The truth comes out when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) reveals what he'd do differently if he could do things over again on The Walking Dead. Spoiler warning for Season 11 Episode 7, "Promises Broken." With their mission to Meridian down to just Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), Negan sympathizes with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) over the community she built and lost. Most of her people, the Wardens, have been hunted down and killed by the Reapers: masked mercenaries who took over Meridian under Pope's (Ritchie Coster) command. In a deep cut going back to Season 6, Negan says he understands "the losing side of a massacre" that happened at the satellite outpost — triggering all-out war with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
Read on below for a recap of events through Season 11 and an explanation from showrunner Angela Kang.
The Next World
"Your world is about to get a lot bigger," Paul 'Jesus' Rovia (Tom Payne) tells Rick and the Alexandrians in Season 6, bringing them into a conflict with Negan's Saviors. In Season 6, Episode 11, "Knots Untie," a hungry Alexandria cuts a deal with Gregory (Xander Berkeley) of the Hilltop colony: in exchange for food and supplies, they'll eliminate the Saviors extorting the farmers.
Rick's group makes a preemptive strike against the satellite outpost in Season 6, Episode 12, "Not Tomorrow Yet," killing Saviors in their sleep before engaging the rest of the compound in a firefight. For slaughtering his people, Negan bludgeons Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) to death in front of a pregnant Maggie in Season 7 Episode 1, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be."prevnext
Believing people to be a resource, Negan subjugates Rick and the Alexandrians to provide for the Savors. He eventually guts Spencer (Austin Nichols) and has Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) gun down Olivia (Ann Mahoney) to keep them in line. After a sacrifice by Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), resistance boils over into all-out war when Rick, Maggie, and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) — leading a militia uniting Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom — strike back at Savior outposts in Season 8.prevnext
All Out War
During the final battle of the Savior war in Season 8 Episode 16, "Wrath," Negan leads Rick and the militia into a trap to kill them all despite the late Carl's (Chandler Riggs) calls for peace. They're saved by a turncoat Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who sabotages Savior bullets to backfire, and Rick captures Negan without killing him to honor Carl's dying wish.
Negan spends more than six years behind bars until he's granted his freedom by a vengeful Carol (Melissa McBride). Grieving the death of her son, Carol sics Negan on Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) to help end The Whisperer War in Season 10. Now Negan and Maggie are working together to save a starving Alexandria from falling, with Maggie making a promise that they're even when this is finished.prevnext
"I remember when my home was invaded and my people were killed," Negan tells Maggie, saying his men had "people that felt a loss that I couldn't heal. And I had to explain to them why their leader failed to protect them."
"You killed people who had families," retorts Maggie. "And you did it in front of their families."
He doesn't deny what he did. "But the world is different now, Maggie. Fewer people to fight for, fight with. Hell, there's fewer things to fight over." Maggie asks if he's saying he would have done things differently.
"Yeah," Negan says simply, "if I could do it all over again, I'd have killed every single one of you."prevnext
Negan's Regret Explained
"Negan brings up the attack in the satellite station wiping out this entire group of Saviors. We know that those Saviors were doing bad things and were doing harm to people, but at the same time, to our characters, what's interesting is these were nameless, faceless people that they felt they could go in and kill," explains showrunner Angela Kang on The Walking Dead: Episode Insider. "From Negan's perspective, those were people that wanted to live their lives. They had families, there was baby Gracie. Once you start looking at it and flip the view, it does change some things. They were still human beings that lost their lives in that."
On murdering Abraham and Glenn, Kang said, "We did talk about, 'Does Negan regret what he did with Glenn?' Does he regret that? I don't think he does. I think he thinks that was the right strategic move."prevnext
The Meridian Mission
In Season 11, Maggie vows to kill every last one of the Reapers as Negan wants to take the food from Meridian and head home to Alexandria.0comments
"If he's thinking of, 'How could I have preserved what I had?', he should have wiped them all out. His problem was he kept liking them and not wanting to kill more. So if he had wanted to win that war, he probably should have wiped out everybody in that line because they were all leaders that rose up against him," Kang said of the Lucille lineup. "That's a very, very dark position, but at the same time, as they're on the brink of going in against [the Reapers] and they're talking about, 'Do we just sneak in and take the food? Or do we have to do something more?' He's kind of saying, 'Let's be real here about what we're talking about on this mission.'"
The mission to Meridian continues in The Walking Dead Final Season Part 1 finale, "For Blood," streaming now on AMC+ ahead of an October 10 premiere on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD and stay tuned to ComicBook for coverage all season long.prev