Toward the end of “Alive or Dead Or,” the third episode of The Walking Dead‘s eighth season, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) suggested that the Saviors catalpult walker guts and body parts over the walls of the Hilltop as a form of psychological warfare to scare the inhabitants barricaded inside into surrendering. Negan was inspired by this idea, and in his next scene he sort of explained how he was going to do it one better.
He gathered some Saviors around a fence at the Sanctuary that had some zombies chained to it as a form of bitey home security. He explained what every survivor knows — that if something from a walker (saliva, blood, semen probably) gets into your bloodstream, you become a member of Club Dead.
“Which sucks,” he said. “But what if we could use that to our advantage?”
He took his barbed-wire-wrapped bat Lucille and smashed one of the walkers across the face and ground Lucille into its desiccated body, getting Lucille smothered and covered in walker blood.
“Look at that. No more smashing and bashing with this,” he said, holding out the bat for the Saviors (and double-agent Dwight [Austin Amelio]) to inspect. “With this it can just be a touch, or a big wet kiss. Either way, this gets you full membership, and that’s what we want. We want people to join the club. The Hilltop is going to learn to toe the line one way or another. Dead or alive or some kinda s— in between.”
Obviously he means he wants to infect Hilltoppers with walker blood, but he didn’t explain how. The first thing I thought of was Negan walking around using Lucille to whip blood at people like a priest throwing holy water from an aspergillum. But what it really sounds like is that he intends to inflict mere flesh wounds that get infected with walker blood and turn lethal. For an idea of how he’s going to do this, let’s turn to the comics.
During the All Out War: Part 2 arc on which Season 8 is based, Negan has the Saviors cover their bladed weapons and arrows in walker blood and attack the Hilltop, reasoning that even glancing blows will kill. It seems like the show is going to modify this slightly, and the Saviors are going to shoot arrows over the walls of the Hilltop. It’ll be death from above even if no one dies right away, and it’ll spook the Hilltoppers real good. They’re probably going to end up accidentally killing a few of the Savior POWs being held in the Hilltop’s garden, though. But what’s a little collateral damage if it means thoroughly demoralizing your opponent?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.