This was posted on Sunday, December 4, 2016 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Negan appears a fourth time on "The Walking Dead" and continues to torment everyone around him, friends and foes alike. Most folks appear to be intimidated and/or disgusted by him and his fake joviality. But he does provide a certain level of security and safety in numbers.
It's also another extended edition, the fourth of out of seven so far this season. It seems like the producers can't pare down their shows to an hour, especially when Negan is involved. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as he noted on Howard Stern this week, has to learn a massive number of lines while Daryl, Rick and Carl grunt a lot.
He walks that fine line between cruel and entertaining, whether he's mocking someone's weight, sexually harasses them, threatens them or tortures them with an iron. He spent most of the time with Carl at his side, "grooming" him for... something. What? We aren't sure.
Here are some questions that came to mind while watching this very dense, plot-packed episode:
What sort of intel can Jesus pick up?
He's a great martial artist and escape artist. He now knows where Negan is based, as Maggie had asked. I'm not sure what else he discovers. And while he thinks Carl would join him on his reconnaissance trip, Carl obviously has other plans.
How dumb was Carl shooting two of Negan's men but not Negan?
Carl is a dumb kid, as Negan notes. I thought Carl's intention going in is to shoot Negan point blank. He has a gun trained right on him. He could just do it. Obviously, the other men probably would have just shot Carl on sight and this show would have taken a completely different turn. And we know Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character isn't going anywhere any time soon.
So instead, Carl shoots two of Negan's men dead. Negan could easily kill Carl himself with his buddy Lucille. But that would be boring, no? He is intrigued by Carl's viciousness. He calls him "a little bada**" as a compliment. He sees a kindred spirit in Carl despite the fact he has taken Carl's dad down 50 notches.
If not death, what sort of punishment will he mete out to Carl for downing two of his guys?
Carl is already missing an eye. Negan, ever curious, wants him to unwrap his cover so he can see it. It's kind of gross looking though it's partially obscured by Carl's long hair. Negan is impressed. And he demands Carl just lets it out in the open. He says nobody will mess with him like that. But he knows he has to humiliate Carl some more. So he forces Carl to sing a song, as the show title says. Carl comes up with something his long dead mom Lori sang to him when he was a wee toddler: "You are My Sunshine." Carl is not going to win "American Idol" but Negan doesn't insult him, Simon Cowell style, for a change. Rather, he decides to take Carl back to Alexandria.
How many wives does Negan have?
He is Mr. Sister Wives Redux. It appears he has at least six or seven ladies at his beck and call. He clearly is enjoying the perks of dictatorship.
What was the point of the Mark-Amber storyline?
Mark skipped out on his duties to be with Amber, his former love - except Amber is now with Negan. As Dwight has learned, there are consequences when you don't "follow the rules." In this case, Mark gets half his face ironed - just like Dwight. A simpering Mark faints as the skin peels off his face as the iron is pulled off.
This is the ultimate tyrannical power move since he did it in front of many Saviors - including Amber.
How can Sherry get away with calling Negan an a-hole?
She appears to have an understanding with Negan. He sometimes likes women willing to give him guff. Does she really like him? Doubtful. But she is smart enough to keep him on his toes. And she finds her ex Dwight's behavior a bit too sycophantic for her taste even as they secretly share cigarettes. (Wow! There are still cigarettes around at this point?)
Is it fair to call Fat Joey fat?
He is slightly portly but I guess in the zombie apocalypse, he's like a 600-pound monstrosity. And he is truly scared of Negan. When Negan makes fun of him, he takes it. When Negan says it's a joke, Fat Joey laughs in the fakest way possible until he's told to leave.
Does Negan care that nobody really likes him?
He is such a narcissist, as long as people are kissing his arse, he's fine. He cares most about "respect." And he loves hearing himself talk. His primary goal is to amuse himself as he amasses power.
Is Carl buying into Negan's form of autocracy?
I sense Carl finds Negan oddly enticing even as he actively tries to hate him. At one point, he wonders why Negan just doesn't off him, Rick and Daryl. Negan says he thinks Daryl could become a good soldier and he sees Rick coming through with stuff. And he just likes Carl. He has no kids of his own (alive, at least). Maybe he's seeking some sort of father-son connection.
So who wants to get to Negan?
Michonne, for sure. She takes a bunch of dead walkers and lines them up on the road, forcing one of the Savior drivers to stop. She then kidnaps the Savior with a gun (she had a spare, of course) and demands she take her to Negan. The driver tries to shake up Michonne by suddenly braking but Michonne overpowers her.
Then there's Rosita. She basically insults the hell out of a reluctant Eugene to make her a single bullet. He says there are too many Saviors and one bullet can't do much. He thinks it's a hopeless venture and deep down, without saying so, he doesn't want to see Rosita die. Rosita is willing to do so to avenge Abraham's death. Afterwards, when she apologizes for forcing him to make the bulet, he says he'd rather revert back to "awkward silence" because she got what she wanted out of him. She has no idea where Negan is located yet but she wants to be prepared.
And how about Daryl? Sherry appears to be helping him out by opening his door and leaving a note that says "Go now!" She obviously knows Negan is gone on a trip. Where will Daryl do? What if he tries to leave? What are his motivations at this point? He is also peeved that Negan has Carl in his clutches.
Who is more annoying: Spencer or Gabriel?
That's a close call. While on a supply run, Spencer is whining about how much he hates Rick. Again, he blames Rick for the deaths of his mom, his dad and his brother. He is justifiably angry.
Oddly, Gabriel as a pastor shows little empathy for Spencer. Instead, he says they should focus on the future and calls Spencer a "s***" for hoping Rick dies on his supply run and leaves the car to walk back to Alexandria. He has become a blind lover of Rick, who helped save him from certain death and depression.
Spencer does find stuff for Negan. As he tells Rosita, it's like a tax. He sees a zombie deer hunter who died standing on a tree. He knocks him down and nabs his weapon. He also finds a sheet of paper in Latin leading to a treasure trove of medical supplies and canned goods. So maybe he isn't quite the idiot we've seen up to this point.
Olivia: Negan's next conquest?
With poor Olivia, Negan is throwing out "rape" vibes but doesn't appear to go through with it. He's already awful enough as it is. The writers did hold back in this case. At least she got to slap him... and turn him on rather than upset him.
What will Rick and Aaron find on their supply run?
They end up at a man's home on a moat with walkers in it. It appears the man is dead. We don't know yet what will happen next and what he will be able to provide for Negan.
Why is Negan awaiting Rick?
He clearly wants to address Carl's murdering ways with Rick. And by holding and playing with toddler Judith, he is sending the message that nobody is off limits to him. Everyone is Negan.