The Walking Dead Season 10 Finale Recap: "Here's Negan" Tells Negan's Backstory

The Walking Dead reveals the backstory behind Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) for the first time when memories of his late wife Lucille (Hilarie Burton Morgan) trigger a flashback to the early months of the zombie apocalypse. Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 finale, "Here's Negan." Before he was the baseball bat-swinging and leather jacket-wearing leader of the Saviors, who spent nearly a decade behind bars after his reign of post-apocalyptic terror was ended by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his militia, the ex-villain was a high school gym teacher and an unfaithful husband named Negan Smith.

A flashback to 12 years before Season 10. More than half a year into the zombie apocalypse, Negan and Lucille hunker down in the basement bunker where they keep a dwindling stash of chemotherapy drugs. A dutiful husband, Negan sings the couple's favorite song, Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful," as he nurses Lucille through her fight with pancreatic cancer.

Over a candlelit dinner of canned dog food, Lucille gifts Negan an expensive leather jacket she hid from him after an argument before the world went to hell. He apologizes for the man that he was before the end of the world.

"I stuck with you because I could always see the man you are right now. Even when you weren't," Lucille tells Negan. "And that a**hole really had it coming."

When the fridge preserving Lucille's chemotherapy drugs loses power, spoiling her medicine, Negan plans to track down a group of doctors he heard are traveling around with a mobile clinic. Lucille has something to tell him.

Seven months earlier. Pre-apocalypse. Lucille chastises Negan for spending $600 on the leather jacket when he's an unemployed ex-gym coach with misdemeanor assault on his record: he beat a guy up and put him in the hospital. (Lucille tells a girlfriend over the phone that the "a**hole had it coming.")

Lucille asks Negan to drive her home after an MRI the next day, but he blows her off for a meeting with his probation officer. Lucille receives her cancer diagnosis and tries to call her husband. No answer. She tries to call her girlfriend. No answer. A phone call to Negan's probation officer connects: Negan isn't booked for another two weeks.

A pissed Lucille switches away from a radio broadcast about flesh-eating killers. At home, with a gun in hand, Lucille slides a cancer diagnosis treatment pamphlet across the table. "I've got cancer."

Back to seven months later. Negan is only just finding out Lucille knew about the affair with Janine. Negan swears he broke off the affair as soon as Lucille was diagnosed. He asks why she's telling him this now. "Because I want you to know that you made up for it. And you can stop," she tells him. "If you really wanna help me, just stay. Stay."

She tells him they went down swinging and it's time for him to go on without her. "I need you to do my fighting for me. Stay." But he can't — won't — give up. "We are gonna kick this cancer outta you. We are not giving up. Not ever." Lucille kisses him goodbye.

Six weeks later. Negan finds the mobile clinic and tries to rob Franklin (Miles Mussenden), but his daughter Laura (Lindsley Register) hits Negan with a baseball bat. To his surprise, Franklin and Laura give him everything he needs to help Lucille: "We have a lot. We just want to help."

Laura gives Negan the bat in case he needs to protect himself from the biker gang who owns the roads at night. He fawns over the wooden slugger that packs a wallop. Two or three days later, the Valak's Vipers threaten to kill Negan and pour the chemotherapy drugs down the toilet unless he tells them where to find the mobile clinic. He tries to lie, but with Lucille's life on the line, Negan gives up Franklin and Laura.

Negan returns home to find a message written on the basement door: "Please don't leave me like this." Lucille has reanimated. His zombified wife gnaws at him from beneath an airtight plastic bag. Three emptied pill bottles are within reach from the bed where Lucille restrained herself before death.

"You Are So Beautiful" is the soundtrack to Negan's last look at Lucille. He grips the bat in his hands but can't bring himself to put her down. Negan rips the plastic bag from her head and slumps to the floor.

Negan clips barbed wire and wraps it around his bat. Lucille is reborn. He douses their room in gasoline, puts on his jacket, and flicks a match. Negan swings Lucille for the first time when the bat bashes the Smith's mailbox as their home burns down.

The Vipers gang leader (Rodney Rowland) roughs up Franklin. If he doesn't tell them where to find "the good stuff," they're going to bring out Laura. Lucille tastes blood for the first time when Negan uses the bat to bash in the brains of a Viper thug. Negan opens fire on the Vipers and kills without mercy. He frees Franklin and monologues to the Viper leader.

"You know I never killed a man before tonight? It's the truth. Came close once." Negan tells him about the a**hole who had it coming: during a night out at their favorite bar, said a**hole is rowdy and obnoxious while a jukebox plays Negan and Lucille's song.

A verbal argument escalates. Negan sees red and nearly beats the man to death. "Turns out that this prick has kids that go to the school that I teach gym at. Needless to say, the school was… unthrilled," Negan says. "I get fired. This guy sues me. I don't have a job, so now my wife has to pay his medical bills. So, the point of this is, there were consequences to me seeing red. Seeing red was a bad thing then. I was a bad man… then. But now nobody's suing anybody. Nobody's getting fired. Hell, nobody's keeping score."

Negan readies his vampire bat. "Now when I see red, it's just a question of what I am capable of. And, well, man, I hate to break it to you. See, I am starting to think that I am capable of damn near anything."

"This is for not killing me," Negan says, bringing Lucille down on the Viper's head. Back in the present-day, Negan unearths Lucille years after the bat was left to rot.

Negan sits before a fire to say his goodbyes.

"I am sorry that I left you. I was a coward. I couldn't face the pain of losing you, so I ran away. And then I made myself not feel anything because I didn't want to feel the shame. The problem is that… shame is the one thing that I still feel. I'm sorry that you went out like that. I should have been there. I am sorry that I named a stupid baseball bat after you. I am sorry for all the pain that I put you through. I hope that you found someone in the afterlife and you are screwing your brains out. Well… not really, but… fair is fair. I miss you. I love the shit out of you. And I am gonna do your fighting for you."

A teary Negan wraps the splintered bat in a towel. He caresses it one last time and gently places it in the fire. It burns. Goodbye, Lucille.

Negan returns to Alexandria after he's banished by Carol (Melissa McBride). He's decided to stay. If looks could kill, Negan would be dead: Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) stares him down. Daryl (Norman Reedus) looks to Maggie.

"If you stay here, she will kill you," Carol tells Negan. "I just didn't want your death on my conscience. And now it's not."

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"Fair enough," Negan says. With a smirk, Negan strolls into Alexandria as Maggie looks on. End of season.

Negan returns when The Walking Dead's Final Season premieres August 22 on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.