The Walking Dead season 10 finale recap: Negan gets an origin story
Hilarie Burton debuts as Negan's wife Lucille in flashbacks.
It's weird to think of "Here's Negan" as the season 10 finale. It arrived without much pomp and circumstance that one typically expects from a season-arc structure; the Carol-centric "Diverged" episode was so blasé you can't even really call it a penultimate episode. If you hadn't been counting how many hours were left in this expanded season, the finale might catch you by surprise.
What "Here's Negan" has going for it is that it's the best of these episodes tacked onto season 10. Aside from the first one, focusing on Maggie's return, it was also the most informative.
The finale takes its title from the Here's Negan comic book arc that delved into Negan's untold origin story. True to form, this episode did the same. Hilarie Burton, wife of Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, made her Walking Dead debut as Lucille, Negan's wife who inspired the villain-turned-antihero's barbed-wired bat. Their story unfolds over four tiers of flashbacks — one flashback leads to an earlier flashback, which leads to an even earlier flashback, and so on. But for the sake of keeping everything organized, we'll go through it chronologically.
Months before the outbreak, Negan and Lucille's relationship has hit a major rough patch. They had been out at their favorite bar trying to enjoy their favorite song a jukebox, "You Are So Beautiful," when an obnoxious patron was being too loud for them to enjoy it. One thing led to another and Negan ended up beating the crap out of this guy, who ended up being a parent at the local school where Negan worked as a gym teacher. Negan lost his job, the guy sued, and then Lucille ended up having to pay his medical bills while Negan sat at home playing video games and buying a $600 Happy Days jacket he couldn't afford. (The same leather jacket he would end up wearing after the outbreak.)
If that weren't enough, Lucille finds out she has cancer. Trying and failing to get in touch with Negan and her friend Janine after her MRI, she realizes they are having an affair. Lucille doesn't tell Negan that she knows about it, though she waits for him at home later that night with a gun by her side. Instead, she tells him she has cancer. He quietly breaks things off with Janine and turns his attention to taking care of his wife.
Then the outbreak happens. Negan taught himself how to administer chemotherapy with a calendar the doctors gave him about when she needs her treatments. He has a generator to keep the lights on and their refrigerator cold enough to maintain the drugs, and he goes out in nearby areas to scout for gasoline to keep it going. At this point, Negan doesn't want to kill because he fears he'll get used to it. The problem is the generator is loud enough to attract a walker here and there, so they keep the dead at bay with a barbed-wire fence around their home.
They're able to keep things going for a while, but one night changes everything. Lucille surprises Negan with his Happy Days jacket, saying she was so mad she couldn't return it without the receipt that she hid it in the floorboards instead. She also suggests they smoke some weed Negan found earlier while out scavenging. They wake the next day to find that the generator isn't on anymore. When he goes to open the freezer, everything has melted and Lucille's chemo drugs are no longer viable.
Negan is determined to go out and find a group of traveling medical physicians, who've been traveling around trying to help people. Lucille just wants him to stay with her. She finally tells him that she knew about Janine but assures him that he has made up for the indiscretion. Still, he goes anyway. He doesn't want to give up fighting.
It takes weeks for him to actually find the physicians, a man named Franklin and his daughter Laura — the same Laura that becomes one of Negan's Saviors. They're a small group who use mannequins as fake lookouts like scarecrows for any enemies. But they are still able to knockout Negan, who's too delirious from an assortment of things, including dehydration and malnutrition, when he comes in guns blazing.
Negan wakes up in their trailer, where he's being treated with an IV and fed some food. He tells them about his wife's condition and they give him the supplies he needs. Before he leaves, Laura warns of a local gang that runs the roads at night. She gives him the same bat she used to knock him out earlier — another piece of the Negan puzzle.
Sure enough, he's attacked and captured by this gang, the Valaks Vipres, led by a man named Baxter. They beat him for information Negan at their hideout about the source of the medical supplies, and they threaten to destroy what he has for Lucille if he doesn't tell them. Negan ends up revealing the location of Franklin and Laura. Baxter has him locked up in a storage closet for the night to make sure he's telling the truth. When morning comes, he's given back his medical supplies and released. As Negan walks out into the parking lot, he hears Laura's screams as she's attacked by the men.
Negan races home to give Lucille her chemo, but he finds her dead. Lucille swallowed a bunch of pills and put a plastic bag over her head. She left a note for Negan written on their door, asking him not to leave her as a walker. Overcome by anger and grief, Negan puts on his leather jacket, cuts off barbed wire from their fence to wrap around his bat, and sets the house ablaze. He then returns to the gang's hideout that night as they are interrogating Franklin and kills them all.
In the present, Negan grapples with these memories as he's sitting by the fire in Leah's old house. Carol had claimed the council at Alexandria voted to banish him, so she brought him there to live. The truth was, she did it to spare Negan from Maggie, fearing she would kill him if he stayed at Alexandria. In his solitude, Negan returns to the tree with the dangling glass pane where Rick's group had their last stand against the Saviors. He digs around the tree until he finds where he left Lucille, the bat.
Now at Leah's, he speaks to the bat as if it were his late wife. He apologizes for everything he put her through and for not being there for her when she needed it. As he grapples with the ghost of his former self, who appears in the episode as a hallucination to taunt him, he then promises to fight for Lucille now and puts the bat into the fire.
Negan returns to Alexandria the next day as everyone continues to rebuild the town. In a allegorical sense, they are trying to make their home exactly as it was, but it will never be the same. There's too much damage, too many scars left on their homes for it to be exactly as it were. The same for the characters. Negan tells Carol that Leah's home isn't going to work for him and that he's back to live at Alexandria. He does so even with Carol's warning that Maggie might just kill him. We'll just have to wait for the final season to see if she actually does.