Is Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) back to his old ways on The Walking Dead? Episode 10x05, followed a fugitive Negan after his escape from the Alexandria jail with the help of an unidentified accomplice. Psychopathic fanboy Brandon (Blaine Kern III) caught up with Negan and hoped to restart the long defunct Saviors by acting as the devil on his shoulder, attempting to goad Negan into bringing back the bat-wielding bad guy who once imposed his rule over multiple communities before he was ousted and jailed by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). Brandon reunited Negan with his leather jacket and a recreation of barbwire-wrapped baseball bat Lucille, and the episode ended with Negan gleefully swinging away before running into Beta (Ryan Hurst) and the Whisperers. What does it mean that Negan has embraced his old look?
“I think we want that to be a bit up to the audience. That jacket and that bat is so strongly associated with the worst things that Negan has done,” showrunner Angela Kang told EW. “It’s so iconic to his look, and that Negan look — that was the Negan that we saw when he strolled into our world and killed two beloved characters — that impact still ripples into the current day, many years later. But we also just saw that he killed this guy because he killed two innocents, right?”
She continued, “So Negan has a lot going on. Negan’s also a guy who plays things close to the vest, and there’s all kinds of thoughts swirling through his head, and we’ll learn more about it as it goes on. Certainly, we’re seeing him embrace a certain side of himself that perhaps he was forced to leave behind, but it opens up that question of, is the old Negan completely back? Was he never really gone? And those are all things that we’ll be dealing with this season.”
The episode ended with Negan knowingly crossing into Whisperer territory, using his knockoff Lucille to brain walkers. Was Negan trying to find the enemy Whisperers?
“I think he’s out zombie bashing, but he crosses that little, weird barbed-wire border, so he knows he’s going into that territory, and he knows that, at some point, he’s going to run into these Whisperers,” Kang teased. “The intention is that he’s probably trying to get found, but having a little zombie-bashing fun along the way, and what that means, we’ll find out.”
In the comic books, Negan had his own reasons for tracking down the Whisperers. In the show, he’s even more motivated: when he escaped Alexandria, he was keeping ahead of a vote determining his fate and an angry mob out for blood after the accidental slaying of Margo (Jerri Tubbs), killed by Negan when he rescued ex-Whisperer Lydia (Cassady McClincy) from a vicious attack.
“He’s going to surprise you in ways that you’re not gonna be ready for as an audience,” Morgan said of Negan on a past episode of Talking Dead. “Whether that be good things or downright awful things, that’s the beauty of him. You don’t know what you’re gonna get. That’s why I’m still here, Season 10, as an actor, because how lucky am I?”