Show: The Walking Dead
Season: 8
Episode: 5 “The Big Scary U”
Network: AMC
Air Date: November 19, 2017
Summary: “With war raging all around him, we get a close look at Negan and the lives of the Saviors during the conflict through a familiar set of eyes.”

* This Review Contains Spoilers. There, you’ve been warned, proceed with caution. *


Last week, King Ezekiel—along with his troop of merry men—was devastated. Even poor Shiva was killed. And unfortunately, the episode wasn’t all that good. So, going into this week, hopes were high. Here’s what happened:

Immediately upon opening, we’re greeted by the sound of Father Gabriel’s voice as he prays for purpose and a fruitful death, and then, shortly after, we cut to Gregory…Prior to the chaos of the last few episodes, Gregory met with Negan and, well, Gregory tried to do what he always does, bullshit to save himself, and oddly enough, Negan gave him a chance. Negan makes an interesting point in (angrily) mentioning that people are the foundation of what he and the Saviors do. People are necessary to his operation, and without people—that he can scare the hell out of—Negan is nothing.

From there, we cut to now and find Negan and Gabriel locked in the trailer, surrounded by walkers, having a sort of heart to heart. Gabriel is convinced that it was fate that brought him and Negan together and that he, Gabriel is supposed to take Negan’s confession. Yeah, okay, this is going to take a while, isn’t it?

It is scenes like this one where actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan shines brightest. He gets Negan; he gets his motives and can justify his actions in ways that are believable. Morgan, as Negan, is authentic. Negan, as a fictional character, is often a voice of reason, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan convinces us, viewers, that what he’s saying is right. This, in turn, causes us to feel angst for agreeing with him, and thus, succeeds in making this show more interesting.

With Negan temporarily taken out of the picture, Simon and Dwight and Eugene try to come up with a plan to lead the remaining Saviors to safety. It appears as though Dwight is beginning to feel remorse for turning on the Saviors. It also appears as though Eugene is now seriously regretting his decision to join Negan, but one can never be too sure since Eugene is simply committed to surviving.

Eugene has caught on to Dwight’s deception, and, after examining his chess board, mentions Benedict Arnold and says that he is glad to have Dwight on his side. It’s obvious that the gears are turning and that Dwight is planning to jump ship, and before he does, somehow help Rick and company from the inside. This way, when the dust settles, Eugene will be able to say that he helped the cause in hopes of buying himself a ticket back into Rick’s group.

Back in the trailer, Gabriel strikes a nerve when he brings up Negan’s wife and ends up hiding after taking a shot at the big man with the bat.

We get to spend a little time with Rick and Daryl and watch them argue about what to do next. Rick has had a change of heart and doesn’t want to keep on killin’ just to kill. Daryl, on the other hand, wants to blow a hole in the Sanctuary and flood it with walkers. Here, you have to agree with Daryl—once this war is over there will be time to feel sorry for killing innocents, now is not the time to feel bad. Now that Rick’s gang has the upper hand, they have to go all in.

Most important here is that Rick and Daryl begin to fight, physically, and due to their scuffle, end up losing out on the high-explosives that they just discovered. This showcases that they’re only as strong as their bond and that once that bond is gone…bad things are going to happen.

Back to the trailer, Gabriel and Negan each confess to one another and they get on with trying to survive by working together. Smartly, they cover themselves with walker guts to increase their chances of survival. I still can’t believe that we don’t see this take place more often, as everytime this technique is employed, it is successful…except for this time, of course. The ol’ walker guts trick only buys Negan and Gabriel a few moments; then, all hell breaks loose and viewers are left holding their breath, rocking on the edge of their seats.

Despite what seems to be a cliffhanger ending, the show goes on and we’re shown that Negan and Gabriel were able to make it to safety. I think that this was a mistake, but I’m sure that some fans are happy to not have to wait until next week to find out what happened. For me, it’s just a missed opportunity.

The episode ends with Gabriel in bad bad shape, and Rick spotting a helicopter…

Overall, I was more pleased with Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance than I was with the episode as a whole. We’ve returned to the slower-than-we-like pacing of recent seasons, and I hope that that changes. Season 8 got off to a great start, but I fear that we’ve already seen the best of what this season has to offer. Only time will tell. See you next week…

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