Maggie Takes Whisperer Lessons from Negan on ‘The Walking Dead’ (RECAP)

the walking dead season 11 episode 7, jeffrey dean morgan as negan
Spoiler Alert
Josh Stringer/AMC

The Walking Dead

Promises Broken

Season 11 • Episode 7

rating: 4.0 stars

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 7, “Promises Broken.”]

For as much as Maggie (Lauren Cohan) despises former villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), she has to at least admit he’s come in handy. Ultimately, it’s his tactic that ultimately gives Maggie her best chance yet at taking down the Reapers.

Meanwhile, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Leah (Lynn Collins) go on a mission together, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) meets a Reaper with whom he has something in common, and things go bad at the Commonwealth as another familiar (and aggravating) comics character makes the jump to TV.

Josh Stringer/AMC

Maggie and the team are heading for Meridian, but they don’t have much of a plan of attack. That’s where Negan steps in — he realizes he can make Whisperer masks for the group, and they can round up walkers to create their own horde, which they can then guide to Meridian. Sound good? At first Maggie’s reluctant — “I’m not chopping up anyone I know,” she says of the dead on the outskirts of the community — but in the end, Negan’s tactics prove effective and she discovers how to walk with the walkers. She even gets a Whisperer mask!

After that, Negan and Maggie talk about the one thing they have in common: Leadership. Negan reminds Maggie that his misdeeds were justified, from a certain point of view — he had people, good people, who were looking to him to make choices that would keep them alive. And in the end, he failed. So, like Maggie, he knows “how much it sucks” to see his people turned into walkers. And because he knows that pain, if he could do the infamous lineup all over again… he says he would kill every single one of them. “Why would you tell me that?” Maggie asks, aghast. But it’s clear why Negan says it; he doesn’t want her to show mercy to any of the Reapers, lest they come back to destroy her the way Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group destroyed everything for Negan.

the walking dead father gabriel seth gilliam

While all of this is happening, Father Gabriel goes ahead to scout at Meridian. He promises Maggie that if he has a clear shot at a Reaper, he’ll take it — but he breaks his word when he finds the Reaper equivalent of a priest asking God for help at the graves of his fallen pals. For a few moments, it seems like Gabe might even step out of the trees and talk to the guy, but instead, he settles for letting him live. Since this is The Walking Dead, that’ll probably come back to bite him later.

Elsewhere, Daryl and Leah go out to search the woods for Maggie and her people. While they’re out there, they run into a random guy who claims he’s not with them and he’s not spying on Meridian: He’s just trying to help his child and his wife, who is gravely injured. Leah asks him to prove it, so he takes them to his shelter, where they do, indeed, find his child and his dying wife.

Upon seeing that, Leah’s stony exterior starts to crumble. Rather than killing the guy, which is what she told Pope she’d do if she came across anyone in the woods, she tells the man and his kid to get out of there and never come back. They say goodbye to their dying family member and depart, leaving Leah and Daryl with the unpleasant task of mercy-killing her. “I’m ready,” she says, seeming at peace, but Leah isn’t. She cries as she raises her gun, and in the end, it’s Daryl who fires the killing shot with his crossbow.

the walking dead season 11 episode 7, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lynn Collins as Leah

Josh Stringer/AMC

At the Commonwealth, things go from bad to worse for poor Eugene (Josh McDermitt). He’s been assigned to clear blocks for the community, meaning that he and his friends kill walkers so the Commonwealth can take over the buildings and such. During this procedure, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) has a coughing fit and Princess (Paola Lázaro) urges him to go to a doctor. Apparently, this is no problem for the Commonwealth, and he does get to see a physician. Since he returns with lollipops, it seems to go well.

What doesn’t go well is Eugene’s run-in with the whiny, arrogant Sebastian (Teo Rapp-Olson), who comics readers will know is Pamela Milton’s son. At Lance Hornsby’s direction, Eugene clears a bunch of walkers from a field where Sebastian and his girlfriend were on a date. He’s saved their lives, but all Sebastian does is demean and insult him. Rightfully angered, he punches him in the face… which lands him in Commonwealth jail, and the only way out is to reveal the location of his community. Sounds like a setup, huh?

Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko, Ian Anthony Dale as Tomiichi, the walking dead season 11 episode 7

Josh Stringer/AMC

And he’s not the only one in hot water; Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), who almost got to meet Pamela this episode, is forced to watch in horror as soldiers drag her brother away. It’s hard not to think this is somehow tied to him hiding his past as a surgeon from the community, which Yumiko did inadvertently reveal in her interviews.

As the episode ends, Father Gabriel reunites with the team and they all head for Meridian, releasing a crowd of trapped walkers inside a building as they go. This results in a heartbreaking moment for Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), whose sister, we learn in this episode, had been trapped at Meridian when the Reapers descended. As he walks in the middle of the horde, he sees his zombified sibling, but of course, he can’t put her down or even cry, lest the walkers realize he’s not one of them. Sensing his anguish, Maggie holds his hand as they descend on Meridian.

Other Observations

  • I’m wondering if Father Gabriel isn’t next week’s surprise death. Alden seems the obvious choice since we haven’t seen him or heard anything about him and he very well could be hanging from that cross… but Father Gabriel made a choice to keep that Reaper alive, and Negan just lectured Maggie on the pitfalls of mercy.
  • Also on my “death list” for next week is Leah. Maybe she makes it out, but I highly doubt Maggie would be okay with her living with the group given what the Reapers did to her people (she had a hard enough time with Negan!). So, either Leah survives the fall of Meridian and walks away, or she dies in Daryl’s arms. I’m leaning toward the latter.
  • Maggie learning how to be a Whisperer was pretty darn cool, I have to say. I’d never much considered the mechanics of it — how the characters would have to walk, their posture, etc. — so it was neat to get those snippets of Negan teaching her.
  • Sebastian is the worst. The absolute worst. I don’t know if I’ve ever wanted a character to get torn apart by walkers this quickly, but… he deserves it. Good for Eugene for punching him, though!

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC