This Should Be Interesting…
The penultimate episode before The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale finally delivered some much-needed forward movement for this season, creating a tangible conflict between Rick and Negan via Carl’s headstrong… antics.
Whereas most of season 7 has been spent building up the war between Rick and Negan, introducing us to various groups of survivors, all victims of Negan’s Saviors, “Sing Me A Song” pushed the narrative forward. Carl, who was last seen with Jesus stashed away on a convoy headed for Negan’s compound, tries his hand at being Rambo, but fails rather quickly. He still manages to kill two Saviors before he’s captured, however, and an impressed Negan decides to take him on a grand tour of his humble home.
The interaction between Negan and Carl is pretty entertaining, as you know Negan isn’t going to just let his high-caliber hello go unpunished. Rather than just pop out his other eye, however, Negan toys with Carl, forcing him into awkward and tense situations. I couldn’t help but feel as though Negan was evaluating Carl; he mentions how he can’t use him as a soldier, and he can’t just let him go back to working for him, so I wonder if he sees Carl as some sort of protégé to take under his wing. Negan is certainly the kind of sick psychopath who would want to see his legacy live on in the new world, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes with it.
As for our look into Negan’s overlord lifestyle, it was pretty brutal seeing him take advantage of all those people. From making crowds bow before him to burning a dude’s face off with a hot iron, it’s clear that Negan’s power is unchallenged. He instills his rule with ruthless objectivity while reaping the benefits of dictatorship. He rubs his dominance in the face of his own people, and despite their numbers, everyone just goes along with it. It’s a little far-fetched that all these people would put up with his antics, but hey, it’s the apocalypse.
Another thing I liked about this episode was how it handled its multiple plotlines. The Walking Dead is plagued with episodes that slowly develop one or two pairs of characters at a time, going after a slow-burn approach in order to keep from rushing the narrative. This time around we got forward movement on multiple fronts. While some interactions were definitely more interesting than others, I’d still much prefer this kind of balancing act to the writing than, say, most of the season so far.
The primary subplot was between Rosita and Eugene, as Rosita insisted Eugene make her a bullet. I thought Christrian Serrato did a great job in this episode, and it’s nice to see Rosita have a more definitive purpose on the show. It was also great to see her hit Eugene with some cold truth, as his psyche needs a serious swift kick in the ass if he wants to survive the coming storm.
The interaction between Father Gabriel and Spencer was mostly pretty boring. Spencer has never been a very likeable character on the show, and I’m honestly shocked he hasn’t gotten himself eaten yet. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the situation at the episode’s conclusion, especially after finding all that loot, but honestly I couldn’t really care less about his fate.
Lastly, we have Rick and Aaron, who are out on a last-chance run to find something for the Saviors. They don’t get much screen time, but they do come across what I’m sure will be a tension-filled scenario for the next episode. Likewise, Michonne sets off on her own to lay a trap for a Savior, hoping to get a ride to Negan. One thing is for sure- people are pissed at Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The best part of the episode is near the end, however, when Negan and co. head back to Sanctuary with Carl in tow. Jesus’ and Daryl’s plans are rich with possibility, and Negan’s presence amongst the community while he waits for Rick’s return is bound to create conflict (well, more conflict.) He’s already made himself welcome; how long he decides to stay is up in the air. All-in-all it was a pretty good episode, and one that has me excited for the mid-season finale. Season 7 has spent a lot of time setting the board; “Sing Me A Song” finally starts to let the pieces play.