The Walking Dead: 707 “Sing Me a Song” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
Just when I thought The Walking Dead had made a turn for the worst. This week the show made an almighty u-turn and got back on its feet again in style. I really love Negan. I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help it. The first time I saw him I was trembling, and then when we saw him again in the Season 7 opener I was practically shaking. But now, now I just enjoy his presence even though he still scares the sh*t out of me.
Negan is a fantastic villain, something the show needed to give it an extra spark. After the Governor’s assault on the prison we were left without a real villain for quite some time, so it’s nice to have that void filled with a new, scarier threat. I think with The Walking Dead the Walkers are simply an obstacle to overcome whilst the real threat lies in the other survivors and their intentions.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan certainly excels at giving us a performance every time he’s onscreen and it adds to the fact that Negan isn’t like anything Rick and the others have faced before. I’ve been saying for weeks now that Negan is dangerous because of his lack of human understanding but this week showed us that he actually does have a sense of humanity and that makes him a whole lot worse.
His concept of humanity is rather warped and he takes advantage of those around him by manipulating them via emotional response. Negan is good at knowing how to exploit someone and that usually revolves around his sinister nature that leaves him feeling rather unpredictable. I like that about him because it keeps you, as a viewer, on your toes because you don’t know how he’s going to respond to a certain situation. Will he go crazy and kill someone, or will he be calm and simply talk (which is usually worse)?
What I loved the most about “Sing Me a Song” is how much we got to explore Negan and his world. Nearly the entire screen time was dedicated to him and this made me rather happy as I just enjoy exploring his character in order to try and understand him. We’ve had some neat moments with him so far in Season 7, but not nearly enough time, so “Sing Me a Song” has fulfilled my wishes in dedicating the episode to him.
We got to see Negan show off his habitat and how he controls his community. It’s actually kind of scary at how the Saviors appear to almost worship him, bowing down to him and responding to him in unison. It’s almost like a brainwashed cult, which makes the situation more difficult. This means it’s not just a simple case of killing Negan because they call themselves Negan. Seeing their leader die will only cause retaliation and chances are someone will take Negan’s place (perhaps someone worse).
Then there are his wives which was teased upon during the events of “The Cell,” along with Negan becoming disappointed at the absense of Maggie in “Service” because he was going to ask her to take his hand in marriage. It’s a sickening thought that he manipulates these women to become his property, merely using them for exploitation and controlling his men. It is made very clear that the women in his possession are his, and his alone, and if anyone tries to touch them he will not forgive so easily.
And then we move onto the rules. Even though Negan comes across as a psychopath he still has a firm grasp of order. In a strange way he can be considered a well-rounded leader because he runs a society that is enforced with strict rules to keep things in balance. The cruelty he inflicts appears rather dictating, but the fear of being punished gives his people the stimulation to remain in line. And by controlling other communities and keeping them in check he is building a foundation in order to rebuild humanity.
Nevertheless, Negan is still a crazy man. I think this week was particularly impressive because of his connection to Carl. Carl was certainly a brave but foolish kid when it came to trying to take Negan out. However the consequences that followed were just so engaging. The entire episode was dedicated to showing Carl who Negan is and what he can truly do (research from behind enemy lines as it were).
Carl’s emotions fluctuate throughout the episode but the key moments where when Negan got under his skin and actually made him afraid. One of the first occurrences is when Negan has Carl remove his bandages and reveal his wounded eye. Throughout Negan was trying to push him and almost teach him the way he does things. It’s rather fascinating how Negan takes a liking to Carl, even admitting that he actually frightens him, to which point leaves Negan debating what to do with him.
This ‘bonding’ session lets out a lot of Negan’s humanity and makes him a more well-rounded character instead of just being a mindless dictator who bashes people’s skulls in. It’s also rather interesting when we learn that his curiosity over Carl led him to forget about Lucille, which was left behind at the truck that Carl arrived in. It’s rather humiliating then when he starts swinging the bat around whilst he forces Carl to sing him a song, a moment that has Carl trembling as he realises just what he’s up against. His hard words mean nothing in the face of this man who simply laughs them off as blind amusement.
Things became even more interesting when Negan went back to Alexandria. His authority is delivered as pure fear as poor Olivia trembled in his presence as he started coming on to her. Even after slapping him round the face (which left me nervous because of how unpredictable Negan is) he just smiled back at her as he became even more turned on by Olivia. Then he made Carl take him for a tour around Alexandria where he continued to exploit the settlement and further demonstrated his authority and that he is the boss. What was really surprising was his fascination with Judith and how he started bonding with her.
I think this left things in a rather interesting place because it’s set up the mid-season finale quite nicely. There’s so many different elements set up in this episode and I can’t wait to see how they all come together. We’ve got Rick and Aaron desperately searching for supplies, stumbling upon a possible salvation to their problems. Then we’ve got Michonne undergoing her own take on Carl’s rebellious nature and takes one of the Savior’s hostage in order to track down Negan.
Also you have Spencer and his rebellious actions as he continues to make his beliefs about Rick’s leadership known to his fellow survivors, to which Gabriel called him out on. Then of course there’s Jesus roaming around near the Sanctuary, as well as Daryl escaping from his cell. And finally, you’ve got Sasha as she cruelly manipulated Eugene to make her a bullet.
With all of these rebellious thoughts going on and all these different characters having different ideas about the current situation, it’s fair to say that things will not end well next week and I’m betting someone is going to pay the price!
This was a very enjoyable episode. I loved the development on Negan, exploring his character, the Sanctuary, and his general role in maintaining his order, whilst also discovering further what he’s capable of. We also continued to see the affects of Negan’s cruel mind games on Daryl as he continues to be dragged through the dirt in being Negan’s bitch, having to do what he says when he says. It’s fair to say that his character has fallen so far from the days of him being a complete badass.
With all the development in this episode, particularly in the unique connection between Negan and Carl, I am really looking forward to seeing where things will go next week. And with it being the mid-season finale, expect something big to happen. Just please don’t leave us with another guessing game. I don’t want to spend my Christmas pondering on whose died (that was cruel enough the first time round).