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The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 5: “The Big Scary U”

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for this episode and previous episodes of The Walking Dead.

“The Big Scary U” does something different for The Walking Dead: it creates a three-dimensional character. This episode takes place during and after the raid on the Saviors’ home base, but this time from the Saviors’ point of view. The heads of the group struggle to find a solution without Negan while Gabriel and Negan bond in the trailer. What follows is an interesting and enlightening view of the other side of the war.

Image from "The Big Scary U"

Gregory wakes up to breakfast in bed courtesy of Simon, who rewards him for stepping up. Gregory is brought to the meeting Negan was in before he was so rudely interrupted by Rick. The meeting consists of standard Walking Dead fare as Gregory continues to be a flat joke of a character while being questioned about his current pull over the Hilltop. What happens next is a surprisingly deep twist on the character of Negan which evolves throughout the episode. When Simon suggests the murder of those who don’t follow the Saviors’ rule Negan slams his bat on the table. In fact, Negan slams Lucille down multiple times as he proclaims, “People are the foundation of what we are building here!”. This adds a new side of the story. Negan, who was once thought of as a ruthless killer, now shows that he is a leader who thinks ahead rather than in the moment.

After showing the Saviors’ side of the raid, the story catches up to show what happened to Gabriel. Negan quickly disarms Gabriel, but rather than maiming or killing him he instead gets up from him and holds out a hand. This entire scene shows a completely different side of the story, and a surprisingly deep one. Negan explains his own somewhat warped view on morality and leadership and even makes a convincing argument that although he does kill a few people in terrible ways, he doesn’t kill many people in their sleep (a la Rick). Gabriel gets a confession from Negan before getting up as Walkers come into the main building.

Image from "The Big Scary U"

Meanwhile, tensions between Rick and Daryl rise as the two have conflicting views as to what to do with the guns and dynamite retrieved from the truck. A little morality fatigue sets in here as the revenge-driven Daryl punches Rick. While the ethical decision to kill others based solely on who they associate with is admittedly interesting, having so many characters considering the same idea within such a short period of time wears thin. Before Rick gets deus ex machina’d yet again, he is put in an illegal chokehold which does a great job showing the contrast between the two characters’ morals. On a side note Norman Reedus (Daryl) struggles to keep his continuously croaky voice consistent, leading to some comically poorly recited lines.

The heads of the Saviors struggle without their leader. Conflicting views within the group cause discord as they attempt to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, the whole scene feels ham-fisted as the show attempts to show how strong of a leader Negan is. The group falls into shambles immediately which ultimately makes the Saviors look like a group of inept idiots who can’t even run their own lives, let alone an entire group.

No one in the room ends up looking like they should be the leader of anything at all as they bicker and fight. Simon comes off as a try-hard, Regina comes up with terrible ideas and perfects her stank face, Gavin doesn’t seem to care, and Eugene is Eugene. Dwight is the only competently written character in sight here as he gives sane comments and hides his traitorous secret. The workers soon flood the hall demanding water and air conditioning. Even when the crowd of workers talk they feel like extras, and it shows as they feel like the most nameless excuses for anything resembling characters in the show (and that’s saying something). The incompetent leaders fail to come up with anything that resembles a solution and someone from the crowd inexplicably pulls a gun and gets shot.

Image from "The Big Scary U"

Before anymore bullets can be fired, Negan saves the day as everyone in the hall bends a knee to their leader. Gabriel is sent to a cell to be dealt with later and Negan takes a shower. The group then discusses the future and Eugene is threatened with a swift death if he doesn’t solve the food and water crisis. As the episode ends, Eugene brings some comfort items to Gabriel’s cell only to find him incredibly sick and requesting for the doctor to tend to Maggie.

Overall this was an interesting take on the story. The new dimension of Negan does wonders for making the other side of the war worth caring about. Not all things work out, however. The Saviors’ attempt at leadership is laughably poor and the though the rift between Rick and Daryl sets up some interesting plotlines to come, it feels too predictable to be of too much interest.

Featured image from AMC

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