The gore doesn't do anything for me. I tend to switch off when that happens and slip into "cheesy B-Horror movie mode" so it doesn't have the same affect on me. Rather than making me feel shock, I laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Kind of a safety mechanism. Regardless, I could do without it completely.
The thing that interests me is Negan's attempt at manipulating Rick's group. The whole episode was about manipulation. For Negan, the question was "how do I make these people lose the will to fight me, and thus succumb to my commands?" Rick is there leader, so he knows he's the one he has to break. Killing him wouldn't do him any good because he still needs someone to lead their group, to keep it together. He needs Rick for that. But he doesn't need anyone else.
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Thus the whole episode rolls out and explores Negan's decision making. He picks one member to set an example. These are the stakes. Do not cross me. Well, Daryl crosses him so he makes another example. The fact that he doesn't kill Daryl is very interesting. Either Darryl is something he hasn't seen in a long time, ie. someone bold enough to strike him even if it costs them their lives, or Negan has a lot of pet projects when it comes to recruiting.
The whole RV ride is him trying to break Rick, but that fails and he knows it. Threatening to cut Carl's arm off was truly inspired. It's the perfect way to manipulate Rick and completely break him. Yet he spared Rick in the end, much like the angel spared Abraham of having to kill his son. If he had gone through with it, it might have been too much. Rick would have been reminded constantly of what Negan made him do, and that might breed resentment. However, sparing Rick, that's an act of mercy. It feeds into the whole subservience that he's trying to nurture in Rick.
I don't know, I just find the whole manipulation angle of it all fascinating.
"I believe toys resonate with us as humans, we can hold them, it's tactile, real! They are totems for our extended beliefs and imaginations. A fetish for ideas that hold as much interest and passion as old religious relics for some. We display them in our homes. They show who we are. They are signals for similar thinking people. A way we connect with each other...and I guess thats why I do toys. That connection." -Ashley Wood