This 60-minute episode was emotionally really exhausting as we got the full spectrum of Negan’s strategies to badger Rick and the group. After the opening scene shows us a usual day in Alexandria, we see Michonne sneak out with a sniper rifle. We learn she practices shooting walkers and she has horrible aiming. A cobbler should stick to his last…
Then the Saviors arrive at Alexandria. In a cool shadow shot, we only see the silhouette and immediately recognize Negan. We would have also recognized him for his line: “Little pig, little pig, let me in”. Spencer, who has not been with the others when Negan killed Abraham and Glenn, tries to be defiant, like an idiot, and Negan is already close to exploding. Thankfully (? nobody likes that douchebag…), Rick deescalates the situation and opens the gate. Rick tries to gently show some irritation due to Negan’s premature arrival but Negan will not have any of it. After expressing that he’s impressed with the place, he sends out his minions to loot all the houses. That came surprising but if you think about it, we should have expected something like that. Negan will decide what “half your shit” consists of and further provokes Rick by not allowing him or anyone to speak to Daryl and by having Rick hold Lucille like a servant. After continually provoking Rick or anyone else to act out, he eventually has Rick thank him for his service and Negan sadistically speaks out that today he has slid his dick in Rick’s mouth. On a sidenote, in this showcase episode of Negan’s psycho-terror, Jeffrey Dean Morgan earned his Critics’ Choice Awards nomination, for all his “neganisms” and his enthusiastic delivery of all the foul-mouthed lines.
Negan is not just busy fucking with Rick but also bullies other characters. With a disgustingly horny face, he inquires about “the widow”, Maggie. Enter Gabriel – with incredibly quick thinking he saves the situation by showing Negan her grave, which he has quickly dug. Let’s hope he won’t find out she’s in Hilltop.
After Carl threatens one of Negan’s guys and fires a shot, Negan sees himself forced to take away all their weapons, which is “an assload of weapons” as the enthused Negan puts it. After clearing their whole armory, there are two guns missing according to the count. Negan threatens to kill Olivia, who is responsible for their inventory but Rick assures him they will find the two guns. Finally, they do, and they do in Spencer’s secret stash, making him even more of a douchebag than before. After this incident, Rick even voluntarily gives away Michonne’s sniper rifle, which was not included in the official count, an act of ultimate resignation. Rick admitting that he is not in charge anymore, that Negan is and seeing our group resign make this episode so hard and exhausting to watch as we’re used to see our group fight. In addition, we see that they collected the majority of mattresses in Alexandria and burned them not far outside the compound. This might feel a bit inconsequential because either you should hide it better or demonstrate your power by publicly burning it in front of Alexandria. But the latter wouldn’t be a great idea as that would definitely cause some uproar instead of coercing obedience.
In the meantime, Rosita and Spencer were sent on a roadtrip to find Daryl’s motorbike by Dwight, who acted like an absolute prick again this episode. This was probably the least interesting part of the episode. Rosita is eager to find a weapon and goes on a very perilous venture to take away a gun from the walkers who were present when Denise was killed. She became very creative when she used to tree to attract the walkers and surprise them from the other side. In the final moment of the episode, we see Rosita asking Eugene to make a bullet for her. She has one shell and one gun and I’m not sure if she will follow through on her plan. I don’t think Rick would allow that but neither do I think that Eugene would rat on her.
After Negan leaves, Spencer insults Rick and blames his leadership for Glenn’s and Abraham’s death. Oooh, Spencer is so dead, it can’t take many more episodes. Rick has more important stuff to care about and later drops the bomb that Shane is Judith’s father. That he has known all along makes his character so much more believable when he cares so much that no one gets hurt in this Negan crisis.
Next episode we’ll see Sasha and Maggie on their way to/at (?) the Hilltop. I’m looking forward to seeing Jesus again and I’m interested in seeing Maggie and Sasha bond over their losses. It is character work like that that I also appreciate about the show, especially in the more quiet stretches (such as the back half of season 4).
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