‘The Walking Dead’: Did its writers actually make Negan sympathetic?
Season 10 of The Walking Dead is finally coming to a bittersweet end with a couple of emotional bonus episodes. Sunday’s episode focused on Negan and his relationship with his wife, with a surprisingly sympathetic take on Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s notorious villain. Here’s everything that went down in the sentimental episode.
The season 10 finale
The final episode of season 10 of The Walking Dead showcased the intense relationships between some of our favorite characters. At the beginning of the season finale, Maggie goes for an early morning stroll and catches a glimpse of Negan working nearby. While that’s going on, Carol is actually watching Maggie. Then Carol leads Negan out of the community, as he has allegedly been banished by the council. With us so far?
Negan isn’t convinced, however, that the banishing isn’t the council’s doing, but Carol’s. Once alone, Negan is haunted by his own thoughts and reflects on his failures. We are then launched into a flashback, where Negan partakes in his naughty old ways.
This episode of The Walking Dead now delves into Negan’s life – twelve years in the past. In this flashback, he is tied to a chair at the hands of the angry, grungy leader of a biker gang. The gang threatens Negan because he obtains some chemo treatment for his wife Lucille, and they want to know what other kinds of meds he could get his hands on.
And then . . . another flashback, this one takes place a couple of days before Negan finds himself tied up by an angry gang. In this scene, Negan skulks around a mobile clinic with a gun drawn and is suddenly hit by Laura wielding a bat. After questioning him, Laura realizes that Negan only has the best intentions, and unties him.
Okay, bear with us . . . then we get another flashback. Six weeks prior, Negan & Lucille decide to turn off their generator and find other people, as they’re in desperate need of gas and can no longer survive on their own. Things take a turn for the worse when Negan wakes up to find the ice that was preserving Lucille’s chemo melting, and the fight for survival is ramped up to the highest stakes possible.
What did the showrunner have to say about the episode?
It’s not a leap to say that humanizing one of the vilest villains of The Walking Dead was a surprising move – especially for the season finale. Showrunner Angela Kang discussed this choice with The Los Angeles Times. “Negan is trying to find his place in society in general,” she explained, “and that goes through multiple stages.”
She continued: “Am I going to have my past hanging around me together? Do I deserve that? Can I integrate with these people? Do I want to? What is the right way to put the world together?”
She added: “he had been the leader of this giant community and had his own set of rules and in certain ways, they worked well. You could say a lot of people were oppressed under that system. But if you’re a person who mostly judges by safety and security, he did keep a lot of people safe for a long time.”
Kang elaborated: “Negan is one of the biggest bad guys we’ve had on the show. He killed beloved characters; he’s brutal. But you know, from this point of view, every villain is a hero in their own story. That’s not to excuse decisions he’s made, bad things he’s done. But with any villain, if you’re able to explore what’s behind the decisions they make, there are points where you can empathize [with] or understand their thinking.”
She explained “that’s how we’ve been approaching Negan for the last arc because he has a lot of room to grow as a character. When you start from a really bad place, you can only move up.”