'The Walking Dead': Negan's Shiny New Moral Code Might Get Him Killed (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 episode 4, "Silence The Whispers."]
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) just can't do anything right nowadays.
He stays in his cell? He's not helping out enough. He goes out into the open, to help? He's harassed. He tries to offer a kid some decent advice? Kid's adoptive dad threatens him. He saves someone's life? His head is on the chopping block. What's a former Savior who greatly misses his barbed wire baseball bat to do?
Granted, there's more nuance to Negan's tricky situation than that — and that nuance regarding whether he's a "good guy" or a "bad guy" is what "Silence the Whispers" explores. When Negan steps in to help a downtrodden and bullied Lydia (Cassady McClincy), he accidentally takes his defense too far and lands himself in a predicament with life-or-death stakes. Meanwhile, Michonne (Danai Gurira) journeys to Hilltop in an hour of grave danger and need.
Kiss from a (Former) King
Hey, remember that weird Michonne-Ezekiel kiss from the San Diego Comic-Con trailer? Turns out it's happening earlier in the season than you might've thought... and means less than you've might've expected.
Hilltop’s happiness comes crashing down at the beginning of the episode when a tree falls, injuring nine people, weakening the fence and drawing tons of walkers. While everyone springs into action around him, Ezekiel (Khary Payton)'s frozen. It's that inability to act — along with everything he lost — that motivates him to step out onto a high ledge in the middle of the forest, seemingly ready to end it all. Thankfully Michonne, who's traveling to Hilltop along with Judith, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), and a few others, finds him and stops him. Eventually they embrace, and then the former king kisses her. So that's how it happens.
Is this the start of a new TWD romance? Apparently not, so don't panic, Richonne 'shippers. Ezekiel apologizes for his overstep, and Michonne tells him they wouldn’t have worked out ("We're both too damn stubborn.") She then offers him some comfort and encouragement by saying she'd been in that jumping-into-the-quarry mental state, but she gave up on giving up.
Hilltop's walls were weakened when the tree fell, but someone has to hold off the walkers outside. Magna (Nadia Hilker), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Luke (Dan Fogler), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), and Kelly (Angel Theory) step beyond the boundary to take care of them, but before long, they're overwhelmed. Magna still thinks they can take them, but Yumiko pulls everyone back… and then the wall falls anyway.
Thankfully, no lives are lost and they manage to get the mini-horde under control. Michonne accepts the reality that this is a Whisperer attack, since it's unlikely Hilltop, Alexandria, and Oceanside (which radioed this episode with more problems) are all having such troubles randomly. She gets a group together to go to Oceanside, and she leaves with Luke, Judith, and a few others.
Friend and Foe
Most of the drama this episode is in Alexandria, where Lydia struggles to keep her chin up after being bullied by Gage (Jackson Pace), Margo (Jerri Tubbs), and another one of their friends. Negan tries to give her some advice, but Daryl (Norman Reedus) stops him and tells Lydia, "he's not your friend." When they walk back to their home, they see someone has written "Silence the whispers" on it. Poor Lydia!
Negan really might be her friend, though. After provoking the Gage bully trio, Lydia's attacked by them outside the home she shares with Daryl. They're ready to beat her to death, but at just the right moment, Negan appears. He throws Margo off of Lydia and thus saves her life, but in doing so, he condemns himself; he accidentally killed Margo, having slammed her into the cement wall hard enough to break her skull.
Negan's actions spark unrest. Some think it's time for him to be "put down," while others — mostly Daryl, who believes Lydia that Negan saved her — feel taking Negan's life now is wrong. Michonne gives Daryl the power to vote in her stead, and with both of their votes cast for saving Negan and others to the opposite, the council turns to Gabriel. Gabe abstains, saying he needs the night to clear his head.
A Propaganda Problem
That night was enough to change everything. When Alexandria awakes, Negan is gone. Lydia tells Gabe she let him out, and this lands her in Negan's cell — but Daryl, who goes to see her later, knows it wasn't her because she was inside all night. "Does it matter?" Lydia asks him. "This is where they want me." Although Daryl tries to convince her to come home, she stays put.
As the episode ends, Carol pores over a map on the roof of Daryl's house (are they living together?!) and Daryl cleans up the door. More importantly, though, Alexandria's now been covered with "Silence the whispers" graffiti, and the creepy whispering in the episode's final moments might mean the skin-suited whackos are closer than ever.
- Not sure what the point of the Michonne/Ezekiel kiss was if the show isn't going in that direction. She just as easily could've pulled him back from the ledge without it, and their conversation could've been the same. Sure, it was a nice nod to the comics with Zeke saying, "Maybe in another universe," but it felt forced.
- It seems the theories that Siddiq had something more to do with the pikes are picking up steam. That flashback this episode looked like it super-briefly showed Enid, and last week's flashback had Alpha saying, "good." This could all mean nothing and Siddiq's just having trouble processing what happened, but he also definitely might have bargained for his life somehow… or been forced to do the decapitations himself.
- Is Luke on anyone else's death predictions list? The episode spent so much time on him saying goodbye to his friends that I wouldn't be surprised if he never sees them again. Plus, it's a little weird that Dan Fogler wasn't upped to series regular this season when most of the rest of Magna's group was.
- I hate how much I love Negan now, but it's interesting that the show has framed him from the perspective of a character who wasn't around for All Out War. Daryl is right to be suspicious, given his history. Lydia's right to fight for him, given her history. Also — when are Negan and Carol going to share a scene? If Negan appreciates (in his ever-so-eloquent words) "beach ball-sized lady nuts," he'll like her.
- Based on the preview for next week's episode, it looks like we're getting into some comics stuff with Negan and this new character, Brandon. (You know what that means!) And for those who haven't read the source material... without getting to far into potential spoilers, some very interesting Negan stuff is probably coming sooner rather than later.
The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC