It's hard to believe that The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 22 was a bonus episode that was not supposed to exist.
It was a beautifully tragic outing that gave us some insight into how Negan became the Saviors leader, and I think it's fair to say that Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilarie Burton Morgan deserve all the awards for their work on "Here's Negan."
I know The Walking Dead isn't the type of show to get much awards love, but it would be a disservice if they weren't at least in contention for some sort of recognition.
The chemistry between the two actors, who are married in real life, did Negan and Lucille justice as they navigated the most harrowing part of their lives, culminating in Lucille's death.
If you watch The Walking Dead online, you know the series has tried to soften Negan up in recent years, but much of what they've tried has fallen flat due to the heinous things he's done some of the most beloved characters.
Negan's pain to be the perfect husband to Lucille was evident. His lack of communication ahead of her cancer diagnosis was a big red flag, but it was his way of coping throughout a terrible time.
His career had been ripped away from him due to him defending Lucille from some loser at the bar, and how was he to know he taught the man's kids at school?
One action can cause irreversible damage, and the night he and Lucille went to the bar changed Negan's life and set him on a slippery slope that could have been avoided.
Lucille's death, however, could not. Her cancer diagnosis bonded them closer than ever before, but she understood Negan was putting his life on the line every time he left to find medication to keep her treatment in good standing.
Negan being gone for six weeks while holding on to the hope that his wife was somehow still alive in their homemade it all the more harrowing.
It's hard not to ponder how long Lucille held on before choosing to end her life. Negan knew what was waiting for him, but he tried to be strong. It was a pivotal moment that changed his life forever and shaped him into the person he is today.
Ahead of Lucille's death, he was holding a lot of guilt. He was cheating with her best friend and while I wanted Lucille to confront him, her telling him she knew during one of their final moments together made it all the more unsettling.
David Leslie Johnson's phenomenal writing, coupled with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilarie Burton's acting, elevated "Here's Negan" into one of the best episodes in the series' history.
Negan has been an enigmatic character for much of his time on the series. We started this journey with him trying to assert his powers over characters we loved, but somewhere along the way, he softened up.
Knowing he was just a regular guy playing videogames and making dumb decisions pre-apocalypse to being deeply rooted in guilt as he tried to save his wife added more layers to the character than ever before.
I could have watched an entire season or series of Negan and Lucille because the writing and acting were simply that good. This is an episode fans who bailed on the series could watch without being confused.
It fills in the blanks surrounding a huge character and sets the wheels in motion for what is sure to be his final arc. Yes, we're headed into the last-ever season, and it's hard to imagine many of the characters making it out alive.
Burning the baseball bat that he named after his wife was a pure moment, but it was also a huge moment of clarity for him. He could have lived the rest of his days away from Alexandria, but there was a reason he had to return.
The look he shot at Maggie was almost as though he was goading her, and the bigger issue is that Carol and Daryl witnessed it. There are many different ways to interpret that scene, but I think he wants to be a better man for Lucille.
My theory is that he knew he would start another group if he were out there alone, and he didn't want to slip back into his old ways. Had he wanted to drift back to the dark side, he would have had an easier time conversing with the baseball-bat wielding apparition in his house.
Maggie's been wondering whether she can co-exist in the same place as the man who murdered the love of her life. She let him survive once before because she thought he would be haunted by his actions for the rest of his life, but now that he's throwing smiles her way, she's not going to be able to let it slide.
It's such a complicated dynamic between these two and begs the question about whether someone can be truly redeemed. Negan has done some despicable things in his time, but he also helped the team with the Whisperers war.
Heck, Alpha would probably still be walking about with mud on her face and be putting heads on pikes if not for Negan. Negan managed to connect with her on an emotional level before killing her. He's good at manipulation.
Carol has largely been nice to Negan of late, and I'm starting to get the feeling she understands him on a level others do not. She herself has done some terrible things.
I'll never forget her saying, "Look at the flowers." That scene gives me freaking chills.
What did you think of the conclusion?
I had the chance to chat with Hilarie Burton Morgan about it, and you should read my interview.
The Walking Dead returns this summer for its swan song.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.