This past week was a difficult one for many Americans. After the election results, movies and TV became much-needed distractions from fear, anger, and despair. But those hoping to return to normalcy with The Walking Dead may have been put off by Sunday night’s 85-minute-long episode: Negan bullies his way into Alexandria earlier than expected, takes more than he originally promised, terrorizes two of the women, and leaves the community with nothing but a mix of fear, anger, and despair.
Did the episode need to be extended? Probably not. (I didn’t fully register the fact we had a chunk of additional time this week.) But it demonstrated where each member of the once-thriving Ricktatorship now stands in the age of Negan.
Michonne: The skilled samurai doesn’t seem to recognize Rick anymore, as her gaze upon waking in the morning is full of doubt and unease. She doesn’t tell him when she sneaks off to sit watch in a straw field with a rifle she keeps hidden in the fireplace, but he sees her anyway as she walks out of the house. Alone, she sits atop the roof of an abandoned car and waits, scouting for something that may never come. When something eventually does arrive, it’s a walker. Her confidence is shaken. She can’t seem to hit the creature even — after firing close to 10 rounds — and is forced to dispose of it with her sword. Leaving the dead behind as a marker, she wanders into the woods and spies a dead deer, which is never a good sign — Carl was shot in season 2 after encountering a deer, and the animal was again spotted in that fateful season 4 episode (“Grove”) with Lizzie and Mika. It could be seen as hope, and Negan has killed theirs.
Eugene: As he tells Rosita and Spencer when they want to leave Alexandria and go scavenging for Negan, he’s “dealing with uncertainties.” He’s fiddling with a radio of some kind, hoping he can offer the Saviors something they want or need and live to fend for themselves another day.
Rosita: Still angry over the death of Abraham, she’s now p—ed. When Negan arrives at Alexandria, he does so days before his deadline and brings with him trucks and vans full of his dogs. He often says or does things that distort or warp something typically warm and pleasant, often doing so in a sing-song rhythm. Here, he’s banging Lucille against the gate and shouting, “Little pig, little pig. Let me in.” When they see Daryl among Negan’s crew, Rick tries to approach him, but their new leader warns Rick to not even make eye contact with him. Staring down Rosita, she also complies, leaving Negan to giggle that they almost had a situation. Rosita is again bullied by Dwight, when he tasks her and Spencer with retrieving Daryl’s motorcycle. He remembers it from their stand-off at the train tracks and knows she knows where it is. Before he lets them leave, he takes their guns and empties their water bottle, taunting them not to take too long.
Daryl: The archer is broken. As we saw last week, he’s been physically and mentally tortured in the Sanctuary in hopes of promoting him into Negan’s higher chain of command. He feels great guilt for his actions that led to the death of Glenn, but there was a slither of hope when he told Dwight he can’t give in because of someone he loves. Even now as he stands silent and bruised among the Saviors, helping them carry ammunition from the Alexandrian armory to their vans, we remember that. After Rosita and Spencer return with his bike, Dwight offers it to Daryl, saying he just has to say the word (i.e. Negan), but he remains silent. I’m hoping he’s not completely down for the count, that maybe he’s playing along and waiting for the right opportunity.
NEXT: A ruse and a standoff