The Walking Dead’s Rick vs. Negan — Who Has the Battle Advantage?
With battle on the horizon, what advantages do Rick and Negan have? Here are some thoughts on the strengths of each group.
Numbers – Advantage: Negan
The Saviors have more guns and people. It is a definite strength for Negan. But what are the counts on both sides, exactly? How many people are in Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom combined? (I am not counting Oceanside, yet, because they seem the most reluctant. But boy, do they have a fabulous arsenal!) How many do the Saviors have? Is the Savior advantage 3 to 1, or 10 to 1? This will make a huge difference in how Rick and Co will approach this challenge.
Battle Readiness – Advantage: Negan
How ready for battle are the people on each side? The Saviors definitely have a huge advantage in terms of weaponry. And he has far more people trained to be aggressive and who know how to use the weapons. But he, like Rick, also has many people who are not trained at all. They stay at the compound, cook, tend to him, or do other things. If the battles last long enough and they each need more people to fight (more likely for Rick, but possible for either), they will need to utilize any people who had military experience before the apocalypse and who are experienced outside the compounds, like Tara and Rosita, to help train everyone.
Loyalty – Advantage: Rick
While some of the Saviors are tough and ready to do Negan’s bidding, loyalty could be a weakness for Negan. Many of his people are with him only out of fear. If they felt they could turn against him and be safe, and if Rick & Co win some battles and show that the Saviors could be beaten, Negan could be facing either mass defections, or have to use his henchmen’s time and energy in containing people. Rick has always inspired loyalty. His strength, honesty, and integrity inspire the people around him. And they are not only loyal to him, they are loyal to each other. They are a bonded group, each contributing to plans. Overall, loyalty from his people is a strength for Rick.
Motivation – Advantage: Rick
There is a trailer that shows Rick saying, “It’s not about us anymore. It’s about our future.” They are fighting for a world that doesn’t have Negan in charge. They are fighting for a better future for everyone, and they know it. This is a huge strength for Rick’s group. It matters tremendously, especially in the long run as battles pile up, battles are lost, and the victory isn’t easy. They know what the stakes are. Anyone can fight to save their own lives, but fighting for a positive cause adds so much to motivation in fighting.
On the other side, even Negan calling his group “the Saviors” is a bunch of bunk. He tells his people that they are “saviors” because they bring rules and order to the world. But his people know the truth of what he does. They know the lie, and they know that fighting for Negan is not fighting for a bright future. So even if they do fight, there can be moments—and all it takes is a moment—when they don’t fight their hardest, when they shrink back, when they don’t take advantage of an opportunity that is right in front of them. Inner conflict can create all sorts of complications, and most of the people who would be forced to fight for Negan would have this inner conflict.
Betrayal – Advantage: Equal
This is a definitely a weakness for the leather-clad madman. I think someone from the Alexandria group could easily convince some of Negan’s group to turn traitor. Maybe we’ll see Dwight redeem himself? And some of them could think of it on their own—they would just have to have the bravery to face the iron. But could there be any traitors from the Alexandria side? And by this I mean real traitors, not people who don’t like them anyway. If Gregory turns against them, it doesn’t really count because he was never really a friend; he was always out for his own safety. Same with Spencer. He never bought into Rick’s leadership, so it was not surprising when he tried to take over (rather unsuccessfully!).
But would it be possible for someone from Rick’s group to commit betrayal? Give intel to Negan? Go to the other side? It would be gut-wrenching to see, but it would make for great drama. So who are the prime suspects? For some, the chances are zero—not gonna happen, ever. These would be Daryl, Michonne, Carol, Carl, Maggie, Sasha, Rosita, or Aaron. For a few, I think it would be highly unlikely, but not impossible: Tara, Jesus and Father Gabriel. With Jesus, we just don’t know him well enough. Tara could refuse to reveal the Oceanside group, when they could help by at least supplying weapons. Not betrayal exactly, but not supportive. And Father Gabriel, while I do believe he will actually be a support to the group in the upcoming battles, has a small potential of backsliding to his old ways out of sheer fear.
For some, there is a definite possibility of betrayal, though it may not be because they deliberately want to hurt the Alexandrians. Doesn’t matter, because it’s the same bad result. (As Hershel would say.) For example, King Ezekiel doesn’t want to fight, and even keeps his deal with Negan hidden from his people because he thinks they would disagree with him. So he is definitely capable of deceit, not matter how noble his motivations might be. Heath is already dejected and negative about life, saying it is best to look out only for yourself and abandoning Tara. I truly hope he comes out of it, but he could end up siding with Negan. Enid has gotten better than when she started, but despite having an apocalypse date and first kiss with Carl, she is still not solid and hasn’t shown her loyalty.
The possibility of Morgan turning against Rick makes my heart truly sad, but there it is. Not because he wants to, but for the same reasons that he hid the Wolf from everyone. Yes, he says that he doesn’t know what the right thing is, anymore, or whether his “every life is precious” philosophy is possible, or even appropriate, in this world. But in a battle situation, uncertainty makes him a weak link. Will he step up, or will he be naïve and try to make peace and negotiate, like Andrea with the Governor? Trying this would only help Negan. If Morgan isn’t sure where he stands, then the best thing for him would be to pull out of the fray, altogether. I hope he steps up.
Which brings us to Eugene. I feel so sorry for Eugene. Trapped in Negan’s lair, I’m afraid there will be no middle ground for him. He’s either going to have to be more brave than he’s ever been, or he’s going to crack and do anything Negan wants in order to avoid the iron. He is the character I am most concerned about (with Morgan a close second), because it is not just his body that is at risk—it’s his spirit. He has fought so hard for the progress he’s made. If he slides back, it will be like betraying the memory of Abraham. And he knows it.
I don’t think that we will see the last of the Saviors by the end of Season 7. But I think that we will see them bruised and battered, and not so sure of their total control. It’s a beautiful thing.