Who died? Who the hell knows? We open to a bloody pulp, a smug Negan, and Rick promising that even if it’s not today, he will kill Negan. Bragging about the importance of having a right hand man, wondering if the pulp on the ground was Rick’s, Negan asks his own right hand man, Simon, about Rick’s weapon. He then takes Rick, and his ax, and drags him to the RV. Once inside, he lets Rick think that he will let him have the ax and a shot at taking him out, if Rick is quick enough. Negan then pulls a gun on him as he tries, kicking the crap out of a weakened Rick to prove he is the bigger man. Negan starts up the RV and begins driving, warning Rick to think of what could still happen – the implication being certain death for all if Rick doesn’t behave. Our stunned leader is thinking of each member of the crew, still not showing us which has died. The RV suddenly stops in the middle of a herd of walkers. Negan tells Rick that he, and everyone he knows, now belong to him. To prove his point, he forces Rick out of the RV to retrieve the ax he has thrown on top of the vehicle, forcing him to fight his way through the walkers to get to the top of the RV. Taking in the gruesome scene around him, Rick falls to his knees, still thinking of his crew as Negan taunts that he probably thought they would all grow old together, sitting around the table having Sunday dinner. Is it too soon for me to want Rick to kill this guy? Do we really need a full-season villain any more?
More replaying of the last scene from the season 6 ender. Finally, we learn that it’s Abraham!!!!! Our favorite ginger gives Negan a “Suck My Nuts” directive before dying before Sasha’s eyes. She can barely contain herself, knowing their last conversation was about starting a family. We see the beating to it’s brutal end as Negan laughs about his “dirty girl” (the bat). He sticks the bat in Rosita’s face, asking her if they were together. Ok, folks, there is a point at which Glenn’s escaping death becomes a mix of relief (because we love him) and resentment that someone else always dies in his place when it is logical that Glenn would be up next. Daryl, tired of Negan taunting Rosita, jumps him, but is quickly put down. Negan tells his men not to kill anyone, yet. He reminds them that the first one is free, but also warned them what would happen if they got out of line, again. It as if the writers knew that the audience would wonder how Glenn developed the equivalent of super lotto-winning luck, and remedy the situation. Negan beats Glenn over the head so hard his eyeball pops out. All resentment, no relief… Glenn’s last words are: “Maggie, I’ll find you.” Negan fake-apologizes for their pain and continues whacking away at Glenn. Daryl is beside himself, knowing that his actions are being used by Negan to justify the psychotic attack. The group breaks down, as Negan calls them a bunch of “pussies,” telling them that Lucille, a vampire bat, is thirsty and keeps whacking at Glenn’s crushed skull. This is gory. It’s clear why Rick made the threat, even under the unlikely circumstance of surviving, himself. We cut back to Rick, on top of the RV, remembering the cruelty of that night. Surrounded by walkers, he is flat on his back, unable to pick up the ax lying next to him.
He finally recovers as Negan tells him that it is the last chance for him to bring the ax and let the others live, while firing through the top of the RV. Rick runs and jumps on a walker hanging from a nearby bridge – the ax falls away. Just as the walker’s body is about to pull away from its head, dropping Rick into a ravenous walker herd, Negan mows them down. He gives Rick yet another chance to retrieve the ax. Why is it so important to break this one man? Why is Rick not dead now, too? Rick is simply overcome with emotion and envisions each of his crew being beaten by Lucille. Rick is killing walkers with a vengeance as he makes his way back to the RV. Negan opens the door and gives him cover, firing into the herd, as Rick enters the RV and plants the ax on the table. He drives Rick back to the group, calling him “prick,” again taunting him. He knows how hard it is for Rick to go from “King Shit” to losing TWO of his own. Negan laughs that it all happened in front of his boy – how embarrassing. He thinks Rick was addicted to being in charge and now that’s over. In a sheer power move, Negan wipes the blood from the walkers off of the ax and onto Rick’s coat as he talks, telling Rick that he can lead a productive life working for him. He hands back the ax, telling Rick he’ll need it. A defiant teary-eyed Rick is warned to take it, and finally does.
His next power moves is to drag Rick back to what’s left of his group. Carl is not amused. Asked if he knows what the “little trip is about” he demands that a defiant, silent, Rick answer him. He is told that the trip was about the way he looked at Negan. Negan is angry that Rick is still looking at him the same way — like he “shit in his scrambled eggs.” He asks if Rick should have another chance, but then tells his men to put guns to the back of the heads of Rick’s group. He calls Carl up front, asking if he is a southpaw (clarifying what the term means for the poor child). Negan then ties a belt around Carl’s arm and places him face down on the ground next to Rick. He takes an ink pen from his “right hand,” Simon, and draws a line across Carl’s arm. Rick begs Negan not to hurt him. Negan tells Rick he’s not doing shit. He wants Rick to cut Carl’s left arm off. He’ll give Rick a little time to process it. He has to do it or everyone dies, then Carl dies, everyone at home dies, and Rick lives a few years to stew in it. He wants it to be a clean cut. Michonne screams out that it doesn’t have to happen, they understand what he wants. Yes, but Rick doesn’t, Negan responds. Rick offers himself but Negan refuses his sacrifice. An overwrought Rick begs and Negan refuses. Carl tells his father to just do it. As the ax lifts, Negan stops him. He tells Rick that he answers to him, provides for him, belongs to him- forcing a crying unsettled Rick to repeat the words. Smugly he tells Rick that he finally gave the look he wanted to see. He credits them for all working together, including the dead guys on the ground, who “get the spirit award.” Things have changed, he said. Whatever they had going for them is over. He orders Dwight to load Daryl up and they take him away. He says that Daryl has guts, he is not a bitch like someone he knows. He likes Daryl, he says, but threatens to cut pieces of him, and deliver them if Rick does anything wrong. He may even force Rick to cut Daryl up, himself.
Negan leaves them with a “welcome,” of sorts. He throws out, “Welcome to a brand new beginning, you sorry shits.” He plans to return for his first offering in a week, leaving our group with a truck to help them haul all of the stuff they’re going to find for him. Our heroes can’t move. They are stunned, heartbroken, empty. Negan is not wrong, their lives have changed. The world is a crueler place than they knew and they are no longer strong survivors, but are barely surviving. Maggie is the first to stand, making he way to Glenn’s body. Rick wants to take her to Hilltop. She wants them to go back home and get ready to fight. She blames herself because they were out there to help her. Rick tells her that they are still there for her. She wants them to go back, believing she can make it on her own. Michonne tells her that they won’t let her go. Sasha says that she will take Maggie to Hilltop and keep her safe. Maggie wants to take Glenn with her. Sasha is taking Abraham. Losing our beloved survivors to walkers is bad enough. Losing them to evil assholes who will be dead in a season is harder. In the end, our crew pulls together and helps to move the fallen to the trucks for transport. Aaron, Rick, and Carl grab Glenn. Sasha, Rosita, and Eugene grab Abraham. It is a small thing, but meaningful, as bereft as the survivors are, Aaron seems equally pained. They are a family.
The show ends with Negan’s taunt about Rick thinking they would all grow old, together playing over the end scene. Maggie is standing alone, with two large blood pools staining the ground. There is a scene of the dream Negan mocks, everyone around the dinner table together, Glenn, Maggie and their child. Abraham is sitting near Glenn, who is at the head of the table. A laughing, smiling, Sasha sits next time him. The Alexandrians are happy, not a care in the world. The dream is short-lived, in the real world, Rick has his ax in hand and gets into the RV, ready to make the trip to hilltop. He leaves behind a walker he would have killed under other circumstances – watching as it feeds at the blood soaked pool left behind. I feel gutted and overwhelmed. Welcome to season 7! May Negan’s death happen soon, and be painful.
I’m an exasperated soap fan who keeps hanging on – waiting for the daytime I once loved to return to its former glory! Hey, it doesn’t hurt to have a dream. I learned to love soaps thanks to my wonderful mother and grandmother. I’ll always have fond memories of daytime, most especially of ‘Another World’, my first stoap love. The ever great, but sadly defunct, daytime shows like Ryan’s Hope, Search for Tomorrow, The Doctors, Loving, and many others keep a special place in my heart, as well.