WARNING: The following article includes spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 6, "Bonds," which aired Sunday on AMC.
At the end of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, Negan donned his old Savior leather jacket, shouldered his barbed-wire bat and went in search of the Whisperers. He found them.
At the beginning of the latest episode, “Bonds,” Negan is blindfolded and being escorted through the woods by the group. They’re silent as he babbles about wanting to join them. Finally, Beta’s had it. He holds a pair of crossed knifes to Negan’s throat and threatens to kill him.
Negan recognizes that he needs to prove he’s worth keeping alive. He introduces himself -- apparently forgetting that names aren’t really the Whisperers' thing -- and explains that he’s spent the last eight years locked up by their enemies, so he has a lot of useful information for Alpha. Beta decides to spare his life -- but before they continue, he turns Negan's blindfold into a gag.
Back at the Whisperers' camp, Beta consults with Alpha. He encourages her to dispose of Negan but she wants to test him first. Beta informs her that this would be a mistake. Alpha is annoyed. Beta keeps questioning her judgment. Does he think he would make a better leader than her? Beta kneels before Apha and insists he would never want to take her place. Negan watches in amusement. It’s a legitimate reaction. Beta is almost as tall as Alpha when he's on his knees, which makes his subservience to her seem that much more astonishing. Physically, he could easily overcome her.
Beta does as Alpha instructs and starts Negan on a series of trials. He must dig a hole, skin a walker, and kill a pig. Beta silently shows Negan up at every turn. Still, Negan is pleased with his work and talks up his victory over the pig as the group starts to eat. However, Beta refuses to let Negan partake. He claims Negan hasn’t earned the right. Negan argues but is put in his place. Dejected, he sits by another Whisperer, who offers him some of his food.
Later that night, Beta and Negan amble along with a group of walkers. Negan won’t stop talking. He’s trying to appeal to Beta but Beta stops him. Beta tells Negan he will never be a Whisperer. But Negan insists he isn't going anywhere. Beta agrees -- and then sets the walkers on him as he moves away. Negan prepares to defend his life with nothing more than the pig sticker Beta left him with.
The next morning, just as Beta informs Alpha that Negan is no more, Negan stalks through the camp announcing his return. He stops in front of Alpha and introduces himself. He kneels and swears his allegiance. Alpha examines his face – and then holds her finger to her lips in a gesture of quiet.
We’ll see what becomes of Negan’s alliance with the Whisperers. Despite Negan’s work to ne accepted by Alpha (if that really is his goal), it’s not exactly a natural fit. How does a guy who led a group that was all about one name -- his -- fit into a group that eschews names entirely?
The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Cooper Andrews, Avi Nash, and Samantha Morton. It airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.