You can live for nothing or die for something, but at the end of the day, this is “Still Gotta Mean Something.”
The episode begins with a flashback to “The Lost and the Plunderers” at the junkyard during the shootout as Jadis covers one of the members under some blankets. She hides, covers herself in blood, and plays dead while the shooting continues. A Savior approaches, but pays her no mind. When the chaos stops, Jadis strips down to her nightgown underneath.
In the present, Jadis enters a cell, where Lucille is resting, and packs up a few items in a suitcase. She grabs Lucille and heads to the trash compactor where Negan is being housed.
We then return to the Hilltop, where Ezekiel finds Carol chopping wood. She wants to stay, though Ezekiel wants her to come with him and find Henry. He figures that Carol believes Henry is already dead, but he wants her to pretend, just as she told him. Having thought her the bravest person he’d ever met, Ezekiel sees nothing but cowardice now.
Tara tells Daryl that she’s still not sick, a day later. She figures that Dwight shot her with a clean arrow, but Daryl disagrees. If Dwight knew, he should’ve warned them. Everyone else injured got sick, so it can’t be an accident that Tara lived. Had Tara killed Dwight when she had the chance, she might be dead right now. She tells Daryl to do what he has to do, but it’s just for him. Tara, though, she’s out.
Inside, Rick finds Michonne weeping over one of Carl’s letters. She asks if he wants to read it, but he’s still distraught. He grabs his jacket and tells her that he’s going out to find food. Michonne asks what Carl wrote him, and he doesn’t know, as he hasn’t read his letter yet. After all, she did it too when it happened to her. She kept moving to get away, but Andrea stopped her.
And now Michonne is stopping Rick. Carl wrote a letter because he wanted Rick to read it. So Rick’s not leaving.
Carol, meanwhile, finds Morgan ready to leave to find Henry, so she decides to accompany him.
Rosita, Dianne, and Maggie go over their supplies when Daryl enters and tells them that going hand to hand with their Saviors is their only option, given that the Saviors must also be low on ammunition. However, Rosita remembers that the Saviors have Eugene, who can create bullets for them.
Over at the junkyard, Negan smells the aftermath of a battle, telling Jadis that people are a resource. He doesn’t throw resources like that away and wouldn’t have killed all of the junkyard gang. That was the work of someone not following the program. That, Negan says, is his mistake, and he’ll own it. He took a chance on someone and thought he was doing the right thing, but he ended up punching himself in the dick.
He apologizes to Jadis for all she’s lost, but he knows that he can help get that back for her. Jadis almost strikes at him with Lucille, but stops short. And for some reason, we cut to commercial after Jadis hits Negan, not before.
So Morgan and Carol search the woods for the Saviors, when Carol finds a turnip, indicating that the Saviors were on this side of the road. They spot who Morgan believes to be Henry, but it’s just a hallucination. Morgan believes that Henry is dead, but Carol admits that she just came to keep an eye on Morgan. He knows that she saved people, but she can’t save the dead.
Morgan’s not dead. He doesn’t die. He just sees death, even when he looks away. He then approaches the body of a walker and realizes that the escapees probably kept along this path to the road ahead.
As Rick keeps a watchful eye over Judith, he eyes Carl’s hat. He heads out and asks Alden where the Saviors went, and his best and only guess is the Sanctuary. Rick asks how Alden would have gotten back, and it turns out that there’s an old dive bar that could’ve been turned into an outpost.
As Rick heads off, Alden asks Rick not to kill any more of them than he has to, since they made the wrong choice. Some of the Saviors haven’t realized their actions yet. And Rick can show them if he brings them back. Well, Rick could do that…
We return to the junkyard, where Negan continues to insist that he had nothing to do with the massacre. As Jadis leaves and returns with her armored walker, she sees that Negan has rolled himself just enough to grab a gun and flare.
On the road, Carol and Morgan spot a horde of walkers in the distance. Carol spots an approaching walker with Henry’s spear sticking through it. Morgan downs the walker with said spear, and Carol wants to find the other road, though Morgan believes they know what they’ll find. Carol, though, won’t know unless she goes and sees for herself. Morgan, though, refuses, again saying that Carol saves people.
Morgan, though, he just sees people die. Carol reminds Morgan that he saved her, knowing that she could come back, but Morgan says that wasn’t him. He’s not strong like her. That entire time, he knew what would happen to Gavin, and then something did, like it always does. So now Morgan knows who he must kill.
Jadis tells Negan to leave the photos alone, though Negan figures they mean something to her. The photos are all she has left of her people, and now that’s all gone. Negan tells Jadis that his wife’s name was Lucille, and she got him through this life. The bat got him through all of this, so he named it after her. It’s the last piece of her that he has left.
Just like Jadis’ photos. Jadis rolls the walker closer to Negan and gets the flare from him, which she tosses into a nearby puddle. She then rushes off as a helicopter hovers in the skies above. But just as Jadis manages to retrieve her flare, the helicopter leaves. Before she can set the fire to Lucille, Negan reminds her that he didn’t burn the photos. Still, burning Lucille would hurt Negan, and Jadis knows that.
Negan promises to make this right, so Jadis drops her flare and sobs.
Rick explores the woods and runs into an enraged Morgan, who admits to Rick that he isn’t right. Rick realizes that he and Morgan are out here for the same reason, so they should finish it, the two of them. As they approach a severed hand and foot, the two are ambushed.
The two awaken in the aforementioned bar where the Saviors are staying, as they debate what to do with their captives. The Saviors want to go out on their own, knowing that Simon wouldn’t help them, but Jared sees that things have changed. Delivering Rick to Negan would be a win. They then see that Rick is awake, and Rick informs them that the Hilltop isn’t far, so the dying Saviors can get treatment from the doctor.
If Rick and Morgan are freed, then they’ll give the Saviors a fresh start. He’s giving his word, and it’s not worth much, but a man’s word has to mean something. He tells them that a herd is approaching, but Jared isn’t buying this, saying that Rick and Morgan came to kill them. He remembers that Morgan even killed Richard, so he believes Rick’s word amounts to nothing.
Morgan admits that he came to kill the Saviors, so Jared places his gun to Morgan’s temple. However, Morgan tells Jared to save his bullets because the herd will follow the noise. After, when the Saviors are dead, there won’t be anyone left for Morgan to kill. To Morgan, it never changes. He doesn’t die. He raises his voice loud enough to attract the dead.
Soon enough, the walkers stream into the building. As Jared escapes, the remaining Saviors cut Rick and Morgan loose. They join forces and cut down as many walkers as they can, but then Rick and Morgan turn and kill the Saviors as well. Morgan, though, locks his sights on Jared.
Jared ambushes Morgan and tries to stab him with the spear, but Morgan knocks him away and locks him in the room. He then holds Jared close to the gate while the walkers feast on him.
Rick approaches one of the dying Saviors and admits that he lied. He shoots and kills the Saviors just as Morgan approaches and again says that everybody turns. Rick acknowledges that Morgan saved him way back when, even though Morgan didn’t know him. He asks why Morgan saved him, since he had his son with him, and Morgan admits that it’s because his son was there that he helped Rick.
As Morgan leaves, Rick eyes himself in the mirror. There’s always a mirror nearby for Rick to see what he’s become, haven’t you noticed?
At the junkyard, Negan retrieves Lucille and tells Jadis, who is looking at her photos, that she didn’t lose herself. He asks what the hell happened, as well as offers her a new path to follow, but she refuses.
As night falls, Carol hears Henry’s cries for help. She finds him hiding in some branches near a creek, in a nice callback to where Rick once told Sophia to hide, to protect himself from walkers. After she dispatches of them, she embraces Henry, who tearfully apologizes for what he’s done.
Kal and Jerry receive good news as Carol and Henry return to the Hilltop. Carol later tells Ezekiel by the fire that she once had a daughter. When she lost her, though, she was nothing, but through the people she was with, she found a better version of herself. She might not slip back to who she was, and it doesn’t mean that she couldn’t find herself again.
Rick and Morgan return to the Hilltop soon after, with a bloody Morgan telling Henry that he killed the man who killed his brother. Henry is sorry for that, but Morgan warns Henry to never be sorry. Rick, meanwhile, heads back to the mansion without a word. Later, Morgan sits by himself.
While Jadis returns to her makeshift home, Negan heads back to the Sanctuary, but picks up someone on the way- someone who we don’t see. He tells his Saviors that they aren’t to say a word about his return, as he’s got all sorts of surprises to roll out soon.
Meanwhile, Daryl and Rosita spy on the Saviors from afar and spot Eugene overseeing everything as the Saviors bring in buckets of casings that will be turned into bullets. Rather than take out the machine, Daryl and Rosita decide to take out the bullet maker instead.
Back at the Hilltop, Rick thanks Michonne and apologizes for his actions. After a kiss, Michonne leaves while Rick sits down and reads Carl’s letter.
“Still Gotta Mean Something” is a very apt title for The Walking Dead. Whether it’s all the killing and sacrifices, lies and deceit, attempting to make a new world, it all has to mean something in the end. Not always, but it still should amount to something, whether good or bad.
Take Rick and Morgan, for example. I’m split on Rick in particular, but I did like the knife to the gut when Morgan revealed that he only saved Rick because his son was there, not because he felt concerned for Rick’s well-being. I have to assume that were Duane not there, Morgan probably would have killed Rick or just left him for dead.
But he didn’t, and all this time, Rick has gone on without really knowing why. Having come this far, Rick figures that Morgan saving him had to mean something, but in the end, it didn’t.
Though Morgan was able to bring Carol back, he feels that it’s too late for him, as he’s heading down a darker path. Not a path of no return, mind you, but he’s losing more of himself, which is something we should expect to continue when his character arc follows him into Fear the Walking Dead in a few weeks.
While Morgan is quite unhinged when he’s like this, if there’s one thing I do like about him when he’s like this, it’s that he appears to be in complete control. He’s not making the best decisions, mind you, but he’s adamant about them. He knows that he doesn’t die, and when he gets in this killer mindset, there’s nothing that can stop him, no matter how close he teeters into madness.
Rick, though, while teetering on that edge, is doing so because he’s still processing Carl’s death. He refuses to read his letter until the end of the episode, and he kills all of the Saviors after giving them his word that they’ll get a fresh start. He said that his word has to mean something, but in this state of mind, and the world being what it is, it’s hard to take someone’s word at face value.
And yes, I do find it very on-the-nose that Rick Grimes once again finds himself in the convenient position of looking in a mirror to see how far he’s fallen and so he can look at the monster he’s become. It was one thing for Gracie to have a mirror above her crib, but for Rick to look at one here, too? And a cracked mirror, even? Why not just spell out that this is supposed to be symbolism?
Carol finds herself in the position of bringing someone back when she tries to appeal to Morgan, and while she’s unable to get through to him, she does manage to rescue Henry in a nice moment. Though she couldn’t save Sophia and while she’s lost herself before, she won’t let that happen again. And at the very least, Henry won’t become another Sophia or Lizzie. Especially Lizzie.
Jadis capturing Negan felt…off. For one, I figure that if she wanted to hurt Negan, she could have just burned Lucille immediately, rather than drag it out. And I don’t get how or why Negan was in the position where he could roll close enough to grab a firearm and flare. Doesn’t seem like Jadis put a lot of thought into this. But we do see more of the helicopter, and I hope that’s expounded upon down the line.
Again, as he did with Gabriel, Negan reveal some of his backstory, this time the origin of Lucille’s name. I like it, though as a fan of the comic, I didn’t expect the show to dig into Negan’s history at this point on the show. I figure that by the time this revelation would’ve come up later, Negan won’t have much to share. But then, there’s a lot to Negan’s past, so there’s still a lot of ground to cover.
And then Negan escapes. I assume that Jadis will at the very least leave Negan’s option on the table since he told her that he had nothing to do with the heapsters being slaughtered.
Plus, the question remains just who Negan picked up on the road. Could be Laura, Sherry…hell, maybe he even picked up Heath from wherever the hell he’s been. But regardless, we’ll hopefully find that out next time.
“Still Gotta Mean Something” delivered with putting the characters in morally questionable positions, showing that at the end of the day, whether for better or worse, their actions still gotta mean something. With Negan back at the Sanctuary, though, now we see just what surprises he has in store for the rest of the war as we march towards the final two episodes of the season.