The new day brings us Michonne whistling “the farmer in the dell,” to attract and hunt walkers, while alone.
It also brings us Rick and Aaron waking up in the back of a panel truck, finding a welcomed surprise, and Negan’s men also waking up in a panel truck full of stolen loot from The Hilltop. They brag about other stolen goods, including some of the things they’ve taken from Alexandria, unaware that Carl and Jesus are hiding in the back. Of all the pre-apocalypse things Rick will learn to miss, access to a good military school for young people should be high on his list. Jesus uses a bottle of syrup to leave a trail, full of faith that they will survive long enough to use it. Carl is along for the ride so the even money is on the bottle being wasted. He thinks they should drop tuck and roll before heading into the camp and follow the truck the rest of the way in. Carl wants Jesus to show him how to do it safely. Once Jesus is off the truck, Carl waves at him. Inside Negan’s camp, Carl quickly fires on Negan’s men, killing two. He then calls Negan’s head. Things go as well as can be expected. Carl is tackled to the ground and a helpless Daryl is forced to watch as Negan calls him “adorable” and offers to show “their guest” around the camp. I wouldn’t say “adorable” as much as I would say “too lucky for too long.” Negan tells Carl that he gives the same damned stink eye as his dad, only half as good, because… well, you know the rest. A veiled threat at cutting away Daryl’s hand makes a reluctant Carl take Negan’s offered hand.
Negan “jokes” that he won’t have time to screw any of his wives, today, well…maybe one, as he smiles eerily at Dwight, who just saved his ass from Carl, and is now tasked with taking Daryl to the kitchen to help prep food. Carl’s stupidity is viewed as impressive, and taken as a sign that he is a a badass. He is then taken by Negan to witness a Savior prep talk. The joy his people express after hearing they will get fresh vegetables without having to show earned points is called “respect” by Negan, who mocks his people by stating that they are still on their knees. If he were in Alexandria at the same moment, he would see that Spencer would fit in nicely in their camp – eager to do Negan’s bidding while faulting Rick for putting them in the position of having to earn for Negan. A disgusted Rosita challenges Spencer on whether he could have done better (the dolt believes that he could have). She tells him to go to the truckload of goods he probably has stashed for himself, somewhere, and go pay his taxes – but to leave them alone. She leaves with Eugene. Negan is back at his camp showing Carl the room full of wives who must be grateful for Carl’s presence since it means Negan is too busy to touch them. They are collectibles, trophies, not human beings to him. He treats Carl as if they are both adults in a “candy store.” Thankfully it stops when he questions his wife Sherry, Dwight’s still treasured wife, about whether wife “Amber” is sleeping with “Mark” behind his back. She plays tough, but not for long, begging for leniency for Amber’s mistake. He says he’s never hit any of them, but Sherry reminds him that she knows him and he is capable of far worse. He hands Carl his beer before telling Amber she has the right to go back to Mark if she wants, but she is NOT allowed to cheat on him. She begs to stay instead of going back to her family and her old job. She pledges her love and he tells her it will work out, for her. How awful was her old job?
Negan perfectly times a kiss with Sherry, who he says likes him even though she calls him an asshole. The way she returns his kiss tells us that he may be right. Dwight and Daryl walk in to witness the kiss and are forced to continue watching. Daryl finally speaks, but in a tone Negan dislikes,when he asks why Carl is there. Negan first gives back the comment Sherry made to him, earlier, when asked about Amber and Mark, “What we talk about when you’re not here is none of your business. He then offers to put a toothpick, from the tray of food Daryl is carrying, through Carl’s remaining “good eye.” Negan and The Governor are so similar. Both are men who probably ran a FroYo franchises before the world fell and they become cartoony tough guys who have to keep reminding everyone of how evil they are, now, to stay in power. This clod wants a badly burned Dwight to fire up the furnace, calling it a “trip down memory lane.” He’s precious, our Negan. Those parting comments move Sherry to tears.
Back at Camp Hell, Carl is trying to figure Negan out, while Negan congratulates him on not being a moping teen crying about missing prom. He likes Carl, but can’t let him get away with killing two of his men. He forces Carl to unwrap his bandages. He laughs and calls his eye disgusting and gross and says that it is no wonder he covers it. He begs to touch it, but seems to actually feel remorse when Carl cries. He is reminded that Carl is just a kid. There is a knock at the door, Fat Joe is bringing Lucille back to Negan, who makes dirty jokes about Joe petting Lucille’s lady parts, in front of Carl. Fat Joe becomes Fearful Joe and laughs hysterically before being brutally dismissed. Negan seems to think of himself as the father figure Carl never had, telling him the ladies may not like the look his eye, but no one will mess with him if he leaves it uncovered. He uses his exchange with Joe to show Carl how men “break each other’s balls” (clearly failing to acknowledge it as a one way ball-breaking). He questions Carl on what he likes to do for fun, whether he likes music. For killing two of his men, Carl has to sing him a song. He wants something his mother sang to him or his father played in the car. With Lucille put to his head, he is told to start singing. He chooses, “You are my sunshine.” In the background, Negan practices swinging Lucille and tells Carl not to let the swinging distract him. Being sung to is the only thing she likes more than bashing in brains. He wants to know where Carl’s mother is. When he hears the story, he calls Carl a little serial killer in the making. “Breaking balls”… sure. He tells Carl to come with him. They are headed for “The Iron.”
If rancid thoughts had a physical place to go to die, that place would probably be located inside Negan’s head. He believes that The Saviors are bringing back civilization, but only because they have rules they have used to restore order. He now has to enforce the rules, as much as it pains him. Yes, folks, the world lives or dies based on whether women are faithful to a small and insecure man who can’t handle being rejected. He takes a hot pressing iron, heated up by Dwight, no less, to Mark’s face. Amber and the others are forced to watch the man scream in pain, until he passes out. Thankfully, he won’t have to watch as Negan mocks him for not being able to tolerate the intense pain, and for wetting himself (which Daryl has to clean) and he doesn’t have to watch his skin pulls away from his face. What irony given the man’s inability to tolerate emotional pain.
In the woods, Spencer releases a bow from a now-walker who died in a safety perch at the top of a tree, he also finds a knife and a note written in Latin, in his pockets after the rotting corpse falls. Rosita is back at the shop Eugene shared with Abraham, before he died. She tells him that he needs to make her a bullet. He is trying to remind her that no matter how good she is with a sniper rifle, someone will have to pay for what happens even if she is successful. She calls him a coward and weak and says he is only alive because he lied and because others feel sorry for him. She tells him to do something useful – for once. He makes the bullet. At Camp Hell, Sherry and Dwight want to know how the other is able to sleep. He thinks she sold out Amber and Mark (a claim she denies, with some truth since Negan already knew). Given the accusatory tones of their voices, there will soon be nothing left between them if this thing with Negan doesn’t end. Elsewhere in the land of doom, Carl wants to know why he, his dad, and Daryl are still alive. In essence, it amounts to Negan enjoying breaking each of them in his own way. When asked what his punishment should be, Carl tells Negan to jump out the window to save him the trouble of killing him later. Carl then tells Negan that if he knew anything, he would kill them all but he can’t. Negan laughs and tells Carl to come with him. Not knowing that Jesus is riding on top of their truck, Negan has the truck stop long enough at the gate to tell Daryl that he was taking the kid home. A threat that Carl had better not be harmed lands Daryl back in the box. Inside Daryl receives a note that says “Go Now,” – with, it seems, a key attached.
Michonne’s walker-scavenger hunt begins to make sense. She piles walker bodies in the road to trap one of Negan’s people, directing the woman to take her to Negan. Free life lesson? If a woman kills a mountain of walkers, single-handedly and piles them in the road, don’t try to escape. It is probably useless. Michonne’s captive learns that the hard way. While Michonne is out looking for Negan, he is back at Alexandria, waiting on Rick to return and mocking Olivia’s weight when she says they are low on food and practically starving. He thinks the Alexandrians lack a sense of humor as she cries. He apologizes to her and offers to screw her brains out. She slaps him only for him to say that he is 50% more into her. I am 100% more violently ill. She runs to make lemonade as instructed. It’s not like she has a choice. While she is gone, he tours the house, ending up in Judith’s room. He hands Lucille to Carl while he holds her. Carl begins to understand the gravity of his actions.
Things are beginning to come together. Aaron and Rick find what they are looking for, a compound full of supplies (food, weapons, medicine), unfortunately it is all tightly guarded by a moat full of walkers. On the way home, Eugene rejects Rosita’s apology. He knows she sorry about the words she used, but not the sentiment. They approach Alexandria at the same time as Spencer, who reveals that the note he found on the walker led to a cache of supplies. They are surprised when the gate opens and Negan’s trucks are there. Rosita, bullets in hand, is pleasantly surprised that he is inside. On Rick’s porch, Negan is drinking lemonade, rocking Judith, and barking at neighbor – inviting him to a bbq, later. He comments to Carl that he was right, it may be time to bury him and his father in the flowerbed out front. It may be time to settle in the suburbs. Carl didn’t see that coming, no doubt. A moment that felt like true bravery may have put his entire family in jeopardy.
Another 90 minute episode, next week. It will be the midseason finale. The big question is whether Negan dies and his men take over in tormenting our survivors or whether we are in for seven weeks of war as the season concludes.
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.