TWD: Why Negan’s Sudden S7 Revelation Doesn’t Ruin His Redemption
Negan has made a shocking revelation in The Walking Dead season 11 episode 7, "Promises Broken." So how is his redemption still possible?
Negan made a startling confession in The Walking Dead season 11, episode 7 — but instead of ruining his redemption, his words cement his growth. Negan’s moral stance has been a major plot point in season 11 as Negan and Maggie remain at each other’s throats, and while his revelation seems to sully his character development on the surface, his conversation with Maggie proves this isn’t the case. But how can saying he wished he’d killed them all be a good sign for Negan’s growth?
While Gabriel and Elijah were scouting out Meridian, Negan and Maggie had yet another heart-to-heart disguised as strategic planning. After Negan brutally killed Maggie’s husband, Glenn, and Abraham in front of the group in The Walking Dead season 7, the tension between the duo has been high. There have been a few almost friendly moments between the pair in recent episodes — enough that some fans are pushing for a Maggie & Negan relationship — but Negan admitting that he would have killed them all if he could do it again is sure to bring that to a screeching halt.
Negan’s revelation isn’t one of malice or bloodlust; they’re words of regret from a man who wasn’t able to protect his people. They may be brutal for his victim’s widow to hear, but he doesn’t tell Maggie this to hurt her. Negan not killing Rick’s entire group is what led to the downfall of the Saviors, and as Maggie is preparing to wage war against the Reapers, he is offering her what he believes is sound advice. Just as he is teaching Maggie to be a Whisperer, he is teaching her what he believes it takes to be a leader. While he knows he’s done wrong and he shows remorse, he stands by the fact that he did what he thought he had to in order to protect those he cares about — something every group is guilty of in the post-apocalyptic world.
Negan’s words to Maggie were brutal, but it’s a truth that isn’t uncommon in the world they’re in. In his eyes, Negan wasn’t being evil, but doing what it took to provide for and protect his people — and while he might do it with more dramatic flair than most, it isn’t unlike anything other survivors wouldn’t have done. As Negan pointed out, Alexandria didn’t hesitate to wipe out the Saviors’ satellite outpost. Woodbury, Terminus, the Saviors, the Whisperers, and now the Reapers — all groups that the survivors have fought and killed with the belief that they’re on the right side. From their point of view, Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom were surely the villains. Negan’s revelation is a reminder that he, and every adversary in The Walking Dead, are still human.
Negan’s season 11 redemption arc certainly hasn’t been linear. Even when he was the cruel dictator of the Saviors, he had flashes of humanity — particularly around Carl, with whom he had a strong connection. When Carl died, Negan genuinely mourned. In The Walking Dead season 10 bonus episodes, Negan shows true regret for his actions as he grieves his wife, Lucille. He no longer has the desire to ruthlessly rule; he’s had the opportunity multiple times, yet he denied it. When he had a chance to escape, he instead put himself at risk to save Judith. Negan is doing his best to be “good” — while assuring his own survival, of course. Negan may be one of the more brutal characters in The Walking Dead, but he is no longer the villain he once was.