After spending nearly an entire season locked in a cell in Alexandria, it seems as though Negan’s jail sentence on The Walking Dead might be nearing its end.
A major turning point of Negan’s character and the entire story of The Walking Dead came in the season 8 finale when he was finally captured and brought to Alexandria, bringing an end to the All-Out War with the Saviors. With the exception of just a few episodes, Negan spent season 9 largely in a jail cell under one of the Alexandria brownstones.
Speaking to exclusively to Entertainment Weekly about the future of Negan’s character, showrunner Angela Kang teased a possible release from the jail cell in season 10. On Negan’s time in jail and his growth as a character as a result of being locked up, Kang shared the following with EW:
“We had a whole year with him in his cell, so I think after his heroic rescue of Judith, people might’ve noticed that when he was in that bed in the infirmary, he was not tied up or cuffed. So we’re dealing with the next stage of what things are for Negan. I think for people who have been wanting us to release the Negan, there will be some satisfaction there.”
In the interview, Kang makes a specific reference to one of the final scenes of the season 9 finale in which Michonne visits Negan in the Alexandria infirmary. It’s a powerful scene in which she thanks him for saving Judith’s life in the blizzard and even acknowledges the fact that they were previously in that very room together after Rick slit his throat. While just one season has passed between now and then, many years have passed in the world of the characters. Negan has been locked up for a long, long time.
The EW interview with Kang also provides some insight into what side of Negan we may see in season 10:
“Negan’s story is one of my personal favorites in this season. Things get complicated, because it’s Negan. Some of the stuff [Jeffrey Dean Morgan] is doing is so compelling, because here’s this guy who has been on a path of trying to redeem himself in some way, but he’s still Negan. He’s not the hero. He’s, at best, an antihero, but there’s definitely darkness and an edge to him.”
Over his three full seasons on The Walking Dead, Negan has been through quite the journey. His initial introduction in episode 616 gave the viewers and characters a frightening first look at this menacing villain. For much of season 7 and 8, he reigned terror on the various communities, killing and/or causing the deaths of several key characters, including Glenn, Abraham, Spencer, and Sasha. Season 9 showed a different side to him and his time in jail seems to have softened him up somewhat. The development of his friendship with Judith peeled back his layers and showed that he was capable of some basic humanity.
If Negan is freed from captivity, does that mean he will get involved in the conflict with Alpha and the Whisperers? Kang drops some hints about the former tyrant’s role in the war to come:
“When that is in the mix with a story having to do with this new set of enemies, and when he himself still is an outsider in the community, just a lot of explosive things are at play.”
Being locked at Alexandria has kept Negan away from the turmoil that the Whisperers have been causing lately. Based on what Angela Kang had to say, it sounds like we may see Negan directly involved in the conflict with the Whisperers. It’s unknown if he will choose to fight for Alexandria, the people who were once his enemies, or if he will side with Alpha to finish off the communities once and for all.
Whatever the case may be, it will surely be an interesting turn of events in the story to see the once primary villain suddenly be caught in the middle of a whole new conflict. Additionally, Negan being free from jail would open up the possibility of Jeffrey Dean Morgan being able to act opposite of even more characters than he did in season 9 of The Walking Dead. For those fans who have been calling for Negan’s release, it seems like their wish is about to come true.