Originally published on Flickering Myth on 05/12/16.
In a nice change of pace for the show, the penultimate episode before this year’s mid-season break was a jam-packed jumbo-sized version of one of the most memorable comic-book entries, featuring a whole bunch of different and varied characters. It might’ve been Carl and Negan that took us through the large majority, but little nods from Rick, Daryl, Gabriel, Spencer and Michonne certainly helped to keep the drama alive.
It’s no lie that season 7 has slowed to an almost snails’ pace following its (literal) breakneck opening, but The Walking Dead still manages to keep matters entertaining even when the overall plotting is a tad worse for wear. This week for instance, played host to some of Negan’s most horrifying acts to date:
1.“Kid, I’m not gonna lie, you scare the shit out of me.”
After Carl spent pretty much the entirety of the past two episodes hiding out in the back of a rickety box truck bound for the Saviours’ compound, we might’ve been expecting something a little more explosive than what actually happened: a few nobodies dead and no real consequences. Yet. But the moment Carl found himself reunited with Negan did warrant one of the season’s best lines to date.
It comes as no real surprise that the Saviours’ supposedly fearless leader makes human swiss cheese out of almost anyone who dares to defy him, but Carl seems like a totally different case altogether. Why, you may ask? The key’s in the line – Carl’s one of the only people Negan’s come across throughout the entirety of the attached apocalypse that doesn’t seem to really fear him. As an angsty teen who killed his own mother and watched most of his best friends gradually get picked off one by one by an army of the flesh-eating undead, Carl is pretty much the ultimate emo, and that’s something Negan really doesn’t understand. So of course, he’s scared shitless of the kid.
2. The Wives
We’ve been hearing bits and pieces for a little while now about Negan’s apparent “wives”; a troop of attractive townspeople he keeps locked away to have his wicked way with whenever he so desires. But this week we actually got to meet a few more of them, and it was, as expected, fairly uncomfortable to watch.
Framing the whole thing like he’s some sort of Fury Road-style warlord, the show finally gave us a peak behind the curtain into Lord Negan’s sleeping chambers, where unsurprisingly, the grisly-faced psycho lives like a king, complete with four-poster bed and everything. And with a literal roomful of super terrified women forced to obey his every wish and command, the bastard that is the show’s ultimate antagonist just got a whole lot… bastardierer?
3. Sing Me A Song
The episode’s title, taken from the much famed comic-book scene of the same name, was pretty much a live-action given the very second Carl showed up on Negan’s doorstep. But the reveal itself still set in plenty of shivers down an already icy-cold spine when it started finally playing out for real.
In a targeted effort to well-and-truly break the young sour-puss, Negan cracks out the big (psychological) guns, making Carl remove his eyepatch so he can point and laugh at his gaping wound, before demanding that his edgy little friend break out a verse of his favourite song. Not knowing what else to do, Carl of course whimpers out a few lines of ‘You Are My Sunshine’, giving us all horrific Laurie-based flashbacks and reducing the poor kid to tears. Despite such a blatant spot of emotional humiliation though, Negan hasn’t quite broken Carl just yet.
4. The Iron
In what quickly became one of the world’s most demented take-offs of the all-American fave “take your kid to work day”, Negan went on to take a stroll around his castle with Carl en-tow, showing off the scenery and letting him watch ‘daddy’ in action, as he punished a wrong-doer in the standard Saviour way: a burning hot iron to the face. Tasty.
And in classic Walking Dead fashion, the crew weren’t particularly quick to pull us away from the central action, throwing in every last detail possible – right down to the molten skin melting off the poor dude’s face. The show’s never been particularly shy around gore but after a bit of a slow first-half to the season, the iron moment does land as a bit of a nasty shock. It’s also actually been a little while since we’ve seen Negan take someone down so physically and brutally, so it comes as a fairly nasty reminder of his capabilities too.
5. KILL OF THE WEEK: A few dispensable Saviours
Yet another fairly dry episode as far as kills go, but with a dash of human blood actually spilled this week, there’s a few more consequences to the deaths in question. The second Carl pops up in the back of the Saviours’ truck, stolen assault rifle in hand, he guns down a nearby henchman, before taking out another Negan uses as a human shield. We might not know who the hell these dudes actually were, but Negan’s treatment of them certainly says enough.
Firstly, to date, Carl still hasn’t been punished. Whether that’s so Negan can break him and turn him against his own nemesis Rick, or just because he’s yet to dream up an idea sick enough is still to be revealed, but it’s certainly telling. And then when you add on the fact that Negan used one of his own kind, and literally had him killed just to defuse the situation quickly reveals just how little the warlord actually cares about the majority of his soldiers. Any chance of a revolution any time soon, guys?
So despite a few other familiar faces popping up this week, it was still Negan and Carl’s tense-as-hell back-and-forths that really drove it all home. Episode 8 marks the show’s mid-season finale, and with Negan currently chilling in Alexandria, and Michonne, Jesus and soon Daryl all loose in the Saviours compound, it’s sure to be an explosive one. We hope.