After weeks of speculation, we finally get to find out what’s been going on in that trailer with Negan and Gabriel…
Time Warping Again.
…but first, it’s time for a flashback (we’re not even going to count the one with Gabriel praying).
Remember a few episodes ago when Negan walked outside to confront Rick and claimed he was in a meeting? Turns out that was true. After another flashback within the flashback (ugh), we see that Simon (skeevy mustache dude) was putting all his cards on the table in favor of Gregory being able to get this whole Hilltop uprising resolved.
To Negan’s credit, the guy isn’t buying it. He also points out that people are their most valuable resource, going so far as to give Gregory a chance to make a lame observation about how they call themselves The Saviors because they actually want to save people.
Negan also insists that Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel must be captured and killed very publicly to ensure everyone learns a lesson, hence reducing the bloodshed. This sounds like the rantings of a narcissistic sociopath to me, but let’s just go with it.
Gabriel Fails Again
Back in the present, Gabriel confirms that he can’t take Negan down despite having a loaded weapon at his disposal. This would appear to make him seem worthless, and therefore a perfect candidate for a dance with Lucille. Unfortunately, we also just saw Negan’s big speech about people being resources, so he decides to make Gabriel his newest “project” instead.
Gabriel, on the other hand, decides he has been put in this position to hear Negan’s confession.
This goes about as well as you might expect, with Negan waxing philosophic like a high schooler who has just read their first Ayn Rand book. He deftly rationalizes his own depravities while gleefully chastising the shortcomings of everyone else.
At some point, Gabriel decides to try and take back his gun. This attempt (of course) ends with him hiding inside a closet. Thankfully, this inspires Negan to do a confession of sorts to get Gabriel to come back out–which finally leads to an interesting tidbit of info in the form of some Negan’s backstory: He couldn’t put down his wife (who he was cheating on) before she became a walker.
It’s an interesting anecdote, but it still doesn’t explain why Negan has now let this cowering and ineffective person who has tried to kill him twice live. He could have just left him there. Instead, Gabriel “forgives” him (ugh) and the two spread walker guts on themselves to head outside. As expected, the walkers seemed fooled at first before turning on them…very slowly…and without any biting.
Negan and Gabriel’s main character forcefields kick into high gear, allowing them to make it back inside The Sanctuary.
Speaking of The Sanctuary, things are not going well with Simon in charge. Everyone’s fighting and yelling at each other and Eugene’s flop sweat has created a serious slip hazard.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Regional Manager went full Republican by suggesting that they use The Sanctuary’s workers as bait and/or human shields to clear a path to the nearest outpost. That terrible idea was shot down when Executive Vice Present Gavin begins ranting about how they needed to find the person on the inside feeding intel to Rick & Co.
Just when it looks like Eugene is going to get fingered, Dwight stands up for him and yells at Simon that he isn’t a good leader, causing Simon to…uh…be happy for Dwight. I’m honestly not sure.
Anyway, things come to a head when the workers confront the management about how bad things have gotten since the attack. Just when it looks like things are going to boil over (and after Regina shoots somebody), Negan shows up, causing everyone to take a knee and begin singing his praises. He then orders his guards to put Gabriel into a cell.
Watching Paint Dry
Eugene goes to Dwight to thank him for not throwing him under the bus. He also admires the chess pieces Dwight is making, which are hand painted. Some of the paint wipes off on Eugene’s finger.
Later, Eugene sees paint on Gabriel’s bag, which OF COURSE means he now knows Dwight is a spy since he’s the only one using paint for anything (?).
Later, Eugene goes to visit Gabriel, who has suddenly gotten sick (maybe bitten?) and says they need to get a doctor to treat Maggie, who I’m starting to think isn’t actually pregnant at all.
The world’s stupidest subplot got even worse this week.
Daryl and Rick find a bunch of explosive in the truck they took down. Daryl decides they should use the explosives to blow up The Sanctuary. Rick, who has recently decided to go back into his “We Don’t Kill” mode, says no. Daryl and Rick fight. Rick somehow manages to make the jeep with all the explosive blow up.
Then a random helicopter flies by.
I’ll give the episode credit for showing us a bit more of Negan’s personality beyond simple cruelty and bravado. Unfortunately, most of that was derived from his inexplicable decision to keep Gabriel alive…twice.
Look, I appreciate that Gabrielle’s trying to redeem himself, but the dude is still pretty worthless. He had two chances to kill Negan and whiffed on both of them.
But if you’re able to look past that (which I cannot), then it was kind of cool getting not only a chunk of Negan’s backstory, but also a better understanding of his philosophy with regard to how he runs his kingdom.
Don’t even get me started on Rick and Daryl’s comedy of errors, though. If that helicopter doesn’t land and give them a new script then it needs to turn around.