Negan’s back, which means things are about to get all types of tense/awkward at The Sanctuary.
…but first, we open with Rick FINALLY reading Carl’s letter. As expected, this results in us having to hear a Chandler Riggs voiceover while watching Rick’s face turn various shades of anguished and guilty.
I’ll also use this space to recap what might be the dumbest scene we’ve ever had on the show, which is really saying something.
Remember Aaron’s plan to spy on Oceanside and do…uh, something…to make them change their minds about fighting the Saviors? Well, it turns out that “something” started off with getting caught in the rain while being attacked by a small herd of walkers. Aaron manages to fight them off, but slips and falls on his butt after each attack.
When the Oceansiders find and threaten to kill him, Aaron gives a painfully by-the-numbers speech about how The Saviors are the real enemy and they should all work together to stop them. Once he’s finished, he actually closes his eyes, falls backwards, and passes out. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the director yell “CUT!” just seconds after his head hits the ground.
Simon Says Surrender
Back at The Sanctuary, Gregory (who escaped from The Hilltop last episode) is already hard at work trying to slime his way into Simon’s good graces. When Simon refuses his help, Gregory actually appears to grow a pair and pushes back. This earns his face a trip to the floor courtesy of Simon’s arm. Simon then decides not to kill Gregory, instead commanding him to go make some coffee, which seems both magnanimous and more than a little weird.
Later, Negan reveals himself to Dwight and Simon. After listening to Simon try and explain why he defied orders to blatantly, Negan pretends to put Simon into position for a Lucille-ified execution before forgiving him completely.
Yeah, I was pretty flabbergasted by that decision myself, as well. On the plus side, though, we do get a very strong hint that it was Simon who ordered all the men and children to be killed at Oceanside. So mystery solved. Yay.
Mullet Micro Manager
You know things are bad when you feel sympathy for Gabriel, but Eugene’s complete disregard for his deteriorating health almost makes it happen. Eugene’s treatment of his colleague-turned-prisoner gets even worse when he catches Gabriel sabotaging bullets.
After muttering a bunch of harsh and clipped invectives, Eugene goes outside, where he’s promptly captured by Rosita and Daryl.
Okay, this part right here should have been awesome–and at first, it kind of was. Watching Eugene grovel to his former friends is something we’ve been anxiously waiting to see. It got even better when Rosita and Daryl both responded with variations on ‘We hate you now. The only reason you’re not dead is that we have plans for you that are likely to be unpleasant.”
During a random (and very minor) walker attack, however, things go completely downhill. Eugene sticks his fingers down his throat and forces himself to vomit on Rosita. This distracts her enough to let Eugene outrun his captors, who are both in much better shape than him and have previously shown themselves to highly adept at long-range weaponry. Eugene further evades capture (from two experienced trackers, by the way) by burying himself in a pile of ash.
After arriving back at The Sanctuary, Eugene uses the harsh words of his former friends (who have every right in the world to hate him now) to rally his workers into making a lot of bullets…which appears to be what they were already doing before, but whatever.
Remember how Simon got a such ridiculous reprieve earlier? Well, he makes the most of it by almost immediately calling a secret meeting of his Overthrow Negan Club in the courtyard. He’s even nice enough to offer Dwight the chance to be the one who kills their old boss. Unfortunately for Simon, it turns out that Dwight is super good at being a double agent. Negan shows up, commands some snipers to gun down Simon’s crew (except Gregory for some reason, and then challenges Simon to a fist fight because the episode needed a few extra minutes of padding.
As expected, Negan whoops Simon’s ass and kills him.
While all that is going on, Dwight hands Gregory a map detailing Negan’s plan of attack and tells Gregory to take it to the Hilltop, which of course he agrees to. We also get to see Simon as a walker, which reminded me of an enraged Daffy Duck and made me laugh.
Later, Negan butters up Dwight by promoting him to second-in-command…right before revealing that Laura was the person he’d picked up on the way back to The Sanctuary. This wasn’t much of a surprise, but it was still all types of painful to watch Dwight finally get caught. I thought for sure that Negan was going to kill him, but he promised something far worse than death, which I think we can assume is getting signed on to another season of the show.
Michonne delivers Carl’s letter to Negan via walkie-talkie. As expected, it asks him to stop fighting and try to work something out with his newly-homicidal dad. Negan refuses, which is totally understandable by this point.
What’s not understandable is that he punctuates his defiance by stomping on/destorying a perfectly good walkie talkie. I mean, seriously, it’s not like you can just go to Walmart and pick up another one.
This is getting ridiculous.
The stuff with Aaron and Oceanside was just plain bad. The stuff with Eugene and Daryl/Rosita had potential, but plummeted downhill the minute Eugene’s vomit hit Rosita’s shirt.
The Negan vs. Simon/Dwight conflict though…ugh. Negan’s unbelievable mercy was matched only by Simon’s brazen stupidity. But then we got to the challenge portion, which ended up feeling more like episode padding than the awesome fight it should have been. Combine all that with the obvious “twist” about Laura, and this episode was as boring as it was predictable.
Thank goodness next week is the season finale. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m definitely rooting for the zombies–or Maggie. She’s still cool.