When we left off: Maggie was sick and so everyone even vaguely important decided they should get in the RV and take her to the Hilltop doctor. But Negan captures them and at the end of the last episode, they - Glenn, Rosita, Daryl, Michonne, Maggie, Abraham, Rick, Carl, Sasha, Aaron and Eugene - were all on their knees in front of him. We got a POV of Negan bashing someone in the head with his barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat ("Lucille") and then cut to black.
When we pick back up: Glenn, Rosita, Daryl, Michonne, Maggie, Abraham, Rick, Carl, Sasha, Aaron and Eugene are on their knees in front of Negan. To save both you and me a LOT of time, I'm just going to tell you that MOST of this episode is Negan talking and talking and talking and talking. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is obviously having a REALLY good time but it just goes on and on and one, Negan being jocularly terrifying and playing mind games with Rick, psychologically beating him down and down. You see, Rick makes the mistake of telling Negan that some day, not today, not tomorrow, but someday, he is going to kill Negan.
And Negan is not having any of it. He is going to break Rick and he's going to do it in front of everyone, so everyone knows that there's just no point in going up against him. Thus the talking and talking and talking, some of which takes place away from the rest of the group, as Negan drags Rick off into the RV and drives him out to the middle of nowhere in a bunch of zombies. And talks and talks and threatens and chuckles and talks and talks and throws an axe out the door and tells Rick to fetch it back for him. And Rick fights the zombies and is having flashbacks to all his friends.
And he's having a flashback to the night before and then finally TWENTY MINUTES INTO THE DAMN EPISODE we finally see who Negan bludgeons to death with Lucille. It's Abraham. And it is gruesome and gory. And if anyone in the audience knew anything about Abraham, really cared about him, and hadn't been jerked around by this stupid show playing games with us, we would be sad. But it's just gruesome.
After Negan grinds Abraham's brains into paste, Daryl jumps up and throws himself at the man, getting one punch in before Negan's men subdue him. "Oh my! That is a no-no! The whole thing - not one bit of that shit flies here!" The men drag Daryl back into place and Negan resumes, grinning and strutting and talking, reminding them all that he said the first one's free and then "I will shut that shit down ... I'm a man of my word and I need you to know me. So, back to it!"
And at this I actually gasped out loud, which I haven't done with this show since I don't know when: Negan unexpectedly pounds Lucille into Glenn's head without warning. If you thought Abraham's bludgeoning was horrific, this is even worse. It is awful, violent and gory unlike anything this show has ever done. I suppose we all knew Glenn's days were numbered - in the comics, Negan indeed beats Glenn to death in front of pregnant Maggie - but this is shocking. But again, after the Glenn's death fakeout last season, and the fact that Glenn had very little character development other than being the group's moral center, I just don't care all that much. It just surprised me.
Back in the now, out of the flashback, Negan brings Rick back to the group and talks and talks and talks and decides he still sees a challenge in Rick's eyes so he brings Carl out in front of the group and puts the axe in Rick's hand and tells him that either Rick cuts Carl's arm off or Negan will kill Carl and the rest of our gang here, plus everyone else back at Alexandria. Carl begs his dad to just do it and Rick breaks, wailing and blubbering and begging Negan to take his arm instead and then he's going to do it and Negan has mercy (of a sort) and doesn't make Rick do it. He tells Rick et als. that he's going to leave them now and that he'll come by in a week to see the offerings they've collected for him. And then he and his army just up and leave (one guy stops to take a photo of Glenn's smushed head first), taking Daryl with them because Negan has decided he likes Daryl's spirit.
The last few minutes are just Rick's group - the few that are left - crying and burying their dead. Sasha says she'll take Maggie to Hilltop to see the doctor; the rest of them, dazed and broken and completely in shock, head back to Alexandria.
And this whole fucking episode is basically my two least favorite things about The Walking Dead: talking and talking and talking plus being Rick-centric. Just ugh. On the plus side, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a wonderfully evil - if woefully verbose - villain.
Look, I get it. I do. The show has finally brought its violence and misery up to the level of the comics. (Which, incidentally, I gave up on after the first omnibus because of the horrific violence and unrelenting misery.) But this show is just no longer fun to watch and hasn't been for a long time. I am hopeful that the introduction of new communities and new characters - what's up with that tiger? I am VERY hopeful about that tiger - will both broaden and deepen the story. Otherwise it's just a dirgeful sadness-sufferfest punctuated by brutal violence. And the shocking violence isn't even earned because none of the characters are allowed to develop and we the audience are only attached to them due to their respective longevity. This show should do better. I love zombies but I'm really starting to dislike The Walking Dead.
Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead
11 hours ago