**WARNING** There are no TV spoilers in this post from last night’s season opening. There are however, plot points that are discussed that happen well beyond last night’s premiere which occur in the comics. This post is designed more for those who are current with the comics. If you have not read the comic, use your discretion in reading below as there is a chance that the story may change.
By now, many of you have watched the season premiere of The Walking Dead. Some were actually spot on in their predictions as to who would die. Many of you are probably still reacting to how brutal Negan was in that episode. From the few people that I talked to, it’s probably one of the most gruesome deaths on television, and left some wondering how it made it past network censors. From the outset, while Negan may be yet another monster in the long line of monstrous people to come since the zombie apocalypse in the series, both TV and comics, he is by far the worst.
Something that’s boggled my mind is Rick Grimes’ judgment about who he keeps around. Let’s take a glimpse into the future and try to figure out where Negan fits in. If you are mostly caught up on the comic series keep on reading, but if you are following the TV show only, then it’s only right to advise what’s being discussed has already happened in the books and may or may not change for the show, so…slight spoilers!
The question some of us have on our minds, particularly those who have read the comic is, if the TV show stays on a similar course as the comics, what will happen to Negan? Negan just brutally murdered people close to Rick. For those that kept up with the comics, further into the storyline Rick leaves Negan alive (and gives Negan enough opportunity to kill him) just to show him he is a better man than Negan. I am sure that many of us who read issue 100 and then saw it come to life on television, would have already been plotting how to kill Negan. The sad reality is as much bravado many of us may have watching that scene, at that moment when people we care about die like that in front of us, we don’t know what we would do.
Even if given the opportunity to kill Negan outright with no repercussion, would we take it? Would our moral compass steer us to a decision we could live with? The short summation is that in the comics, Rick’s and Negan’s groups had an all-out war and in the end, Negan lost. Rick even slit Negan’s throat. Considering how cruel and sadistic Negan is, Rick not only allowed him to live, but still goes to him for advice. Not only that, Rick has admitted to Negan that he should have killed him. Why give a man so much mercy with anything but for his own victims? Watching this play out in the comics really makes me wonder how this will play out on the series.
No matter how you cut it, it’s been astonishing how Rick Grimes decides on whom he lets live or die. If we go all the way back to the beginning, Rick killed his best friend (on the TV show – in the comic Carl kills Shane and Rick kills Shane as a zombie) Shane because Shane was slowly turning Rick’s wife and son against him. Shane was eventually going to kill Rick but it still begs asking what could have been done differently to keep Shane alive. Or, maybe there was just no way.
Then there was the Governor. In the comic and TV series, while Rick may not have killed the Governor outright, it seemed like there was just no way around killing him. Somebody was going to kill him because, if you remember, even on the show, Michonne stabbed him and left him to die and someone else finished him off. In my opinion, while the Governor did some very sick things to Rick and his group, he deserved what he got. But still, for us comic readers, knowing what we know now, why does Negan get to live?
It’s when we get to Negan in the comics that we see how this whole story plays out: the forced tributes, the murders, the sadistic punishments, his misogynistic attitude, the polygamy, and most of all the mind games. It just questions the mindset that Rick has by letting Negan live. Negan was also willing to commit to germ warfare just to win. What’s even more mind-boggling is that even further down the road, Negan is actually instrumental in helping Rick’s rebuilding effort against another group of crazies looking to impose their will on the weak. He commits certain acts to try and win Rick’s trust and show that he is valuable instead of joining the group.
Wait, how could I forget? Rick also executed Pete, remember? Pete was also a bit of a sociopath in that he liked beating his wife and sons. Also, he became so jealous of Rick and the attention that he was getting, he opened a gate and allowed walkers in. Watch the scene below and see how Rick has no hesitation in killing Pete. What made Pete so different that he deserved immediate death versus Negan?
This is what makes The Walking Dead what it is. No matter how bad off the world gets, there is a decision we have to make that reminds us all that there is some humanity left inside of us. Also, there are decisions made that leave us questioning motives, especially in a world where civilization has crumbled. Again, many of us can debate on how one can kill his best friend but then decide to let a psychopath live. Many of us can say we would do things differently, but until such a situation arises, we really don’t know. All I know is if it makes it that long, the next year or 2 of Negan vs Rick and how they wind up on the same side will make for compelling television. Watching how this unfolds may truly give merit to the old adage of keeping one’s friends close and keeping enemies closer.