By Kit Power and Kayleigh Marie Edwards
Season 7, Episode 7 - Sing Me A Song
Welcome to the seventh installment of a weekly column where Gingernutters Kayleigh Edwards and Kit Power take to a shared Google Doc to discuss this week’s Walking Dead broadcast episode in a conversational exchange. Enjoy!
Warning: The following conversation contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead, up to and including the events of Season 7, Episode 7. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please turn away now. For those of you who have seen S7 E7, please join in with the conversation in the comments section.
Kit Power: Well now. You wanted more Carl. You surely got more Carl. Happy? :D
Kayleigh Edwards: I certainly am! I’ve been keeping my ‘eye’ out for him...
KP: Well, hell, let’s start with that - Holy Facial injuries, Batman! I know we talk about the zombie makeup a lot, but how gross/awesome was that eye socket?!?
KE: Yeah we know that they’re fantastic with the zombie special effects on this show, but the extent of their skill with wounds was quite… eye opening...
KP: That’s a word! Bloody hell, so much going on in this episode. We got Gabriel and Spencer getting all intense, Rick off on a scavenge, Michonne being the very baddest ass, Daryl looking increasingly close to breaking point and sat right at the centre of it all, scene after scene with Negan and Carl, in the buddy movie from hell.
Should we start with Carl’s ‘genius’ plan? What did you think about how effortlessly he outsmarted Jesus on the road in? And why in the name of all that’s zombie didn’t he just shoot Negan?!?
KE: His interactions with Jesus are hilarious - it’s just the look on Jesus’ face when Carl waves goodbye to him.
I think that he’d just thought of his plan in terms of practicality, but when faced with gunning down live people, it was different. I reckon if Negan had been the first person to step in front of him, he would have shot him, but he killed those two others first and then maybe he lost his nerve or something? I don’t think he expected to come out of there alive anyway, and will probably kick himself forever for not shooting Negan when he had the chance.
KP: Loved that wave, and Jesus’s reaction.
Well, yeah, not as hard as I wanted to kick him! I found myself thinking a lot about Negan this time - his fearlessness looking down the barrel of an automatic rifle was… something. Though I did enjoy how he kind of used one of his own men as partial cover - sociopathic, but not stupid. Still, I have to say the ‘good guy has baddie bang to rights and doesn’t shoot’ is a personal bugbear of mine in fiction, so it was a bit of a groan out loud moment for me.
That said, it’s not the first time the show’s asked me to swallow something a bit dumb/off in the name of furthering the plot, and holy hell we got a ton going on in this episode. Starting with Carl’s grand tour of Negan Central. What did you think about the wider glimpse into the world The Saviours are building?
KE: Well if we didn’t know it before, we know for sure now that Negan rules with fear. And it’s been reiterated that there are ‘classes’ of people in Negan’s world, and the lower classes really are living the crap life, even for people in a zombie apocalypse.
I was quite interested in his many wives and the set up there. I’ve got to say… I just can’t stand Sherry. I’m sure we’re meant to like her but I just can’t!
KP: Yeah, we’re back to the slavery/serfdom model, aren’t we? As to the wives thing, I think I found that scene almost more disturbing than the branding scene, purely because of how it played out up there. It seemed like Negan’s offer for the wife to go back to her man was sincere, so I wonder just how bad that life is that she’s willing to accept enforced prostitution (and the punishment for her former man) to avoid going back. I gotta say, that squicked me the fuck out - especially when she started crying as she told Negan that she loved him. I mean, newsflash: something’s rotten in Saviourland. Still, yuck.
I found something exceptionally chilling about Carl being present the whole time, too. Obviously there was a performativity to it from Negan’s perspective - in fact, that’s a really interesting facet of Negan, he’s ALWAYS performing for someone - but at the same time, it created a level of implied threat and an extra layer of squick throughout, for me. What did you think of that? And what the hell do you think Negan’s game with Carl is all about, anyway? Surrogate father figure? Cat and mouse? Something else?
KE: I think he’s trying to win Carl’s respect and sort of bond with him as another way to get to Rick. There’s obviously something in Carl that Negan respects (if we believe what the Oceanside residents said about the Saviours killing all the boys over 10, then Negan doesn’t have a policy about murdering teenagers). My favourite moment in the whole episode was when Negan realised he hurt Carl’s feelings and apologised. I kept waiting for a punchline, or for him to make it known that his apology was insincere, but when it turned out that it was genuine I was like ‘ermergerd, dude does have a conscience’.
KP: Yeah, that was super weird. Especially when he followed it up by making him sing a damn song under pain of extreme death. Apparently, in Neganworld, terrifying the snot out of a kid is okay (as is murder and mutilation and what have you) but making him cry is a no-no. To add to the confusion, it really did feel like the first time we’ve ever seen Neegan be sincere - that performativity I spoke about, which is absolutely in force at all other times, just… dropped.
And I guess this is a good time to talk about Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chandler Riggs. Because they had a lot of time together in this one, and I was amazed at how well Riggs held his own against that monster of charisma. What did you think of those scenes? And especially the moment where Carl finally snapped and told Negan to jump out of the window?
KE: The thing I’ve found most interesting about Carl is that Negan hasn’t broken him, even though he broke Rick almost immediately. Part of that is obviously because Carl isn’t the one who feels the responsibility of everyone else’s lives on his shoulders, so he has the luxury of only really worrying about himself in this situation. I think it’s also to do with him really being a product of the environment he’s grown up in. He’s spent barely any time with anyone his own age, but has spent a lot of time around adults who are constantly killing each other. I wonder if he mouths off to Negan because he doesn’t attach the same value to life as everyone else around him does?
KP: Yeah, we talked about that before - this violence is just life to Carl, isn’t it? I mean, I get all that, but at the same time, it’s not too bright, because what he should also realise is that the way Negan operates, it won’t be him, Carl, that pays. Or not just him. I feel like that’s the calculation I don’t get that he isn’t making. But then I flash back on him calmly telling his dad to just cut his hand off. So maybe he does get it.
Talking of that calculation, can we talk about Rosita and Eugene? Because our second would-be Negan assassin got her bullet this week, in what was for me another superbly acted scene...
KE: Yeah, I think he does get it, but he’s not the only one who doesn’t seem to want to go along with serving The Saviours, regardless of the risk to others? Michonne is on her way to Negan now, surely she also knows that if she effs up whatever she’s doing, someone’s in for a skull bashing? And Rosita knows that too, so I guess she’s not intending to fail. She seems to be thinking her plan through more than the other two.
The scene between Rosita and Eugene was brilliant. I like her more and more, I must say! Although I am starting to feel really sorry for Eugene!
KP: Michonne isn’t planning on failing, either, I don’t think. And I actually felt Eugene made good points in that conversation - in fact, he was making the arguments I wanted to see being made (the arguments I wish Rick was making, if you want the truth, but there it is). It’s not that you don’t take him out - it’s that you do it right, with and by the numbers, and for all time. This lone wolf bullshit is not going to get it cut.
On that, I wonder if that is what Michonne has in mind. She’s clearly furious, and all about doing something extreme, but maybe that extreme thing is not to kill Negan, but make some kind of offer/deal? I dunno, I just have so much respect for that character and her intelligence, I think something else might be going on.
And we didn’t talk about Gabriel and Spencer yet. How about that scene? I have to say Gabriel has been a desperately ‘nothing’ character for me, much as I enjoy the actor playing him, but man he got some zingers this time...
KE: Yeah, he and Spencer are polar opposites, especially in the way they view Rick, and themselves. Spencer is a selfish little asshole who spends all his time whining about Rick, but he’s probably too weak to lead Alexandria himself. Gabrielle is becoming a brilliant character though! I’m hoping that there are more interactions between the two of them later on!
Just quickly, about the ‘lone wolf’ plan that the few in the group seem to have, I agree with you. I don’t think any of them are intending to fail with whatever they’re intending to do, but I do think that they’re not thinking of the logistics - as Rick and Eugene are. They seem to be running on emotion, and some unintended arrogance based on their history of overcoming whatever problem faces them, and getting what they want.
What do you think about the difference between the women we’ve seen in Rick’s group, and those in Camp Negan?
KP: See, I think that read is correct for Rosita, but not Michonne. I think she’s got something super smart up her sleeve. Though there will be the slight wrinkle that she’s currently being taken to where Negan isn’t, because he’s back at Alexandria (!!!).
As to the women, I think those in camp Negan are doing what they have to to survive. I think that subjugation, humiliation, and the constant day-to-day threat/reality of sexual assault have just battered them - physically and emotionally. Negan’s ‘hareem’ is instructive in this regard - the women are austensably in a state of luxury, but of course they have to dress a certain way, act a certain way - and give Negan whatever he wants sexually, I assume. I mean, Negan’s society is basically my idea of hell, anyway - authoritarian psychopath in charge, with violence and willingness to hurt others pretty well deciding the rest of the pecking order. But to be a woman in that world… yeah, no thanks.
Whereas the women of Alexandria have agency, passion. They’ve earned their seat at the table, by their contributions to the group, and they haven’t had to deal with the constant threat of abuse on top of the constant threat of zombies and violence from outside. So basically, they get to be functioning human beings in a way the slaves of Negan are prevented from being. It’s one of the things that have made this season of TWD such hard viewing for me personally - this stuff really does push all my buttons, and I’m faintly nauseous whenever Camp Negan is on screen for any length of time.
Hmm. That got a bit long. Sorry. Hey what do you think? :)
KE: I agree - I just can’t imagine being a woman in Negan’s world - however, I’m still a bit confused about it. He’s got these ‘wives’ and apparently doesn’t want anyone there that doesn’t want to be there, but he knows damn well that the alternative must be worse than these women having to sacrifice being with the men they actually love. He told Dwight that he could have a night with one of the wives but only so long as she was willing, but then he kisses Sherry while she’s having a go at him and giving him the evil eye. Though this is why I don’t like her very much. She called him an asshole or something, and he replied that she liked him anyway. And that seems to be true….
KP: Yeah, I really don’t know about that. I think any notion of consent that Negan is holding on to, for whatever reason he’s holding onto it, is pretty meaningless in practise. It’s clearly the most brutal kind of coercion. In that regard, Negan is a pretty brilliantly realised personification of a specific ‘type’ of toxic masculinity - the Alpha Male. He believes he’s so damned attractive in his male brutality that all women want him really, and then generates a state of coercion that bends reality (and the people in it) to fit that self image. I think it ties back into the performativity of him, and that gross self-regarding way he talks, carries himself… I don’t think for a second Sherry really likes him - but I do think she’s figured out that he needs to believe she does in order to survive. I hope that read is right, and I damn well hope the writers do something with it.
And as we’ve got the mid-season break hurtling towards us, I guess we should talk about that ending. Negan - babysitter of the year?!?
KE: Oh my god, I don’t even know what to make of him with Judith! I think that Rick is going to lose his shit when he gets back and sees him sitting there on his porch holding his baby though! Maybe that will be the turning point for Rick to start hatching a plan to defeat him? I have no idea what the ending for the mid-season finale may be!
KP: Thoughts, in no real order - Michonne is heading for the wrong place. Jesus is in the wind, but could provide the location of Negan central. Rick… yeah, bad times ahead for Rick. There will be blood for the blood Carl spilled - or should be, by Negan’s past declarations. Rosita’s bullet may well be present. And Daryl could be on the way home - maybe with Jesus.
That’s a shitload of objects in motion! Thoughts? Predictions?
KE: Ooh I do hope that Jesus gets Daryl out! Maybe he’s the one who posted the note under Daryl’s door? You’re probably right about Negan spilling some blood in return for the two Carl killed, I didn’t even think of that!
KP: That was my thought, but Sherry could be in the frame for the note, also. Or her ex, I guess. And will Daryl take it? And if he does, will he get out? How far is Negan HQ from Alexandria? And, oh, hey, isn’t Carole still technically in this show???
Shit. It’s going to be a long week.
KE: As much as I love Carol.. If they dare end this part of the season in The Kingdom, I will have to murder someone.
KP: Ha! Yeah, I don’t think they’ll be doing that, though I’m sure it’ll feature. And of course we’ll be left hanging, brutally, at some vile Negan centred climax, no doubt. Think Carl is going to die? Judith, even?
KE: I really really hope not, but I wouldn’t rule anything out on this show!
KP: That’s what keeps us on the hook. Just think, this time next week, we’ll have all new trauma to talk about...
KE: I can’t wait!