- Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for "The Walking Dead" season 10, episode nine, "Squeeze."
- Alpha (Samantha Morton) flips the tables on the usually in control and cocky Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) by making him strip down in the woods on the mid-season premiere.
- Negan thinks he's about to be killed. Instead, the two wind up having sex.
- Showrunner Angela Kang says the moment between the two is consensual and is not meant to be an exact reference to Negan's questionable past with women.
- Negan had a harem of women where he convinced himself he was having consensual sex despite forcing women to sleep with him in exchange for the safety of their families.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
We need to talk about that moment on Sunday's mid-season premiere of "The Walking Dead."
We're not talking about the caves (though we do talk about that cliffhanger at the episode's end here). We need to discuss Alpha and Negan.
Toward the end of Sunday's episode Alpha marches Negan out into the woods by himself. Instead of taking him out, as Negan dreads, Alpha asks him to strip down. When he turns around, Alpha is naked herself. The two then have sex out in the open with nothing but black socks on. Alpha doesn't even bother taking her Whisperer mask off and Negan doesn't seem to mind.
What is going on?
"I think we had to try and pay tribute to the comic," showrunner Angela Kang told Insider when asked to explain how this scene came about in the writer's room. "We wanted to show this relationship with them amping up, and we thought, 'Oh hey, wouldn't it be great if they have sex, but how do we get there?'"
Kang credits her writer David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick for coming up with setting the scene and getting to the moment quickly instead of drawing it out.
"There's no romance to it really. [Alpha's] just like, 'You did this thing for me. You're crass, I'm animalistic. Let's do this thing,'" said Kang of what to take away from the brief romp in the woods. "I think it came from a problem solving point of view, but I think, creatively, it really works for these characters. She has his number, and he's like, 'Oh, might as well dive in."
An important difference from the comics
In Robert Kirkman's comics, Negan is attracted to Alpha, but the two never have a sexual relationship. There's no time for that. Negan doesn't spend many issues with the Whisperers in the comics. When he is with them, he's much more vulgar towards Alpha. He delivers unwanted pickup lines and crosses boundaries a few times that are so unwelcome Alpha punches him across the face and Beta steps in to toss him up against a tree to question him about any ulterior motives.
The scene on Sunday's episode turns the tables on Negan. Alpha calls all of the shots and Negan, as a result, is in rare form. He's convinced he's living out his final moments. He's not his super confident, cocky self. He's not in control. He's in a very vulnerable position.
After he strips down and finds Alpha puzzingly nude, Negan's told the sex is "a crass reward" for a crass man. Earlier, he surmised that Gamma (Thora Birch) may not be as loyal to the Whisperers as they believe, something viewers knew to be correct.
Negan seems a bit unsure of what to make of everything at the moment, but eventually a smirk crosses his face and he goes with the flow. The two have sex off screen as Alpha leaves her creepy Whisperer mask on her face the entire time.
Are we supposed to read this moment as Alpha taking advantage of Negan in an attempt at redemption for the character? No.
In case there's any confusion that Alpha may be taking advantage of Negan, Kang says that isn't the case.
"I think it's a fully consensual moment between the two," said Kang.
While Negan doesn't appear physically forced into the moment — he kisses Alpha with the mask, telling her he views it as a turn on — it also doesn't seem like he has much of a choice. He's butt naked in the woods with the leader of the Whisperers. If he runs, he's not going to get very far. Someone from her group, if not Alpha herself, will kill him.
Upon a closer watch, the moment seems to be a nod to Negan's questionable past relationships with women. When he was leader of the Sanctuary on seasons seven and eight, Negan had a harem of women. Although Negan proclaimed loudly he was strongly against rape (he even killed a man once who attempted to abuse Sasha), his definition of the word was murky when it came to himself.
Negan claimed the sex he had with his many wives was consensual despite forcing women to sleep with him in exchange for the safety of their families.
When asked if the scene between Alpha and Negan was meant to allude to his questionable relationships with women at the Sanctuary and turning the tables on him, Kang said, "It wasn't exactly a reference, but that's a really apt observation."
"Negan certainly has had some complex dealings with women, and Alpha is herself a leader," Kang continued. "To see Negan in a different sort of position… He's enjoying being part of the Whisperers right now, after having been in a complicated situation, and he's trying to figure out what this all is with her."
At the least, the knowledge of Negan's past adds another layer of depth to the scene. Kang said this is far from the last time we'll see the two together this season in some capacity.
"I would say, let's see what happens with Negan and Alpha, and how this all plays out. Negan, he's a complex character, and so is Alpha," said Kang of what's next for the two. "There's just more to come."
In the comics, the next thing to come is pretty violent. Negan kills Alpha pretty swiftly after infiltrating the Whisperer group. At the moment, it's unclear whether the show will go in that direction. For one thing, Negan kills Alpha in the comics in order to impress Rick. Rick's been out of the picture for years in the show's timeline.
Trailers for the back-half of the season show Negan donning a skin mask of his own and spending more time with the Whisperers.
Rather, it seems like the show has been building towards an eventual Carol (Melissa McBride) and Alpha showdown, which could be more satisfying. Not only did Alpha kill Carol's adopted son, Henry, but he also happened to be dating Alpha's daughter.
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