Posted Sunday, April 2018 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
As the war nears its likely bloody conclusion, “The Walking Dead” is throwing in a surprising number of double crosses and strategic maneuvers, mostly on the Savior side. It’s been a surprisingly compelling couple of episodes, with some moments I didn’t see coming. (fyi…I’m leaving tonight to adopt a child in South Korea and won’t be able to recap the finale but it’s not a big deal: as anyone reading this knows, there are 100 others recapping the show as well.)
At the end of this season’s penultimate episode, Negan has been a busy man who thinks he’s got one up on Rick. He choked Simon into a walker and gave Dwight a fake plan that he knew Dwight would pass on to Rick. He also ignored Carl’s beyond-the-grave plea for peace, blaming it squarely on Rick.
Sniveling Gregory dances with death as usual: He meets up with Simon, who has (temporarily) assumed control of the Saviors. Gregory had made Simon look bad earlier with poor intel yet somehow survived. While Gregory apologizes, he tries to convince Simon he can still be of help to him. Gregory, in desperation, bellows, screams and acts like he’s a big shot until Simon knocks him down and shuts him up. But Simon finds his fire intriguing and keeps him alive instead of killing him willy nilly. Later, Dwight uses Gregory as a messenger to the Hilltop for what he thinks is secret intel that will help Rick. In reality? It isn’t. Maggie places Gregory in the pen. Gregory lives. Still.
Curtains for Dwight? Now that Negan has returned, he first meets up with Dwight. He knows Dwight went along with Simon instead of searching harder for him after they split up. Negan is threatening Dwight in a less-than-subtle way but he spares his life – for now. He isn’t his primary target. Simon is. (Does Negan already know that Dwight is a double agent at this point? Perhaps. Negan seems capable of playing the long game.)
Goodbye Simon? So we next see Simon and Negan together. Negan doesn’t bring up what happened at the junkyard with Jadis’ group just yet. Sure, he knows. But he doesn’t want to give up that knowledge immediately. Simon, who thinks Negan is ignorant of what happened with Jadis, merely apologizes for being too aggressive at Hilltop. Negan appears to be ready to land Lucille on top of Simon’s head but “forgives” him. “I won’t let you down,” Simon says with all the fake sincerity he could muster. You know this isn’t Negan’s final move with Simon.
The fake plan: Negan says he plans to surround Hilltop and snipe them and choke them but won’t attack them fully just yet.
“It’s a hefty plan with testicular heft,” Simon says, reflecting Negan’s love for the penis. Again, it’s pure kiss-up. “Very happy to have you back boss man.”
Revenge time for Simon: Of course, Simon’s a**-kissing is a front. He goes to Dwight to convince him to just kill Negan once and fo all.
Dwight would prefer Rick to do it. He has created a map showing exactly where the outposts will be that surround the Hilltop. But he decides on the surface to go along with Simon’s plan. Who’s side is he really on? At this point, we can’t tell. In his mind, I fathom, Rick and Simon both have the same intention he has: kill Negan. So he is clearly trying to cover his bases.
Simon gathers the rebellion in an open courtyard. (Where is Negan? How does Simon know he won’t sneak up on them? How does he know if there aren’t spies going back to Negan?) Dwight is there along with about a dozen others. Simon wants to make Negan’s death quick and painless because Negan “deserves that.”
He asks Dwight to murder Negan, given that Dwight has serious issues with Negan. (Duh!) Is Dwight happy about this? His typically pained face betrays nothing.
But then, Negan sidles up. And his allies shoot and kill Simon’s rebels.
Wow! Dwight decided to tell Negan what was going on. He chose to let Simon die.
Face off: But Negan doesn’t just kill Simon on the spot. Instead, Negan gives Simon a shot at the Savior title “Black Panther” style, mano y mano. If Simon can kill Negan, he can be Negan! But that’s not to be. No surprise that Negan wins this battle and chokes Simon to death. His final comment about Simon? “What an a**hole.” Another classy Negan comment.
Double crossing the double crosser: “Such a damn shame slinking around my back like some d***less worm,” he tells Dwight afterwards. And he “promotes” Dwight to replace Simon. Dwight cracks a rare smile and says: “We’re going to finish this thing with Rick,” he said.
“Don’t sell yourself D,” Negan says warmly. “You already have.”
Then another surprise! The Savior who had seen him turn on them at Alexandria shows up and exposes him for the “scum weasel” he is. (She survived, which Dwight had not known at that point. Again, it’s unclear exactly when Negan knew about her existence and Dwight’s actions.)
At this point, Dwight had already gotten Gregory to do his bidding. But Negan anticipated that, even guessed that’s what happened. The intel he had given Dwight was fake news! Instead, Rick will get ambushed, he said.
He says Dwight is “a nobody and in way over his head.” He figured Dwight had used Gregory to pass on the news. “You got yourself a delivery boy,” Negan said.
He thought about just killing Dwight but that “would be to dignified.” He has “plans for” Dwight, whatever that may be. So he survives another episode but probably not much more than that.
Eugene gets caught: Eugene’s inhales some mac-and-cheese-and-garlic meal (evoking college) and informs everyone to hurry up and support Simon’s amped up schedule to create bullets. He berates prisoner Gabriel for making crappy bullets on purpose. If he were Simon, he’d just kill the man but he just sets Gabriel aside. Soon after, Rosita and Daryl take him hostage. Rosita sums it up: “You’re selfish, you’re a coward and you’re a traitor. You turned your back on the only friends you ever had. Shooting you in the head would make this a better world.”
Eugene gets uncaught: Eugene’s loyalties are firmly with the Saviors. While Daryl is distracted by killing some walkers, Rosita watches over Eugene. As a distraction, he forces himself to throw up some mac and cheese on Rosita and escapes. He hides in a pile of ashes. This encounter does not make him feel bad about his traitorous ways. Instead, he gets back to the bullet factory where he hears about the trap placed on Rick. He is more than willing to provide enough ammo to blow them to high heaven. “Time to do something useful with our pathetic lives,’ he tells his employees.
Carl’s letter to Negan: Michonne reads Carl’s letter to Negan. Carl begs him to take the peaceful route, to work together. For Negan, it’s beyond too late. “There’s no getting out of it now,” he tells Michonne. “I wouldn’t accept your surrender if you came to me on your knees. You see, winning isn’t about beating you. It’s about killing every last one of you. That is starting over.” He then crushes the walkie-talkie with his foot. Ironically, he is now taking Simon’s strategy. Simon says…?