she does see him again, she’ll shoot him, before 3. telling him that he can keep the compass, it’ll help him “find his way.”

So Negan wanders around a while, killing walkers and drinking river water which leaves him vomiting because NO SHIT IT LEAVES HIM VOMITING, COME ON, NEGAN. One site I found claims that he finds himself in the clearing where he killed Abraham and Glen and haz a sad, but I’m just going to have to take the site’s word for it because I can’t tell one tree from another.

Negan wanders into a clothing store and finds a pretty sharp leather jacket conveniently in his exact size before being set upon by some very cranky dogs. He manages to escape from the dogs by throwing a walker at them WHICH WAS MAYBE A STEP TOO FAR, NEGAN.

R.I.P. Cranky Dogs.

Negan finally makes his way to the Sanctuary which is not in the condition he left it in, completely trashed and flooded and only occupied by walkers, including one he recognizes as “Richie.” After moping in his conference room for a while, Negan heads out to the yard, kills a few walkers including his pal Richie, and then takes his leave.

Negan is riding his motorcycle back towards Alexandria when Judith steps into the road and begins shooting at him because a promise is a promise, motherfucker. After crashing, Negan surrenders to Judith, explaining that she was right, there is nothing out there for him anymore, he’s ready to go back.

First of all, big week for Jeffrey Dean Morgan: first he’s reunited with his family over on Supernatural only to have to SPOILER ALERT re-die all over again, and then on The Walking Dead, he finally escapes his prison of six years only to NOT SO SPOILER ALERT re-incarcerate himself all over again.

And this is a crucial point in Negan’s story — he might have freedom and a cool leather jacket, but time has moved on without him and without the Saviors — without Lucille — being Negan doesn’t really mean anything anymore. His only real option now is to try to make Michonne and the rest trust him and make a place for himself in Alexandria — which maybe (and I STRESS maybe) they were trying to foreshadow in the first moments when he left his cell: the first thing he did was eat a tomato straight from the vine, mirroring the vision that Carl had for the future, wherein Negan was helping harvest tomatoes alongside the rest of the Alexandrians. In any event, Negan now realizes that his only path forward is behind the walls of Alexandria and possibly the walls of his cell.

Comic spoiler: This is similar to what happens in the comics: Negan’s cell is accidentally left open but instead of escaping, Rick finds Negan sitting in the cell with the door open. Rick still doesn’t trust him, however, and locks him back up. Later, Negan is released from his cell by someone who wants to get revenge on both Rick and the Whisperers, which leads Negan to go on his own adventures with the Whisperers. I suspect we’ll see a similar plot progression on the series — that Michonne will not be impressed by Negan’s gesture, and he will eventually find himself amongst the Whisperers, maybe by the end of the season.

This is the overarching theme of the episode: an acceptance, begrudging and born through painful experience, that there is nothing in the wilderness for them (at least for our protagonists). Aaron admits this to Michonne after Jesus’ death, and Negan admits it to Judith after his little foray outside the walls,in almost the same words:

Aaron: “You were right. I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to. We have everything we need in Alexandria. And they have everything they need here. We should… be inside, protected… taking care of what we have and each other. Sorry I didn’t get that till now.”

Negan: “‘Cause you were right. I got a good look outside my cell, and there is nothin’ there for me.”

There are a couple of things that are happening here. The first is the most obvious: they want to establish firmly that Negan is no longer the antagonist, that he is more like our heroes than not — down to having to admit that the Grimes women were right after all.

But the second thing they are doing is dividing characters into distinct camps: pro-wall and anti-wall. Our protagonists are pro-wall; and the enemy, the Whisperers, as Lydia explained, is anti-wall. The Whisperers are anti-wall, anti-civilization, anti-safety, anti-life. They don’t just walk among the dead to protect themselves as Rick and some of the others have done in the past: they embrace the lifestyle of the dead — or, deadstyle, I suppose.

And with that, I’m just going to close by noting how utterly bizarre it is to find myself pro-wall on this of all weeks.

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

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