The Walking Dead: 7.07 Sing Me A Song

This week’s The Walking Dead was another extra long episode, but this one made much better use of the extra time than the last one of this length. Sing Me A Song showed what happened once Carl arrived at the Sanctuary on his revenge mission, as well as following Rick and Aaron on a scavenging trip, and catching up with Michonne, Daryl, Spencer, Rosita and Eugene.

The episode began with Carl arriving at the Sanctuary in the back of the supply truck, after Jesus had already jumped off. Carl grabbed a machine gun with the intent of assassinating Negan, but only managed to take out two of his men. Instead of punishing him, Negan takes him on a tour of the place, as he is fond of the sheriff’s son, albeit in a condescending way. The camera pans out to show that their base appears to be an intimidatingly big factory, and as Negan shows Carl around, we learn a little more about the Saviours and their whole situation. All of the saviours kneel to Negan when he addresses them (as if we didn’t already realise this was a dictatorship), and the question as to whether or not he has multiple wives was answered with a resounding yes.

Negan’s wives all apparently share living quarters, or at least all hang out in the same place during the day. They also all wear similar outfits, namely black dresses clearly designed to look sexy. The atmosphere in the room, however, is anything but. The expressions on each woman’s face along with the way Negan talks about them makes it abundantly clear that this harem does not consist of women that are happy to be there. One younger girl has apparently “cheated on him” by secretly getting together with whom we can only assume was her boyfriend before they both joined the Saviours. Negan tells her that he doesn’t want her there if she doesn’t want to be there, and she’s free to leave to be with said guy and her family, but this is really just a threat about whatever awful stuff he’d make them do if she didn’t stay. The entire scene is one that surely made a large amount of the show’s female audience extremely uncomfortable. For anyone that’s been a victim of sexual assault, the feelings (or lack thereof) that Negan’s “wives” obviously have towards him are all too familiar, as is his disregard for whether they really want him to touch them or not. He says he’s been good to them, as evidenced by the fact that he’s never hit any of them. Negan is a perfect example of how someone doesn’t need to be physically violent to still be abusive.

One of the wives present in this scene was Dwight’s former spouse, Sherry. She is calm and composed while talking to Negan, and kisses him with apparent passion. She gives a convincing performance, but once he leaves the room, she cries. Whether she has an ulterior revenge motive for being so compliant with Negan, or simply wants to ensure she’s playing the role well enough to save her own skin, whatever game she’s playing, she’s good at it. Negan even repeats something she said to him (“what we talk about when you’re not around is none of your business,”) to another character, meaning that maybe he does listen to her to some degree. Of all the women in his harem that we’ve seen, Sherry is the only one that speaks to Negan with any confidence or resolve.

Carl and Negan are the main characters this episode, and their best scene was probably when they simply sat down and spoke to one another. Negan made Carl take off his bandage, revealing an A+ job by the show’s special effects makeup team of creating a grisly scarred, empty eye socket. At first Negan is cruel and taunting about it, then actually seems sorry and sympathetic about hurting his feelings, given that Carl’s “just a kid.” This, combined with his chilling fascination with Judith once they arrive back in Alexandria, indicates a potential soft spot for children in Negan’s otherwise cold and arrogant persona. Chandler Riggs pulls off a great performance as a psychologically tortured Carl being forced to recall his mother’s death before singing You Are My Sunshine. The Lori reference is one of a couple of throwbacks to season 2 we’ve had this season so far. It’s satisfying to see these past events being talked about, as it helps to tie the whole story of the show together and stops the events of individual seasons feeling so isolated from each other.

Unlike most of the episodes lately, there was lots of stuff going on with other characters as well as the main plot. Rosita fell out with Eugene and he made a bullet for her, Rick and Aaron followed mysterious signs while out scavenging, Spencer continued to badmouth Rick until Gabriel called him out on being a “tremendous shit,” Jesus snuck into the Sanctuary, and Michonne built a roadblock of walkers and hijacked the car of a Saviour, demanding to be taken to Negan. Also, Daryl received a note under the door of his cell saying “GO NOW,” presumably from either Sherry or Dwight. While all of this going on at once felt like a bit much (I mean, no-one was clamouring for more screen time to be devoted to Spencer’s sulking), it was at the very least entertaining.

While it seems at last we’re leaving the boring, single plotline episodes behind us, this season hasn’t yet finished deterring viewers with extremely graphic, self-indulgent violence. The guy that one of Negan’s wives secretly got together with received the punishment of a hot iron to the face, and of course the show didn’t shy away from letting us know exactly what that looked like. Of course, many will defend any extent of violence in The Walking Dead - it is an adult show about the zombie apocalypse, after all - but maybe there should be a line drawn somewhere in terms of exactly how stomach-churning things should get. It’s not the events themselves that are the problem. Bash a guy’s head in and iron another’s face, no problem, but showing all of the excruciating details is sometimes just unnecessary, and can feel like a bit of a cop-out for the sake of shock value. Seeing the red hot iron coming closer to its victim was sickening enough; maybe NOT showing the contact would’ve been more effective, not to mention tactful. Props again to the makeup department for that disgusting peeling skin, though.

This week’s episode had its ups and downs, that’s for sure, but it continued to set things up for the climax coming soon, as well as leaving plenty of questions open about what will happen in the meantime. How will Rick react to Negan rocking Judith on his knee? Will Negan take her away with him? That could easily be the last straw that finally pushes Rick to fight back. What about Michonne and her solo mission? Is she on a simple assassination run like Rosita is and Carl was, or does she have something else in mind when she reaches the Saviours’ leader? What will Rick and Aaron find in that very well-defended house of supplies? Is Daryl actually going to escape the Saviours? And where in the love of God did Jesus sneak off to? Things are definitely getting interesting, and I can’t wait to see what new developments the next episode of The Walking Dead will bring.

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