The Walking Dead introduced a new villain in its Season 6 finale. In the season which followed, fans became frustrated with the AMC series and what many referred to as a "Negan problem" both within the canon of the show and at home in their living rooms drove some viewers away. The show lost some of its lure when Jeffrey Dean Morgan's villain became the face of it, not because Morgan wasn't entertaining and making the most of what he was given, but because it wasn't fun for the story of Team Family to be drawn out over the course of two seasons. An excessively violent introduction was met with a cartooon-ish follow-up in his dialogue (along with a tiger being introduced, further removing some of the grounded nature of the show) and fans weren't exactly loving having Negan on The Walking Dead.
Remember all of that anticipation for the character's arrival back in the tail end of Season 6? It wasn't met with quite the payoff many wanted, at first. Now, in Season 10, Negan is definitely the best part of The Walking Dead.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character underwent some serious changes during his time in prison. For the character, it was more than six years. For fans, it was about two. Since emerging from his cell this year, Negan has had a similar devil may care attitude about him which keeps the main essence of the former villain. However, a bit of retconning through the years and changes in his idealogy has made him a frontrunner for a Best Character in Season 10 award, if that were a thing.
Kang's take on Negan is one which makes him slightly more relatable for fans. Yes, this is still the guy who killed beloved characters which makes it difficult to fully embrace him, but that conflict makes the whole thing that much more intriguing. Now, Negan is fully defending kids from harm and stopping murderers in their tracks. After rescuing Lydia from a few bullies in Alexandria, he accidentally killed a woman and created a major problem for himself in the community. In that moment, a lot of fans probably found themselves rooting for him to be off the hook for it within the community -- as he was doing the "right" thing in defending a fellow Alexandrian outcast stuck living within the community's walls. Later, after escaping the community, he cut Brandon down after an attempt to glorify the Saviors and what he thought Negan's old group represented resulted in a woman and her son getting killed.
While many will never forgive Negan for his actions -- killing Glenn, Abraham, and indirectly causing the deaths of others -- the new take of Morgan's character is, at minimum, a much more enjoyable viewing experience. Factor in the unpredictable nature (especially for those unfamiliar with what happens in the comics) and Negan is making The Walking Dead better week by week.
In Sunday's upcoming Episode 10x07, for example, Negan is absent. On the heels of an interesting outing with Aaron leading to a story where he has seemingly teamed up with the Whisperers, Negan's absence from the episode prevents it from reaching its full potential as others this season have. That's not to say Episode 10x07 isn't good, it is packed with a couple of good surprises, but Negan's story and presence on screen has proved to be superior to all other content offered up in Season 10.
It should come as no surprise. In the comics, the dynamic between Negan and Rick during the Whisperer War was the best piece of writing Robert Kirkman mustered up through the series. Their dependence on one another both as a leaders and survivors juxtaposed with their reluctancy to work together or trust one another made for tense, compelling story beats. Although Rick is not around on the TV series, fans have a lot to look forward to as some form of that story hopefully makes its way to the TV series.
What's most impressive about Negan's swing in Season 10 is that he is competing with other characters who are also having a great year. Danai Gurira's Michonne might be in consideration if she were featured in more episodes. Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon has finally found a stride as relevant dialogue is replacing the many grunts and short lines he was given in recent years. Melissa McBride's Carol is taking charge or her own fate, again. Plus: Lauren Ridloff, Ross Marquand, Joosh McDermitt, and Seth Gilliam are all putting in their own respective bids with great character work and performances across the board.0comments
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The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC.