AMC’s The Walking Dead
10×22: “Here’s Negan”
Directed by Laura Belsey
Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
* For a recap & review of 10×21, click here.
* For a recap & review of the Season 11 premiere, click here.
Maggie talks to her Hershel about her own father, from whom the boy gets his name. She still can’t get used to seeing Negan around Alexandria, and if they lived another century they’d probably never be comfortable around each other. Carol notices it, like everybody does. So she takes Negan with her when she goes hunting. They go to Leah’s old cabin. Seems that the Alexandria council has voted to “banish” Negan for his own safety. Well, it’s probably more like Carol has made that decision. Not that it doesn’t make sense. But, really, how does Negan remain a part of a society in which he has to stand side-by-side with the wife of a man whose head he crushed like a grape, as well as that same dead man’s young son? How can he ever be fully integrated into that community?
For now, Negan spends his time alone by the fire with booze to drink. Plenty of time for self reflection, surely.
We see the two Negans: the man he is now, and the horrifying man he was once upon a time. Even the way he talks now is completely different. He’s definitely a changed man, but how far does ‘changed’ go when you were once a psychopathic maniac? Can that person ever really change? Negan sees his former self as “a clown, a cult of personality without a cult.” He wants to forget the days of Lucille; the bay, anyway.
We return to a previous moment with Rick and Negan, when the latter got his throat cut.
We see another moment with Negan and Michonne talking about Lucille.
Great image of Negan digging by the tree because right now he’s figuratively digging up his past.
Negan unearths his hideous bat from the ground by that familiar tree.
We jump back 12 years earlier. Negan was being held by a group of bikers while trying to get back to his sick wife. It looks like he was having trouble with a biker gang to whom he gave bad intel. The bikers tried extorting the right info out of him by threat of tossing out his wife’s chemo drugs. Negan told them about a medical clinic and a “medical stockpile” someplace else. He’d been tracking the group with all the supplies, following them to a spot in the woods where he confronted a man only to get cracked in the head with a baseball bat.
When Negan woke up he was strapped to a chair. The guy he confronted was Franklin (Miles Mussenden), who seemed like a fairly nice man. Franklin offered a bowl of chicken noodle soup and an IV drip. He wondered why Negan was trying to rob doctors using a gun without bullets. We discover that Negan was a high school gym teacher in a time before zombies. Ever since he was looking after his sick wife, doing chemotherapy in the post zombie apocalypse wasteland.
YET ANOTHER jump back in time, to six weeks before that. Lucille (Hilarie Burton) was trying to take her mind off things with James Bond while the apocalypse was raging outside and she was continuing her chemotherapy. Negan was keeping the generator going only as long as necessary, not wanting to draw too many walkers with the noise but needing to keep it going for so long every day in order to keep the refrigerator cool. He and Lucille did what they could to pass the time. It’s compelling to watch Negan back then be so timid about killing walkers, considering the horrific, brutal acts of violence we’ve seen him commit. A great episode because it shows just how far gone he got after losing his wife. Perfect line: “I‘m just worried that I‘m going to get used to it.”
Lucille gave Negan his leather jacket as an anniversary gift, even though they didn’t know the date. She apologised for a credit card bill that evidently caused a silly argument. He told her not to apologise; he apologised for the man he used to be, thanking her for sticking around. Then they had themselves a fun night. Negan had found a stash of weed somewhere, so they acted like it was “Saturday night” and smoke some pot, got intimate. But when they woke up in the morning the fridge had gotten warm and melted. This made things desperate. Negan wanted to go out looking for others who potentially had chemo drugs.
Skip back ANOTHER SEVEN MONTHS. I dig this episode, I just don’t dig the structure.
We see Negan at home not working and playing Gears of War online with teenagers. Lucille wasn’t happy with him. We find out Negan got busted for “misdemeanour assault,” as well. Not a great situation for either of them. Lucille didn’t want to give up on her husband in spite of all that happened. Of course we know she didn’t, though it’s still difficult to see their struggles. Especially when Lucille got diagnosed with cancer and didn’t even have Negan there to drive her home. Plus Negan was lying to her about where he’d be at the time, telling her he had a meeting with his probation officer. She also couldn’t get her friend on the phone. Was Negan having an affair with his wife’s friend? Goddamn, that’s cold. Later that day, Lucille waited for Negan to get home. She told him about her diagnosis.
Jump back to the day the refrigerator gave out. Lucille confronted Negan with the truth about knowing of his affair. She didn’t want him to keep beating himself up. She also didn’t want him to go back out there, looking for more chemo drugs: “Now it‘s time for you to go on without me.” He refused to do that, not willing to give up on his wife’s life. Again, jump back, to Negan speaking with Franklin, explaining what brought him there. Franklin wanted to help, giving him a cooler full of supplies. They also gave him a baseball bat for protection. One more jump, back to Negan and the bikers. He was telling stories to buy himself time. But he wasn’t about to get shot, so he marked off a location on the map, telling the bikers it’s where he met Franklin and his daughter. When the gang were done with Negan they let him walk free with his supplies. He ignored the morality of what he had to do and he went back on the road, back to his wife. Problem is, Negan got back to a zombie wife after Lucille killed herself.
Haunting use of “You Are So Beautiful” as Negan tries, and fails, to kill his zombie wife.
And then he creates Lucille, the bat, before lighting his house on fire.
We see the bikers were beating on Franklin, looking to find the doctor’s good supplies.
Then the new Negan emerged, ready to kill anything that moved. He killed the bikers and then sat down to pontificate with the gang’s leader. He talked about what led to his assault charge; he beat a guy down for being an asshole to Lucille over a jukebox tune, and that guy had kids at the school where Negan was a gym teacher. That led to Lucille having to pay medical bills for the asshole. Man, what a shitshow. Then Negan killed the biker.
We go back to Negan at the cabin. He talks to Lucille the bat like it’s his wife, apologising to her for everything, including “naming a stupid baseball bat” after her. He hopes she’s in a better place on the other side. Can Negan somehow make amends to his wife by being a better person now? Can he somehow make amends to the people he’s hurt so deeply through his violent actions? Only time will tell. Right now, Negan burns his baseball bat and heads back to Alexandria. This surprises Carol. She says Maggie will kill him eventually and Negan’s prepared to face that should it come.
Interesting end to Season 10.
There’s only ONE season left, so I’m thrilled to see what happens with Negan and Maggie particularly.