After an entire half-season of build up last night, The Walking Dead finally introduced Negan. The reveal landed with a resounding “thud,” and not the kind fans were hoping for. But long before those final moments left us all wanting, a lot of nonsensical puzzle pieces had to fall into place.
So I have to ask: Are the Saviors magic?
WARNING: SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT.
Scarier than Terminus. More organized than the Governor. Better staying power than the Wolves. The Saviors were supposed to be the game-changing Big Bad™ that would upend the zombie world order as we know it. They”re supposed to be terrifying. Instead, they”re cartoonishly evil and it's hard to be scared of cartoon villains. Case in point: last night, The Walking Dead season finale gave up the pretense of being a dramatic tale of survival in a post-apocalyptic world and became an elaborate Wile E. Coyote prank. The only thing missing was ACME plastered all over the cars and a bucket of paint with which the Saviors could create a new “road” to trick The Group.
The pacing of The Walking Dead can make it hard to remember how condensed the timeline is each season. (this site is a great reference.) But there are approximately 10 days between Rick and the gang slaughtering that outpost of Saviors and the season finale. It has been two days since the death of Denise and Carol”s personality lobotomy. Based on Carol”s run-in with the Savior scouts, they”ve been looking for Alexandria since the sneak attack wiped out dozens of their men. But clearly they”ve had no luck finding the place. So again I ask, are the Saviors magic? Because that is the only thing can explain their inexplicable luck in knowing where the heroes will be at any time.
Without fail, the Saviors know where the Group will be headed. Yes, there are only so many roads to the Hilltop. But how could Negan”s men know Maggie would need medical assistance? And if they didn”t, does that mean there were literally dudes sitting out on each road 24/7 on the off-chance the Group would drive by? That seems like a waste of resources…
At first, I thought there must be a Savior plant inside Alexandria. My money was on Enid. But if that were the case, there was no need for the season finale theatrics. The Walking Dead could”ve played the comic book scene straight, with Negan and his men coming to the gates of Alexandria to demand tribute. Then someone on Twitter suggested the Saviors had access to a satellite feed. The theory has merit, but again. If the Saviors knew where the Group was using technology, why not just head to Alexandria in force?
So the Saviors don”t know where Alexandria is. But they can deduce the Hilltop is in cahoots with this dangerous new group. So why not take over the unarmed Hilltop and lie in wait? Surely that would be easier than stringing up zombies in the most gruesome game of Red Rover ever and setting up an elaborate log fire trap. While our heroes are plotting out their next move, offscreen the Saviors are (assumedly) radioing each other and scrambling to the next checkpoint they hope the Group will try. Somewhere out there, a large portion of the Saviors got to look menacing for no reason as Abraham never chose their road. In the distance, you can hear them lamenting how much time and effort they wasted on their traps.
Who has this kind of time? With the amount of manpower necessary to create this corral, Negan could”ve been canvassing the countryside until they found Alexandria. Clearly they have warm bodies to spare. Make a grid system and send out scouts! Don”t play Mouse Trap!
Once the Group gets “smart” and splits up – though honestly the smart thing to do would”ve been to NOT take everyone on a road trip in the largest car in the county – it takes about 10 seconds for Eugene to get kidnapped. Seriously, how did the Saviors know Eugene would be alone? Or did they bum-rush the RV in the hopes of snagging everyone? It just seems awfully convenient Negan”s clearing happened to be within menacing whistling distance of where Rick and the gang disembarked.
It”s the same problem the show has had with the Saviors ever since Dwight killed Denise. They just show up whenever the plot needs them too. They”re always in the right place at the right time, using hyper-advanced stealth technology. Logically I know it”s just bad writing. But I”m kind of hoping Negan is a wizard. It”s the only way.
Or maybe The Walking Dead just wanted to bookend the season with plans that are bad and should feel bad.