One more 90-minute episode down and that much closer to the 90-minute midseason finale. Filling up the show, we see what became of Carl's ill-fated assassination attempt of Negan. Michonne has something cooking up her sleeveless top, though we aren't entirely sure what. We get a closer look at Negan, and Daryl is presented with either an opportunity to escape, or he's being tested again. This week The Walking Dead took a stab at splitting time among different places within one episode, taking a break from the single location rigor of recent episodes, however it needs be presented a little more tidily.
Game of Thrones handles this really well, with all the different scenes and characters carrying through the same eerie overtones of the episode regardless of where you find yourself in Westeros. The storytelling is seamless. I'd like to see TWD continue this trend but aim for the GoT level of perfection. We followed several different couplings, each with different levels and types of tension.
Rick and Aaron, desperate but hopeful, are scavenging for Alexandria's offering to the Saviors; they have only today to get something good. Luckily they find the potential mother lode, provided they can reach it in the middle of Lake Walker. Eugene and Rosita are on a mission - actually Rosita is on a mission for a bullet and yolks Eugene in on her fool-hearty errand. Now, Eugene questions the logic of her quest – "What good will one bullet from one gun do?" I'm with him. The fact is that you need to kill Negan AND Simon, his number 2, to create a power vacuum, at the minimum. And truth is – that still might not be enough. One bullet – really?
Father Gabriel and Spencer start out on a run of their own, when Spencer asks if hating Rick is a sin. I think that's just his way of bringing up his concerns to Gabriel. Gabriel reminds him Rick is the only reason they all are alive right now. It's also Gabriel, in this exchange, that remarks the most poignant point of this episode, a point which I think will tie directly to the mid-season finale - "Rick not only protects us, but he also brought us together." It seems like every week I remark on how splintered the group is becoming and I think it's by design. Negan is a craftsman at pushing the buttons of all these groups – Alexandria, the Hilltop, maybe even the Kingdom (though we don't know for sure). 'United we stand, divided we fall.' I think next week will show just how divided our group is, so the audience can have an idea of how far away is unity, the key ingredient in overcoming this problem known as the Saviors.
Hands down, my favorite paring of the evening was Negan and Carl. Carl's plan is to kill Negan on sight. He only manages to successfully kill two henchmen. Even after Negan arrives, Carl doesn't take the shot. Instead, Carl follows in Rick's footsteps as the "Lucille bearer". Negan addresses his congregation, gathered to watch today's corporal punishment - a scalding iron to the face of the man who missed a shift to dip off with one of Negan's wives (The one who used to be his own wife). Negan takes Carl under his wing like "the cool uncle", showing the boy the kind of life that is possible in Saviorville. Having this come-to-Jesus (Satan?) moment in Negan's stylish bachelor pad just adds weight to all his statements. Negan exudes pure a--hole when he explains how guys should break each other's balls as a rite of passage. And how he doesn't mind if Carl stares at my wives' titties because that's what young boys do. If it weren't for all the murdering, I could see Carl looking up to this guy, or at least questioning his father's path through this apocalypse versus Negan's.
I'm glad they're finally expanding on Negan's character. Tonight, we witnessed two apologies from Negan, both of which seemed earnest: One to Carl, who starts to cry when Negan makes fun of his damaged eye socket, and another to Olivia, who Negan fat-shames. To demonstrate his sincerity, Negan offers Olivia a helping of 'the D' to show her that there are no hard feelings. "As long as she's open to it", that is.
We end with Negan and Carl sitting on Rick's porch with Judith on Negan's lap, lemonade at the ready to quench his thirst as he greets the community and waits for Rick's return – "Hey, maybe we'll barbeque later." I'd be slow to accept invitations anywhere from that man. Negan's stewing on what to do with and/or to Rick and Carl because he cannot let the disrespect continue.