The Walking Dead – The Big Scary U
By: Kelly Kearney
In the episode Big Scary U, we finally get the back story on Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) pre-apocalypse while Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) duke it out over the right way to handle the remaining saviors. The episode was brilliantly woven together with flashbacks and current dramas that propelled the story forward and answered one big question – where have these characters been and in what direction are they headed?
Before the Ambush
We open on a sweaty and nervous Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) praying in a church for his absolution. Cut to a flashback of Gregory (Xander Berkeley) waking up in the Sanctuary the morning before Rick and company ambushed the complex. Gregory asks Simon (Steven Ogg), “Why did you bring me here?” Of course, we already know why as Simon wanted to use Gregory to get information on Rick and stay one step ahead of his plans. Simon rewards Gregory with a delicious breakfast for turning on his own people to please Negan. The entire scene is a look at what the Saviors were doing while Rick and the crew were gearing up for the ultimate shoot out. The Saviors know Rick is planning something and Negan and his top advisers hold a meeting to discuss what to do with Rick, the widow and the man Negan refers to as “King Assface.” Before they can agree on a plan if action, Rick and his crew make themselves known and Negan heads outside annoyed about the interruption.
Flashforward to where we last saw Negan and Gabriel trapped inside the Sanctuary and bombarded with walkers banging on the doors. When the bat wielding prince of sarcasm and penis jokes said that Gabe was going to need a change of underwear after he was finished with him, he wasn’t joking as the two are tense and Gabe fears for his life. From here the episode bounces around between flashbacks and the present to set up a story we already know how it ends. Nonetheless, we go back to the Sanctuary right after Rick’s attack. Simon, Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) are holding court about what to do. They assume their leader is dead so Simon steps up as the man in charge.
Back to Negan and Gabriel where the two have resigned themselves to the fact this might be their last day on earth. Gabriel admits he fears his death will have no meaning and offers Negan a chance to confess his sins before the two men meet their maker. Negan admits he has nothing to confess. Sure, he killed Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abe (Michael Cudlitz), but he says he didn’t get them killed – that was Rick. It’s a very hands-off approach to murder, but he explains that he kills a few to save the majority and anyone who meets Lucille died by their own actions not his. After many jokes about his manhood, Negan and Gabriel share stories about their pasts. Gabriel admits he’s sinned since he’s killed Saviors in their sleep and even left his own congregation to die in a fire, something that Negan respects. It’s not so much the murders Gabe committed, although Negan does brag that he loves murdering people. It’s the fact Gabe has been sullied by this societal collapse and that’s something Negan can relate to, especially when Gabe asks about Lucille. Negan takes a deep breath and utters her name and that’s when Gabe tries to take the gun the man stole from him earlier. The attempt to kill Negan fails and Gabe barricades himself behind a door that exits to another room. Through the door, Negan offers Gabe an olive branch and agrees to put all their difference aside if they work together to get out of their walker predicament. Gabe agrees if only Negan takes him up on his offer for confession. He agrees and this is the first time we see a human side of the sarcastic and lethal leader.
Following the book Here’s Negan, he talks about life with his wife, his one and only real wife Lucille. He admits he cheated on her and treated her poorly yet before the fall, she was riddled with disease. She died after everything went to Hell with the Walkers and Negan struggled with putting her down. It was a time, he says, where he was at his weakest. He goes on to admit that what made him weak only fueled his strength and turned him into who he is today, the protector or his people. Negan really sees himself as a Savior and Gabe starts to understand that Negan is more than a one-dimensional thug. He has layers and he’s witnessing the man peel them back and reveal what makes him tick. Gabe questions how a man can see himself as a Savior when he treats his workers like slaves and abuses the women of the community. He shrugs it off as a necessary evil to protect his people and while he may think that’s true it appears to be more like a hive protecting its Queen than a Queen saving her working bees. He goes on to compare his people to children that need to be told what to do to and claims it’s what they want.
The Workers Revolt
Back at the Sanctuary round table, the Saviors in charge are discussing what to do about the walkers surrounding the building. Regina (Traci Dinwiddie) thinks they should sacrifice their workers as Walker snacks to keep the horde busy as they make a run for it. Eugene disagrees and thinks they don’t have the man power to take down the horde should something go wrong. Eugene might be right, but the group knows they have a rat as someone left guns in a red paint covered back pack outside the gates and it helped Rick get the upper hand in the ambush. Since Eugene is new to the Sanctuary, they all start to suspect he’s their traitor, but Dwight steps in to defend the man and Eugene is so thankful that later he stops by his room with a jar of pickles. The two men get to talking and Eugene notices Dwight’s hobby of painting models. When he picks one up, he gets red paint on his hands – the same red paint that was found on the backpack. Regardless of what anyone thinks of Eugene, the man is smart and putting those clues together could be Dwight’s undoing. If Negan’s generals think Dwight is the rat he’s going to wish for another iron to the face because they will tear him to shreds.
Later, there’s a revolt at the Sanctuary when the workers try and take on the generals after the power goes out. Simon orders them back to work, but the workers stand down and demand food and water. Things go from bad to worse when one of the workers pulls out a gun and Regina shoots him dead. Luckily, the workers finally get their answer as to where Negan is when he makes his presence known by whistling behind the angry mob. Negan and Gabriel made it back to the Sanctuary by using an old walker favorite – zombie guts. After killing a walker outside the barricaded door, the two men lather themselves up with walker juice and hit the road. There were a few bumps along the way, like when Gabe was tackled by some walkers. But in the end the two made it back to the Sanctuary alive. While Negan restores order between his workers and generals, he has Gabe locked up in a cell.
After securing their prisoner, Negan and his generals have a meeting about what went wrong and how that worker was able to get his hands on a gun without alerting one of their superiors. They tell him about the bag they found and they all agree they have a rat. Negan pulls Eugene aside and threatens to kill him if “Mr. Smarty-pants” doesn’t figure out the identity of the traitor. Only, Eugene already has a good idea who that is but its unclear whether he will turn Dwight over to Negan.
After dodging Negan’s shade, Eugene goes to Gabriel to offer him a blanket and finds him feverish and looking close to death. It makes sense because Negan just got finished saying how he’s noticed people are becoming sick from just encountering the dead, almost like the walker disease is morphing or becoming stronger. Eugene panics and says Gabe needs to see their doctor, but he refuses and says they need to get that doctor to Hilltop to help Maggie through her pregnancy.
Rick vs. Daryl Showdown
With all the flashbacks, jumps forward and retelling of the same story we’ve spent a handful if episodes on, it’s only fitting the show ads some action. After Rick and Daryl forced the Saviors weapon filled jeep off the road they find the driver bleeding and on death’s door. He brags about slaughtering the entire Kingdom and Daryl, knowing his buddy Carol was among them, is livid. The Savior dies and Rick puts a blade through his brain while Daryl is ready to kill every remaining Savior. The Jeep not only has guns, but also explosives and Daryl is ready to burn what’s left of the Sanctuary to the ground. Rick doesn’t think the innocent workers should have to pay for their leader’s malevolent ways and the two men get into a brawl over their different tactics. Punches are thrown and the two men roll around until Daryl gets Rick in a chokehold that might have killed his friend if the Jeep hadn’t of caught on fire and exploded a few yards away. With the explosives and guns all gone, the two men have nothing else to do but joke about their ridiculous fight. “Chokeholds are illegal, asshole,” Rick says and Daryl smiles and responds with, “Uh-huh. Yes, they are.” Daryl heads back to the Hilltop on his bike, but Rick’s vehicle was damaged in the car chase and he’s got to make the journey back to the ASZ on foot. As he’s walking he hears and then sees a helicopter flying above him. Before he can even process what he’s seeing, he comes upon a compound where an armored guard who looks like one of Jadis’ (Pollyanna McIntosh) trash heap people whistles to alert his arrival.
Is this the final step to Rick’s plan to take down Negan? Can his plan even succeed if so many of his people are at odds with his motives? Will Eugene throw Dwight under the bus to save himself? Find out the answers to these questions and more in the next “The Walking Dead.”