TV review: The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 22
5 / 5 ( 1 vote )
Written by Arthur
There Goes My Negan
You Are My Negan
9/10 Rating 9/10
This rich, moving character study finally gives us the Negan episode we’ve been waiting for.
The Walking Dead ends its series of bonus episodes with a story everybody has been clamouring for: the origins of Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) and, to a lesser extent, his baseball bat, named after his wife, Lucille (played by Morgan’s real-life wife, Hilarie Burton). Taking us on a journey as far back as the pre-apocalypse days, when cell phones were relevant and actions had consequences that came with parole officers, Here’s Negan shows us that there are more sides to this character than a rhombic triacontahedron. It’s a fun trip through his life that shows how the person who he is now has been shaped and influenced by his past – but has this tale come too late?
Fans were asking for more depth to Negan during his main story-run in Season 7 and 8, but it never came. Some felt the seasons continual good guy/bad guy arc could have used something different and many were pleased when Negan finally got his comeuppance in the Season 8 finale, having grown weary of his shtick. The character was then moved to the auxiliary plots and not seen so much, even until his involvement with the Whisperers, but that only meant whenever Negan was given a scene, he stole it, developing his character each time. Since his imprisonment, Negan has actually evolved from a character you loved to hate to one you just love. Finally having an episode dedicated to him where we get to see more of his personality than just snide jokes or cocky swagger creates yet more admiration – and when the Season 6 finale Negan shows his face, all the weariness we felt towards him at the end of his run is replaced with childlike joy.
After tensions with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in Alexandria continue to boil, Carol (Melissa McBride) thinks it would be a good idea to move Negan out. Left with nothing but his leather jacket and his own thoughts, a familiar face appears and the episode begins to Inception itself, telling story after story from Negan’s history, layering themselves within one another. It’s clever insomuch as Negan has often been criticised for talking too much and this episode perfectly captures what is very much his essence.
If you are a fan of Negan the sadist, you might find yourself disappointed. That Negan only appears later and the violence is kept mostly off-screen. But Morgan has fun with being that guy again, a wicked smile crossing his face as he nods into his trademark lean, heightened by the blood-dripping barbed wire-clad baseball bat. For the rest of the runtime we see a completely different Negan, who, like that rebel with a biker jacket at high school you had a crush on, manages to make you hate him for all new reasons, although you stick with him because you think you can change him. The girl in this story who thinks that is Lucille and this episode is their love story. You can really feel the emotion between the pair, amplified by the actors’ real-life relationship.
Hilarie Burton portrays the agony of a cancer diagnosis and being married to this hapless Negan with perfection – just as her husband has been stealing scenes in the main series run, here she’s the real star. Her life, love and tragedy are what define the Negan character, warts and all, from a former high school gym teacher who struggled to kill a single walker, to the person who is capable of damn near anything. Negan has adapted to his situations and grown a new face each time. As we reach the final chapter in The Walking Dead’s tome, might there be just one more evolution to this character? And will the catalyst be Maggie or himself? He may have had his ups and downs, but Here’s Negan shines a brilliant spotlight on an extraordinary character which a rich back-story that, hopefully, isn’t over just yet.