Photo: Gene Page/AMC/AMC Film Holdings LLC.
Most of us are suffering from Savior fatigue, but even for an episode where not much of great significance happens, there’s still a lot to unpack here. No one dies. The Hilltop Homies make little progress toward wiping out Negan. Gregory is still alive, we presume. Yet there’s enough weird and shocking stuff surrounding Jadis, Negan, and Rick to make this an intriguing episode with multiple “what the hell?” moments.
“Still Gotta Mean Something” opens with a flashback to the assault on the Junkyard, and it’s no surprise that Jadis does a fantastic impression of a corpse — wipes blood on herself, mouth agape, eyes bulging. She doesn’t even flinch when a Savior hocks a loogie on her. But Ziggy Trashpile is still full of surprises, starting with her very mod efficiency apartment, complete with hardwood floors and a skylight. She’s also packing a bag. And she’s tied Negan to a cart on wheels, which is as puzzling to us as it is to him.
Jadis gives Negan a moment alone, which is all he needs to shimmy around to grab a flare and a gun. Jadis counters with your standard issue, custom-built, definitely not street legal Zombie Cart, featuring a helmet-clad walker mounted to the front like it’s the grill of an 18-wheeler. (Interesting that her spotless domicile doesn’t reflect this Mad Max aesthetic that Jadis clearly appreciates.)
As Negan tries to talk his way out of yet another jam, he connects some dots in his backstory. Lucille was indeed named for his wife, hence his irrational attachment to a piece of wood. “She got me through, just life,” he says of his deceased missus. “The bat got me through this. So I named it after her … it’s the last little piece of her I’ve got left.” It’s rather touching, if you can forget that Negan used his tribute to true love to bash Glenn’s brains in.
Jadis can’t shake her hard-luck streak as she tries to wrestle the flare away from Negan, knocking it into a very inconveniently positioned puddle of water. What’s worse, we learn why she had a flare and luggage and kept checking her watch. Remember that helipad we saw when Simon’s crew arrived? It would have been perfectly suited for the helicopter that showed up. Who’s flying it? Where are they from? How did Jadis know they were coming? All questions for another day, since by the time Jadis lights another flare, the chopper is gone.
Out in the woods, Carol and Morgan go looking for Psycho Henry, a mission in which the risks far outweigh the reward. They eventually agree that the kid is walker food by now, so Carol heads off on her own while Morgan searches for Jared’s band of Savior escapees. Luckily he runs into Rick, who looks like he’s been crying for approximately 573 hours and can’t bring himself to read Carl’s letter yet. He’s still too consumed by two emotions: grief and bloody, merciless revenge.
Those motivations drive a somewhat stunning turn of events. Back at Hilltop, Nice Guy Savior asked Rick for a favor: Don’t kill the jailbreak folks, bring them back instead. Rick shoots him a look that seems more Fat chance, asshole! than Well said, sir, I’ll consider your request to give peace a chance. So it’s surprising when Rick invites these Saviors to come back to Hilltop and make a fresh start. Jared doesn’t buy it, but the rest seem sold. ”There’s not a lot that’s worth much these days,” Rick says, “but a man’s word has got to mean something, right?”
Despite the incoming walker herd, Jared is about to kill Rick and Morgan when a Savior knocks him down. What’s the guy get as thanks? Top billing on the walker menu — no justice there. One of the Saviors takes out a zombie that had designs on Rick and gets a thank-you nod for having Rick’s six. And that’s when “Rick the Prick” takes over. He tells the dude who just saved his bacon to run up ahead … and then hacks him in the neck with his axe. Morgan skewers one, Rick tosses another to the walkers. Given that all of them except Jared seemed happy to return to Hilltop and assimilate, it’s a particularly brutal move (also murder, homicide, whatever you’d prefer to call it).
At least the guy who really deserves a gory fate gets it. Morgan traps Jared with some incoming monsters and holds him to a gate as the zombies tear the Savior to shreds. Jared screams in horror while a walker eats his face. “Let go, let go, let go!” he begs, and when Morgan finally releases him, the dead feast as Morgan watches stone-faced. Jared was a world-class crumb bum, but give him credit for calling Rick’s bluff and going out with one of the all-time most disturbing TWD death scenes.
Everything winds down with two homecomings. Negan, freed by Jadis, makes a pit stop en route to the Sanctuary and picks up someone on the road who’s in rough shape. (Or as Negan describes it, “Holy hell! If shit could shit, it still wouldn’t look as shitty as you.”) My guess about the mystery passenger: Dwight, who perhaps had a nasty throw down with Simon that we’ll see next week. Consider that Negan will likely follow through with his promise to Jadis to set things straight, while Rick is the one lying and murdering.
At Hilltop, Morgan thinks it’s a good time to tell Henry — rescued by a teary Carol and scared straight after a brief flirtation with serial killing — that he killed the man who murdered his brother. (Henry’s face seems to say, “I’m really getting some mixed messages about violence, folks.”) And in case you missed his turn toward introspection, Rick literally looks at himself in the mirror twice before reading Carl’s letter. It’s a safe bet that the message will lead Rick to regret butchering those Saviors. The question is, how will that affect his plan to kill Negan?