The producers of ‘The Walking Dead’ have gotten terribly complacent and indulgent this season. This week’s episode once again runs an extra long 90 minutes for no good reason. It’s not the mid-season finale or a special event of any kind, nor does anything particularly notable happen in it. The show can’t possibly continue on like this for much longer.
The main storyline picks up with Jesus and Carl hiding in the back of the Savior truck. As they get close to the Savior compound known as The Sanctuary, Jesus jumps out. Carl is supposed to follow him but doesn’t. Instead, he picks up an assault rifle from one of the crates. When the truck stops inside the compound, Carl mows down a couple of Saviors and demands Negan. This is not a very bright plan. It takes all of about five seconds before Dwight jumps him and takes the gun away. Nonetheless, Negan is impressed by Carl’s cojones. Rather than kill him on the spot, he invites Carl on a tour of their home. Carl is not in a position to refuse.
For the rest of the episode, Negan struts around like the cock of the walk, proudly showing off to Carl what an asshole he is. He demonstrates how Daryl has been humbled, brings the boy to see his harem of wives, and makes him watch as he tortures a man who’d broken one of his rules. (The rule being “Don’t sleep with one of my wives,” the punishment for which is to be branded on the face with an iron, like Dwight was.) To humiliate him, he demands that Carl take off his bandage to show his exposed eye socket and then sing “You Are My Sunshine.” The point of all this is a sick form of seduction. He thinks Carl is a little badass and wants him to join their team.
When Carl talks back to him, Negan announces that it’s time for a ride. He gathers his convoy of trucks and heads to Alexandria. Daryl growls something threatening about how Negan better not touch the boy, so Negan has him thrown back in solitary confinement. As the truck pulls away, Daryl notices Jesus on the roof of the trailer. Good thing nobody else sees him.
The Savior trucks arrive in Alexandria ahead of schedule. Rick is away, scavenging. Negan insults Olivia the quartermaster and makes her cry. He says he’ll wait until Rick gets back, however long that may take. When he finds baby Judith in a room (apparently, nobody was watching her), he picks up the girl and brings her out onto the porch, then sits to have lemonade with Carl. He makes a joke about how it may be time to settle down and make a home in the suburbs, which is undoubtedly the scariest thing he’s ever said to these people.
Here are some other things that happen while Carl is putting up with Negan:
- Michonne makes a roadblock with a pile of dead zombies and hijacks a Savior car, then demands that the woman bring her to Negan. Little did she realize she could have just waited at home and he’d show up on his own.
- Rosita forces Eugene to bring her out to the foundry and make her a bullet. (Just one?) Eugene protests and tries to talk her out of her stupid revenge plan, but she won’t be swayed.
- On a scavenging trip, Spencer whines to Father Gabriel about how much he hates Rick. He’s so annoying that even Gabriel (of all people!) tells him he’s a terrible shit, then gets out of the car to walk home because he can’t stand being in his company any longer.
- While following zombie noises in the woods, Spencer finds a zombie stuck on a platform in a tree. I don’t really understand what this is about, what the platform is or how the zombie got up there (is it a hunting thing?), but Spencer knocks him down and collects a pretty sweet compound bow, as well as a note with some unintelligible gibberish scrawled on it. He seems to believe the note is important.
- Someone (presumably Dwight’s ex-wife Sherry) slips Daryl a note saying “Go Now” under the door of his cell. Stuck to the paper is what I assume is something he can pick the lock with.
- During their scavenging, Rick and Aaron come across the property of a crazy survivalist who left a bunch of rambling signs warning trespassers that they’ll be killed on sight. When that doesn’t happen, it appears that the owner must already be dead. Unfortunately, he kept all his supplies on a barge floating in the middle of a zombie-filled lake.
I get that the main purpose of this episode is to show us more of the Saviors’ compound and its workings, but we already saw plenty of that in the Dwight episode and this one doesn’t add much else new. (We see a good view of the exterior and learn that it’s in an old factory. Whoop-de-doo.) Yes, we get more of Negan being a slitheringly seductive creep, but, again, we’ve seen that before too. Although I think that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is great in the role, everything Negan does here feels redundant and pointless. For a character just introduced a half dozen episodes ago, that’s an alarming problem.
The other storylines all go nowhere and end without resolution. I cannot fathom why anyone thought this episode needed to be 90 minutes or merited any of that extra screen time.