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The Walking Dead 'Here's Negan' Ending Explained

Contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 10, episode 22 — "Here's Negan"

From a harrowing look into the psyche of Princess (Paola Lázaro) to Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol's (Melissa McBride) heartbreaking conflict, The Walking Dead's season 10C episodes have been intimate and engaging. In fitting fashion, the season finale puts the spotlight on one of the show's most notorious villains: Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the former leader of the Saviors, longtime Alexandrian prisoner, and Carol's personal assassin.

Available to watch now on AMC+, "Here's Negan" reveals the complex history that made him who he is, employing a series of flashbacks that give viewers a revealing look at Negan's life in the earliest days of the apocalypse. We not only learn the origins of Negan's signature weapon Lucille, but we also meet the baseball bat's namesake and gain a deeper insight into how Negan's relationship with his long-dead wife shaped him as a person.

The episode begins with Carol taking Negan to a cabin in the woods to be exiled because of his feud with Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Although it's Negan's past that takes center stage in the Walking Dead season 10C finale, the episode does also manage to tease how that conflict could play out in The Walking Dead's 11th and final season.

Without further ado, here's what went down in "Here's Negan."

Negan's exile gives him time for reflection

While in exile, Negan has a vision of himself in the past — around the time viewers first met him at the end of season 6. The presence of this previous version of Negan seems to imply that while he's clearly changed a bit since Rick (Andrew Lincoln) defeated him and he was locked away, parts of his old self are still there. Past-Negan chides present-day-Negan for trying to win over the Alexandrians by playing nice, telling him, "It's time to face the facts, old man: You are nothing without her." The "her" here refers to Lucille, Negan's trusty baseball bat. But, of course, it also refers to Lucille (Hilarie Burton-Morgan), Negan's wife for whom the bat is named. 

Negan appears disturbed by the vision, but the next day, he goes to the tree where he believes Lucille the bat was buried after his climactic showdown with Rick in season 8. He digs around for a bit, and as soon as his shovel hits wood, we get our first flashback. Twelve years in the past, Negan is tied to a chair and a gang leader called Baxter (Rodney Rowland) is interrogating him. Baxter found Negan traveling with a supply of chemo drugs, which is somewhat of a rarity in the post-apocalypse, and is eager to know how he got them.

An important thing to note is that the Negan who viewers see in the flashbacks isn't the one we've come to know in The Walking Dead. He's less self-assured, has a hard time even killing walkers, and doesn't quite have that swagger that has come to define his character. This is very evident when Negan begins to tell the story of how he got the chemo drugs, which occasions another flashback.

Meet Lucille

The drugs Negan is carrying came from a mobile medical clinic. In the flashback, he makes a feeble attempt to rob the doctors who work there, but a clinic staffer with a baseball bat quickly knocks him out (put a pin in that for now). When Negan comes to, he tells Franklin (Miles Mussenden), the head of the operation, the story of why he needs the drugs, which begins flashback number three.

We're now six weeks further in the past. In the early days of the outbreak, Negan is living with his wife Lucille, who's undergoing chemotherapy. Negan is an attentive and loving husband. However, he and Lucille are quickly running out of supplies, and even though Lucille only has a few rounds of chemo left, their remaining stash of drugs spoils during a fridge malfunction. This is what forces Negan to rob the medical clinic. 

When Negan finishes telling his story to the clinic workers, they're remarkably generous and kind to him. They feed him and give him the drugs he needs, telling him they only want to help people. Negan seems genuinely moved by their generosity. One of the most engaging aspects of "Here's Negan" is the fact that viewers get a remarkably panoramic look at the eponymous character. Thanks to the cascading flashbacks, fans can glimpse aspects of Negan's personality that were obscured or fully buried in the years that followed. He's more vulnerable in these early scenes — without allies, real weapons, or survival skills — and it changes how he interacts with the world.

Negan's pre-apocalypse life is revealed

As Negan is leaving the clinic, the staff gives him the baseball bat they'd previously used to knock him out. That is one part of Lucille's origin story, but there's still more to the tale. In the midst of the scenes detailing Lucille's chemo troubles, there's yet another flashback (the fourth, for those keeping count). This one takes viewers to the earliest days of the outbreak, before society had collapsed and the news was merely reporting on a series of strange cannibalistic murders. It also introduces a different moment in Negan's personal growth.

Pre-collapse Negan, as it turns out, is a bit of a lout. He loses his job as a high school gym teacher after getting arrested for beating someone up, and he's now spending his days playing video games. He's also cheating on Lucille with one of her friends, something that prevents him from being with her when she first receives her cancer diagnosis.

This particular flashback seems to be illustrating how much Lucille's cancer changed Negan as a person — or, rather, how much his love for Lucille changed him. In the post-collapse times, Negan weeps while Lucille recounts how she learned about his affair, but she tells him, "I want you to know that you made up for it." Negan's love and devotion for Lucille in these scenes is powerful, and the episode demonstrates just how transformative those emotions were for him during the earliest days of the apocalypse. However, it does beg the question: How did he then go on to become the Negan we know?

We get an answer to that question when we're back in the first flashback with Baxter, the gang leader. Negan is desperate to bring the fresh chemo drugs he's carrying back to Lucille, so he gives up the location of the mobile clinic. After the gang rounds up the doctors, they let Negan go.

The birth of Negan

Before Negan leaves on his mission to find more chemo drugs, Lucille begs him to forget trying to save her life and instead merely stay with her until she dies. When he finally arrives back at home with the drugs, Negan discovers that he should have listened to her. Lucille's zombified body is on the bed in their room. She appears to have purposefully overdosed on pills and zip-tied one arm to the headboard to prevent her from later attacking Negan. Written on the outside of the door is a harrowing phrase: "Please don't leave me like this."

This is obviously a crushing moment for Negan, who has spent the entirety of his time in the apocalypse thus far trying to keep Lucille alive. After sitting with her zombified form for a while, he goes outside to a nearby fence and uses some barbed wire to put the final touches on Lucille the bat. Once he's said goodbye to Lucille the person, he burns down the house.

Back at the gang hideout, Franklin is being tortured for information about where he gets his medical supplies from. Negan puts a stop to it by killing each of the gang members except for Baxter, whom he ties up.

It's here where viewers get their first glimpse of the Negan they know and loathe. Dressed in his signature leather jacket and brandishing his bat Lucille, Negan performs a soliloquy in front of Baxter. He tells Baxter about the man he beat up who got him fired, then concludes, "There were consequences to me seeing red. Seeing red was a bad thing then. But see, now nobody's suing anybody, nobody's getting fired. Hell, nobody's keeping score. Now, when I see red, it's just a question of what I am capable of. See, I am starting to think that I am capable of damn near anything."

What Here's Negan means for The Walking Dead season 11

Back in the present day, Negan digs up Lucille the bat and brings it home to his cabin. He tenderly speaks to it as though it's Lucille herself. He tells her, "I am sorry that I left you. I couldn't face the pain of losing you, so I ran away. And then I made myself not feel anything because I didn't want to feel the shame." He even apologizes for naming his "stupid baseball bat" after her. Negan then places Lucille the bat into his fireplace and watches it burn, tears rolling down his eyes. 

This would seem to signal a significant change in him, but, as we see in the final scene of the episode (and thus of The Walking Dead season 10), things aren't quite that cut and dry. The next day, Negan strolls back into Alexandria. When Carol confronts him, he tells her that he's not interested in living in exile. Carol says that Maggie will kill him if he moves back, and makes it clear that now that she's tried to help Negan, she won't intervene. Negan agrees and continues on, looking at a shocked and horrified Maggie as he walks by. The mischievous grin he wears while he observes her suggests that Negan's new chapter won't necessarily include peacemaking.

Based on how The Walking Dead season 10 ends, it feels inevitable that the conflict between Maggie and Negan will boil over during season 11 — and that it won't be pretty. While Negan's past reveals that he's a complex character and that his propensity for violence is just one facet of his personality, it also demonstrates that violence is something that has always existed within him, even if it's hidden under the surface.

It's too soon to say exactly how that will all come to a head in the final season of The Walking Dead, but it will no doubt be bracing.