Negan and Daryl’s standoff felt like a lost treasure from Season 7’s glory days washing up onshore. Delightfully unpredictable.
This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 14 (“Look at the Flowers”).
Picture Negan caught in a tug of war between the sweet nectarine taste of freedom and signature bureaucracy of morality. Going from accused captive on his final march to the gallows to bestowed the title of Alpha. Rope removed from neck, a sudden insurrection switching his presumptive executioner on trial instead. Whisperers kneeling like The Saviors of yore before the might of Lucille’s bearer. An opportunity to rebuild TWD’s great antiquity from the ground up. Breathing new life into Sanctuary by pumping its heart full of fresh residents.
Negan confesses to relishing his lengthy, unauthorized parole granted by one Carol Peletier. A tongue defending against a sword will always be a flimsy substitute for another sword. Now, that Negan owns the calvary, denial is no longer necessary. Denial is for the weak. Should Negan surrender his leverage, all that awaits him are voting tribunals and paperwork. His chief recommendation: Gone a-wall. Evidence of his valor: Missing-in-action. There will be eyes judging his every movement as intrinsically vile even with proof of improved character.
Negan can reach for the key dangling in front of his ‘barred’ memories right at that second and reclaim his crown. Freedom swings back and forth in front of his eyes, a clock’s pendulum. Fully bejeweled, Easy Street. Daryl kneels in silence as the moonlight dances over his tattered vest’s wings. Live or die. Full circle, transported right back to the scene of the ‘crime’ where he took a swing at the leather jacketed one. Danger permeates the air, the will of Lucille. For the first time in a long while on The Walking Dead, true unpredictability reigns again.
Negan asks one of his newly recruited Whisperer henchman why he’s holding the ‘badass shotgun’ instead of the Alpha… Once the handoff is complete, it’s clear Season 7 Negan’s spirit reemerged only temporarily. Negan and Daryl team up to vanquish the Alpha followers with relative ease. What could have been one of the show’s greatest comebacks has the brakes put to it, instead of thriving ala The Governor’s return to the prison. Negan preemptively abandons a newly formed reclamation army in favor of civilized red tape back at Alexandria.
A narrative fit for an entire future season: Negan rebuilding the Saviors through his Whisperer influence is put to rest before it started. No internal war between Negan and Beta establishing a Negan/Simon redux-like reverie. The bigger picture. Thus, a lead episode highlight is only held back by not keeping Negan’s original spirit alive for at least a couple more chapters.
“Look at the Flowers” firmly establishes that although Negan is capable of heroic deeds, he’s absolute dynamite as a ‘bad guy’. Being a ‘good guy’ comes with rules and regulations… Negan shines consistently in the absence of both. Leave the iron anchor behind and let the man be as bad as he wants to be. ‘That is the
look Negan I wanted to see!’
All that being said, the scene is one of the high points of Season 10. Capturing the magic elixir formula that made Negan such a force to be reckoned with in the first place. Uncertainty.
Be sure to read The Walking Dead #TBT: Negan asks Daryl ‘Who are you?’
Missed an episode or looking to reflect on a scene past? No problem! Purchase episodes on Amazon today.
More TWD Season 10 coverage is available on The Natural Aristocrat’s The Walking Dead category section.