Welcome to this week’s edition of Dead Stuff ‘n’ Thangs, in which I write about my thoughts on the latest episode of The Walking Dead. I love the show so there won’t be any “the show isn’t as great as it used to be’ nonsense here, but I will be nitpicking when something stupid (in my opinion) happens. Let’s get started!
Season 8, Episode 5: “The Big Scary U”
Airdate: November 19th, 2017
After making viewers wait for what felt like a freakin’ eternity, The Walking Dead finally returns to the Savior compound. Flashbacks allow us to see the meeting (referenced in episode one) Negan and his lieutenants had with Gregory. In the present, the lieutenants are trapped inside the walker-surrounded sanctuary trying to decide on a plan of action that won’t result in the workers—who outnumber the small group of henchmen—rebelling and rising up against them. Meanwhile, Rick and Daryl find themselves at odds over how to proceed now that they are in possession of Negan’s valuable weapons stash. Most importantly, we finally get to see what happens between Negan and Gabriel, stuck inside a trailer surrounded by walkers.
“I’m Here to Take Your Confession…”
Being left in suspense about exciting (or frightening) events makes for delicious anticipation, and is part of the fun of watching a series. But come on… FOUR WEEKS of waiting to see what happened between Gabriel and Negan is some serious overkill and turns the anticipation into irritated frustration. Gabriel finding himself trapped with Negan wasn’t a season-ending cliffhanger of the “Who Shot J.R.” variety, it happened in the first freaking episode of the season! Not cool, Scott Gimple… not cool.
Negan tells Gabriel he’s concerned that the Saviors, assuming he’s dead, will be lost without his leadership and things will fall apart. (He’s right, because that’s exactly what happens.) He talks a lot about strength and weakness, and his conviction that he saves people (“Kill one to save hundreds”). Gabriel tells Negan he is there for a reason—to hear his confession—and seems to be getting to Negan when he mentions the way he treats his many wives. As they talked, we learn that Negan worked with kids, and his first wife—his only real wife, as he described her—was named Lucille. He admitted being a lying, cheating husband but said his weakness was that she died, turned, and he wasn’t able to put her down. (Looks like he and Morgan have something in common!) Gabriel tells him he is forgiven, and Negan thanks him—after punching him in the face. (And yes, I did laugh when it happened. It’s really hard to hate Negan when he keeps saying/doing things that make me laugh.) After covering themselves with walker guts and gore, they work together to get inside the sanctuary.
A Traitor In Their Midst
Negan is presumed dead, the workers are getting restless, and the lieutenants have a serious problem: someone is giving Rick inside information and aiding the enemy. All eyes on Eugene, but Dwight—the real traitor—diverts attention to their immediate problem: the possible rebellion of the workers, who greatly outnumber them. Eugene visits Dwight’s room later, thanking him for having his back with a gift of a large jar of pickles. (The pickle gag never fails to make me laugh!) While he’s there, he notices the carved chess set Dwight made, and picks up one of the freshly-painted pieces, getting a smudge of red paint on his thumb.
The worker rebellion begins, and one of them is shot after raising a gun to the lieutenants. Any further action is quickly quelled by the return of Negan (accompanied by Gabriel), announcing his presence with his signature whistle. It really surprised me to hear one of the workers calling out “Thank God for you, Negan!” My impression of the workers was one of enforced servitude and cruelty from the more-favored members of Negan’s group, so to hear someone who was clearly grateful to see Negan alive and well shocked me. I expected a fearful reaction from the workers, but my perception was that more fear was shown from the lieutenants.
A bag of weapons that was given to the workers is discovered, and Eugene notices a familiar smudge of red. He says nothing, but takes a hard look at Dwight. It’s clear that he’s worked out Dwight is responsible for stealing the weapons, at least, so why has he chosen to stay silent about it? Ratting out Dwight would solidify his position with Negan and the Saviors (who already suspect him of being the traitor), and Eugene has always done what was in his own best interests, for the most part. I have two theories about this.
- Eugene is worried about his role in Sasha’s suicide, and is hanging onto this information about Dwight as his ace in the hole, should Negan ever find out about the pills he made. I’m not sure how this would help him if such a situation should occur, but if anyone could work out a way for it to turn in his favor, it’s Eugene.
- Eugene has done the math and realized the Savior’s will ultimately lose the war. He’s looking for a way out, and his discovery of Dwight’s betrayal is his golden ticket to get the hell outta Dodge while he still can and rejoin his former group.
I’m hoping for option number two, even though I realize how unlikely it is that Eugene would ever be welcomed back into the fold at Alexandria. How could Rick ever trust him again? Still, I can’t help but wish Eugene will do something to redeem himself in the eyes of his former friends.
“Choke Hold’s Illegal, Asshole”
Rick and Daryl have successfully halted the transport of weapons back to the Savior compound. They question the dying Savior and learned about the defeat of Ezekiel’s group at the chemical plant outpost, and decide they have lost the Kingdom as an ally. When they search the wrecked truck to recover their new weapons, Daryl discovers a bag of dynamite, and wants to use it to allow walkers access to the Saviors compound. Rick disagrees, reminding Daryl there are innocent workers inside with families who would die as a result, telling him flat-out: “We aren’t doing this.” Daryl gives him a disgusted look, and replies, “No. You aren’t doing this.” He walks away to carry out his plan, alone. Rick slips on his ‘I’m gonna kick your ass’ face and grabs Daryl, who promptly throws a punch, and the fight is on. It’s all for nothing, however, when Rick tosses the bag onto the truck and BOOM goes the dynamite, destroying all the weapons. The looks on their faces are priceless!
I’ve seen a few comments here and there, saying it didn’t make sense for Rick and Daryl to fight. Really? I think it made perfect sense for them to get into a fight. They’ve become brothers since they met, and they’ve been to hell and back together. Except for the time that Daryl was held captive by Negan. We know what Daryl went through, but Rick doesn’t. His ordeal there (not to mention the deaths of Denise, Abraham, and Glenn) is why Daryl is hell-bent on revenge, no matter the cost. Rick is equally dead-set on taking them out, but draws the line at killing innocent people—which I’m sure has a lot to do with the regret his feels over killing baby Gracie’s father in episode two. Each has drawn a line in the sand, they aren’t budging in how they feel about it, and they’re frustrated that the other won’t agree to do it their way. The only thing they could do is fight it out, despite the fact that it wasn’t going to solve a damn thing, and it was a waste of precious time.
I believe Rick was right in stopping Daryl. Despite his determination to do it, eventually Daryl would have been tortured inside, knowing his actions killed innocent people, perhaps even children. His heart isn’t cold enough to do something like that without feeling like a monster afterwards, and Rick saved him from the pain of that. I also think Rick tried to diffuse the tension afterwards with a little humor when he said: “Choke hold’s illegal, asshole.” (Not to mention, a nice little nod to the season one episode “Tell It to the Frogs” where Daryl made the same comment to Shane.) Unfortunately, Daryl isn’t amused.
Will this be a temporary rift that heals? Or will Daryl hold a grudge that leads to even greater tension and dissent between the two men? I can’t wait to find out!
Everyone Sees Through Gregory’s BS
Show of hands: who enjoyed watching Gregory squirm when he talked to Simon and (later) Negan?
Someone really needs to tell him that everyone is totally onto him. They all know he’s a self-serving little weasel. I think he’s a source of amusement for Simon at this point. He seems to enjoy letting Gregory spin his wheels and attempt to assert him as a leader before seizing moments to bust his chops about something. And I’m still dying to see how the people at the Hilltop treat him after everything that’s happened.
I have to give kudos to Xander Berkeley. He is doing an excellent job in his role as Gregory!
Gabriel Is Looking Pretty Rough
Gabe isn’t looking good. Is he simply ill, or was he bitten or scratched by a walker as he and Negan made their way into the sanctuary? More importantly, are we going to have to wait another FOUR WEEKS to find out? (OK, that last bit was snarky.)
There was a time I would have liked nothing more than to see the end of Father Gabriel, but he’s become a valuable member of the group. I’m really hoping he wasn’t bitten/scratched, but that fever doesn’t seem to bode well. Whatever the matter is, Gabriel clearly isn’t done fighting. He wants to get Dr. Carson back to the Hilltop, for Maggie. But how will he do it? Despite what I said earlier about my hopes for Eugene, I really don’t see him agreeing to do such a thing. Is it possible that he would talk to Dwight, letting him know he knows he’s the mole, and suggesting he help Gabriel and the doctor escape to the Hilltop? I don’t know, but it would be awesome if he did do that, wouldn’t it?
When the hell are we going to see Michonne, Carl, and the others back at Alexandria again? What have they been doing all this time? Are they part of the plan we keep hearing nothing about? Or are they just sitting at home, watching the grass grow?
That’s a wrap on the latest edition of Dead Stuff ‘n’ Thangs. Stay tuned for the next edition to see my opinions on episode six, “The King, The Widow, and Rick”… coming later this week.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts about this episode with me by leaving a comment!