Gene Page/AMC
March 18, 2018 at 10:08 PM EDT

The Walking Dead

TV Show
Drama, Horror, Thriller
run date
Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus
We gave it a B

I’ve been cooling on Negan for quite some time. I think it was the lack of mystique. Sort of like how knowing the backstory of the Joker in Batman takes away the character’s bite, I’ve come to not care about Negan as much these days. His words aren’t as snappy, his glare isn’t as menacing, and his threats seem more empty. So when the look on Simon’s face gives off the same “I’m over this” vibe, I feel somewhat validated.

After a montage of character close-ups that mimic the montage that kicked off this whole season, Negan comes to Dwight’s room. We get a bit of eye candy as the camera lingers on this double agent, sans shirt, contemplating the wedding ring he keeps tucked inside a cigarette pack. But, let’s be real, it’s still no shirtless Andrew Lincoln or Norman Reedus.

Pretty much as soon as Negan starts mentioning how happy he is to have his boy back, his boy puts his foot in his mouth. He weaves the same fictitious story about how he was ambushed beat for beat, except for a few stammers. Shut up, Dwight. You’re a bad liar and you’re tipping him off. He didn’t even ask!

Negan shrugs it off and mentions they have work to do, which consists of cutting open walkers and coating their weapons (arrows, knives, axes) in their blood. To recap, they hope to give Rick’s group a few scratches to turn as many of them into walkers as possible. It’s a plan so simplistic you wonder why nobody has ever tried this before.

Instead of riding solo on his bike and maybe going ahead to warn the Hilltop, Dwight is forced to ride with Simon in his truck. Negan, meanwhile, is bringing up the rear of the convoy, with Lucille sitting in a bucket of walker guts in the passenger seat, soaking up all the nasty innards.

The same somber piano music that commonly plays over contemplative scenes begins again, this time as Rick and Michonne arrive. Emotionally withered by the death of Carl, Rick considers the pen of Savior POWs before his attention quickly turns to Judith. Later, as Rick kneels before the graves of his fallen friends, Daryl comes over, and the two reconcile after their tumble. (They had a physical tussle when Daryl wanted to ignore the plan and try to take out the Saviors all at once — a plan that ultimately didn’t pan out.) He apologizes, and Rick resolves to worry about his own people from now on, all in a fragmented, highly explain-y way that doesn’t even sound like how actual people talk but is indicative of the writing problems on this show.

Maggie has already stationed lookouts at half-mile intervals beyond Hilltop in the event the Saviors roll up, and Rick wants to go out and join them. Despite Daryl’s offer to come with, this is something Rick wants to do alone. Maggie and Rosita spot his car driving off from a lookout post and questions whether Rick will ever recover from Carl’s death — which is a question we’ve had to ask ourselves too many times already in seasons past. Some fresher material would be nice. Thankfully, we don’t linger on this question for too long because Maggie spots something in the distance.

On the way to Hilltop, Simon tries to get Dwight to open up and maybe express concerns about their leader so he can then use that to orchestrate some sort of coup. His first few probes don’t pan out, and Simon is forced to clarify that while he has doubts about Negan, it’ll all work out because it’s the big man’s plan. But he mentions the Hilltoppers are resilient and don’t scare easy.

Meanwhile, that thing Maggie spotted was an empty crate, one of many that were left by someone. An attached note reads, “If you fill the crates with food or phonograph records, I will gladly exchange them for a key to your future,” adding coordinates for a meeting spot. Cryptic. Maggie and Enid are skeptical, since the colony is running out of food as it is and, also, this could be a trap that gets them all killed. But Michonne wants to go, unwilling to pass up the opportunity to make a new friend in times of war. Ultimately, they’re going to check it out.
(Recap continues on the next page)

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