The Walking Dead Awards: The temptation of Negan

Season 10, Episode 5: Or the one with all the head-bashing

The Walking Dead 10 05
Becoming Negan

Photograph by Jace Downs/AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Negan babysits well, the Hilltop babysits worse, and Brandon babysits the worst.

Season 10, Episode 5: “What it Always is”

Best plot line: Negan’s scenes stole the show this week, easily outpacing the somewhat confusing Magna/Kelly stealing food plot and the out-of-left-field Ezekiel has cancer plot.

Best reunion: Negan, the jacket, and Lucille.

Most unnecessary: The sheer amount of heads, both zombie and human, that were gruesomely and violently smashed in during this episode. We get it—Negan’s reputation is for smashing heads and this episode was about Negan becoming his old self once again—but do we really need that much blood-splatter? Gross.

Non-sequitur: Last week, Michonne, Gabriel, and a few others went to Oceanside to help with an urgent problem. Yet we’re still in the dark about what’s going on down there.

Most likely to happen really, really soon: The show has firmly established that Daryl and Connie are going to pair up at some point, and with each episode their shameless flirting grows. We really thought they’d finally kiss in this episode, so go ahead and place your bets once again for that moment to happen. We’ve got next week’s episode.

Most unaware of what’s really going on: One of the Whisperers argues with Alpha that instead of doing little “nicks” to damage our heroes’ communities—damming the river, changing the border, etc.—they should release an “army of thousands” and “hunt the enemy down all at once.” While a valid strategy, he forgot one crucial element—he’s a character in a television show, where things can’t be done quickly or easily or else there would be no television show. No wonder he got killed.

Weirdest overall: Not much about Brandon makes any sense—we know his dad was a Savior and that he greatly admires Negan and the things Negan did as leader of the Sanctuary. (We also know that he’s based on a character from the comics who has a similar fate.) But who thinks to rank zombies on how hot they were while they were alive? How can you even begin to tell through the rotting flesh?

Most wholesome: Negan explaining to Milo the magic of air travel—minus the terrible food—was tooth-rottingly sweet, making the Milo’s death later on in the episode that much worse.

Most stereotypical: And what’s the deal with airline food? Thanks everybody; don’t forget to tip your waitresses.

Advice that should have been listened to: Negan explained, in detail, the concept of “nut-tapping” to Milo. So when Brandon came to kill him and his mother, that would have been the perfect time to strike.

Biggest question: How was Kelly not immediately eaten after the end of the opening scene?

Biggest piece of random trivia: Apparently, the ears are the hardest part of the face for the whisperers to cut for their masks, according to Alpha. The more you know.

Loudest panter: It’s hard to focus on Daryl and Connie’s conversation near the episode’s close because of Dog’s ridiculously loud panting. Somebody get this pupper some water. At least the sign language helps.

Best exchange:
Brandon: Man, I heard you made cut his own kid’s hand off, then you killed him. Carl Grimes, I heard you shot him.
Negan: I never did that, and I never did that to Carl. Carl was . . . I would never kill a kid.

Most disturbing image: Brandon’s utter worship of Negan’s dark side, ultimately resulting in him murdering Amelia and Milo, the mother and son who were living in the abandoned bus. He’s a pretty one-dimensional character in the TV series—we hardly know anything about him and he’s dead by the episode’s close—but that doesn’t make his utter cruelty toward innocent people any easier to watch.

Best kill: Negan killing Brandon. As soon as Negan said that he doesn’t kill kids, we knew that somehow this young adult (not a kid) was going to die. He was just too corrupted, too brainwashed to not screw everything up. This felt like a different Negan bashing in someone’s brains though, one that we can root for.

Episode MVP: Milo, because as Negan taught us, children are innocent. And in this week’s episode, nobody else was truly, wholly good.