Following their first meeting in the closing minutes of The Walking Dead 10x05, “What It Always Is,” episode 10x06, “Bonds,” remixed the comics when a mouthy Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) threw in with Beta (Ryan Hurst) and the Whisperers. After prematurely ending an eight-year prison stint when he escaped from the Alexandria jail, a fugitive Negan grates on the nerves of an impatient Beta, who threatens to slit Negan’s throat. Proclaiming himself a joiner, Negan is ready to put ink to paper on his Whisperer application, but Beta complains about Negan’s incessant noise-making — a point of contention that is just the start of their uneasy alliance.
“For the last eight years, I have been locked up by your enemy,” Negan tells Beta. “So you take me to your leader, and I will spill every goddamn secret I know.” With that, Beta repurposes Negan’s blindfold into a gag and begrudgingly brings him to the Whisperer camp.
There Beta warns Alpha (Samantha Morton) the intruder isn’t to be trusted, advising the pack leader to dispose of Negan. “Test him,” Alpha says. “If he’s worthy, I will hear him. If not… then I kill him.” When Beta says it’s a mistake to show an outsider their ways, Alpha asks him if he considers Negan a threat to Alpha… or to Beta. “Is it finally time? For the Beta to become the Alpha?”
But Beta kneels. “Never,” he swears. Seeing this, Negan smirks. Later, Negan’s induction process includes skinning walkers and slaughtering a wild pig. A self-satisfied Negan clashes with Beta come dinner time, and he’s forced to fend for himself when Beta leaves him to die at the hands of a pack of walkers.
The next day, Alpha is admittedly disappointed when Beta reports Negan proved to be a weakling. A blood-soaked Negan arrives, demanding his own skin suit before introducing himself to Alpha. Dropping to his knees, Negan says he’s all in. “Whatever you want, whatever I got, it’s yours.” Without a word, Alpha draws in close, and raising her finger to her lips: she whispers.
“Bonds” largely adapts The Walking Dead issue #156, where Alpha asks if she’s being challenged by Beta when potential recruit Negan claims to be a wandering traveler. He bows to Alpha, and seeing this, Negan says, “Well… that was f—ing awesome.” Negan then kneels for Alpha, telling her, “I recognize your strength and I bend to your will. Do you accept me?” Alpha says she does, but warns Negan she’s doubtful he’ll survive. When he asks for his skin suit, Alpha tells him he must earn it.
Negan then experiences life among the Whisperers, receiving a mostly chilly reception from Alpha’s quiet followers. He slays a pig with a crossbow, witnesses a walker skinning, and is forced to fight off a pair of attacking walkers with only a small-sized knife.
When Negan rescues a female Whisperer from being raped, he’s told Whisperers are meant to fend for themselves and it’s not their way to interfere. This poses a problem for Negan, who accuses Alpha of hypocrisy for saying only the strong survive when she relies on Beta as her protector.0comments
The remaining half of issue #156 is expected to play out in episode 10x07, “Open Your Eyes.” According to its synopsis: “Carol pushes boundaries that make Daryl uneasy; Alpha and Beta have reservations about someone.” That episode premieres Sunday, Nov. 17 at 9/8c on AMC.
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