Spoiler Warning for Season 7, Episode 7 of “The Walking Dead”
Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” has been incredibly polarizing to fans, with many calling it the worst season of the series. Others have come to appreciate the slow world-building and the rising action to an all-out war between the communities and The Saviors. Adapting the famed Issue 105 of “The Walking Dead” comic-series sets Carl’s beloved story-arc in play, forming a fascinating relationship with Negan. While the previous episodes of this season have mainly focused on singular groups, this episode features many different players. This special 90-minute chapter is packed with loads of character development and story progression, making it quite possibly the best episode of the season, right next to the season premiere.
“Sing Me a Song” picks up with Carl and Jesus in the back of a Savior supply truck departing The Hilltop and heading to The Sanctuary. While they may have had the same idea to sneak into the back of the truck, they both have very different missions ahead of them. Jesus pours syrup behind the truck as a means of leaving a trail to Negan’s camp. He then prepares to jump out of the truck with Carl, stating that it would be safer to follow the rest of the way on foot. Carl voices his concerns and asks Jesus to go first; Jesus complies and rolls out of the back, hiding behind a nearby car. Carl waves at Jesus after successfully fooling him; Jesus smirks after realizing that Carl has outsmarted him. The truck pulls into The Sanctuary and Carl arms himself with a machine gun after hearing Negan’s voice. Carl begins shooting several rounds, killing a single Savior before demanding to see Negan. To the tune of his creepy whistling, Negan appears and uses a Savior as human shield before telling Carl that he looks “adorable.” Carl shoots another Savior before being tackled to the ground by Dwight as Daryl watches nearby in the field of chained walkers, clearly frightened for Carl’s safety. The camera zooms out, showing the scale of the field of protector-walkers that are chained up, as well as the large magnitude of The Sanctuary itself; with plenty of lookout points and tall smokestacks, Negan essentially has a fortress, defended by walkers and brainwashed Saviors.
Negan’s role as leader is showcased this episode in a multitude of ways. With Carl by his side, he addresses a crowd of Saviors, all kneeling to him on the factory floor. He announces that everyone will be rewarded at dinner with fresh vegetables, leading everyone to cheer. Unlike in Alexandria and the other communities, where the residents are free to do as the please, the residents of The Sanctuary have every aspect of their lives controlled by Negan. Carl is then taken by Negan into a room where many of his wives reside; yes, Negan has several different wives (this marriage “system” was first explained back in “The Cell“), as if he couldn’t be any more demeaning, he basically has his own version of “Sister Wives.” He points out to Carl how attractive his wives are, especially in comparison to the women in Alexandria, giving him permission to stare. Negan speaks with Sherry about a man named Mark (Griffin Freeman), who skipped out his work duties to be with one of Negan’s wives, Amber (Autumn Dial). Sherry tells Negan to go easy on Amber, sternly staring him down and not breaking eye contact. Negan confronts a tearful Amber, who apologizes and declares her absolute love for Negan, clearly faking out of fear for the safety of her family. Negan passionately kisses Sherry as Dwight walks in with Daryl. There is a large amount of tension between Dwight, Negan and Sherry and it will be interesting to see how this dynamic changes moving forward. This episode shows Sherry in a far different light than ever before; she isn’t afraid to confront Negan face-to-face, but she still fears for Dwight’s safety and will continue living as Negan’s wife, so long as Dwight is protected.
In Alexandria, Rosita and Eugene prepare to head out to the bullet factory that was last seen in “Twice as Far.” Gabriel and Spencer offer to tag along, but Rosita states that they can handle everything on their own. Spencer makes several ridiculous claims about Rick’s “poor” leadership to Rosita, who calls him out for hiding food and guns. Rosita and Eugene eventually make it to the factory, but argue after Eugene confronts Rosita about her dangerous revenge warpath mentality. He warns her that any attack against Negan will only result in someone dying, possibly Rosita herself, but possibly someone else. Rosita then calls Eugene a coward and useless, bringing up his big lie about being a scientist. After being apparently broken down by Rosita’s anger, Eugene complies and begins manufacturing a bullet using an empty shell. Meanwhile, Spencer and Father Gabriel leave Alexandria on a brief scavenging trip. Spencer rants to Gabriel about how much he hates Rick, even going so far as to blame him for the deaths of his mother, father and brother; Spencer’s idiotic line of thinking is seen here as Deanna died as the result of a walker bite during Alexandria’s invasion, Reg was killed by Pete (who Rick actively warned the Alexandrians about) and Aiden was pretty much killed due to his own actions. While Spencer has essentially lost everyone he loves since Rick’s group arrived at Alexandria, his constant blame of others clearly irritates the other characters, as well as the viewers. Gabriel expresses his newfound admiration for Rick before calling Spencer “a tremendous shit” and exiting the car, deciding to walk back to Alexandria rather than having to listen to him drone on and on. Spencer then runs off into the woods after hearing a walker grumbling. He finds a walker strapped into a tree stand with a compound bow on its side. He uses rope to pull the walker and bow down; he also finds a note written in Latin. As irritating as Spencer may be, Austin Nichols plays him perfectly, managing to develop the character into a hated antagonist among Rick’s own group.
After showing him around The Sanctuary, Negan brings Carl to his apartment where he attempts to get Carl to open up more. He jokes about Carl’s eye bandage, comparing it to a wrapped present, before ordering him to remove it. Carl hesitates, but eventually breaks down and obeys, revealing his scarred eye socket to Negan and the viewers, who haven’t seen him without the bandage since “No Way Out,” when he was shot by Ron. Clearly embarrassed by his scar, Carl begins crying, prompting Negan to apologize; this is an unexpected action from Negan, who is revealed to have some genuine sympathy and care for the feelings of others. Negan tells Carl to keep the bandage off, stating that the scar makes him look “rad.” Fat Joey interrupts and returns Lucille to Negan, after she was left outside during Carl’s shootout. Negan sends Joey away before ordering Carl to sing a song, which leaves him confused and even more humiliated. Carl hoarsely sings “You are My Sunshine” as Negan swings Lucille in the background, causing Carl to flinch with each terrifying swing. As if he couldn’t be any more intrusive, Negan then asks Carl about his mother, which Carl responds by explaining that he had to shoot her to prevent her from reanimating; this provides Negan with more evidence to back up his claim that Carl is a “little future serial killer.” The entire sequence in Negan’s apartment is incredibly chilling and uncomfortable to watch, but is necessary to show Negan’s sick mind games, but also his odd brief shades of humanity. This scene is also important to remind viewers that even after everything that he has been through, Carl is still just a child. It’s worth noting that this scene, from the eye reveal to the singing, is an almost word-for-word adaptation of Issue 105 of the comic series.
On the main factory floor, the residents of The Sanctuary gather around Mark, who is tied to a chair near a furnace. Negan states the importance of following his rules before receiving a hot iron from Dwight. Negan uses the iron to brand Mark’s face as he screams out in pain before passing out; this disgusting scene features the iron being removed from Mark’s face as pieces of burnt flesh stick to the surface. Negan forces Daryl to clean up the mess made by Mark, who has involuntarily urinated all over himself; this appears to be another one of Negan’s sick tricks, showing Carl that Daryl is a slave of the Saviors. The fact that Dwight is forced to help with Mark’s branding is almost poetic, bringing his own experience full circle. In a stairwell, Sherry and Dwight smoke cigarettes and discuss the arrangement that they made with Negan. It looks as though Dwight is slowly becoming broken down by his separation from Sherry, as well as her closeness to Negan. After talking to him some more, Negan decides to drive Carl back to Alexandria. Before they leave, Daryl voices a stern warning to Negan about harming Carl; Daryl and Carl have come a long way since the days of the original Atlanta camp and while they may not interact much on screen, they are family and Daryl will do whatever it takes to keep him safe. Negan orders Dwight to return Daryl to his cell for a timeout before driving away. For a brief period of time, Jesus can be seen hiding on top of the truck, but quickly disappears. Inside his cell, Daryl receives a note with the words “go now” written on it and a key taped to the back; who could have send this note to Daryl? Could it be Sherry or Dwight? Is it a trap and will he make an escape attempt?
This episode also features the seeds of several plotlines being planted. Rick and Aaron leave Alexandria for a supply run ahead of their upcoming payment to the Saviors. They wake up in the back of their truck before heading out for the day. They discover a sign stating “Keep going, only thing here 4 you is trouble,” but with the clock ticking, they decide to take the chance and enter a property that may contain supplies. They come across another warning sign that states that anyone who tries to steal supplies will be shot. Once again, they keep moving forward, but are stunned to find a pond filled with walkers and a decrepit houseboat in the center. During this time, Michonne is also outside of Alexandria, but for a different purpose. She walks down a road while whistling as two walkers follow her; this is incredibly reminiscent to her two walker pets that she traveled with back in Season 3. She kills the walkers and drags their bodies away. Later, a lone Savior woman is driving down the road, but is stopped by a road block made out of walker corpses. Michonne stealthy approaches the woman with her katana, taking her hostage and demanding that she take her to Negan. The Savior tries to fight back, but she is no match for Michonne. These two storylines receive minimal screen time and feel almost forced into an already packed episode. However, I am very much curious to see where these two subplots lead. Will Aaron and Rick find supplies in the houseboat? Will Michonne make it to The Sanctuary? Hopefully, we find out the answers to these questions in next week’s Mid-Season Finale.
The episode’s final act features Negan and Carl back in Alexandria. Negan knocks on the door of Rick’s house with Lucille. A stunned and confused Olivia opens the door (it’s nice to know that someone is actually watching Judith) and explains to Negan that Rick is out looking for supplies for the Saviors. She also tells him that Alexandria is running dangerously low on food and that everyone is basically starving. Negan laughs this off and rudely calls Olivia fat, prompting her to cry. Negan apologizes and vulgarly offers to have sex with her, which leads Olivia to slap him across the face (You go, Olivia! Stand up for yourself!). After being rejected by Olivia, Negan demands that Carl give him a tour of the house. The stark differences between Alexandria and The Sanctuary are shown as Negan experiences the luxuries, such as soft carpets and running water. Negan opens the door to Judith’s nursery, much to Carl’s objections. He creepily hands Lucille to Carl before picking up Judith. Outside of Alexandria, Rosita apologizes to Eugene for lashing out at him earlier, but he rejects her and keeps walking. They meet up with Spencer at the gate and discover that he has found a large amount of supplies, directed by the Latin note. He makes a lighthearted reference to Deanna’s famed quote, “one day this pain will be useful to you.” A Savior opens the gate and the trio realizes that Negan is at Alexandria. The episode ends with Carl and Negan sitting on the front porch. Negan bounces Judith on his lap and kisses her on the forehead, contemplating moving to Alexandria and killing Carl and Rick. Negan holding Judith is incredibly unsettling, our small beacon of hope being held by an absolutely evil monster.
Season 7 marks a whole new era for “The Walking Dead” as Negan and The Saviors enter the world, causing endless drama and hardships for our band of survivors. “Sing Me a Song” is a jam-packed episode that forms and begins developing a gripping relationship between Negan and Carl. This proves to be one of the most interesting story arcs of the season, giving Carl some of his best material and allowing Chandler Riggs to demonstrate strong acting skills. Jeffrey Dean Morgan once again shines as Negan, a character that is incredibly multi-dimensional; his humor and sadism make him a blast to love to hate. Other strong performances this episode include Ann Mahoney, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt and Christine Evangelista as Olivia, Rosita, Eugene and Sherry respectively. The focus on life at The Sanctuary, the relationship between Dwight and Sherry and Daryl’s worry for Carl are also major highlights. Elsewhere, the growing conflict between Spencer and Rick will most likely hit its climax next week (will a certain “gutsy” comic scene occur?). The revenge warpaths that Michonne and Rosita are on will also likely be a point of focus next week. Will either get their shot at Negan? Will Rosita properly apologize to Eugene? Be sure to tune in to the Mid-Season Finale of “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.