Now, ladies and gentlemen, here’s Negan!
The episode begins with Maggie and Hershel walking around Alexandria when Maggie spots Negan and Barbara. She bids Barbara a good morning, but not Negan. How rude.
Carol, no doubt tired of chasing rats, brings Negan with her outside the Safe Zone. Negan doesn’t mind laying low, but there’s only so far he can stay out of Maggie’s way. He hopes that Carol can put in a good word for him to smooth things out. Especially given their recent history.
Instead of responding, Carol brings Negan to what I’m guessing is Leah’s cabin. This is where Negan will be staying, as the council has voted to banish him. Wow, really, guys? However, Negan asks if this is really a council decision, or Carol just seizing the reins of the situation. A fair question.
That evening, as Negan drinks, he sees a vision of his former Savior self. The vision gloats about being right in the end. The sad part isn’t ending up here, because it could’ve been worse. There’s no way the people in Alexandria would see Negan for anything but what he truly is. Negan calls his former self a clown, but the vision reminds Negan that he got further with a kind word and Lucille than with just a kind word.
In essence, Negan is nothing without her. Negan is then thrust into flashbacks. As he heads to the tree with the stain glassed window, he remembers Rick cutting his throat, as well as Michonne telling him that Lucille is still out there.
Soon, Negan starts digging hole after hole after hole until, finally, he finds and unearths Lucille.
The episode then flashes back 12 years earlier as Negan is held hostage by two men who are holding his two bags of Sodium Chloride used for chemotherapy. Negan again explains to the men that this is for his wife and she’ll die without it. One of the men sympathizes with Negan. However, the two drove out to the clinic where Negan told them to go, and the doctors Negan mentioned weren’t there.
Or maybe they were never there, since the road was so overgrown that they couldn’t get the pickup down there. The man knows that you can’t get this Sodium Chloride anywhere, since it has to be refrigerated. So someone took care of this for a long time. If they have something as rare as this, they may have other things. So Negan can say where he got it and leave, or he’ll watch as it’s poured down the toilet.
Negan agrees to talk, so long as the solution is kept safe. What he said about the medical clinic was true. There’s also a medical stockpile for equipment, but Negan doesn’t know where it is. He’s been tracking it for weeks and finally came across it two or three days ago.
We then flash back within this flashback to two or three days ago as Negan ambushes a convoy on his own. He sticks up one of the men, but loses his orientation just long enough to be knocked the man’s daughter.
Who is his daughter? Why, it’s none other than Laura, with Lindsley Register back once more in the role. Nice to see you back, Laura, even if it is a flashback.
Also wait, what? Daughter?
Anyway, Negan awakens inside one of the RVs and introduces himself to the man he stuck up: Franklin, played by Miles Mussenden. Franklin gives Negan some food and wonders why this stranger would try to rob some doctors with an empty gun. Negan explains that his wife has cancer and was in the middle of treatment when the world went to shit. He’s been trying to keep her alive, as any high school gym teacher would.
The doctors gave Negan a calendar of his wife’s state, what she needed, and when she needed it. All Negan had to do was find the drugs and find out how to do infusions. It wasn’t as complicated as Negan thought, unless something went wrong.
We flash back again to six weeks earlier to Negan in his then current home. He grabs some of the same Sodium Chloride treatment from a refrigerator and hooks it up to his wife in question: Lucille, played by Hilarie Burton Morgan. She’s trying to figure out what James Bond movie she wants to watch, but Negan tells her that they’ll have to skip the movie. The generator makes too much noise.
Negan figures that if he turns the generator off for a little bit, the walkers will lose interest. After sticking two bags of the solution in the freezer, he heads out and turns off the generator. The walker, meanwhile, continues to bang against the fence.
Following this, Negan reads, of all things, Pride and Prejudice, to Lucille. However, the book sucks, so he wants to stop, but hey, he won’t let her watch James Bond. The walker at the gate gets their attention, so Lucille implores Negan to take care of it.
He does indeed head out and stabs the walker in the eye, but this somehow doesn’t put it down. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen similar shots put down a walker, but whatever. Lucille comes out and ends the walker with one gun shot. Their last bullet, in fact. Even in her weakened state, Lucille assures Negan that she’s fine. Also, turn on the generator. She wants to watch James Bond.
For all of Lucille’s talk of wanting to watch a James Bond movie, it better be a good one.
Negan goes out for a run and returns one evening with someone’s stash. It’s a bit dried out, but could help with Lucille’s nausea. Lucille knows that Negan has to go out further and further. True, but the generator needs gas, and the surrounding area has been picked over. On the bright spot, Negan knows that this has kept them safe- there’s nothing here that anyone wants.
Lucille tells Negan that they need to move and find other people. Negan finds that a dangerous prospect, but that’s Lucille’s point. Negan points out that she has three treatments left. They will get her strength up, and then they will ride off on Negan’s motorcycle to wherever Lucille wants.
That night, as the two rest in the shivering cold, Negan sings to Lucille and we get a brief montage of the two trying on wigs, caring for one another, and Negan administering Lucille’s treatment.
The sound of a walker awakens Negan, and Lucille tells him that killing one isn’t the same as killing a human. It apparently doesn’t bother Negan, but he worries that he’ll get used to it. And how! The two have dinner, with Lucille acknowledging that she’d have started eating dog food a long time ago if she knew it tasted like it does now. I’ll take her word for it.
Lucille then presents Negan with a gift for their anniversary. Not that she knows what day it is- she just wants him to have it. Fair enough. As you’d expect, it’s a leather jacket that’s been in the crawlspace this entire time. Lucille was upset that she couldn’t return it, so she just hid it and told Negan that she returned it. She apologizes for making a big deal out of it before. Then again, who knew the world would go to shit?
Negan feels that he doesn’t deserve anything from Lucille, and she shouldn’t apologize to him. He should apologize who he was and the pain he caused her. He talks about laying awake at night, wondering how he got so lucky that Lucille stuck with him for so long. Lucille straddles Negan and tells him that she stuck with him because she can see him for the man he is, even when he wasn’t. Also, that asshole really had it coming.
Lucille then wants to smoke the pot that Negan found, but he got that for her. Well, hey, maybe they can pretend it’s Saturday. If only. She feels good enough to do so. Negan can even wear the jacket.
Negan awakens to find out the temperature has climbed and the refrigerator has stopped. Thus, there’s no way to freeze Lucille’s treatment. He starts thinking back to a family that came back awhile ago in search of a group of doctors in a mobile clinic. The doctors take the same routes and make the same stops. If Negan leaves now, he can find them before they move.
Lucille is skeptical because what if these doctors never even existed? Plus, Negan has nothing to barter with. However, Lucille demands that Negan stop. She has something to tell him.
Something that we have to flash back seven months for. How deep are we in flashback territory? Anyway, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” kicks in we find Lucille in a rage over Negan spending $600 on a leather jacket. Negan, who is knee deep in online gaming at the moment, tells Lucille that he has two job leads. One is a lock, while the other pays better, so he’s celebrating early.
Lucille wants to know about these two leads. After all, he can’t be a gym teacher anymore due to his misdemeanor assault and he refuses to go back to school. Negan has no response, so Lucille opts to return the jacket. Too bad because Negan threw away the receipt.
So Lucille talks on the phone with a woman named Janine about how Negan wasn’t always like this. She doesn’t want to give up on Negan, as she knows he loved to work with kids. True, but then he put a guy in the hospital, but as far as Lucille is concerned, that asshole had it coming.
Over dinner, Lucille informs Negan that she has an upcoming appointment- she’s getting an MRI and needs Negan to drive her home. However, Negan’s got a meeting with his probation officer. Besides, Negan doesn’t see the point since he’s sure that Lucille will be fine.
After Lucille’s appointment, she tries to call anyone who can drive her home. She even calls Negan’s probation officer, who doesn’t have Negan on his calendar for another two weeks. With no other options, Lucille decides to drive herself home.
That evening, gun in hand, Lucille awaits Negan’s return. When he enters, Lucille informs him that she has cancer.
We leave this flashback as Negan is surprised to find out that Lucille knew all along about him and Janine. He broke it off with her once they got Lucille’s diagnosis. That much, Lucille also knows. So why is Lucille saying this now? Because she wants Negan to know that he made up for it, and he can stop. If he really wants to stop, just stay with her. Negan feels that they’re so close.
Lucille feels that it’s time for Negan to go on without her. She needs him to do her fighting for her. Negan, though, refuses to give up. They’ve made it this far, so they will see this through. Negan promises to find the doctors and bring back the drugs that Lucille needs. They will kick this cancer out of her.
We then leave that flashback as Negan tells Franklin about what happened six months ago. He figured he would scavenge along the way, but it was worse than he thought. Not to mention running into some problems with the dead. Franklin saw Negan’s note that he wrote, and Laura enters to confirm that they have what Negan needs. Plenty of it, in fact, as she brings in a cooler.
Outside, Negan is baffled. He stuck these people up, yet they patched him up, gave him food, and provided his wife’s treatment without asking for anything in return. Franklin returns Negan’s gun and tells him that what goes around, comes around. Laura informs Negan about a gang that owns the roads at night. So an empty gun might not be the best defense, but it’s all Negan has.
So what does Laura offer? The very same baseball bat that she used to knock out Negan.
So we’re out of that flashback, as we return to Negan in the bar with the two men. I assume these guys are tired of jumping down the flashback hole as I am. Anyone, one of them is tired of being told one story after another. He puts a gun to Negan’s temple and orders him to talk. Otherwise, he’ll die with his wife thinking that he ran out on her. The man won’t even count.
So Negan asks if they can bring him his map. He points out the location and notes that security boils down to a man, his daughter, and some guys on top of the RVs. So pretty lax, basically. The man promises that if these folks aren’t there for any reason at all, he’ll come back and kill Negan. No questions asked.
Soon enough, Negan’s story checks out and he’s allowed to leave with his cooler. As he loads up, he hears some voices from the nearby RV, but with too much on his mind, he rides off.
He arrives back at home and finds in in complete darkness. He finds something written on one of the doors: “Please don’t leave me like this.”
Negan heads into the bedroom and finds that the worst has happened. Empty pill bottles. A bag over her head. Yes, Lucille is not only gone, but she’s already turned. He removes the bag from around her head, but can’t bring himself to put her down for good. Not yet.
He gets some barbed wire from the fence and wraps it around Laura’s baseball bat. He then returns to the bedroom and douses it in gasoline. With one last farewell to his wife, Negan tosses the matches and leaves this life behind him as he rides off.
The men from before interrogate their new victim: Franklin. They warn that if he doesn’t talk, they’ll bring out Laura. The interrogation is interrupted when Negan arrives and begins his one-man assault, even putting the baseball bat to good use.
Franklin manages to loosen a screw on the chair. The same screw that Negan had loosened. When Negan enters, Franklin manages to free himself and knock out the man. Negan gives Franklin his gun and tells him to locate Laura to make sure she’s okay.
Negan, meanwhile, puts the man on his knees and decides to get some stuff off his chest. Even though the men didn’t like his talking last time, this time the man should pray that Negan never stops talking. Because once Negan stops, something terrible is going to happen. Negan points out that he never killed a man before tonight.
He came close one time when he and his wife went to a bar. This bar had their favorite jukebox, which had their favorite song: Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful.” Of course. One guy at the bar had a voice that you can’t unhear. He talked as the song played, so Lucille went over to the guy and asked if he could lower his voice so he could hear the song. He choose poorly.
So Negan went over to the man and demanded 50 cents so he could play the song again. Negan then brings up how people apparently see red when they get angry. Turns out that’s true. This asshole came at Negan, and Negan wailed on him until he wasn’t moving. He then grabbed the guy’s wallet and took out one dollar so he could play the song twice.
As luck would have it, this prick has kids that attend the school where Negan teaches gym. The school wasn’t thrilled, so they fired Negan and the guy sued him. Since Negan didn’t have a job, his wife had to pay the guy’s medical bills. The moral of the story is that there are consequences to seeing red. Negan was a bad man back then.
But nobody’s suing or firing anyone. When Negan sees red now, it’s a question of what he’s capable of doing. Right now, he’s thinking that he’s capable of damn near anything. So in exchange for the man not killing him, Negan decides to kill him instead.
We finally return to present-day as Negan uses Lucille on the approaching walker. However, this splits Lucille down the middle. Well, shit.
Later, he returns to the cabin and speaks to Lucille. He apologizes for leaving her. He admits to being a coward and not being able to face the pain of losing her, so he ran away. Then he made himself not feel anything because he didn’t want to feel shame. But shame is the one thing Negan still felt. He admits that Lucille shouldn’t have gone out the way she did and that he should have been there.
He also apologizes for naming a damn baseball bat after her. For all the pain Negan caused his wife, he’s sorry. Hopefully, Lucille found someone in the afterlife is screwing her brains out. Okay, maybe not, but fair is fair. He misses Lucille and promises to do her fighting for her.
With one last farewell, a teary-eyed Negan tosses Lucille into the fireplace.
The next day, to everyone’s surprise, Negan returns to Alexandria. He informs Carol that this whole cabin situation isn’t going to work out. Carol warns Negan that if he stays, Maggie will kill him. Carol didn’t want that on her conscience, and now it’s not. That’s good enough for Negan. With Maggie glaring at him from afar, Negan makes his way back into the Alexandria Safe Zone as the episode comes to a close.
I guess all the quality for these extra episodes went into the finale, because this was a very good episode. It doesn’t feel like a season finale, but given the structure of these extra episodes, that’s to be expected. Still, “Here’s Negan” feels like a breath of fresh air compared to what’s come before it with these additional episodes.
We’ve had flashback episodes before, but few, if at all, have focused on Negan. This episode pulls back the curtain and shows us who he was before becoming the Savior leader or gathering enough people to form his own army. We see Negan at his most vulnerable in his moments with Lucille. We see his softer side, his selfishness earlier on, and the mounting desperation to save his wife’s life.
Talking about Lucille, whoever thought to cast Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s real life wife as Lucille is a genius. For one, Hilarie Burton Morgan is great in the role. The chemistry between Negan and Lucille is very believable. They have a warm dynamic and I like that the show gives us just enough tender moments between the two.
But it doesn’t shy away from the more tense situations, like when Negan is unable to drive Lucille back after her doctor’s appointment. She’s been burned by Negan before and from the looks on her face, Lucille has had her fair share of letdowns from Negan.
Yet, when she is clinging to life and trying to survive, you see her come to life. Perhaps it’s because she knows she doesn’t have much time. Or maybe because she sees how hard her husband is fighting for he. Negan’s attempts to keep Lucille alive show that he’s not the man he once was, but also demonstrate how far he’s willing to go to keep her going.
Negan could have thrown in the towel and just left Lucille for dead. He couldn’t have known how much time away he’d spend trying to find more treatment. Still, trying to find a mobile clinic that might have changed locations showed how much of a chance he took. Putting aside the slim odds of such a mobile clinic existing in the apocalypse, it’s good to see the lengths Negan went through for Lucille’s sake.
I latched onto every scene between Lucille and Negan, and I could’ve done with a lot more, if only to see the great chemistry between Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilarie Burton Morgan. We know Negan as the Savior leader, but this showed him as a desperate man who had someone in his life worth fighting for. He’s willing to do whatever it took, but without the bloodlust we know he’ll later have.
Through his apology, both in past and present, Negan fully sheds his older self, made all the more clear when he burns Lucille. Whatever happens going forward, he seems to have accepted that. He knows Maggie will be gunning for him, but he’s at peace. Otherwise, there’s no way he’d stroll into Alexandria, knowing he’s got a baseball-bat sized target on his back.
As far as the episode’s structure goes, I’m not the biggest fan of going deeper and deeper within flashbacks. However, I appreciate that we don’t cut back to previous time periods. Each time we enter a new flashback, we stay there until that segment is over or we enter a flashback within that flashback.
It keeps things from becoming confusing and, considering Negan has to explain various parts of the story to different people, is the one way this structure works. At least, not without breaking it into two episodes.
I also appreciated seeing Lindsley Register one more time as Laura. I detest how the show just killed off Laura in such an unceremonious way. Sure, she died in battle trying to stop Beta, but her efforts were never acknowledged, as far as I know. It’s as if it didn’t even happen. So it was nice to see her again, even if just in a flashback. At least the bat she gave Negan didn’t come gift-wrapped in barbed wire.
Given the episode’s title, we don’t get everything from the “Here’s Negan” mini-arc in the comics. We don’t see Negan trying to connect with people who soon wound up dead. We don’t see the origins of him gathering people and forming them into a group, though having Laura here works as a nod to her future as a Savior.
But the episode works without those elements. This episode is more about Negan and his bond with Lucille, not necessarily the road that led to him becoming leader of the Saviors.
Thus, here we are at the actual end of the tenth season. With the Whisperer Arc done, these six additional episodes did…I don’t know what, really. Maggie is back, and there are some bad guys after her. Connie is still out there. Daryl and Carol are working out their issues. Aaron and Gabriel bonded over drinks. I’d like to ignore “Splinter” altogether.
“Here’s Negan” is a solid episode on its own, even if it doesn’t really feel like a season finale. Could the tenth season of The Walking Dead have functioned without these extra six episodes? Very much so, as they don’t add much to the narrative. Much as I enjoy “Here’s Negan” and what it does for the character, it’s mostly one long flashback episode. In the end, Negan is still a changed man and Maggie still hates his guts.
We already knew that. But this episode is definitely worth a watch, if just for the great performances from Hilarie Burton Morgan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It might not work as a season finale, but it’s a damn good episode on its own. The bar wasn’t very high, given the other five episodes, but I’m glad this season at least ends on a good note.
Until then, see you all for the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead. See you then.