By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Typing on The Dead, Bleeding Cool's recap and dissection of the latest issue of The Walking Dead. As our glorious leader pointed out, Negan is back in a big way this issue. I know *Spoiler Warning* but come on, he's on the cover. In the last few issues we've been getting back to the bigger world that's largely gone unseen since the end of All Out War. However this issue we return to Alexandria for some catching up with familiar faces. Just in case you glossed over it the first time, *SPOILER WARNING* for the remainder of the article.
The Walking Dead #141 by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard
Rick and company are on the road home from the ocean, with Rick telling Heath to go open a gate for the caravan. Rick gets an unusual greeting however with an arrow fired into a nearby pole. After a brief moment of silence from the group, Rick asks that our guest come on down!
That's right it's the Saviors leader Dwight! Rick and Dwight exchange brief pleasantries as Dwight tells Rick his crew will help them unload. Rick is a little caught off guard by Dwight's greeting and wonders why he was waiting for him. Dwight explains that he wasn't in the mood for a big welcoming. Rick asks about his onetime girlfriend Sherry but that doesn't change the tone much with Dwight telling Rick she's found a guy with a whole face. Dwight finally comes clean and admits to Rick he doesn't feel like he's cut out to be a leader, expanding further by saying he doesn't want the responsibility or deserve any credit for Negan's capture as everyone hated Negan's leadership. Rick tries to comfort Dwight by explaining that it took him a long time to be comfortable in the role as leader and it still feels strange. Dwight still isn't interested as he doesn't feel he's growing into the position. Rick asks what he can do, with Dwight requesting he pick the Saviors new leader. Rick denies his request telling Dwight he didn't put him in charge and reminding Dwight he took control of the Saviors so it was his job to tell them he wants to step down and let them choose a new leader, finally suggesting the Saviors hold an election.
The Saviors ride off while Heath comments on what a bunch of "weirdos" the Saviors are. Heath talks about how the Saviors are still the outcasts of the new world and how no one has chosen to go live at their home base, "The Sanctuary". Andrea interrupts the conversation asking about Rick, but doesn't have to wait long as the hobbled leader has his own questions about what he missed. Rick and Andrea have a short chat about the building projects, but Rick doesn't tarry long as he needs to check on his houseguest.
A short trip down the stairs reveals a shocking sight. Negan is still cozy in his cell with the door wide open. Rick's mouth is agape as he goes for his gun, but Negan comments on how sluggish he is on the draw. Negan further taunts Rick by suggesting that he can barely lift the firearm with all the problems he's had with his arm. Negan does his thing, and breaks out into a string of profanity tied together with all the ways he could've hurt Rick. This includes some choice gems about a puppet, a balloon knot, and a turkey's ass on Thanksgiving.
Negan asks if Rick knows why he hasn't gone through with any of his threats, and postures that he's looking to build trust, or the closest thing to trust that they'll ever get. Rick simply exclaims, "Trust!" Negan points out that he could've walked out, but he didn't. Rick again questions why he'd ever trust Negan, and gets an explanation that no amount of description could do justice to.
Rick tells Negan to keep it up, looking for an excuse to execute the former Savior, but Negan sees through his act. Negan asks that he not be interrupted, telling Rick that he's sure he could do plenty of damage by the time Rick put enough bullets in him to stop him. Negan continues to tell Rick he won't attack him explaining that it would be counterproductive to getting Rick to trust him, saying that when Rick finds out that Negan hasn't done anything in his absence they can start to build trust. Rick calmly says he will never trust Negan. With an obvious expression of disappointment Negan asks why not. Rick questions whether or not he's joking about the whole situation, shooting Negan a barb about being locked up improving his sense of humor. Still disappointed Negan tries to plead his case.
Rick tells Negan he's finished with him locking his cell door. Negan says he's fine with the situation as it is and he's the toughest (profanity) that Rick's ever met, further taunting Rick that he can take the punishment if it means no responsibilities and no fighting for his life against the dead. Negan even goes so far as to thank him from the bottom of his heart, but he makes sure that Rick knows that locking him up isn't a symbol of mercy, it's the only way that Rick can convince himself he's a good person. Negan's got Rick's number, predicting that Rick will yell at Olivia for making a mistake and will threaten to exile her.
In the mess hall, Rosita has a big announcement for the group, that she and Eugene are having a baby! The room applauds while Rick congratulates Eugene. Rick points out that Eugene doesn't seem excited but he maintains it's, "A lot". The cheeriness is short lived as Rick seeks out Olivia, asking her to come with him. Olivia asks what she can help with, while Rick asks her to look at all the people in the room.
Olivia starts crying asking what Rick's talking about, but immediately gets cut off by Rick explaining that Negan's cell was unlocked. Rick punctuates the seriousness by asking if she knows what will happen to her if it happens again. Olivia's told to go home before she makes a scene, but it's too late as Andrea has caught on asking what happened.
Rick and Andrea pick up the conversation later that night, with Andrea recalling hearing the click of the door. She also confesses to feeling as she had a part in the mistake as she should have checked the door. Rick insists that Negan's room and care are under Olivia's supervision and checking in on him in the evening is part of her job. Rick even confesses he didn't think he was hard enough on Olivia commenting that it was a mistake with too much risk. Andrea reminds Rick that having Negan in Alexandria in the first place is a risk and tells him they should have killed Negan. Not only that, Andrea feels it's still not too late to correct the mistake. Ricks silent for a moment and postures that Andrea still doesn't understand. He tells Andrea that after all they've been through they need to be better, and do better, to not let their emotions get the better of them and do the expected thing by killing. Rick's main point is that they're civilized people and the moment they start killing for survival they lose that and things start to fall apart.
There was a lot to unpack this issue. While I usually like a bit of action the dialog heavy issue was on point and had some great moments. I had genuine chills waiting to see what had become of Negan. The star attraction on this week's cover was in form as usual. His interesting and snappy dialog would put sailors to shame and was a welcome change from the slightly somber jailbird. I've expressed before how much I like Negan as a character, and it was good to see how much of his humanity still shines through. The best villains aren't the ones who're pure evil, but think that they're doing what's right, or what needs to be done. Negan still asserting that his only crime was keeping his people alive goes a long way to further that. It was an incredibly insightful issue for him as he read Rick Grimes like a book too, from his new world philosophy to the dressing down he gave Olivia, Negan might know Rick better than he knows himself. I like the idea of Negan trying to build trust, and I'm curious if that will lead to an uneasy alliance once things go bad.
And yes things will go bad. Ever since the books leap in time I've been under the impression things would go bad. It's The Walking Dead, a book built on depression, sadness and heartache, happy endings are so not often found in this world. The most surefire conflicts at this point are problems with the Whisperers and some sort of showdown ideological or otherwise between Alexandria and The Hilltop. Rick went out of his way to talk about how much keeping Negan alive means to him, meanwhile Maggie has carried out Gregory's execution all within the span of a couple pages. Rick's firm no killing policy has worked well for a time, but with Gregory making a direct attempt on Maggie's life it does raise valid points on both sides of the argument. Does Maggie have the right to pass that judgment, and how will the Kingdom and the Saviors feel about this change in policy?
Speaking of the Saviors, Dwight having enough as leader didn't feel all that important as we've largely been left out of the loop on the post war Saviors. His wish to step down would've felt like a more substantial issue if we'd seen almost anything of how the Saviors were living. With so much time spent at the Hilltop and Alexandria I'm disappointed we've left that group of rogues in the dark. With Dwight stepping down I'm getting the impression his potential replacement might not be as easy to work with, leading to another possible conflict and the seeds were planted that no one really likes the Saviors all that much, so rebellion doesn't feel out of the question.
Finally we have Eugene and Rosita formally announcing their pregnancy. Rosita's announcement looks to all as another happy moment for the contented community, but Eugene being visibly shaken by her affair feels like a ticking time bomb. He's clearly not too happy with the arrangement and even though he agreed to raise the child as his own, I'm skeptical that will happen. It also still raises a ton of questions including who is the real father, and what will happen when they cross paths?
Overall the issue was solid with touches of that classic Kirkman drama that's so good at keeping you on the edge of your seat. Cheers till next month! You can check out my other regular column, Sweet Release! every Tuesday night. I run down the cool new video games hitting shelves and digital platforms every week.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who wrote this in a timely fashion. Tell him what time it is @John_Laryngitis on Twitter.