Well, that was tense. After weeks of waiting we finally got to the moment we have been waiting for: the arrival of Negan. As expected, Jeffrey Dean Mogan does not disappoint for one second, despite only being onscreen for the last 10-minutes of the show. Yet he owns every bit of those 10-minutes.
Overall, not a lot happens in this episode. Part of this episode is seeing Morgan find Carol while the other half is trying to get Maggie to the Hilltop doctor to find out what is wrong with her.
The Carol-Morgan dynamic has been mixed but it is interesting to examine these two characters, if only to spend more time with Melissa McBride and Lennie James. Carol is not necessarily hoping to die, but she certainly will welcome it when it comes. It is odd for her character to be here given all she has done and the strength she has shown, but what it says is there is a breaking point to everyone. Morgan realises this and, with some help, was able to come back from it, which is why he wants to help Carol. This story thread is not resolved here but will hopefully lead somewhere in season 7. Also, when these two do get back to Alexandria and find out all their main warriors are captured then they will need to provide real leadership.
The road trip with Rick and Co. quite literally went nowhere. Yet it was tense as The Saviours not only showed who was really in charge, they also showed how strong they really were. In fact, this is probably only part of the power Negan wields, which makes him all the more dangerous. The Saviours had Rick’s Army played from the beginning, it was only a question of when and not if the noose would be placed around the group’s collective neck.
Quick side note, did anyone else realise the main Saviour doing the talking was the actor who plays Trevor from GTAV? He did not have much to do here, but he was clearly in command of the situation and had confidence (not arrogance) about what was going to happen with Rick and Co.
“It was good to see Rick literally brough to his knees here. For weeks we have seen him arrogant and cocky, but where they have seized a town, Negan has seized the new world.”
It was good to see The Saviours take command of the situation here after getting their asses kicked by Rick for several weeks. Interestingly, Negan sees this as a positive because he wants Rick’s Army to work for him, but of course this comes with a caveat (more on this later). It was also good to see Rick literally brought to his knees here. For weeks we have seen him arrogant and cocky about what his group could achieve. Granted, this was not unfounded, but what they have accomplished was seizing a town; Negan has seized the new world. As Jesus said many episodes ago, the world is much bigger than Rick and Co. have realised. All of this dawned on Rick when he was finally brought to his knees. Andrew Lincoln has maybe two lines here, the rest is written all over his face. He is terrified and destroyed, everything he has accomplished and fought for over the years is gone. Negan is the man in charge now.
The final scene where we meet Negan is simply great. Jeffrey Dean Morgan captures everything about the man. As Robert Kirkman (the creator of the comics) said, Negan is in many ways like Rick. If we woke up with Negan in a hospital bed and followed his story instead to this point then we would just as easily be cheering for him capturing Rick’s group. This is an interesting dynamic I hope will be explored in season 7, in particular the similarities and differences between Negan’s and Rick’s ideology about the new world.
We also knew someone was going to die here (and, yes, someone does die) but we are not shown who as the camera goes to a first-person PoV without saying who it is. Some felt short-changed by this, but as show runner Scott Gimple said, this season was about Rick’s fall and not about who was going to die. Season 7 will be about who died and the consequences of it on the group going forward. More importantly, Gimple admits the show must deliver on the first episode (or else).
Season 6 has been pretty amazing, with especially great episodes in the back half. Even when episodes were less than great, the quality of this show has only improved over 6 years. The performances from the main characters are always superb and the story, which can waffle from time to time, is still interesting to keep viewers coming back. This episode did a great job introducing us finally to The Saviours and Negan, who are basically the other side of the coin to Rick’s Army. Going forward, I hope the show explores their similarities and differences, and I hope to see how much bigger this world really is.