No, you didn’t hallucinate, and yes, you read that title right. If you’re a comic reader like myself, you know that mega-villain and leader of the Saviors, Negan, is a horrible wretch and the poorest excuse for a human being to ever walk the face of this earth. He mutilates, he kills, and after it is all over, he just kicks back and laughs about it, all while dropping more than a few F-bombs. However, the catch is this is just what we know from the comics, and so far, we haven’t even seen Negan, and everything that we allegedly “know” is just hearsay. Gregory said this. Jesus said that. Lots of words but nothing confirmed. In contrast, Rick and his group have done plenty. They have attacked, stolen, and killed, and to make matters worse, all of it were done completely unprovoked. So, now the big question is who is really the bad guys here? This is a question that comes front and center in tonight’s episode, and to help answer it, we have gone all the way back to the mid-season premiere to create a little “guilt” scorecard for both Rick and Negan. You kill someone in self-defense, it won’t count against you, and nothing is added to your “guilt” score. But, if you kill without provocation, that’s bad for your “guilt” score, and you get a +1. Let’s see how the 2 leaders/groups came out.
DARYL VS. THE SAVIORS FIREWORKS SHOW
I will have to give the show credit and say that the initial clash between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and the Saviors will go down as one of the most epic scenes in the entire series. Here you have a group of biker punks standing in the middle of the road, pointing guns at Daryl, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and demanding that they hand over all of their stuff or to be blunt, they’ll die. What’s more, after they do that, they are to lead these biker assholes back to Alexandria because, hey, why settle for what these 3 have when you can get the mother load back at home base.
Did anyone really think Daryl Dixon would just bend over and gleefully just take that? Of course not! So, the next thing we know is every last one of those Saviors are blown to kingdom come thanks to the handy rocket launcher that Abe had scavenged on their supply run. The good news is as much as Negan would be pissed at what just happened to his men, sorry dude they had it coming. The needle-dick leader of the biker crew was just about to execute Abraham, and Daryl simply did what he had to do.
Rick/Alexandria Guilt-O-Meter — 0
Negan/The Saviors Guilt-O-Meter — 3
Note that I’m giving the Saviors a +3 because they were about to kill Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha, and would have done it were it not for Daryl’s little fireworks show. So, at first blush and right out of the gate, it appears that Negan has a head start to being King Asshole, but hold on tight, folks, because that’s about to change dramatically.
SUCKER-PUNCH ATTACK ON THE SAVIOR OUTPOST
Okay, everyone, let’s put all of the cards on the table. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) arrives at the Hilltop and quickly learns about Negan, the community’s boogeyman and the one person preventing Alexandria from entering into a trading agreement with these people. After all, the Hilltop really isn’t in a position to trade food and medicine for weapons and ammunition when they are being forced to hand over 1/2 of everything they have to the Saviors.
What’s more, Rick is even able to see first-hand Negan’s brutality when a group returns from a supply run and Gregory (Xander Berkeley) is promptly stabbed as a message from the Saviors’ sadistic leader because their supply drop was not adequate. Of course, then there is Jesus’ (Tom Payne) account of Negan beating a 16 year-old boy to death in front of the entire community just so that Gregory “understood” that he is to follow the Saviors’ orders or this would be the consequences.
So, what does Rick do? His plan is to invade Negan’s compound at night, slaughter everyone while they slept, and then, Alexandria could forge an alliance with the Hilltop, trading food for weapons. And, this is exactly what he does. For me, watching last week’s episode as all of this unfolded was quite difficult. For Rick, Abraham, and even Father Gabriel, it seemed like an everyday thing to go into each of the Savior’s sleeping quarters and just stab them in the head. The only exception was Glenn (Steven Yeun) because it was his first human kill, and for that reason, the episode was an even more painful pill to swallow.
By the end of the hour and after (almost) all the Saviors were dead, the one question that came to mind was this: How is Rick Grimes any different now from characters that we’ve called “villains” in the past, like The Governor or Gareth? I understand Rick’s reasoning for doing what he did — Alexandria was going to starve if they didn’t find food, and this trading partnership with the Hilltop seemed like his only option. And, for that to happen, Negan and the Saviors had to go. But, wait. Hold the press. Isn’t that what The Governor did? We probably remember The Governor slaughtering all of those men from the National Guard in season 3, but why did he do it? He did it because Woodbury desperately needed their supplies. Umm, doesn’t that sound familiar?
And what about Gareth? Boy, viewers really hated on that guy. But, remember, Gareth and his group started out as good people, and only turned to killing and cannibalism to survive. Just like Alexandria, the people at Terminus had to eat, and so killing became a means to an end. At the end of the day, it’s all about survival. The Governor, Gareth, nor any of these people were necessarily “evil” — they committed despicable acts only to keep themselves and their people alive.
Bottom line — while some may say that Rick executing all of those Saviors was justified, just like with The Governor and Gareth, it’s still murder, and this act alone shoots Alexandria’s “guilt” score through the roof.
Rick/Alexandria Guilt-O-Meter — 30 (I lost count of how many Saviors were killed, and so, I’m just pulling 30 out of the air)
Negan/The Saviors Guilt-O-Meter — 3
CAROL’S BAT-SH*T SHOWDOWN WITH THE SAVIORS
That brings us to tonight’s episode. As we all probably suspected, at the end of last week’s episode, we realize that Rick’s plan had gone spectacularly bad. They believe that they have killed all of the Saviors — Negan included — and so, they just can go back to Alexandria and enjoy the good life. Umm, not quite. It stands to reason that the Saviors would have a few people guarding the perimeter, and unfortunately, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are caught.
Here once again, Rick makes more foolish choices. He has a single piece of leverage and that is a lone Savior who sprung from the compound on Daryl’s bike at the end of last week’s episode. Instead of trying to negotiate calmly for Carol and Maggies’ release (perhaps Morgan would have done a better job here??), Rick continues with his cockiness and declares “they have no choice.” Wrong answer! All that does is piss these Saviors off, resulting in black bags being thrown over Carol and Maggie’s heads and their ending all negotiations.
From there, they are taken to what the lead captor, Paula (Alicia Witt), calls a “safe house,” which with all the walkers lurking around, doesn’t appear very safe at all. By now, both Carol and Maggie realize that they are good as dead unless they come up with a miraculous way out of this horrid situation. This is where our bad-ass Carol comes in, and just like so many times before, she ends up saving Maggie and saving the day. You know, last week when Carol made that list of all the people she had killed, I must admit I was concerned. She seemed to start second-guessing herself, and when you do that, you become weak and you die. And, I suppose she does this to some extent in tonight’s episode. After Carol escapes and rescues Maggie, Carol just wants to leave, but Maggie wants nothing of it.
We have to finish this and finish it now — Maggie to Carol
Carol doesn’t want to, but with some nudging she finally agrees, and so, the killing spree begins. First goes the old, fat chic thanks to a nifty walker trap, and Maggie finishes her off with more stab wounds than I could count. Then, next is the tough, tattoo girl but this time from a bullet to the brain courtesy of Carol.
The best is left for the group’s ring-leader, Paula. Carol continues with her crisis of conscience and literally begs Paula to leave, but to no avail. It ends with Paula being impaled and eaten alive in her own walker trap, but the killing doesn’t stop here either. Once again, Maggie and Carol could have just left, but instead, decide to wait for the reinforcements that had been called in by Paula. Carol tells them to come to the “killing floor,” and when they arrive, Carol is waiting for them — with barrels of gasoline and a single-lit cigarette. And, down goes another half-dozen Saviors.
But, let’s not forget about that lone Savior that Rick is still holding hostage. After the idiot proclaims that he is, in fact, Negan, and given that there’s no longer a reason to keep him alive, Rick executes the guy point-blank.
This entire episode was very dark and very disturbing, and not because of the Saviors, I might add. Yes, they are one scary bunch — and Paula particularly gave me the creeps — but what Carol and Maggie did was, in my opinion, far worse. It all goes back to what Carol said to Maggie — they could have just left after killing the older Savior, Molly. But, they continued on, and so the way I see it, the blood of everyone else after that is on their hands. The tattoo girl, Paula, the 6+ Saviors that Carol burnt out, and yes, even the Negan-wannabe that Rick executed.
Now, putting all of this together, what’s the final tally:
Rick/Alexandria Guilt-O-Meter — 38
Negan/The Saviors Guilt-O-Meter — 3
So, now what? Well, now is when the payback begins. I suspect Rick and his group are feeling pretty cocky and think that they have won. But, as I pointed out in my post from last week, all they have really done is taken out a stupid Savior outpost, and contrary to what Rick may believe, that dumb-ass he executed in the final scene definitely is not Negan.
That being said, what do you think will happen when this “boogeyman,” this “monster,” who calls himself Negan does finally reveal himself? You can fully expect there to be hell to pay, and I’m sorry, folks, as much as it pains me, Rick and Alexandria are going to deserve it. Seriously! Yes, at this point, I’m officially “Team Negan,” and before you get your panties all in a wad, think about it just for a minute. As Paula and her fellow Saviors pointed out tonight, they didn’t do a single thing to Alexandria, and Rick barges in like it’s the Wild West and kills all her people. Even if this weren’t Negan, any leader of any group (Rick Grimes included!) would strike back — and hard.
Bottom line — heads are going to roll (no pun intended!), and keep in mind while you’re watching your favorite character being ruthlessly killed by Negan how they got there. They got there because of Rick Grimes’ foolish and rash decisions and by the Savior blood that is on all of their hands. And, for that, there’s got to be a price, and unfortunately, that price is going to be quite steep.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com