Back to IndieWire

‘The Walking Dead’ Review: Negan Steps Up in the Underwhelming ‘Worth’

Season 8, Episode 15 focuses on the Saviors while draining potential conflict from the finale.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 15 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Gene Page/AMC

Whose Episode Is It?

Usually the penultimate episode of a “Walking Dead” season is an “all hands on deck” set-up exercise to get everything in place for the finale. In a strange turn, “Worth” does the opposite, resolving all the interpersonal conflict between the Saviors to clear the way the clash the show has been building for the last 2 years: Rick vs Negan. The issue is that those cracks in the Saviors’ unity were intriguing and added an x-factor to the tired primary conflict. After “Worth,” all that’s left is a feeling of “let’s get this over with.”

Man Is The True Monster

Negan announces his arrival back at Sanctuary with a lieutenants’ meeting, and Simon immediately owns up to his mistakes and asks for forgiveness. Negan toys with him a bit (since it’s Negan we’re talking about), but grants him full amnesty. However, since we know that Negan knows about the Dumpsters, it’s just a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Simon gets a coup crew together but gets narc’ed on by Dwight, and Negan immediately has all of Simon’s co-conspirators shot (except Gregory, because dot dot dot question mark). Negan agrees to face Simon one-on-one in front of all the Saviors to settle things permanently, and they proceed to have the dullest, most one-sided fist fight since Steven Seagal murked Willam Forsythe at the end of “Out for Justice.” Nearly all of the Simon stuff in this episode is a feint to hide that Negan is also on to Dwight, but it’s a shame my favorite Savior wound up being a footnote in a bigger storyline.

But before we talk about Dwight, we need to address the shift in Negan’s temperament. As he’s strangling Simon to death, Negan spits about how Simon’s failed assault on Hilltop means they will never be subservient, that they’ll always be looking for another loophole or a way to push back, so now Negan has no choice but to kill them all. If you’re being extremely generous, you could say that Negan is blaming Simon for Negan’s own failings in dealing with Rick and the others. If you’re feeling less generous, you can remember how Negan dealt with the men of Oceanside and wonder why Rick got a pass as recently as two episodes ago. The inconsistent writing for Negan has been an unending source of frustrating, but at least his “saving” philosophy gave his character some much-needed nuance. Now that the big Final Battle is at hand, that’s all out the window.

And to ensure his victory over Rick, Negan supplies Dwight with some false battle plans so that his army will fall into a trap. Turns out the mysterious hitchhiker Negan picked up last episode was Lady Who Knows Dwight’s The Mole, and he’s been playing him all episode. It becomes pretty obvious that’s what’s happening once Simon’s plot plays out the way it does, but it’s pretty clever of Negan to use Dwight to help remove his Simon problem before turning the tables. Still, Dwight’s secret is out, which means he probably won’t have much of a role in the big fight.

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 15 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Achievement In Grossness

Eugene’s kidnapping and subsequent escape from Daryl and Rosita is a useless cul-de-sac of a story, but at least we get to see the unique sight of Eugene inducing vomiting to distract Rosita. Not quite as great as when he bit Dwight’s testicles, but it’s up there. Anyway, Daryl and Rosita are mean to Eugene but he gets away and vows to fulfill Negan’s bullet order for the final battle. How many times do we need to see Eugene turn heel on this show? A million times? A billion?

A Shred of Humanity

Carl’s letters to Rick and Negan both get to their recipients this episode, although Michonne has to read Negan’s to him via walkie-talkie. Carl reminds Rick about how he should probably be focused on rebuilding human society instead of exterminating his enemies. Also, Carl encourages peace, saying that Rick doesn’t have to forget what happened, but should make sure it doesn’t happen again. Rick looks at Judith and Michonne and finally seems to hear what Carl’s been saying.

Negan, of course, has gone full Kill Them All and doesn’t care. But when Rick inevitable bests Negan, will he do the right thing? Next week, it’s Rick’s mercy versus Ricks wrath. Who you got?

The Remains

  • Gregory gets a little inconsequential scene with Simon before everything goes down, where he gets to yell, “You think you have the juice? Well I AM THE JUICE!” It makes no sense for Negan to keep Gregory alive, but I’m glad he did.
  • I admit that at the start of this episode I figured it was Gregory that Negan had picked up and he had flipped him to inform on Simon. Oh well.
  • Aaron has just been hanging out in the woods around Oceanside, and barely manages to fight off a pack of walkers. When the Oceansiders find him, he makes a passionate speech about how the Saviors made them this way, and the only way back is to fight. There’s still no good reason for the Oceansiders to team up with the guys who betrayed their trust and robbed them of all their weapons, so they’ll probably make a last-minute save for Rick next week.

Grade: C

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged , ,