‘The Walking Dead’ 10×05 Review: “What It Always Is”

A lot was going on in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, but Negan was clearly the star of the show.

Within the fandom, there are genuinely two sides on Negan – those who love him and feel he has redeemed himself and those who think he is trash and will never forgive him for all he’s done.

Traditionally, I’ve leaned more toward the latter. I’ve loved to hate Negan for so long. But fine, I will admit that this episode did swing me toward the middle when it comes to him.  (Although I will NEVER get over Glenn and I hope Maggie comes back like a wrecking ball).

 Where Do We Stand on Negan?

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While they have been playing the “Negan is just a nice gardener now” story for this whole season so far, they really hit us over the head with a redemption 2×4 this week.

So after his mysterious escape last week from Alexandria, we see Negan in the woods. Someone called Brandon joins him (did he let Negan out?) – but from henceforth I’m just going to call this dude Fanboy. We learn that Fanboy’s dad was a savior and this kid is longing for the good old days. He tries to mimic the Saviors whistle and talks about what a hypocrite Rick Grimes was. But then he pisses off when he talks about Carl and how rumor has it that Negan put a bullet through his head.

“I would never hurt a kid,” Negan says, in major foreshadowing for later in the episode. Fanboy keeps on with his rambling about the awesomeness of Sanctuary, and says, “We are Negan” in a way that I’m sure many people have said to Jeffrey Dean Morgan at a fan convention. And then he busts out his ultimate fandom collection – Negan’s leather jacket and Lucille!

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Negan’s leaning toward the good side is teased again when they hear screams and he rescues a mother and son from a walker (killing it with a bus bathroom door, of all things). Fanboy wants to kill the pair, but Negan stops him. Fanboy is super annoying but basically is just in this episode to point out to us all the things that Negan is not anymore. Seriously, I did not remember this guy at all before now. They’ve done everything here except put up a sign above Negan’s head that says “redemption arc.”  (Maybe I should print out a picture of Glenn and Abraham and put it next to my TV so I can stay strong during future episodes).

“You’re just like all the others,” Brandon says and I’m assuming he’s talking about all the Alexandria people? This might be another not-subtle hint to the audience that yes, by making this decision, Negan is indeed like the others. Okay, fine, we get it.

But wait! They aren’t done showing us how nice he is now! By the time he’s offering to escort mother and son to Alexandria and having a sweet conversation with that little boy, I’m dredging up images of Sasha in that casket to try to maintain my rage. Darn you writers and your attempts to make me like Negan!

Then we see a glimpse of old Negan as bashes his biggest fan’s head in with a brick and throws on his leather jacket, grabs Lucille and walks out of town.

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He finds the Whisperers in the woods, taunting them with a “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

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Now, this could go either way, people. Either he has gone back to full Negan and is embracing the “enemy of my enemy is my friend idea” that was earlier suggested by Brandon, or is he infiltrating the Whisperers to bring them down for the good people of Alexandria.

I’m going to guess it’s the latter. Either way, it’s going to be fun to watch. Negan versus Beta is a fight I want to see.

Daryl and Connie

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Okay, while I ship Daryl and Carol, I cannot deny how sweet he was with Connie this week. Daryl is not one that opens up with someone easily, so it’s nice to see a softer side to him sometimes.

I’m seriously a confused shipper now. I mean, Caryl is endgame – but who can deny how utterly amazing it is to see Daryl learning sign language. And her telling him that they are family at the end? Happy sigh. Caryl shippers should not be concerned though because romantic relationships seldom last on The Walking Dead without a death or break up. So even if these two get together, it will be okay.

Also, Kelly alone in the woods after losing her hearing nearly gave me a heart attack. If you haven’t had a chance, check out the actress on The Talking Dead, where she talks about her experiences on set as a deaf actress, and how they incorporated some of her experiences with hearing loss into her character. Have kleenex nearby.

I’m so glad Kelly survived (although they did the old classic cutaway and we don’t know how). Although, I’m disappointed at her and Magna stealing supplies from Hilltop for a rainy day. I get that they want to be prepared if something happens, but it’s super rude when the community has taken them in and care for them. Why didn’t any therapists survive the apocolypse. Everyone had PTSD and could really use the help.

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Ezekiel Gave Me the Feels

After last week’s downward spiral and the kiss that shall never be discussed again, I kind of liked Ezekiel’s “meh” at information about Carol. But now we have to deal with him dying of cancer? Seriously?

This scene between him and Siddiq was so well-acted and loved the line “Maybe we can’t get away from it but we can talk about it. What are we here for if not each other?”

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Then when he ghosts Carol on the radio…part of me was proud and the other half wanted her to know about his illness. I hope these two at least get a good conversation before he passes away. This whole thing gave me the sads.

Whisperers Deliver Some Nicks

Besides the whole Negan drop in at the end, we get a glimpse of what is going on in the Whisperers camp. Alpha’s plan is to make little nicks and cracks in their enemies’ security so they will crumble. We are in for some emotional warfare and I’m here for it.

Gamma is busy being gross by killing Walkers and spilling their tainted blood in the creek. Does anyone else think this has something to do with the little bug Rosita has?

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Speaking of Gamma, while she seems pretty hardcore on Team Whisperer, I think there might be some cracks in this. She’s having flashbacks of her sister and makes that connection with Aaron.

Gamma once again referenced that Alpha made a greater sacrifice by killing Lydia. I’m wondering if she will befriend Aaron and find out that Lydia is alive and be super pissed.

The little nicks that break up a community may go both ways here. Between Negan and Gamma – will the Whisperers start to fall apart?

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

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