* For a review of the previous episode, “The Cell” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Go Getters” – click here
Back in Alexandria once more. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) lay in bed next to one another. She rests uneasy, her breath heavy. She heads downstairs and gets a gun from the chimney, then leaves the house, as Rick watches her go.
In an open field Michonne walks by herself. She stops at a rusty old truck and gets up to look around. She sits there, waiting with the rifle in her hands. At the house Rick holds his little Judith. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) fumbles around with a radio outside while Rosita (Christian Serratos) and others hope to gather more for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) when he arrives.
But he has already arrived: “Little pig, little pig, let me in.” Rick meets him at the gates. As always, Negan talks shit. He’s brought his Saviors, Dwight (Austin Amelio) and captive Daryl (Norman Reedus) included.
Negan lets himself into their little town. Even makes Rick hold Lucille while he waltzes. And seeing Rick hold that bat, new blood splattered over it, there’s a hate in his eyes we’ve not seen in a long, long time. If ever.
Negan’s pleased with the looks of Alexandria. Plenty of spoils to take. When Rick tries talking to Daryl, the bad man makes clear he is “help” and nothing more. Scariest part of this guy is that he’s also sexually threatening to the women. We’ve already seen, and heard from his own mouth, about what happened to Dwight; not good. He’s got women amongst the Saviors, as well. But just like hardline right-wing women, there is a seething hatred likely underneath their hard exterior. No telling what Negan’s offered them, what type of options they’ve been given to this point to make them follow his orders. On top of everything else, Alexandria gets pillaged of supplies, so on. Leaves them withered to even think about taking on Negan if they’re struggling to keep themselves in goods to appease him.
Out in the field Michonne takes shots at a walker in the distance. She never quite hits the thing in the head. So it’s back to the sword. Moments later she happens across a deer in the woods, dead, bullet hole in its neck.
More and more we see that Negan is happy with what Alexandria provides: “This is the kind of stuff that just tickles my balls!” Moreover, he finds the tapes Deanna left long ago. The tape shows a bearded, wild Rick. Not the man he is today. Such a stark contrast, one heavy reminder. Then Negan begins taunting some about Maggie (Lauren Cohan), talking about widows in a real nasty manner. Oh, and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) shows up. They tell Negan that Maggie is dead, buried. We know it isn’t true. That isn’t something we’d not see. But this baseball wielding bastard doesn’t need to know.
A gun goes off down the street. Carl (Chandler Riggs) isn’t letting the Saviors take all their things. He’s holding them at gunpoint. This pisses the big guy off when they catch up. Negan does feel slightly impressed with Carl’s balls. Eventually the kid gives up, his father watching with tears welling in his eyes, not wanting another person – especially his son – dead in front of his eyes. Shitty thing is that Negan will be taking firepower with him when he leaves. Again, withering Alexandria worse than before.
Lots of psyching out from Negan. He continually batters people, physically and mentally, no matter with whom he’s dealing. Even his own guys, now and then. With Rick it is brutal. To see such a strong, relentless leader as him be crushed into submission by anyone shitty, let alone this dude, is a bit of Shakespearean tragedy. Yes, it’s needed story wise. And I love it. But still a hard pill to swallow when you love Rick, as well as Andrew Lincoln (gives him a proper role to chew into this season though).
Rosita and Spencer (Austin Nichols) head out and find Daryl’s motorcycle in the woods. “This is where Rick got us,” he tells her. Sad that he sees it that way. A defeatist attitude. Rosita then runs into the woods out of nowhere while he talks.
Negan gets his hands on the RPG the gang used – Daryl specifically – to blow those guys off the road last season. Furthermore, he discovers an accounting error in the books Olivia keeps for the armoury. Missing guns. Uh oh. “Two handguns short.” This might cause trouble. Lucille is thirsty for Olivia.
In the church Rick asks his group who’s holding the guns. Nobody speaks up, though Rick and the core few witnessed what happened to Abraham and Glenn. “I‘m not in charge anymore; Negan is,” he tells the people in front of him.
Rosita tracks a couple zombies in the woods and then takes down a group of them like a bad ass. She snags a gun off one of them. No ammo. She wants to make sure Alexandria has some protection left when Negan rolls out. “This is not our life,” she tells Spencer. I love her, and hope she continues to be a bigger character from here on in.
Whereas Rick panics looking for the guns, Gabriel tries reassuring him that things will change for the better. He has faith in Rick, after all they’ve been through together. Aaron (Ross Marquand) searched Rosita’s room, nothing, and there are less places by the minute to check. When Rick steps on a floorboard there’s a hiding place with canned food, liquor, and… you betcha, a couple handguns. A Savior accosts Enid (Katelyn Nacon) outside like a dirty creep. Nobody can do anything except watch on, which doesn’t make Carl happy, or anybody for that matter.
So Negan’s got his guns, for now Olivia is safe. But the bad man and his bat wants Rick to keep a lid on his people. If not, I imagine more head smashing. Oh, I can’t wait to see someone get the upper hand on Negan! I want his villainy to last, but very much looking forward to the tension once he and Rick (or whoever) go up against one another in a more violent way.
The toughest is when Rick has to go to Michonne for her rifle. He knows that she’s been practising. She refuses to let go of her weapon. Rick is done losing people, regardless the price. I understand that, in a way. Upsets me to see these two divided amongst themselves after so much.
When the Saviors are ready to leave, Rick wants Daryl to stay. Seeing as how they’ve given over so much. No dice. Next time Negan comes through he wants “something interesting” or somebody will get fed to Lucille.
With nothing left Alexandria goes on as it did before, only hungrier, less equipped. At least Rosita has a gun. Not sure what good one will do, but one is better than none. Not everything is swell around town, not even mattresses to sleep on. Rick and Michonne are at odds over this new defeated way of living. For the first time in so long he talks about Shane, and the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, how Lori got together with Shane, the whole story. He admits: “I know Judith isn‘t mine. I know it.” Although he loves her like his own. He hopes to teach her to survive. Mostly, he talks of having to accept so many things out of his reach. It’s either take this life now, or nothing at all. But for how long?
Back in that field Michonne goes. Up on the rusty truck. On the horizon she sees smoke. In the road are their mattresses, burning. All for the Saviors to have fun with, not for sleeping.
More importantly, Rosita remembers something crucial with no bullets in her gun: Eugene knows how to make ammo.
Lots of good stuff setting up here. Great dialogue and tension between Rick and Negan, as well as the fact we get more Rosita, which is unusual yet welcome, and the other characters aren’t being left behind.
Next up is “Go Getters” and I’m hoping the tune changes from this episode. Really good one, just felt that by the end the Negan-speak was getting on my nerves. I dig the dialogue, the whole smug personality irks me after a while.