Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Walking Dead 08x05 The Big Scary U

Photo Credit: AMC
While the communities have been dealing with tragedy during their invasion of the Sanctuary, a few of the apocalypse's biggest enemies and worst traitors have been sitting pretty, or as pretty as it can get when they're backed into a corner. Father Gabriel was left trapped with Negan, while Simon, Dwight, and Eugene begin to suspect each other and other Saviors of betraying their leader. It's time for another recap of The Walking Dead's latest episode!

Below includes spoilers of the show and comic book. You've been warned, but hope you enjoy!

After the all-out war was initiated by the communities four episodes ago, the story dropped off one intriguing piece of the puzzle: Father Gabriel was locked in a shed with Negan. Hounded by the ghosts of his past when Gabriel locked his flock out of his church and let them be eaten by walkers, the undead surrounded the joint, banging on the windows and walls. Leaving the two in a confessional pickle, we finally discovered how the Sanctuary slowly crumbles without its leader.

So much time has passed, one has to ask themselves if it matters to the audience what Negan's backstory is, especially if they haven't been spoiled already by the comic books' big reveal. His history with Lucille, and how he has the workers wrapped under their fingers, seems to matter more to the story. Only if the plot's trajectory gets more interesting from here, will it matter more to the fans. One thing is for sure Negan can be interesting when everything works in his favor.


The Damn Paint

The Big Scary U revealed that not everyone is as big and scary as we presumed them to be. While Negan and Gabriel toying with each other's intentions, some of his Saviors were in crisis management mode. As Alexandria, The Hilltop Colony and the Kingdom slowly cut off the sanctuary from food and fuel, Simon, Eugene, Regina, and Dwight had the actual displeased Saviors to contend with.

In the beginning, the episode played a little bit with time, as expected it would to take us back to the day of the big war starting. Negan, along with his minions at the head table, listened to Gregory's appeal about the fight the other communities are bringing to his doorstep. Playing out similarly to Spencer selling out Rick, Gregory was suspected of playing both sides, as a thin-skinned politician just looking out for his own neck with no allegiance whatsoever. As the episode moved along, we rapidly saw how people turn on each other, who thinks they can take the lead if Negan is killed, and the scary loyalty his followers cling to.

The second-third-fourth in commands began wondering who ratted on the Sanctuary to be attacked. Even though Dwight tried to save face by doing anything to strengthen his loyalty to Negan, the risk of double-crossing him sits squarely on his shoulders.

The others are naturally suspecting Eugene since he was once apart of Team Family, however, as sly as ever, Eugene slowly pieced the true traitor by quickly visiting Dwight's guest room and playing with the wet painted soldiers used to send messages to Daryl. If trying to live a better life, one that he should have led with Sherry isn't enough to hold his resolve and keep to helping the other communities, Simon's threats of mercilessly killing the culprit in front of everyone might be enough. Will Eugene do with this information he learned and how long can Dwight hold him off?


It's Not Easy Being Me

While this side story fit in nicely with the episode, The Big Scary U's most important centerpiece was Negan and Gabriel in the shed, locked together to figure out what to do next. While the tensions were high, one might've easily assumed that Negan would kill Gabriel, but as we learned, people are the foundation of what Negan is trying to build; it's not that he doesn't like killing people, but he has to kill the right person at the right time so everything falls into place. Even going so far as to believe and say that killing one person saves hundreds more. 

Spending some quality together, Gabriel easily showed his purpose for this moment, to get a confession from Negan. Slyly we learned from this a little bit of his backstory, possibly downplaying the rumors that we could get a full season or spin-off that centered strictly on Negan's past. Essentially, and as covert as possible, we learned that he was a high school teacher, cheating on his wife who was sick before the apocalypse and was too weak to take her out afterwards. He with a few others took the place from a gang of animals beforehand, and brought the community altogether. When pressed about the people he treats as slave, Negan countered that no one has ever gone weak or hungry; and that the women he has as wives now had a choice in their survival.

Above all else, Negan is successful at convincing others its in their best interests to side with him. Negan knows, appropriately or not, that people are the best resource in this world now. And, in order to keep the machine going, you have to keep the cogs in the machine happy. Once he disappeared temporarily with Gabriel, and everyone suspected he was dead, the workers began revolting against the his second-third-fourths in command. Negan promised: If they work, they're taken care of, no questions asked. But for such a big operation, it's surprising that nobody is actually in charge once Negan is gone. Having all identified as Negan, creating a unified identity to do what he says and follow his rules, it's astounding that there is actually no back-up for when all hell breaks loose; everyone assumes command and nobody is on the same page except to keep the workers in the dark.

The dissolve between the workers also proved another point: our side might be completely over their heads. It's one thing to spark the revolution against Negan. We've already begun to question what the leaders should do with the Saviors that surrender (kill or show mercy), we're now beginning to question what to do with the workers. As Negan pointed out, lives are the most important commodity and slipping up to the point that they are pitted against the soldiers or start a revolt of their own could work monstrously in favor or against Rick.

In the same way that Ezekiel puts on a performance for this followers, Negan is doing the same with his own Saviors. Even though everyone assumed Negan was dead, but he came into the Sanctuary swinging his ego again: "Here's a little refresher, I have a leather jacket, lucille, and a nustack made of steel. I'll go when I'm damn good and ready." His method might not be committing to a performance art work like the King, but the way he is always centerstage with his followers and creates an invincibility that he can't be defeated unless he says so follows the same lines. Especially since everyone started to bow when he started whistling. (And guess what, Gabriel bowed along with them?!).


They Don't Deserve Her 

One side storyline included Rick and Daryl deciding what to do with the Savior they knocked off the road to get his guns and dynamite. Hilariously, as the Savior told them that all of their friends at the chemical plant are dead, they didn't take two seconds to consider how much Carol has survived and saved their asses by putting her neck on the line. Of course, the war against people and walkers can take anyone at any time, but the fact that they so easily believed this jerk's word versus having faith in their own is completely condescending to the relationships they've developed over the past six years - both as characters in their own right, and the writing.

With the news that Carol and the Kingdomers might be dead, Daryl left the Savior to die and turn into a walker (a nice throwback to the relationships characters have had with putting their friends down before they turn into walkers or gruesomely letting them turn), but Rick stabbed him in the head anyways. While Daryl became even more deadset to end this massacre by sundown, Rick voiced his opposition for the workers and the families that might become casualties. They quickly broke out into a bromance brawl before the very dynamite Daryl wanted to use, Rick tossed into the flaming car and it was destroyed. They have a plan they've got to stick to, but in time as always, we'll see how it all plays out. What we know for sure is that nobody deserves Carol.


Same Day, Different Season

The Walking Dead might think its ahead of the game, praising itself (in commercials mostly) for calling back to how the show used to be, but it wouldn't take an expert to realize that the formula is virtually the same as season six and seven. Dividing the all-out war between different sets of characters, the first several episodes have taken place over one day's events, trying to make us forget that the story hasn't moved that far along. Even though the dialogue was atrocious, and I'd love to know how much was lifted by the actual comic books, The Big Scary U offered something a little different for its antagonist so far by toning down Negan's cartoonish nature, but also making him more intimidating, and showing the master behind the curtains and his puppets losing their resolve.

One of the more surprising elements was that Jeffrey Dean Morgan wasn't tilting like a tree in hurricane weather during his monologues and playing an over-the-top caricature of the villain we've supposed to be terrified and charmed by this whole time. While Sean Gillam has only grown in his role from a mousy priest to a traitor, and finally, kick-ass ally to Alexandria, Gabriel was allowed to exorcise some of his past and make himself a bit useful by getting under Negan's skin. It only took a whole season for the writing to realize that maybe they're better off letting Negan extol intimidation tactics in smaller scenes rather than repetitive monologues comparing everyone's ego to their manhood.

There's no driving mystery or end-point in mind right now except to see who wins the war by holding onto their humanity or not. We can only suspect in time who might turn on each other more to save themselves, and how winning the loyalty of other survivors are the most important play right now. Mixing action and some character development, we're still peddling ahead to a mid-season finale there is going to be colossal death; one that might shake Rick to his core.


Additional Thoughts

  • Andrew Lincoln is lookin absolutely INCREDIBLE this season.
  • Gabriel and Negan shared a lot of great moments together. "You're forgiven." *Negan punches him*
  • Negan and Gabriel cutting up the walkers and putting the guts on themselves: "Has anyone ever gotten sick from this?" The sheer 'lets get this over with' movements JDM made.
  • "What I fear is a fruitless death."
  • "I think I'm here to take your confession."
  • Props to the writers throwing in a season one line between Rick and Daryl: "Chokehold's illegal."
  • Daryl has always struggled with bottling his emotions and keeping them at bay. But it's purely ridiculous how easy he and Rick are to believe CAROL IS DEAD.

  • Was Gabriel sick at the end of this episode? Or do you think he's on nerves overload from being stuck in a shed with their biggest enemy? I didn't see him get bit.....
  • Rick saw a helicopter?!

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