“Negan is everywhere”—this line is the first introduction to Negan, spoken several times by Negan’s people or better yet, his acolytes. Before Lucille and her barbed wire covering, the writers were sowing the seeds for making Negan a bigger than life character. The question is how big do they want to make him? Are the writers telling us we have a cult figure to deal with this season? But the Governor served that role. Are the writers being lazy? Or do they have something greater in mind?
A divine presence has always played a role in the Walking Dead. From the many scenes held in churches to the plethora of references to religious doctrine, the writers have always kept the spiritual world in the mind of the characters and viewers. But with every passing season, it’s the divine that seems to forgotten the people of the Walking Dead. Who could forget when Carol pleaded with God for Sophia to be found, only to have Sophia return as a Walker? It was a mockery of a mother’s prayer for her child. Herschel’s comment, “When Christ said there would be a resurrection of the dead, I just thought he had something a little different in mind.” Even the most faithful of characters couldn’t help but see the Walkers as the divine having a laugh at the expense of mortals.
This is world full of desperate people, fighting death at every corner. So it’s not surprising that a character like Negan is elevated to God-like status. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has brilliantly brought to life the charisma and hold Negan has on his followers. He is the most formidable foe Rick has met so far. Negan’s keen sense of tapping into people’s darkest fears devoid of any mercy makes him more of a force than a person. Is it right to say that God has abandoned these people? Or have they abandoned him? This question forces me to look at the character that is this show—Rick. And he has been a man who has abandoned a God for some time. He brutally murdered people in a church. He encouraged his followers to go along with his plan of ambush and murder of Negan’s people in a church of all places. Finally, he arrogantly proclaimed to Michonne that the world is theirs. This show is Rick’s journey and if there is anyone that the universe must be watching is him. Negan is Rick’s punishment and lesson.
All that remains is to watch what Rick will learn.