After a fairly slow episode last time, we’re met with, you guessed it, another build-up episode. That’s perfectly OK because there must be build-up if there’s going to be anything explosive to look forward to. And I’m sure the writers at The Walking Dead will not disappoint. I’ll be addressing the different plotlines individually, as this episode had quite a bit of hopping around, with very little detail to them other than a quick scene with only a few lines. At the end of the day, this episode should have been called “This Is Why Carl Should Stay In The House, a.k.a. Dammit Carl!”
The main focus is on Carl’s infiltration of the Saviors’ compound. Carl fools Jesus into jumping out of the truck, while he stays inside and can go about his plan unhindered. His plan, albeit not the brightest one, involves loading up a rifle and hiding to wait for his opportunity. He’s spotted and begins firing, killing two of Negan’s men before demanding to see Negan. Our villain doesn’t make the boy wait, arriving just at the end of the ruckus to declare Carl is “adorable.” Carl is disarmed, but Negan does seem sincerely impressed by Carl’s bravery.
Later, Carl is introduced to Negan’s harem, and Sherry is seen talking to another girl, Amber, who appears to be upset. Negan questions Sherry, saying he’s heard rumors that Amber’s ex, Mark, skipped out on duties to be with the girl. It’s pretty obvious that Amber is only one of his “wives” out of fear and lack of any better choices, much like Sherry. Once he’s done speaking with Sherry, Negan is questioned by Daryl as to what Carl is doing there. He’s quickly silenced, and orders are given for Dwight to go heat up the iron. Daryl whispers something to Carl, but it isn’t clear what was said.
Carl and Negan return to Negan’s room, where Carl is forced to remove his bandage as punishment for killing the two men. He reluctantly complies, and it’s every bit as gruesome as you might imagine. Negan proceeds to go on about how gross it is, reducing Carl to tears. Our “villain” seems genuinely remorseful and apologizes to Carl. After an interruption by Fat Joey, Negan demands Carl sing for him. His wavering voice all throughout “You Are My Sunshine,” Carl concludes by telling Negan about having to kill his own mother to keep her from turning.
The iron heated and ready, Negan passes Lucille off to Carl as he addresses the Saviors, giving them the speech about how important rules are. Mark has been placed in a chair and tied down, while Dwight looks like he’s just about ready to revolt, knowing what’s coming. Everyone is made to watch as Negan metes out his form of justice, causing Mark to pass out when it’s over. Daryl is made to clean up the man’s urine.
After another exchange in Negan’s room, it’s decided that Negan will take Carl back home. Daryl is put back in his cell, and Jesus (who was on top of the truck before Negan’s exchange with Daryl), has vanished again. Back in Alexandria, our evil “villain” visits Olivia, who tells him Rick is out scavenging, and that they’re practically starving. He takes the opportunity to fat shame her, causing her to burst into tears. His version of an apology involves the suggestion that he “screw her brains out,” which lands him with a rightly deserved slap (which Jeffrey Dean Morgan insisted be a real slap). Deciding to wait for Rick, Carl gives him the tour, which results in Negan finding Judith. He’s surprisingly tender with her, given the amount of violence the man is capable of at the drop of a hat.
Michonne has been busy building up a pile of corpses to serve as a distraction, and her trick works when one of the Saviors pulls up and exits her vehicle to investigate. She’s taken hostage by Michonne, who demands she be taken to Negan.
Rosita and Eugene return to the machine shop from an earlier episode, and she demands Eugene make good on his word to make her a bullet. He initially refuses, but gives in after she shames him for his past mistakes, saying he’s a useless coward. Once they’ve returned to Alexandria, she tries to apologize and he calls her out on it, refusing the apology because she’s just trying to make herself feel better.
Spencer and Father Gabriel have gone out on a supply run of their own, and Spencer takes the time to question Gabriel about whether or not it’s a sin to hate someone. They get into a passionate discussion/argument about Rick’s virtues and weaknesses, which results in Father Gabriel exiting the car to walk home alone. But not without telling Spencer that what he’s saying doesn’t make him a sinner, but that it does make him a “tremendous shit,” and “it doesn’t have to be terminal.” Spencer heads off into the woods, scoring himself a very nice compound bow and a list of caches, allowing him to return home with canned goods, medicine, and the like.
Rick and Aaron’s scavenger hunt could have simply been addressed in the next episode, or perhaps not at all, given the lack of attention they received. They wake up in a trailer, hop a fence, find a houseboat in a walker-infested lake. That’s literally it. There’s some warning signs on the property leading up to the houseboat, but since they aren’t being shot at, they pay no mind and continue on.
All in all, not a bad episode, but the hopping around without much in the way of results took away from the episode in my opinion. I’m still not sure what to make of Negan. I don’t really feel fear, unless he goes into one of his long monologues just to hear himself talk. He can go from being gentle with a toddler to bashing a man’s head in or scorching his face off in the blink of an eye, but in terms of villainous behavior, he’s really just not getting the job done for me. I’m sincerely hoping they’re saving the best stuff for the second half of the season.