Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched this weekend's The Walking Dead episode.
As if "Sing Me a Song" didn't already have enough uncomfortable Negan moments going for it, the episode came to a close with the cocksure antagonist making himself at home within Rick's Alexandrian domicile, complete with snuggles from Baby Judith. With Season 7's mid-year finale coming next week, it's likely that giant plot machinations will be powered on, and everything will shape up to get Rick's ever-growing group back on the path to their former glory days of being proud and confident heroes. It'll likely take a few steps to get there.
Rick and Aaron are going to have to survive their houseboat supply run/swim before anything else happens, but once they return to Alexandria, Rick will pitch a volcanic fit once he sees Negan nuzzling noses with his daughter. In the comics, Rick assaulted Negan after the villain brought the impulse-driven Carl back from his failed mission, but TV Rick is no doubt going to be way more protective over his baby girl (unless he starts having weird Shane memories). He seemed to be mostly free from the dead-eyed funk he'd experienced since the premiere, and getting physical with Negan might be what he needs to definitively snap back into leader mode, even if he gets his ass whipped in the process.
As well, even if Rick doesn't realize it, Spencer is trying to start a coup to take him down and become Alexandria's mayor or whatever. And if there's anything that gets Rick justifiably hostile and battle-ready, it's someone questioning his authority. Not that Spencer will be a long-lasting threat or anything, but all he really needs to do is serve as further justification for Rick to take action.
Images released for next week's "Hearts Still Beating" show characters in Alexandria, the Kingdom, and the Hilltop Colony, so it'll be the first time we get to see characters from all three "safe" havens in the same episode. I'm assuming that once Negan leaves Alexandria this time, Rick will start to blueprint his own plan, which may or may not play into the schemes that Sasha, Maggie, Michonne, Rosita and others have in motion. Comic readers know that the journey to the All-Out War arc is majorly helped along by the three communities formally teaming up and sharing information.
With Carol and Morgan inside the Kingdom, Rick has two trusted friends who can turn him into an Ezekiel-lover in no time, should he show up there on Sunday night. And in Hilltop, Maggie and Sasha are on good terms with Jesus, even if the leader Gregory is a slimeball of a turd who won't be a very good ally in the narrative's future. In any case, it won't take much of an effort to bring these three locations together with a unified goal of ending Negan's reign, and the back half of Season 7 will likely see that strategy being expanded and revised, though the Saviors will, of course, make it difficult.
Speaking of The Saviors, another major factor that could come into play for Rick & Co. is the unexpected assistance from someone within Negan's army. In the comics, that job was Dwight's, and The Walking Dead has given live-action Dwight more than enough motivation to turn his back on his current leader. But that could all be a ruse, and perhaps someone else within The Sanctuary is involved.
Sunday night's episode showed us that someone appears to be helping Daryl out in the form of a key and note telling him to go. It's not clear who gave it to him, as it could have been Dwight, Sherry or even Jesus, who could have gotten into the villain-filled headquarters undetected after hopping off the truck earlier in the day. Regardless of who was actually doing the helping, this presumably means that Daryl will soon be back with his Alexandria brethren, and he's going to want the kind of revenge that sprouts from being humiliated and treated no better than a dog. Mad Daryl is a good teammate.
While we probably won't get to see Rick polishing any leadership trophies in the midseason finale, fans will hopefully get to watch seeds being planted that lead to our favorite characters taking control of their situation again. And hopefully those seeds are for some kind of good food, because Olivia is running out of edibles to give people!
The Walking Dead will bring audiences its super-sized midseason finale on AMC on Sunday, December 11. To see what you can spend your time with during the zombie drama's hiatus, head to our fall premiere schedule and our midseason premiere schedule.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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