A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 8, Episode 5: “The Big Scary U”

Here’s Negan!  And the rest, too, but also Negan.

The episode begins with a flashback as Gabriel realizes that he may die.  He’s not asking to live, as he’s been given redemption.  What he fears, though, is a fruitless death.  On his knees in the church, he prays to God that he be given purpose.

Over at the Sanctuary, Simon delivers some homemade breakfast to Gregory.  He thanks him for doing the right thing.  Gregory did indeed go to the satellite outpost, but Simon was dealing with the betrayal that was apparently unknown to Gregory.  And yet, Gregory waited to tell the Saviors about what the other communities planned to do.  Simon tells Gregory that he did the right thing.

As for why Gregory is at the Sanctuary, the Saviors are about to achieve greatness.  If Gregory can solve the problem, today is the day.

Later, Gregory speaks with Negan and other Savior lieutenants to tell them that he gets how difficult it can be to manage a large group of people, including the big scary U.  It’s called the unknown.  Gregory doesn’t like killing people- although Negan does, as long as it’s the right people.  If you kill one, you could be saving hundreds more.  That’s what the Saviors are all about.

Dwight gets up for a smoke, saying he doesn’t need to hear Gregory’s words.  If given instructions, he’ll follow them.  Gregory plans to give Hilltop residents an ultimatum: if they fight against the Saviors, they won’t have a home anymore.  Negan doesn’t believe the folks at the Hilltop will even follow Gregory.  If he’s in charge, why didn’t he know about Maggie leading the Hilltop into Alexandria?

Negan gets serious- he thinks Gregory is playing both sides with his thin dick.  Still, Gregory wasn’t aware of things until they were already in play.  Simon believes Gregory, but he needs to make Negan believe him.  Gregory insists that the Hilltop is his.  Maggie just took advantage of his generosity.  Simon figures showing force around Gregory could fix this situation.  If not, just kill everyone at the Hilltop.

It would at least send a message to the other communities.  Negan, though, sees people as a resource and money on the table.  People are the foundation of what they’re building here.  Negan asks if Simon is confused about who is in charge.  He hopes that he isn’t sliding backwards.  Simon, though, calls this a fragile moment.  Negan tells everyone that they need to win it all.

Plan A is taking Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel alive and killing them in a very public and instructive way- kill the right people in the wrongest way possible and then you make the others watch.  Then everyone hears gunshots from outside.  Can’t use RPGs on the folks who have arrived, so Negan proposes that they talk about this.  Everyone then heads outside- though Gareth seems reluctant- to confront the group that has arrived.

We then flash to the present in the trailer as Negan tackles Gabriel and takes his gun, which still has a full clip.  Gabriel didn’t plan on using it, but Negan sees that as a smart play.  The two then wait it out in the darkness.  At some point, Negan calls Rick an asshole, but accepts that he is as well.  However, he notes that Rick will get people killed.  Negan killed Glenn and Abraham, but Rick got them killed.  There’s a difference.

Negan then notes how Gabriel went for Gregory, but wonders why he would even save him. Gabriel says that he fears a fruitless death, but Gregory has already shown his true colors.  Still, Gabriel knows there’s a reason he did what he did: to take Negan’s confession.  At least offer to take him out to dinner first, Gabriel.

Back on the road, Rick and Daryl confront the downed Savior, who tells them that the Kingdom warriors are all dead.  He soon dies just as Rick goes to stab him in the head.

Negan and Gabriel continue to wait it out in the trailer.  Negan worries for his Saviors and asks why Gabriel became a priest.  The answer is that Gabriel loves God and people.  He wanted to bring the two together and help people through their weaknesses.  Negan likes to help in the same way- he’s done so his entire life.

People will start dying because he’s not there to stop it.  The walls begin to creak as Negan starts whistling that very familiar Savior whistle.

Inside, the Savior lieutenants still wait for Negan.  Regina wants to send out the fence crew, but Eugene believes those numbers.  Regina, though, wants to use the workers as a distraction so others can get out to warn the outposts.  Eugene, again, points out that supplies are low and the odds are slim, so Regina suggests putting Eugene on the front lines instead.

Dwight agrees, though.  The workers have the numbers.  Gareth reminds everyone that the others have snipers around the building.  He wants to focus on what’s happening now: there’s a rat in their ranks, and their actions could kill plenty of people.  Dwight tells Simon that they have to get out.  If Simon can’t lead the Saviors, then Dwight will.

Simon gets in Dwight’s face and admires his bravado and promises that they will find the mole, who will soon be killed when found.

Later, Eugene meets Dwight to thank him for his help.  In a show of appreciation, Eugene has brought a jar of pickles.  Before Eugene can mess with Dwight’s figurines, he tells Eugene to stop, as the paint is still wet, so Eugene is left with red hands.  And yes, Dwight did these himself.  Eugene gets the pickle that Dwight is in, but again, Dwight tells Eugene that he was right.

Negan explains to Gabriel that he helped kids in the past.  You have to show them the way.  Adults needed help as well, as people are weak.  Every single one of them in Negan’s eyes. Gabriel calls Negan weak for killing the innocent, but Gabriel says that he’s not weak for doing that.  The walkers begin to break through the walls.  Negan then says that he’s a bit weak, but also strong.

You use your weakness as a way to drive your strength.  He took the Sanctuary when it was a free for all run by gangs.  The last guy in charge allowed people to be weak, but Negan makes them strong.  And Negan plans to make Gabriel his special project to find out his purpose. But Gabriel believes that he’s strong, as he’s killed.

He admits that he was at the satellite outpost when Saviors were killed in their sleep.  He then asks again how Negan is weak.  After all, with walkers coming in, Gabriel feels that Negan would want to confess before he dies.  It costs nothing more than saying the truth aloud.  Negan, though, says that he didn’t kill anyone who didn’t deserve it.  He doesn’t have slaves- it’s all a matter of economics.

Gabriel then brings up Negan’s wives, women pressured into marrying him.  Negan, though, says that the women made a choice.  Gabriel then asks if Negan ever had a wife before all of this.  As Negan asks Lucille for strength, Gabriel takes this as an opportunity to snatch the gun and flee into another room.

Meanwhile, Daryl and Rick head down to the fallen van- as gas now leaks out of it- to pull out the ammunition.  They stash all the explosives they can and Daryl decides that he wants to blow open the Sanctuary gates and let the walkers stream in, thus making the Saviors surrender. However, Rick is concerned about the workers and families, so Daryl opts focus on a side of the building not occupied by workers.

But Rick doesn’t want that kind of approach, as workers could still get caught in the crossfires.  He puts his foot down, but Daryl isn’t sticking to this plan.  People are dead and things change. He puts the deaths on Negan, but then a fight breaks out.  Rick throws the explosives towards the still leaking van, which catches fire and soon explodes.  Well, now nobody’s happy.  Look what you two did…

At the same time, the power goes out at the Sanctuary as Eugene is in the middle of playing a video game.

Rick and Daryl later still debate how to execute their plan.  They still have to win, sure, but they decide to go their separate ways.  Daryl rides off while Rick heads on foot.

Back at the Sanctuary, Negan tells Gabriel that if they make it inside together, they can win.  Negan doesn’t want to kill Gabriel, just work with him.  However, Gabriel admits that killing isn’t his greatest sin- it was locking his congregation doors and cowering while the churchgoers died.  Each day, he works to lessen that failure and be of purpose.  And now Gabriel offers Negan penance and absolution.

Working together is the only true way to a bright future.  He will do this for Negan, but only if he confesses.  Negan calls Gabriel a coward for what he did, but hey, this is a confession.  He admits he did have a first wife before all of this, but he lied and screwed around with her.  When she died, it was during the outbreak.  But Negan didn’t have it in him to put her down.

And that is how Negan was weak.  Maybe the two of them die here.  And then Gabriel opens the door and offers Negan his gun, but Negan punches him instead, telling him he can keep the gun.  Negan begins going through the walker’s guts and the two start lathering themselves in the shit.  They start making noise and allow the walkers to stream in, not even noticing the two humans in their midst.

They make their way through the crowd, but once Gabriel trips, the gig is up and two begin fighting for their lives through the herd.

Back inside, Gareth tells the other Saviors that he’s missed a delivery and outposts are being hit, figuring that Rick has caused something.  In enters Laura to tell them that the workers are getting antsy.  Simon tells the crowd that they’re conserving supplies and Dwight assures them they’re going to work through this.

The workers become nasty, as they need water and supplies, but Gareth orders everyone back to the factory floor.  Finally, someone asks if Negan is dead.  Simon still tells them to get to the floor.  Finally, Regina kills a worker, telling them that she is Negan.

And then they hear the familiar whistle and drop to their knees as Negan enters with Gabriel at his side.  He tells his followers that he is indeed alive- after all, he is Negan.  He wears a leather jacket, he has Lucille and his nutsack is made of steel, so he’s not dying until he’s ready.  Good to know.  However, once he’s done refreshing himself, he wants to talk to his right hand man to figure out how the hell all of this happened.

And after that, they’ll do what they’ve always done: save people.  Gabriel watches as the people go as far as thanking God for Negan, who informs the preacher that this is why he’s here.  He then orders some Saviors to take Gabriel to a cell.

So the Saviors tell Negan that the guns captured are theirs.  Simon’s plan is to find when the munitions went missing.  Eugene and Dwight share an exchange.

Out in…somewhere, Rick is still traveling on foot when he looks up and spots a helicopter pass overhead.  Yeah, he’s definitely been out in the sun too long.

Negan confronts Eugene and says that if he solves this scenario, there will be a reward for him.  But even if he doesn’t, Negan promises Eugene a quick death so he doesn’t have to see what happens once food and water run dry at the Sanctuary.

Following this, Eugene comes to Gabriel’s holding room and rolls out the welcome wagon with some supplies that should provide some comfort.  When Eugene gets no response, he opens Gabriel’s cell and finds Gabriel overheating in his cell.  Eugene offers to get help, but Gabriel’s priority is getting Carson out of the Sanctuary.

We spend so much time with the survivors since they’re the characters we follow, but one thing I’ve always enjoyed on The Walking Dead is spending time with the antagonists, whether that’s the Governor or, in this case, spending more time with the Saviors.

Sure, we’ve gone into the Sanctuary before both with “The Cell” and “Sing Me a Song,” but a lot of that dealt mostly with Negan and Dwight, and seeing the Sanctuary through the perspectives of Daryl and Carl.  Here, we see more of the inner workings and deliberations among the top lieutenants and learn that while they’re closer to Negan than others, they’re not all on one accord.

They aren’t coming to blows, but it’s interesting to see that they don’t just agree with one another.  The stakes are much higher because of Negan vanishing, the Sanctuary being overrun with walkers, and now the workers are becoming antsy due to lack of food and now the power is out.  It’s a great way to add some depth to the Saviors and make them more than just the show’s antagonists.

Sure, the leaders and people on the frontlines are, like the survivors, killers, but as Negan points out, they do it to save and provide for others.  That’s not an excuse or justification for suggestions like Negan wanting to line up his victims and murder them to make an example, but it’s not just wanton violence.  Plus, I enjoyed seeing the conversation that took place just as Rick and the others arrived at the Sanctuary.

What I hope we don’t see is the Saviors just pointing fingers at one another and them dividing themselves.  They should be smarter than that.  While they know of a mole in their ranks, it would be too easy for them to tear themselves apart, but I get the feeling that, based on Eugene’s time with the survivors, they could suspect him.

At the same time, we see that Eugene and Dwight have a sort of partnership going on, and Eugene seems suspicious of Dwight because he sees the paint on his finger matching the paint on the bag, so someone may know that Dwight is playing both sides.

While I assumed that Negan would open up to Gabriel, I did not expect the show to dig into his backstory as soon as it did.  Between the “Here’s Negan” storyline and a conversation Negan has with Rick in the comics, we’ve only just recently dug into Negan’s past.  Touching upon Negan’s wife, helping kids, and helping people through their weaknesses, that’s all from “Here’s Negan.”

So to have elements of that early and with a different person was a surprise, but welcome because this still adds some depth to Negan’s character and makes him more than just the big bad of the show.  He’s a man who is looking out for the little guy and will go to any extremes to make sure his followers are strong.  It adds dimension to Negan and, I feel, is a taste of what’s to come when we see more of his past.

It felt like a matter of time before Rick and Daryl would come to blows, but I get Daryl going to such extremes.  They’re in a war, and now that they’ve learned about the Kingdom’s downfall, he’s willing to go even further to dish out some revenge to the Saviors.  But like any war, innocent people could be caught in the crossfires, and that’s not what Rick wants.

Now sure, Rick probably knows that he can’t save everyone.  Nor do I think he’s trying to do that, but in total war, he’d prefer not killing people who don’t deserve it.  We saw the concern on his face when Daryl shot the Savior who gave them information, but now that Daryl is talking about blowing up the Sanctuary, even with innocent people inside, Rick puts his foot down.

I wish the fight would’ve lasted longer, but right now, the two part ways with Rick headed to talk with the junkyard crew.  Maybe he’s got so much pent-up aggression that he’s decided to take up Jadis on her offer to lay with him.

“The Big Scary U” was a great, claustrophobic episode that let us spend more time with the Saviors as their situation grew dimmer with each passing second.  It showed us more how the hierarchy works here, their increasing desperation, and driving need to weed out the mole among them.  Getting Negan’s backstory was a welcome treat and tease of what’s to come down the line.

 

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