Wasn't that nice, getting to spend some quality time in The Sanctuary, and more importantly, getting to know the various lieutenants that make up its leadership committee. Even Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) managed to get a minor confession out of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) before the pair "gutted up" to make their escape from the trailer.
What made the episode fantastic was that it humanized the other side. Yes, the Saviors do awful things and Negan is a tyrant who seems to have more than a few screws loose, but the Sanctuary is filled with people -- the "workers" who nearly revolted this week -- and even the leaders are only human after all.
We got a peek into Dwight's (Austin Amelio) passion for painting miniatures, and got to see a lot of bickering within that leadership meeting. Negan wasn't lying when he told Rick and his allies that he was in a meeting when this season started. This week, we got that meeting and so much more.
It's easy to root for the good guys over the bad guys, and the Saviors still are pretty bad overall, but by humanizing them it makes the war more complex. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) fighting over whether or not to blow a hole in the Sanctuary paints an even darker shade of gray over the side of good. So now it's not simple black vs. white, good vs. evil. It's people vs. people and that makes far more compelling drama.
And yet, in a show about death and killing we didn't lose a single soul this week. We've already predicted several deaths this season that haven't come to pass -- save the budget-saving CGI tiger -- so they'd better hurry and catch up.
This one's a tough one, because of the reasoning behind it. After the premiere, we predicted that Gabriel would be the next to die, and as no one significant has yet died this season, that may yet come to pass. This week, though, we're going to shift him to this category and say that he should die.
Gabriel has redeemed his actions from when the breakout first happened -- as well as his subsequent betrayal of Rick at Alexandria -- time and again. Now, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) finds him clammy, sweating and clearly in a very bad way in a cell after he and Negan made their way into the Sanctuary.
We didn't see the final thrust of their mad rush through the herd, but at this point it might be safe to say that Gabriel got bit sometime along the way. There's really no other reason for him to be in this state so quickly. That's not the only reason he should die next, though.
He wants a purposeful death, and in the closing moment he revealed his new purpose. He wants to save the doctor for Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) sake. He's already proven his bravery in the face of adversity time and again. Now, he has a chance to die doing the right thing. Possibly helping convince Eugene to turn back toward the side of right along the way. Talk about a purpose-filled death. Father Gabriel has come a long way, and he's not in a situation that people can easily survive.
He's not going to turn on his morals and join the Saviors. So really he can either die in some horrific display that Negan concocts to try and bring Rick and company in line, or he can die fighting the good fight. That's the fate Gabriel deserves at this late stage.
She may be Negan, but we're predicting not for much longer after shooting a worker during the near-revolt. Regina (Traci Dinwiddie) probably got more screen-time this week than she has since she joined the show ... in the season premiere. She's a total newcomer to the show, but not a newcomer to the Saviors so her death will still have some impact. And we're pretty sure Negan can't let that shooting slide.
As he reiterated over and over, people are a commodity and he has an arrangement with the workers. After one of his lieutenants killed one of them and threatened others, he can't let that slide. An example must be made.
Negan's philosophy is that if you kill the right person at the right time in the right way, you can save a lot of lives. Under the circumstances, he needs to keep his workers happy during the current crisis. They need to believe he is fully in control of the situation. Simon is another possibility to pay the price for what happened, but Regina is the more direct response.
She killed. She dies. The workers continue to believe Negan has their back. Of course, if things don't change quickly with the herd surrounding the Sanctuary, it's going to start getting ugly for a lot of people and there will be plenty more death to come.
The carnage continues every Sunday at 9pm ET on AMC.