And so, here we are: one final pit stop before the final ever season of The Walking Dead. These six bridge episodes have laid the groundwork for the forthcoming 11th chapter of the long-running zombie series with a fairly decent mix of bonus stories. We’ve seen the re-introduction of Maggie, learned of Daryl’s previously untold dalliance with Leah and got up-close-and-personal with the suspect soldiers of the Commonwealth. To cap it all off, season 10C concludes with a Negan-centric instalment that explores his mysterious pre-Saviors days. Here’s what went down…
What happened in The Walking Dead this week?
- We begin in Alexandria with Maggie and Negan exchanging icy glances as she walks along with her young son Hershel. Sensing that some form of reckoning is imminent, Carol tactfully takes Negan out hunting, where he asks her if she could “put in a word for me” considering “their recent history” (Negan’s role in killing Alpha, that is). She leads him to Leah’s cabin where Negan has been “banished” by the council. He begrudgingly accepts his fate – was this Carol’s decision, though?
- Later that night Negan is taunted by a vision of himself in his Saviors prime (“little pig, little pig: let me in!”), who chides him for thinking that “those folks would see you for anything other than you truly are: which is me”. Present-day Negan fires back, calling the old Negan “a clown: a cult of personality with no cult”. Scoffing, old Negan points to his weapon and retorts: “It’s time to face the facts, old man: you are nothing without [Lucille, his old barbed wire-covered baseball bat].”
- The following day, Negan goes digging for memories – he’s back in the battlefield from the season eight finale ‘Wrath’ where Rick and co. finally defeated the Saviors (we even get a replay of that moment, as well as a subsequent scene where Michonne taunts Negan behind bars). But he’s not just digging for memories. He starts literally digging too, and eventually unearths what he’s been looking for: Lucille, his trusty bat.
- The narrative then dials it back 12 years in the past as the episode hones in on Negan’s backstory. A biker gang has Negan tied up and bloodied in an abandoned bar where he’s pleading not only for his life but also for a cooler full of medical supplies – they’re for his wife Lucille, who has cancer. The bikers want to know where he got such a precious commodity from and, with the stakes so high, Negan gives in and reveals the source of his supplies. In another flashback, he recalls trying to rob a convoy run by doctors. But before he can complete the robbery, he’s knocked out by future Savior Laura.
- Negan comes to and is properly introduced to Franklin, one of the doctors he was searching for. Explaining the situation with his wife (and revealing that he used to be a high school gym teacher in the pre-apocalypse days), we then get to see Negan and Lucille struggling to survive in their hide-out in yet another flashback. Negan is seen bravely administering Lucille’s DIY-chemotherapy and, surprisingly, failing to kill walkers (more on that later) as they adjust to life in this awful new world.
- That prompts yet another flashback, this time into the pre-apocalypse days. An unemployed Negan – who lost his gym teacher job due to a misdemeanour assault charge – is berated by Lucille at their Virginia home after discovering that he bought a leather jacket for $600. More importantly, though, Lucille asks Negan if he can drive her home after her MRI appointment the next day – Negan says he can’t, claiming he has a meeting with his probation officer. The next day, a crushed Lucille receives the worst news as a doctor diagnoses her with cancer. In the car, she discovers that Negan never really had a probation meeting – he’s been having an affair with her friend Janine – and drives off in fury, switching off a distressing radio report about people “eating the flesh of the people they’ve killed”.
- Fast-forward to their apocalypse hide-out, Lucille says she’s forgiven Negan for the affair and now just wants him to stay with her. But Negan is determined to go and seek out the doctors’ convoy after Lucille’s latest batch of treatments are spoiled by their generator packing up. “We are not giving up, not ever,” he tells her.
- Jumping ahead again to his chat with Franklin, Laura comes in with all the treatments Lucille requires and Negan is ecstatic (“What goes around, comes around,” Franklin says). Laura warns him, though, about a gang that “runs the roads” at night, and hands him the baseball bat she hit him with for protection – hello Lucille!
- Fast-forwarding again to the bar interrogation, the biker gang leader demands that Negan tells them where the doctors are. He gives in and circles where they are on a map, and the gang goes after them: Negan is later freed after his intel proves to be correct, leaving him consumed with guilt at selling the doctors out.
- Back at their hideout, Negan finds a written message on the door: “Please don’t leave me like this.” Opening the door, he discovers that Lucille has turned after taking her own life, leaving him devastated. After collecting himself, he goes out to clip off some barbed wire from a nearby fence to attach to his baseball bat, creating the new Lucille. Putting on his leather jacket, he douses their hideout in gas and lights a match – the place goes up in flames as Negan leaves on his motorbike.
- The bikers are now beating Franklin up in a bid to find out where “the good stuff is”. Outside the bar, a noticeably changed Negan clubs one of the bikers to death with Lucille and shoots another. A shoot-out ensues, allowing Franklin to free himself as Negan forces his way into the bar. Shoe now firmly on the other foot, Negan tells the now-restrained gang leader that he’s “got some stuff to get off my chest” and “this time, you best hope I never stop talking – cos when I do, something bad is going to happen”.
- Negan goes on to recall how he ended up with the aforementioned assault charge which cost him his teaching job (TL;DR: don’t upset Negan when Lucille’s favourite song ‘You Are So Beautiful’ is playing). But with those consequences invalidated by this new dystopian world, Negan notes that “no-one’s suing anyone, no-one’s getting fired – no-one’s keeping score!” He adds that he is now capable of “damn-near anything”, and proves that by brutally killing the biker.
- In the present-day, Negan speaks to the memory of his late wife while holding the newly rediscovered Lucille bat in front of a roaring fire in Leah’s cabin. “I’m sorry that I left you,” he says, before joking: “I hope you found someone in the afterlife and you are screwing your brains out.” Saying that he misses her and that he “loved the shit out of you”, he adds: “I am going to do your fighting for you.” He then burns Lucille the bat – has Negan turned a corner?
- Back at Alexandria, Maggie, Daryl and Carol are dismayed to see Negan, who says the cabin wasn’t working for him. “If you stay here, [Maggie] will kill you,” Carol warns. “I just didn’t want your death on my conscious.” Hearing this, Negan smirks and replies: “Fair enough.” The episode ends with Negan and Maggie once again staring at each other, though this time Negan smiles.
Shoddiest walker kill of the week
It’s good to know that Negan wasn’t always so brutal. In the early days of the end-of-days, we see a terrified Negan trying and failing to put a walker down by ineffectively stabbing it in the eye. He nearly becomes zombie supper but for Lucille, who fires the couple’s final bullet into the walker’s skull. Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere when it comes to disposing of the undead, right?
This week’s biggest question: where will season 11 pick up from first?
So season 10C is a wrap! And this last blast of Negan definitely gave the half-dozen block of bonus episodes we’ve just seen the necessary boost to get us excited for season 11 of The Walking Dead, which is set to kick off later this year. 24 episodes are left between now and the very end of the show, and with an array of intriguing plot points to cover – how long can Maggie resist the urge to get revenge on Negan for Glenn? Where have Princess, Yumiko, Eugene and Ezekiel been taken to by the Commonwealth soldiers? When will Carol and Daryl leave for pastures new? There’s more than enough to explore. Bring it on!