Warning: spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead kicked off Season 7 with new bad guy Negan breaking Rick in front of his people, and Rick hasn't had much time to deal with his new reality just yet. His problems were only made worse in the latest episode when Negan showed up four days early to seize half of what Alexandria had to offer. Executive producer David Alpert had this to say about why Negan made his first visit to Alexandria after only three days:
You know, for us, it's been three episodes, we've had time to process, and it's been a few weeks. They've just gotten back. And so I think Negan's intending to sort-of keep them knocked off their feet. That's really what's important here. These guys need to understand that he can come in at any moment, at any time.
David Alpert's reveal on Talking Dead that Negan had dual purposes in visiting Alexandria when he did is proof that there really is more to Negan than his bloody baseball bat and straight-from-the-comics dialogue. Considering how thoroughly his early arrival caught everybody at Alexandria off guard, I'd say he made off pretty well by dropping by before the promised week had passed. If Rick had more time prepare, he might have been able to impress the fact that he is no longer in charge of the Alexandrians. They were still a bit too rebellious for Negan's taste after just the three days.
If Carl had been ready, he might have been able to hold his temper and stop himself from pulling a gun on a Savior. If not for Carl's stand against the Savior, Negan might not have confiscated all the firearms at Alexandria. If Rosita had made it past the gates before the Saviors arrived, Dwight might not have Daryl's bike. If Rick had an extra four days to regain some of his nerve, he might not have insisted on giving up Michonne's rifle when she returned from her sniper practice. We're just lucky he still had enough of an edge to lie to Negan about Maggie. Sure, the lie will probably backfire spectacularly once Negan discovers that Maggie is alive at Hilltop, but at least she's presumably recuperating among allies for now.
Of course, Rick probably would have agreed to Negan's demands even if he did have the full week to prepare for his arrival. Daryl's state as the Saviors' captive was clearly of enough concern to Rick that he asked Negan to let Daryl stay after he turned over Michonne's rifle. That obviously didn't happen, and it showed Negan that Daryl may be more valuable as a hostage than he'd known. All in all, Negan's early pillaging of Alexandria (and burning of their mattresses) was an effective way of reminding Rick that he's no longer in a position to protest. Some of the other good guys showed signs of resistance; we'll have to wait and see if they try something.
Tune in to AMC on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET to see what's next for Rick and Co. on The Walking Dead.