A Look at The Walking Dead #149: “The Devil On Your Shoulder”

Rick going to Negan for help?  Now you know the man is desperate.

The Walking Dead #149- Cover

Let’s take a second to talk about the cover for issue #149: “The Devil on Your Shoulder.”  This is a great cover.  It really embodies the relationship between Rick and Negan, as our protagonist finds himself in a tough situation on dealing with the residents.  This is Rick going to a place he thought he’d never have to visit, and Negan is more than ready to welcome him with open arms.

The Walking Dead #149- Laura and Dwight talk about Diane

But we’ll get to this later.  Let’s go to the Sanctuary first, as we learn more about Dwight grappling with the decision to remain leader of the Saviors or step down.  More than that, this all goes back to Diane.  He’s still pining for her, even though she’s gone, and I loved the point Laura made about why Diane even went to Negan in the first place: he offered what she wanted.  Remember, the women that Negan takes as his wives don’t have to work for a damn thing.

So of course many would be willing to drop their past relationships and love lives if it means being one notch up above everyone else.  It’s all about survival.  Even though the people in the Sanctuary may not like Negan, the women at least have a better way of living under him than any other way.

It’s also interesting to learn that Dwight appears to be the only thing that’s keeping the Saviors from instigating another attack on the Alexandria Safe Zone.  When it comes to the Saviors, we’re mostly dealing with Dwight and his inner circle.  We don’t deal with the community as a whole.  I say this because I figured that tensions simmered between the Saviors and the people of Alexandria during the time skip.

I don’t have a way to back that up, but given how Rick and Dwight have gotten along so well, and how the Saviors did follow Dwight after Negan’s fall, I figured all was well.  To learn that the Saviors may just be biding their time puts them back in play as a potential antagonist.  They may not have a walker army like the Whisperers do, but we’ve seen that they are brutal.  What the Saviors need is a strong leader.  Dwight doesn’t consider himself as such, but after hearing Laura’s words, coupled with him taking out Lucille at the end of the issue, I’m very curious to see what the story does next with the Saviors.

We get some snippets of what other characters are up to, but don’t spend too much time on it, which is fine.  We see Eugene working on his radio, Maggie still in Alexandria, but we also see Andrea safely return Carl and Lydia to the Hilltop.  However, they still need to keep this under wraps, given the tension in the communities.

The Walking Dead #149- Carl tells Lydia that he's who he is because of his father

Carl and Lydia’s talk helped build the trust between them.  Lydia has seen some shit and it’s so hard for her to believe that someone like Carl can be so honest and trusting.  In a way, she reminds me of Rick.  Someone so trusting has to have an angle, right?  Hell, just look at how Rick first reacted to Aaron and Jesus, but they both ended up becoming trustworthy friends.  The same is true for Carl, who must be past the issues he had with his father, as he says that it’s because of Rick that he’s a good person.

The Walking Dead #149- Joshn's parents met by Tammy's family

It’s worth noting that Josh’s parents are now coming face to face with Olivia’s family.  They’ve both lost someone close to them at the hands of the Whisperers.  All that anger and hate towards Rick has to come out eventually and now both groups have a common enemy.

The Walking Dead #149- Negan thinks that he's getting out

And that brings me to the conversation between Rick and Negan.  First off, I loved the glimmer of hope Negan had at actual escape.  There was a lot of speculation regarding Rick’s decision, but nope.  Rick explained right off the bat that he’d never be let out of his cage.

The Walking Dead #149- Negan gives Rick advice

As foul mouthed of a motherfucker as Negan is, he’s making a lot of damn sense here in the way that only Negan can: this conflict with the Whisperers can be broken down to us versus them.  It’s almost like Negan is giving Rick tips on how to deliver a stump speech.  Right now, the trust in Rick is at an all-time low, based on recent polling by CNN.

The Walking Dead #149- Negan tells Rick that people want security, not action

Negan is cruel, but he knows what Rick is going through right now and what it takes not just to be a qualified leader, but trusted one.  What’s striking is Negan’s reveal that, yeah, many people at the Sanctuary probably didn’t care for him at all, but you know what?  He kept them safe regardless.  At the end of the day, in this walker filled world, people want security.  Sure, they’ll want to go to action to avenge their loved ones, but they also want to sleep at night with ease.  If Rick can make the people feel safe, then maybe he’ll get them back on his side.

It’s such a smart idea that of course Negan would know this.  He ruled with an iron fist.  And Lucille.  So even though he’s being held in this prison, he gets Rick’s dilemma.  And despite not getting any sort of recognition for it, that little smirk on Negan’s face at the end of the conversation, I think, is his way of figuring that he did something good for a man he hates.

The Walking Dead #149- Rick tells Eugene that it's time to form a military

So going forward, Rick seems to take Negan’s advice into consideration with his plan to mobilize a military.  After all, Eugene has been manufacturing bullets this entire time, so this is a chance for him to play an active role since the radio doesn’t seem to be helping right now.

But remember, betrayal is right around the corner…

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