Negan Swings Back On The Walking Dead
It doesn't take long for the guy with the bat to reassert his power at The Sanctuary, even if the bat itself is severely underutilized in the season's penultimate EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP!
We begin right where we left off in the last episode, with Rick reading the letter Carl wrote before he died. Maybe he's reading it a second time, because now he's outside, looking at it from some sort of elevated railing where he can spot Judith playing with Michonne. Rick is holding the note, and we hear Carl's voice reminding Rick about pre-apocalypse times with family and friends and Friday-night pizza. This reminds me: it's very odd that we don't hear survivors talking much about pre-virus pop culture or what their lives were like. There was more of that earlier in the series, but now you hardly ever hear those kinds of references, which makes Carl's note more poignant; it feels like he's recalling real things that happened in a real life, not just touchstones convenient to the plot. Carl says he remembers his mom and school and cartoons. A tear rolls down Rick's cheek. Carl jokes that he remembers a kiddie pool Rick got him, and how he could have used that at the prison. This letter really points to how little heart there's been in the series for a long while. It's sad that the person most full of life on this show right now is a dead teenager speaking to us from beyond the grave. The most powerful part of the letter is Carl remembering the walks he'd take with Rick to a farm, when Carl was three years old. It wasn't just the cow or the sun; it was the way he felt as a child holding Rick's hand: he felt happy, special, and safe.
As Rick keeps sitting and reading, we see Jerry walking along outside with, I'm guessing, the baby Rick found at the Savior outpost. In his letter, Carl goes on to say that growing up isn't just about getting a job: it's about keeping people you love safe. He remembers that bad things used to happen before; Rick was shot before the apocalypse, and in some ways, Carl grew up believing everything went to hell because of that. Carl says he wants Rick to feel safe like he did as a child. This is quite a letter reading; well done, Chandler Riggs. Carl says he could have killed Negan. He didn't. He doesn't think Rick will be able to either. He reminds Rick that lots of people at The Sanctuary are just regular people, young and old, not the kind of people Rick wants dead. Uh, about that...your dad's kind of been on a rampage of late. As we see shots of Maggie putting a gun in a car, and one of the Hilltoppers keeping watch at the gate, Carl says they're so close to starting over, to creating a world like Jesus envisioned (the character, not the Lamb of God), with the towns united with other places and more people. As we see Siddiq, Carl tells Rick he has to give The Saviors a way out. He thinks Rick needs to find peace with Negan and create a world where there doesn't have to be killing. Rick doesn't have to forget, but he can make sure a situation like this doesn't happen again. Carl thinks people can feel safe again with birthdays, jobs, and Friday-night pizza. He wants Rick to go on those walks with Judith: "She'll remember them." He concludes: "I love you. -- Carl." Rick, teary, sees Michonne holding Judith's hand, approaching the big house. Rick nods to them. Michonne smiles back.
Later, Michonne is lying in bed. She gets up. Goes to the dresser. Next to a gun, she finds Carl's note to Negan. Unnecessarily dramatic music takes us into the opening credits.
Gregory is sitting at a table, saying he came back to make amends. But, surprisingly, it's not Negan he's apologizing to. It's Simon, who says that Gregory made him look like an ass. Trust us, it wouldn't take Gregory much to do that. Gregory says that his intel was incorrect, and that things changed at Alexandria. "Juice!" Gregory asserts. "Juice and momentum can change the game!" Juice and gin are also elements with great potential when put together, if I remember my Snoop Dogg lyrics. Gregory says that Rick's folks had both juice and momentum, and "Margaret" (as he calls Maggie) had The Hilltop by the nuts. Gregory wants to make things right with Negan. Simon informs him that he's Negan. Not in the metaphorical sense; Simon has taken over. He says that Negan Original Recipe is no longer on the field of play. Gregory takes that in for a moment, then asks if Simon is the man now. No, you're the man now, dog! Wait, I am mistaken: it actually is Simon. Gregory and Simon clink glasses, drinking something brown that is not gin (which I thought was Gregory's favorite) but could be tequila (Simon's favorite, I thought). Going all meta, Gregory says he knew Simon could do it; Negan was a big personality, but too unconventional. They both agree that Negan pulled his punches, whereas Simon is a stronger leader. Which is not great for Gregory, because Simon points out that's the very reason he can't go easy on him: "Optics!" Yeah, that! Simon starts to sneer, saying that he's got the juice and momentum now, and he'd like to keep them. "Ergo, you go," Simon tells him. Gregory takes a big drink and takes a stand: "Well, that is just breathlessly stupid." He tells Simon that none of his cohorts will be able to advise him on managing communities, allocating resources, or politics; according to Simon, it is ended. Gregory stands up, perhaps a little sloshed, and says, "No! I've achieved too much!"
Gregory bellows that he's survived too much for things to end like this. And that he was reborn as a "certified shitkicker," whatever that means. Simon leans back like he's enjoying the little show and would like some popcorn. Gregory says he's not just gonna wander into the wilderness with his dick in his hand. You could...not...do that part. And just walk. Gregory says he can put the thing together again, like he has in the past, and who is Simon to tell him he's done? Simon is the guy who kills lots of people, that's who. "You think you have the juice? Well, I am the juice!" Gregory announces, getting in Simon's face. I remind myself to stop drinking juice. Simon's not thrilled with that, so he gets up, grabs Gregory's hand, and pulls him so that Gregory falls face first into the floor. Ouch! That's gotta smart. Simon, excited, talks as Gregory holds his hurt mouth. Simon says he wasn't going to send Gregory away; he was going to kill him. He leans down and just asks, "Do you make coffee?" Seeing a way out, Gregory says, "... best in the land." Shut up, you don't know how to make a Starbucks Flat White the way I like it. Simon says they'll start with coffee and see where it goes. That was a little intense! It might have gone better if Gregory had sought different job opportunities on LinkedIn and gotten the proper endorsements from his peers.
Boring fucking Oceanside. Some of the Oceansiders are walking through the woods, talking about Aaron because there is literally nothing else to talk about in this subplot. They're debating whether he'll give up and leave, or if they'll have to kill him. A walker starts heading toward the group, and Cyndie steps forward to get it. But before she can, Aaron appears from out of frame (nobody heard him approaching?) and stabs the thing in the head from behind. Then Aaron collapses of exhaustion, or possibly from the lethargy of being in a part of the show nobody cares about. He just lies on the ground gasping. Hey, it's not a true act of kindness if you're gonna go on and on about how hard it was, Aaron. "We made our choice," says Cyndie, and starts walking away.
Aaron just lies there gasping and twitching. Cyndie says that if he wants to die in the woods waiting for them to change their minds, that's his choice. "Find yourself some water," one of them advises. And then walks off with all the water. Aaron, this is really pathetic, dude. Enid probably doesn't even remember you by now.
Eugene's House Of Bullet Making. We get a close-up view of a casserole dish holding what looks like broccoli cheese soup if you really fucked up the part where it's broccoli and cheese sauce mixed together. The two wives of Negan who were trying to cozy up to Eugene a while back are waiting as he serves them each a bowl of this hideous broth. Eugene is wearing safety glasses (because soup splatter), a work jumper, and gloves, as if he's handling toxic waste -- which, let's be honest, it probably tastes like it. One of the women says it's a good waste of garlic. Eugene reveals that it's a sardine and mac 'n' cheese recipe from his college days when he was trying to stretch out his budget with the protein power of canned fish. I might vomit. Which would probably look better than this recipe does. Eugene takes a few bites and says that the sardines keep it from being a purely carb dish. "Mmm, takes me back," he mumbles, his mouth full of the foul stuff. He asks them to ladle it up, since that's all the food that will be available until their assignment is complete.
We cut to a wider shot of the work area, where about a half dozen workers are making bullets. As he walks and spoons soup into his mouth, Eugene brings up the changing state of affairs -- that Negan is gone and Simon is requesting an exponential increase in production. Eugene explains that even if they go 'round the clock and ignore workplace safety, they'll still barely scratch the bare minimum of what's being requested. Well, good thing we have this disgusting batch of food to keep us motivated then, huh, boss? As we hear Gabriel coughing nearby, Eugene examines one of the long bullets off the line. The camera zooms in on it as Eugene stares. Eugene notices Gabriel and demands that he put his face mask back on as he keeps coughing. Eugene thinks Gabriel is sick, though not with the zombie stuff or he'd already be dead. So he wants the priest to keep his germs to himself while his meds run their course. And, oh yeah, what the fuck is up with this bullet? Eugene says that the bullet isn't flush and could blow up in the guns. He thinks the oversight was intentional. Gabriel says he didn't know.
"I was just trying to make it so the bullets didn't work," Gabriel says quietly. "I wasn't trying to hurt anyone." He doesn't want to kill any of his people. Eugene tells him that if he can't accept that The Saviors are his people now, he should just chew the next bullet that comes off the line. That's not really how bullets work. Or sardines and mac 'n' cheese, really. Gabriel says that's not what he wants: "I don't want to help you. But I do fear death." You're on the wrong show for that, buddy. As the camera pushes way in on his face and sad music plays, Gabriel wonders if God is trying to show him that he's still the same person who locked his parishioners in their church and let them die. He wonders if he's still the same scared animal trying to stay alive, just like Eugene. Eugene retorts that they may not have that in common much longer. He suspends Gabriel to go sit in a corner and keep his germs to himself. Gabriel starts to cry. Eugene, who could easily just kill Gabriel if he wanted to, tells him to keep it down. He's going to go outside and fire test rounds on the bullets Gabriel didn't fuck up.
The moment Eugene goes outside, with a guard in front and a guard behind him, things go badly. The guy in the front is shot in the head with a bolt.
The one behind Eugene is taken out by a sneaking-in Rosita. Daryl is right there, holding a pistol to Eugene's head. The two of them take Eugene out of the scene without a word.
Dwight is outside for a smoke break when he hears a familiar whistling. It's Negan, up on some steps, waiting for him. Negan is holding Lucille on his shoulder and asks if Dwight is surprised to see him. "Hell yes I'm surprised," Dwight tells him. He starts to explain how they found his car and Simon was telling him what to do, but Negan interrupts, asking for help moving a Dumpster. The two of them push it together as Negan admits it was a real "punch in the dick" to have to fight Rick in some basement full of walkers without any help arriving. There's a lot of implied and metaphorical violence toward genitals on this show, have you noticed? Negan wants to know what Dwight was thinking, and says that this conversation is just between the two of them. Dwight passes the buck, saying that Simon is Negan's #2. He remembers who he is. "I'm Negan," Dwight tells Negan. Negan likes that answer. He asks Dwight to put out his cigarette on the spot, and to remember this conversation and what they've done together, when the time comes. Negan walks away. Dwight glances over to the walkers chained to the fence. One of them chews at the air.
Then Simon and Negan are meeting. While it would have been interesting to see Simon's immediate reaction to finding Negan alive, we just skip right past that to Simon explaining that he thought Negan was dead, just like that. And he snaps his fingers to show just how much like that it was. Negan, relaxed in his chair and oiling up Lucille with a rag, is listening as Simon explains that he lacked discipline in trying to exterminate The Hilltop. Simon says that they might have found themselves in just as bad a situation no matter what the approach had been. We cut away to see that all of Negan's other lieutenants are in the room as well. Simon says he'll own it, but wants a pass on this one so that he can make it up to Negan. Ballsy! Negan, cradling the bat, smiles. He stands up, reminiscing on when Simon helped him take The Sanctuary. Negan remembers that before there was a system in place, Simon massacred a group of men and boys in a settlement. Negan kept on Simon, a potentially psychotic "goddamn ghoul," because he thought he'd just need to keep an eye on Simon. And he did without any major problems until now. Negan tells Simon to get on his knees. If this were The Untouchables, Negan would have already whacked him in the skull right at the table. Simon gets down. Negan looms behind him and asks if Simon wants to make a move, or if this is it. "No move to make," says Simon. "No. There isn't," Negan tells him. The music and Simon both tense up, waiting for the blow. Then the music stops. "All is forgiven," says Negan. "Get your ass up. We're good." What? Really? What the fuck, Negan? Simon gets up, trying to get his dignity back, and says he won't let Negan down. "I appreciate the hell out of that," Negan replies.
Then Negan taps the table with his bat. The Michael McDonald-looking Savior lays out a map on the table. It shows a bunch of circles and an X. Negan explains that they're going to set up staging posts to surround Hilltop, so that the farmers can't leave. They'll stay light and snipe them whenever they poke a head out, "every goddamn time." Negan says he's taking supplies and a small group to be at one of those posts, and everyone else is doing the same. He says that the teams will be there 24/7 until they have full attrition. "It's an ambitious plan with testicular heft," Simon assesses. He says he's glad to have the boss back. And his testicles, I guess? Negan dismisses everyone except Dwight, saying they have some stuff to kick around. Dwight, worried, hangs back and exchanges a look with Simon. With everyone gone, Negan compliments Dwight for being smart, and being laser-focused on getting his, despite losing his wife and having his face burned. "Nothing shook you. You kept your eyes on what could keep you alive and well." He advises Dwight to stay on the path. Negan exits the room while Dwight just sits there, looking like he shit his pants.
Daryl, Eugene, and Rosita are trudging along, and Eugene can't keep his mouth shut. He thinks that part of the reason they took him was because Rosita missed their camaraderie. In that case, Eugene says, he's willing to keep his "grub flap" shut and give her space until she's ready to talk. Daryl, who trusts no words that form long sentences, has had enough. He pushes his crossbow against Eugene's chest and aims a knife at him. "You shut your mouth before I cut your tongue out!" he demands. Rosita breaks it up and convinces Daryl to keep moving. Eugene tries to thank her, but she shuts him up. Eugene gets them up to speed, saying that when he lied to save Rosita's life, he thought Negan would kill him. Then he thought they'd torture him. But they didn't: they offered him a chance to live, and he couldn't rise above his biological imperative to resist. "That's not who I am," he says. "I know who you are," Rosita tells him. She says he's the reason The Saviors escaped The Sanctuary, and everyone who's died since then is on him. She pushes him on.
Eugene starts to blame Rick for starting all this shit, which makes Rosita lose her cool. She pushes a gun under his chin, telling him, "You're selfish. And you're a coward. And a traitor." She says that he turned his back on the only friends he ever had, and that killing him would make the world a better place. Eugene whimpers. Daryl looks impressed. Rosita says that they're going to keep him alive -- not because they give a rat's ass about him, but because they need what's in his head, and roughly pushes at his forehead with her fingers to make the point. She says they're going to put him in a dark hole and let him live, but force him to do something useful with his pathetic life. You know, nobody on Glassdoor said this was part of the job interview process.
Even though The Sanctuary has some modern comforts, such as beer and bullet-making classes, it apparently doesn't have enough juice for a full-blown photocopier, so Dwight is copying Negan's map by hand, trying to line up the circles and X with a note to Rick written on the map: "Tomorrow Afternoon — Negan and Ten Men at the X. Other 11 Person Teams at Each of the Circles. END NEGAN, END the Rest. END THIS." My third-grade English teacher and sophomore college journalism teacher who taught me AP style just started weeping at the same time, I can feel it. Dwight, we see, is on the floor of his room with the two maps. There's a knock at the door, and Dwight takes a really long time putting the map back in a desk and sticking the copy in his back pocket. After multiple knocks, Dwight gets the door: it's Simon, who doesn't seem all that shaken up by what just happened, saying that the status quo has been re-achieved. He asks what Negan held Dwight back for. "Pep talk," says Dwight. Simon tells him that they have to call a meeting soon with all the others who are unhappy with the current management. Dwight asks, "This is it?" Simon says that you deliver or you get shipped. And Negan hasn't delivered. Simon says that saddens him, but the time has come to gather and do what they need to do. "Come on!" Simon hisses. He can't believe he has to sell this to Dwight, reminding him of all the indignities and all the things Negan has extracted from him. Simon says they have to meet in the courtyard after rounds and get this done. After a long moment of hesitation, Dwight finally says, "All right." Simon grabs Dwight's shoulders and gets in really close like he's going to kiss him as he says, "Yes, my boy!" Dwight looks like he wants to die.
After commercials, Daryl, Rosita, and Eugene come up on a clump of walkers. Daryl says they must have heard them pull up. He tells Rosita to watch Eugene while he takes them out. Daryl starts shooting crossbows and making the slow progress of eliminating them one by one.
Eugene notices, in the reflection in the window of a parked car, that some walkers are coming up from where he's standing with Rosita. As Daryl punches, knifes, and shoots walkers, Eugene takes two fingers and pushes them down his own throat. He turns and pukes green all over Rosita's torso.
Then he runs away. Rosita takes a moment to look completely pissed off, then chases after him. But the two walkers that were approaching get in the way, and she has to use her rifle to knock them out of the way. By the time that happens, Eugene has already gotten past a fence with a hole in it. Rosita fires off some rounds, but he's already gone.
A bit later, Rosita and Daryl continue looking for Eugene. They come across a giant pile of ashes with skeletons and skulls all over it, and Daryl says he can't have gone far. As they run past the ashes, Rosita says they can't let Eugene get back to The Saviors, and that if Daryl sees him, he should blow the pig's head off. As they run out of the scene, we see Eugene emerge from the ashes, where he was hiding face down. He's a smart one, I'll give him that.
Aaron in the woods. He wakes up, and it's raining pretty hard. He grabs a small bucket that contains some of the rain water, and drinks it. But his thrill of quenching his thirst doesn't last long before he hears the snarling of walkers nearby. A single one approaches, and Aaron faces it, thinking, "I can do this! I'm a winner!" But he's so weak that even when he stabs the thing in the head, he falls down with it. Aaron looks all around for more walkers, but one still manages to get the jump on him from behind. Aaron struggles to knock it to the ground, and as he does so, he loses his knife. Aaron kicks the walker in the head, which seems to take it down, but the knife is still gone in the mud and the leaves. As more walkers approach, Aaron mutters, "Oh God," and gets to his feet. He bashes one walker into a nearby piece of metal and stabs another one in the head with a stick. But a third comes that has such fine motor control, she can actually grab onto his stick and push toward Aaron with it -- something I've never seen a zombie do before.
Aaron manages to roll over, get up, and bash the thing's head in with his stick. Then he falls back and breathes heavily in the mud.
Sometime later, Aaron wakes up. It's still raining, and he's lucky there wasn't one more walker to chomp on him, but a group of Oceansiders is surrounding him as he wakes. He decides now would be a good time to give a speech while lying on his back, telling them that they blame Enid for Natanya's death, but really it's The Saviors who wronged them. "You hide! You don't trust! You don't live the lives you want to because of them!" I'm trying not to read anything political or social into this speech, but it's hard not to. Aaron says the Saviors will keep hurting them unless they do one thing. "Fight!" he yells. Then he lies back, exhausted, making a great case for standing up and fighting while being completely prone. The Oceansiders just look at each other. You guys really should have killed Aaron before he was able to give you that lecture.
Dwight is standing at the spot where Negan asked him to put out his cigarette, next to the Dumpster they moved together. He looks shifty and nervous. Simon, Gregory, and more than a dozen other Saviors come out to meet him, saying Dwight must have wanted this most of all. Simon comes straight to Dwight and gives him a stare-down before loudly orating -- in broad daylight, with a significant number of witnesses, in plain view -- that everybody there is in, no take-backs. Some of these people brought guns to the meeting, which seems a bit much. I'm not sure Robert's Rules of Order require reloading. Simon says they need to do this quickly, quietly, and respectfully; Negan deserves that. He offers the kill to Dwight, saying he can do it with a silencer, because a knife would be too personal. After they kill Negan, the plan according to Simon is to destroy The Hilltop. "Sorry, Gregory," he says under his breath. "Right Dwight?" Simon asks, facing him. Then we hear the whistling. To the surprise only of these dumb-ass Saviors, Negan walks right out from behind the Dumpster, bat in hand, leather jacket on his person. He puts an arm around Dwight and says he'll take it from here. Negan counts down from three. All the Saviors except Gregory, Dwight, and Simon are shot down by a smaller group led by Arat. Simon, furious, tries to go after Dwight, but they stop him.
Negan grins, saying that's the Simon he knows, not the one engaging in backstabbing bullshit. How is Simon still alive? I really don't get it. Why does Negan carry that fucking bat around if he's never going to use it again? Simon wants to know why Dwight is supporting Negan after everything the guy did to him. "He'd win," Dwight tells him, simply. Negan brings up Simon killing all the garbage people after being specifically told not to. Negan now does use the bat, but it's to destroy the heads of people who were shot to death. Negan says that, after all this, he's still going to give Simon his shot. WHY?! WHYYYYY!? This makes no fucking sense! "You wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man," says Negan. Simon has been responsible for how many Savior deaths? And gotten Negan nearly killed? And he's still going to give him an opportunity to cause more fuckups? This is just bad management.
We cut to what will turn out to be one of the dumbest scenes in this show's history. They're in the Saviors' main indoor warehouse area, where they have all their important meetings. A crowd is gathered. Negan and Simon face off in silence. Then Simon gives a little speech, telling the group that they'll get back to work when this is over. He takes off his jacket and rolls up his sleeves, insisting that he didn't want this, but that The Sanctuary must stand. Simon starts to say that Negan is not the right man for the job, and turns to make a little dance gesture, but it actually leads into a sucker punch that knocks Negan down.
Simon punches and punches and Negan elbows him and it's just an ugly, gross fist fight. Everyone watches in stunned silence as the two of them trade blows back and forth, back and forth. There's a ton of grunting and head butting, and when Negan knocks Simon down and starts kicking him, we get a sense of how many are in the room. As the fight is ongoing, Gregory starts to back away and leave the area. Dwight, next to him, notices and grabs him, and they leave together, Dwight handing Gregory the map copy. "You need to get out of here now," Dwight whispers. "No shit," Gregory replies. Dwight tells him to give the map to Rick and tell him what's happening the next day: "It's the only move you've got." Gregory doesn't take the opportunity to show off his dancing. Dwight hands him the keys to a car he left for him, and Gregory hightails it out of there.
Back to this pointless-ass fight. Negan is now on top of Simon, choking the life out of him and finally looking really mad. He says that Simon got Saviors killed at Hilltop and then ran like a coward. Negan, furious, says that now all those Hilltoppers will always know they can skate by and find a loophole, so he has to kill all of them: "Just like I'm gonna kill you!" Simon is choked as fuck right now. But again, I'll ask: why not with the bat? Isn't this exactly what the bat is there for? Instead, Negan pushes harder and crushes Simon's windpipe. We don't see it, but we sure hear the sound effect. Negan breathes heavily as everyone around continues to watch in complete silence. Negan gets to his feet and looks around. "What an asshole," he mutters, and walks out. Dwight looks very worried about what's transpired, but also maybe a little relieved.
Hilltop. Gregory is being shoved back into the pen from which he escaped, but this time he's alone in there. Maggie stares him down as Rick and Michonne approach. Maggie hands Rick the map Dwight sent.
Dwight is walking back through the halls with Negan, the latter complaining about this "dickless worm" he just had to kill. Negan says that what's bad for Simon is good for Dwight. Negan reminds Dwight that he's always been able to count on him, and congratulates Dwight for being his new right-hand man. Dwight says he'll help finish this thing with Rick. Negan, in a tip-off to what's about to happen, says that Dwight already has. Dwight opens the door to his room and gets a nasty surprise: sitting in a chair is Laura, the Savior who figured out that Dwight was a traitor, and who ran away during an ambush a while back. Dwight tries to walk out, but Negan and other Saviors are blocking his path. Negan says he found Laura by the side of the road. She accuses Dwight of killing their entire team. Dwight shakes his head. Laura says the thing that kept her alive was the thought of coming back to expose him for the scum weasel he is. Negan says it all makes sense now -- who revealed to Rick that information about the outposts, slipped him guns, and maybe even didn't kill Sherry. Dwight is still denying it. Negan asks if Dwight thinks he's some sort of hero: "You are nothing. A nobody in way over your head." Negan has another reveal: the plan with the map was a fake-out, intended for Dwight to leak to Rick. Negan has figured out that Gregory was involved, too. And this plan Dwight helped him carry out is going to send Rick's people right into the line of fire. Negan says he thought about killing Dwight, but that would be too good for a dirtbag like him. "No, Dwighty boy, I got plans for you," he says menacingly. Not looking great for Dwight!
Ashy Eugene shows back up at the bullet factory, very, very unhappy. But he gets word that Negan is back, and that Rick's people are about to walk into a trap. They need the bullet order filled by the next morning. Instead of balking, Eugene is inspired. He says that the order will be fulfilled in its entirety and on time. He tells the crew that Negan is going to get his bullets to end this war: "We will blow them away with every trigger pull they require." He plans to change Savior history. He also demands that Gabriel get back on the line. Eugene sits down and starts making bullets himself: "Time to do something useful with our pathetic lives."
Hey, it's Simon as a walker!
Negan is on the railing, watching, when he gets a walkie-talkie call from Michonne. Simon remembers her as the one with dreads and a sword. "Is Rick there with you?" he asks. "Why don't you put him on?" Michonne says it's not about Rick; it's about Carl. She has the letter Carl wrote, and says she's going to read it because that's what Carl wanted. "Well, I can't promise not to kill the messenger," Negan says, snidely. "Just shut up and listen," she replies.
So Michonne reads: "Negan, this is Carl. I was helping someone. I got bit." Carl writes that he didn't even have to be doing it, but now he's gone. Carl writes that Negan might be gone too -- might have been given up to Rick by his own people -- but Carl doesn't think so. He thinks Negan is looking for a way out. He may be trying to kill all of Rick's people because they're a lost cause: "I think you think you have to be who you are. I just wonder if this is what you wanted." He wishes he could have asked that. He writes that if Negan beats them, there'll just be someone else to fight: "The way out is working together. It's forgiveness. It's believing that it doesn't have to be a fight anymore. Because it doesn't. I hope my dad offers you peace. I hope you take it. I hope everything can change. It did for me. Start over. You still can. -- Carl." Sad music plays throughout, and Negan looks genuinely affected, but also angry and sad. He says that, after all this, there's no getting out of it now: "I wouldn't accept your surrender if you came to me on your knees." He says that winning isn't about defeating them; now it's about killing every last one of them. He insists that Rick was the one who made this happen: "You tell him that. No more talk." Then he drops the walkie-talkie and smashes it under his boot.
And that takes us straight to the season finale! Carl would be very unhappy with the state of things.