SPOILER ALERT: Major plotlines for both The Walking Dead comic book (Issues #104, #105 and #106), plus Season 7 episode 'Sing Me A Song' are discussed here.
The Walking Dead started to return to its original formula in this week's episode, 'Sing Me A Song', which featured Alexandria and the Sanctuary — along with a never-before-seen floating house. #RobertKirman's comic books were once more the major source of material — making Tara's episode the only real bottle episode of the season so far — and whole scenes were taken directly from the comic book pages.
Carl managed to outsmart Jesus by not jumping out of the truck, Negan got to know his new favorite person a little bit better, and Dwight's backstory was revealed as Negan used 'the iron' once more. Strip-by-strip and scene-by-scene (while Johnny Cash's 'You Are My Sunshine' plays in the background), let's take a look at those moments taken straight from the comics in The Walking Dead episode 'Sing Me A Song'.
"You Are Adorable!"
It might have taken Carl a bit longer to crawl onto the back of the Saviors' truck in the show than it did in the comics, but it was just as epic. In the books, Carl catches his ride to the Sanctuary on one of the trucks that Negan uses to carry the things from Alexandria — and Carl gets to hide behind some mattresses (may those rest in peace). There's also the issue that, in the show, Carl is much older than he is in the comics, which would make the idea of him using a machine gun on the Saviors a pretty silly one; well, it didn't. Somehow #Gimple pulled it off, and even made Carl look all the tougher for it.
Just like the season premiere, 'Sing Me A Song', offered us a compelling version of Negan from the comics. Maybe it was the episode's pace or the dialogue (taken line-by-line from the comics), but the episode made it simply impossible for us to read the comic book without hearing Jeffrey Dean Morgan's voice saying Negan's lines. Even if you don't read the comics, it's pretty easy to grasp what kind of a leader Negan is, and what type of villain as well — the one we love to hate.
"I'll Give You A Tour Of The Place"
And what a tour the producers gave us of the Sanctuary in 'Sing Me A Song'. If in Episode 3, 'The Cell', we got to see Daryl's perspective of #Negan's home-sweet-home, this week it was a different take all together. As Negan perused around his 'kingdom' with Carl, we got an in-depth look not only at how the people in the Sanctuary live, but also what it means to Negan on a personal level. Unlike the Governor — who was a nice and friendly guy to all the people in Woodbury, but a complete jerk to everyone else — Negan doesn't change his persona as he walks into the Sanctuary. He continues to enforce his rules and be the cruel, heavy-handed leader he thinks the community needs. Unlike you and me, Negan doesn't get to take his shoes off as he walks into his home.
That might explain why Negan was so disappointed to see Carl show any sign of fear. Carl's supposed to be this tough kid, who is a "serial killer in the making" and who doesn't fear anything or anyone; by Negan's standards, Carl should never let his mask fall. 'Sing Me A Song' was Negan's tough-love lessons to Carl, where he tried to show the kid how to break a man — of course, by using Carl himself as an example — and why it's important to do so.
"Can I Speak To You...Wife?"
The set designs for this episode of The Walking Dead were dead on when it came to replicating Negan's humble abode from the comic books. TV show Negan seems to allow his wives a bit more freedom in regards to their wardrobe though, since in the show, they're seen with much more clothes on. Negan's wives are a great representation of his power in the Sanctuary — not in the least because he's the alpha and can have as many women as he pleases — but, also because they fear him without ever being hurt by him at all. Much like the people in the Sanctuary, Negan's wives respect him because of what he does to other people — and what he doesn't do, but is still capable of.
As he told Sherry in 'Sing Me A Song', he's never laid a hand on any of his women, and still they obey him unquestioningly — most of the time, anyways. They love the security he provides them, the relative power that comes with being one of his wives and, especially, the fact that he never hurts them — only the ones they love. I mean, take a look at this photo from this week's episode:
While everyone else is barely hanging in there, going hungry most of the time and working for points, Negan's ladies stand tall and proud — even as they witness a man's face burn in front of them. As Simon would put it: do my bidding and you can have the same quality of life these women do. Go Negan!
"I Wanna See What Grandma Got Me"
If Carl had stripped butt-naked in front of Negan, it still wouldn't have been as revealing as the moment when his bandage was removed. Negan managed to break Carl's spirit — even if only for a moment — without ever touching him. Talk about psychological mind games.
Truth be told, #CarlGrimes is cut from a different cloth than Negan, but he's also dissimilar to his father in some ways. After all, Carl is an antsy teenager, with serious rage issues and who isn't afraid to do what's needed. Yes, he fails miserably most times, but at least he tries — and that's what Negan respects about Carl. Rick, on the other hand, tries (as any parent would) to keep his son as away from the gore of this world as much as possible. He treats Carl as a pre-apocalyptic teenager, something that Negan understands to be clearly lacking.
Among the many lessons Negan taught Carl in 'Sing Me A Song', there's one that Grimes Junior will soon take to heart: accept who you are, as you are. Although forcing Carl to remove his bandage was intended to humiliate the boy, Negan did a much better job of putting Carl back together than Rick ever did.
Remember last season, when Rick was going with a group to the Hilltop for the first time? Rick told Carl to come, but Carl said he wasn't going because "the kid with the messed up face probably wouldn't make the first best impression anyway". Rick registered, handed Judith to Carl and off he went. I mean, give the kid a hug at least, Rick!
"Sing Me A Song"
Ever since Lori died back in Season 3, Carl rarely speaks of her. He's grown up, become a tough teen and even got himself a girlfriend, and yet a simple song was able to make all those memories of his mom resurface in the most surprising way. This was the first time Carl talked about shooting Lori — to prevent her from turning — without any restrain.
Of course, being the rebel that he is, Carl quickly recovered from Negan's emotional torture, and resumed his original mission. Carl may have pushed his luck when he told Negan he would kill him, but he also proved that he could read Negan much better than Rick. Carl knows Negan isn't gonna kill everyone, simply because they're supposed to provide for him, so he called Negan's bluff — and he was right about it too.
"The Rules Keep Us Alive"
Just as everyone knew who Lucille was before Negan even made it on to the screen last season, many fans also expected 'the iron' to make an appearance in Season 7 — especially since Negan's title card is a furnace. And so, poor Mark missed his shift because he was with one of Negan's wives, and he got the iron for it.
Much more than just a display of enforcing the rules, this scene also contained the final missing piece in Dwight's backstory — and Daryl took serious note of it. He knew Dwight had gone back to Negan, and he also knew why Negan took Sherry as his wife, but Daryl got a first row seat to what happened to Dwight through Mark's fate. Daryl and Dwight even shared a look as Negan was talking about breaking the rules, which means that — now that Daryl fully grasps what Dwight went through — he might even seek to take advantage of Dwight's hate for Negan.
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Negan is the alpha-male among many other alpha-males, and he does what he needs to do to keep all of them in check. While fear might work for some, others need a bit more encouraging to follow the rules, hence why Negan is so fond of emotional games. What he doesn't grasp is that everybody has a different breaking point — some allow more lee-way than others — and, more often than not, he crosses that line by a mile. Negan's pushing Daryl, he's been pushing Dwight and he clearly walked Carl right through that threshold in this episode. It's exactly that failure to understand where to draw the line between breaking a man and making an enemy, which could ultimately prove to be Negan's downfall.