Walking Dead flashback: ‘Sing Me a Song’ reminds us Negan’s a villain

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

“Sing Me a Song” is the seventh episode of the seventh season of The Walking Dead, originally airing on December 4, 2016. In this episode, the character of Carl Grimes sneaks into the Sanctuary, the headquarters of the Saviors, a group of survivors led by the villainous Negan. Carl intends to kill Negan in revenge for the murder of his friends and family, but he is eventually captured and taken prisoner. Negan awkwardly takes Carl under his wing, showing him around the Sanctuary, demonstrating his cruelty, and trying to break down Carl’s will.

The episode is notable for featuring an extended scene in which Negan and Carl sit down and have a (mostly one-sided) conversation. Negangan tries to convince Carl to remove his eye patch and reveal the wound he sustained in season 6. The scene is tense and unsettling as Negan vacillates between faux-charming and menacing. “Sing Me a Song” was generally well-received by critics, who praised the performances of Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who plays Negan) and Chandler Riggs (who plays Carl). However, some fans criticized the episode for its slow pace and lack of action.

Why this episode of “The Walking Dead” works (for some, at least)

Walking Dead
Before Carl lost his eye! Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Gallery – Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC /

The episode was a chance to really show Negan as a villain while revealing a few more details about his background. As Carl is introduced to the rest of the group, he sees more of the brutality that The Walking Dead is famous for. At the same time, even as Negan showcases his penchant for cruelty, he still blends his ego with the group identity with a message: “You’re my people, and we’re gonna rule.”

“Sing Me a Song” also continued the theme of Carl being separated from his father. In this case, while Rick is on a mission ostensibly to help Negan, Carl is committed to an impromptu plan to blow Negan away. Carl no doubt gains additional incentive after witnessing his strong-arm tactics employed to keep everyone in his thrall, including a harem of “wives.” One wife, Sherry, sees her lover branded with a red hot iron because Sherry admitted to an affair (or, what in Negan’s mind would be considered an affair; the legitimacy of any marriage under such conditions is obviously easily disputed).

Eugene’s conflict with Rosita and other developments

Another big (though not as extreme) moment in this episode is the clash between Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Rosita wants him to create a bullet to use against Negan, who had previously taken all of the Alexandrians’ weapons. Eugene warns her against the idea, knowing it jeopardizes the entire group’s safety; making a bullet might be akin to him digging his own grave and clumsily falling into it (sort of how one might feel about Carl’s brash actions). Though not as memorable as Negan forcing Carl to remove his eye patch, it’s a clear sign of Negan causing a rift between key characters.

Negan’s other threats

The Walking Dead has had plenty of nasty villains already. It seems this episode wants us to feel that Negan’s supposed to be among the worst. Basically, Negan threatens to take out Carl’s other eye for the choice he made and also heads to Alexandria to wait for Rick to arrive. It’s a definite cliffhanger, with Negan even holding baby Judith, and audiences are left wondering what will happen next.

With all we have seen, it is more than obvious that Negan’s a villainous character, even if we may have previously understood some of his actions before. By this point, there’s a suggestion that Negan’s indeed crueler than he’d need to be and that he gets off on psychological and physical torture, manipulation, and having people worship him. Of course, Negan’s story is still expanding.

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