After meeting a whole new group surviving the zombie apocalypse in "Swear," this week’s "The Walking Dead" returns to the Sanctuary and Alexandria. Not only do we get a deeper look into the goings on amongst Negan’s saviors, but we get to see Alexandria scramble to put supplies together for Negan’s next visit as their relationship with him takes its toll.

Carl plan for Negan hits a snag

Last we saw Carl, he was hiding out in the back of a delivery truck heading for Negan.

He tricks Jesus into leaving the truck without him and then, when he arrives at the Sanctuary, he uses the gun inside to open fire on Saviors in an effort to get to Negan. The plan is ill thought out, to put it mildly.

Carl isn’t exactly known for thinking things through, so I’m not entirely sure what he expected to find at the Sanctuary or what his fantasy involved for actually killing Negan, but what the audience gets is actually very reminiscent of his time spent with Negan in the graphic novels, right down to Negan asking him to sing him a song to mess with him -- all while he takes a few practice swings with Lucille.

What’s interesting here though is that Negan waivers between trying to terrorize Carl and showing off for him. It’s almost like Carl is the little brother he wished he had to share in on his fun with. He brags about his wives, he encourages Carl to take on a more badass look, and he even gives him a front row seat to how people are punished. Disturbing? Absolutely. But fascinating to watch.

Things are not looking good for Spencer

Plenty of rumors about what’s to come on the show have indicated that Spencer might not survive to season eight, and with his constant bad mouthing of Rick, and his assertion to Rosita that he could do better, things aren’t looking too good for him. Spencer might not actually meet Lucille head-on, but something tells me that he’s going to suffer in order to learn that he needs to trust Rick.

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The supersized episodes are kind of a let-down

I was all for getting more in-depth story with extended episodes this season -- until we actually got them. The result of these longer episode isn’t just more story, it’s more dragged out story. There isn’t really a sense of urgency to tense scenes anymore and stories that could be told in just a few scenes are taking half an episode to tell. It’s got to be as much of a conundrum for other viewers as it is for me: I want more of “The Walking Dead,” but I also want to enjoy it.

Part of the problem is that we’re spending so long with only one or two characters when the group we love has been split up in so many different ways. There has to be more unification to streamline the stories.

Lingering questions

Will Michonne make it to the Sanctuary? Or will her ride take her to Alexandria since she asked for Negan?

Will Rosita get to use her bullet? I get the feeling she might hang on to it for a while.

What will Rick do when he finds Negan hanging out with Carl and Judith? That’s got to sting.

What happened to Heath? A lingering question from last week.

The verdict

Just like with “Swear,” I wanted to like “Sing Me a Song.” I was looking forward to seeing Negan and Carl interact. What we saw could have been accomplished in half the time, though. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, and I wasn’t surprised with very many of the events, despite the promise the episode held.

3 out of 5 stars

What’s next

Negan sets up in Alexandria next week in another 90 minute episode, and I hear the visit won’t be pleasant.

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