Slaughtering people until their bodies looked as though their heads never existed — it just wasn’t enough for Negan. He had to make Rick feel responsible for it, too.

In season 7 episode 4, Negan used a walker to reenact how to bash someone’s head in. He then asked Rick to hold his bat, Lucille, for the entirety of the episode. It was almost as though Rick had condoned the murder of his friends when he subserviently took the bat. Their deaths were quite literally in his hands. Rick was already powerless, but now the repeated trauma has reduced him to nothing.

In a Walking Dead world, Rick as a common man was once unimaginable. Now his opinions hold no more weight than the stagnant people of the Hilltop community, who he once criticized.

Several side narratives carried throughout the show. Carl took a childish stand against a Savior that could have costed someone their life and Michonne was determined to master the art of sniping. Neither of them could quite grasp the reality that the Alexandrians were finally the underdogs. Their refusal to accept their new dark reality only tested the patience of Negan, which we all know to be at a startling minimum.

So Negan took all of their guns.

I’d previously hoped the Alexandrians would soon cut their losses, pack up their things and run. With evidence from season 6, the Saviors do in fact sleep, they would have plenty of time to get a head start on skipping town. Without weapons, however, their chances of ever prevailing over the Saviors are dwindling.

And ironically, the Alexandrians who once killed Saviors as they slept, now won’t be sleeping much either. It is partly because of the trauma they’ve experienced, but also because Negan took all of their mattresses.

Hate brewed in the eyes of several characters, but their bodies were still. Everyone was waiting to take a stand except Rick, who in a sad, analogical fashion, explained to Michonne why he must bow down to Negan.

It connected all the way back to his friend Shane in season 1, Rick explained. For those who don’t remember, Shane saved Rick’s family while he was in the hospital in the very first episode. Shane had a romantic relationship with Rick’s wife, Lori, since they both thought he was dead. Michonne was not around yet.

“I know Judith isn’t mine,” said Rick.

He accepted it long ago and vowed to do whatever was necessary to take care of baby Judith, regardless of the circumstance. For him, his sentiments towards this story were a microcosm for the Alexandrians’ situation now.

Though Rick does not like their circumstances, he feels it is his responsibility to make choices that will guarantee the lives of his friends. Plenty of people have died before Rick’s eyes and even at his hands, but no one with the resilience and influence that Glenn and Abraham had in his life. It is a rare instance where fear has beckoned Rick to put his pride away. “I’m not losing anyone else,” he told Michonne.

Yet for some reason the fear that has stricken Rick has only turned into fuel for characters like Rosita. She’s hidden a gun and went to Eugene with a single request: “Make me a bullet.”

And if Michonne’s target practice wasn’t enough to suggest she’s ready to take a stand, her face when she found their mattresses burned on the side of the road was.

Rick usually orchestrates the Alexandrians’ attacks. His actions are level-headed and calculated in the way a leader’s should be. When other characters get overly passionate and impatient, he keeps them in line until the right moment.

But if he isn’t willing to help this time, their haste might just go unchecked.

Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of The Walking Dead on Facebook.

Taylor Roar is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at troar@terpmail.umd.edu.

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