SEASON 10; EPISODE 5
Last week felt a bit like the calm before the storm – the show allowing the audience to take a collective breath before things get ramped up a notch or two. We're not too far from the mid-season finale so tensions will rise and the action will increase. Episode four ended with the news that Negan had escaped (or been allowed to escape) and was on the run and it is his company we kept for a good portion of episode 5...
Negan's character arc trajectory has been heading in a certain direction for quite some time now. It's actually hard to believe at times that this was the man who bashed in the skulls of a couple of very popular characters back in the day. But if The Walking Dead has shown us anything it is that people can change. Most of the characters alive are living proof of that, from Carol and Daryl to Alpha and Lydia. That change doesn't mean your sins are forgiven but ultimately it is still possible for a character to undergo some kind of reform. Any suspicions that Negan had an insidious ulterior motive for saving Judith or Aaron were undone during this episode.
Although we still don't know who helped him escape (I still think it's Father Gabriel), Negan is assisted by a young guy called Brandon once on the outside. He's an Alexandrian but his parents were both saviours and he is something of a Negan fanboy. He even tracked down his trademark leatherjacket and did his best to recreate Lucille. He's also a giant dickwad and it's pretty clear early on that Negan thinks so too. As they put more distance between themselves and Alexandria, they hear a woman screaming and Negan rushes to her aid and dispatches some walkers in glorious fashion in the process. He soon discovers that the woman has a young son in tow too. However Brandon suggests they follow them and steal their supplies. Negan tells him to fuck off basically and Brandon skulks off, all hurt and dejected like the sick puppy that he is. We then get a nice (and slightly weird) scene with Negan and the kid talking about Aeroplanes and nut tapping. It's obvious at this point that this kid and his mother are going to meet their end very soon and that's exactly what happens. When he returns from collecting wood, he finds Brandon has killed both mother and son, believing that Negan sent him away as some kind of test. Negan proceeds to smash his skull in with a rock. Symbolically it was the new Negan killing the old. He's now officially a good guy. Well, sort of.
In other news, Ezekiel revealed to Siddiq that he has a lump on his neck and that he knows that it is thyroid cancer, as his dad and grandmother had it too. However they both overcame it, something that Ezekiel knows is virtually impossible due to the fact that there's not exactly any treatment on offer in the apocalypse. It's a tragic scene and a reminder of another of the pitfalls of this new world they all inhabit. Walkers and Whisperers may pose a mortal threat but so does all the old shit too, like cancer. Thinking about it this could be another reason why Ezekiel was contemplating taking his own life in last week's episode.
Another character whose health is deteriorating rapidly is Kelly who nearly came a cropper in the woods. Daryl and Connie head out to find her and Magna soon joins the search. When they locate her she is not in a good state but to complicate matters, she and Magna reveal a secret stash of supplies that has been accrued as a result of Magna and Kelly stealing from Hilltop. Why they were storing supplies out there is not clear. Are they just a back up in case something happened at Hilltop? Or were they planning to leave the camp permanently? Either way it's going to put more strain on Magna and Yumiko's relationship.
The Whisperers made a few appearances too. We saw Alpha demonstrate to everyone that she is still very much in charge by killing one of her tribe who has spoken out of turn. Are people stupid? Seriously, what did he expect?! More importantly, Gamma received some help from Aaron after she cut her hand and although she immediately scarpered, it seems apparent that she might not be quite so on board with Alpha as we thought. Alpha is obviously going to try and use her to befriend Aaron and act as a spy but Aaron isn't daft, he will see that move coming. Won't he...?!
The episode ended with Negan wandering around Whispererland calling out walkers and whisperers alike. After dispatching a few of the former, he is soon surrounded by the latter. Are we going to get a Negan vs Beta fight-to-the-death scene? I doubt it. It feels like his redemption story has got a bit more mileage in it to end like that. Because let's face it, Beta would win that showdown.