Last night we had yet another great episode of The Walking Dead, continuing the renaissance of seasons 9 and 10 in the Angela Kang era. And despite the show diverging from the comic in many ways, we may have just seen that at least one major storyline is going forward as originally intended.
Last night we were presented with a rather interesting scenario. Lydia, a former Whisperer, is being constantly harassed by friends of the dead residents that her mother Alpha killed. This escalates over the course of the episode to the point where eventually Lydia is flat-out assaulted by the group, and is on the verge of being beaten to death before she’s rescued by who else but Negan, warlord turned janitor.
The problem is that in trying to help Lydia, Negan throws one of the assailants against a wall and she dies. Now, the town wants to lynch Negan, as many believe he already should have been executed from his past crimes, and now he has a fresh kill? String him up. But others like Daryl can see the situation for what it was, Negan saving Lydia and the death being an accident. And yet the facts may not matter with how much pent-up rage there is at Negan.
This is all ultimately resolved, however, by the fact that Negan disappears overnight, with someone letting him out of his cell. Lydia claims she did it, but Daryl says he was watching her all night and that she’s lying (ultimately Lydia says she just wants to feel safe inside the prison cell). And if Daryl was watching Lydia, he didn’t do it, so who did?
The show is leaving this purposefully a mystery, but what I think is going on here is that the The Walking Dead is combining show and comic plotlines in rather expert fashion.
We are going to get into comic spoilers here, so turn back now if you don’t want any whiff of what’s possibly to come. But there are no guarantees this is how things will play out.
In the comic, Negan is let out of prison by a boy who harbors a grudge against Rick Grimes. Negan wanders away and eventually joins up with the Whisperers, figuring that he might as well join the other powerful group that wants to wipe out the people that want to kill him. But Negan is quickly disgusted by their society which is full of abuse and rape and eventually, when Negan and Alpha are alone, he kills her, cuts her head off, and returns to camp with it as an offering.
What I think is happening here is a spin on this concept.
I think Carol let Negan out, and sent him on this infiltration/assassination mission. Carol was pretty much absent from all this Negan drama this episode, and yet we know that she wants to kill Alpha more than anything for what she did to Henry. The last shot of the episode is Carol on a rooftop above the prison with a map, where I believe the implication was that she set Negan free with the orders to infiltrate the Whispers and kill Alpha.
Carol realizes that she can’t do this herself, because Alpha knows her at this point, but Alpha doesn’t know Negan at all, so like the comics, she might be open to him potentially joining their ranks. Then if Negan kills Alpha we both satisfy Carol getting revenge (by proxy) and Negan’s comic redemption arc. It would work rather wonderfully.
Anyone else letting Negan out doesn’t really make sense to me, if it wasn’t Lydia or Daryl. Lydia would have done it because he saved her. Daryl would have done it because he knows everyone is going to want Negan dead the next day and in this instance, he actually did the right thing. But if they’re both ruled out, the only one that makes sense to me is Carol.
I could be wrong about Carol and her plan, but with Negan free from jail, I do believe that we are heading down the same comic road that leads Negan to cross paths with Alpha and probably kill her. But we may have to wait a few weeks to find out, as it’s not clear how fast that storyline will advance. Though I know next week is indeed focused on Negan to some extent. Stay tuned.