In the premier of The Walking Dead, Season 7, Negan is defined by his darkest day, so it’s difficult to picture him in everyday life. Negan, after all, is punishing the group for their actions. In reality, they killed about a dozen of his men, and he only killed two of Rick’s gang, so the numbers are still in Rick’s favor in the harshest sense of keeping score.

Negan isn’t out for blood anymore. He was proving his point. There is nothing left to gain by staying in the mode of a killer. In fact, given that he has only come out of the shadows for this major act leaves him as more of an actor, like King Ezekiel, than a killer.

Perhaps something that hasn’t been mentioned is Negan’s ability to read people in an instant. During his extended scene with Lucille, he was able to determine various points of contact within the group, such as the fact that Rick and Carl are family and that Abraham and Rosita have a connection, along with Maggie and Glenn’s relationship.

In this moment of possible death, he was able to see what the group was capable of and what might make them slow down. Similar to Joker in The Dark Knight describing final moments of emotions that arrive “…in their last moments, [when] people show you who they really are.”

Negan on The Walking Dead | Photo Credit AMCNegan on The Walking Dead | Photo Credit AMCNegan’s Ability to Read People

This ability to quickly judge people and situations is no doubt one of the reasons why Negan has become such a strong leader. Not only can he determine what a person says or does, but who they are.

These can come from verbal interpretations as well as nonverbal cues within the dynamics of being a person in a relationship. By being able to see past someone’s mask, Negan can move past logic, to find a person’s whole backstory.

By using scare tactics, he can locate that point of no-return in a person. Think about Lucille. There isn’t really a need for the barbed wire. The bat, with enough force, would do the trick. He could have Christmas lights on it, and it would still do about the same type of damage, but it wouldn’t have the same scare effect.

Daryl and Rick on The Walking Dead | Photo Credit AMCDaryl and Rick on The Walking Dead | Photo Credit AMCNegan Finds a Person’s Depth

Beyond logic alone, Negan opens his mind to non-verbal cues to see what connections exist when he meets a new group. By knowing who has something to lose, he knows what buttons to push. By taking Daryl, he took one of the group’s strongest pieces off of the board.

He surrenders preconceptions and his ego, in a way, to see more clearly. By remaining objective, during his song and dance, Negan embraces the entire scene to locate strong and weak points of his victims.

Whether he is trying to read a potential ally, a victim, a partner or otherwise, this ability lowers the walls of those around him, as he dissects their capabilities. The only way to do something this remarkable, so quickly, is to practice and be willing to utilize the senses, which makes one wonder what Negan did before the world ended.

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