‘The Walking Dead’ recap (‘The Big Scary U’): season 8 episode 5

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter, Austin Amelio as Dwigh – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Posted Sunday, November 19, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

“I like killing people. I say it’s about killing the right people. You kill the right people at the right time. And everything falls into place. Everybody’s happy.” – Negan to Gregory

Negan is obsessed with his nether parts. He brings them up constantly. In this episode, various synonyms of the word penis come out of his mouth because that makes him sound… smart? Or simply a Beavis & Butthead lover all grown up?

Well, the murderous dictator is a self-described a**hole. So it all makes sense there.

But in a weird way, he sees people as a resource and power in numbers. That’s how he has been able to amass a passable empire, at least in this corner of Virginia. He converted Eugene to the Saviors by making him feel wanted. He tried to convert Carl, Daryl and Sasha. He failed on those fronts. A 25 percent conversion rate is okay in baseball, maybe not so good in the apocalypse. Now he’s trying No. 5 with Gabriel.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

He’s trapped in a trailer with creepy dude Gabriel, who stupidly attempted to save Gregory and got left behind instead because Gregory is that guy. And Negan, instead of just killing said creepy dude, decides to spend a lot of this episode conversing with him. Ultimately, despite Gabriel’s valiant attempt and failure to kill Negan, Negan later convinces Gabriel to help him escape. How? He “confessed” to not killing his first and only real wife when he needed to after the zombie apocalypse had begun. (Gabriel, in the meantime, talks about trying to spend each day to redeem himself for letting his flock perish, that he wants to die with a purpose, not pointlessly.)

While Negan is inside the trailer, his secondary leaders try to figure out upstairs what to do without him. The void in leadership is obvious but who might fill the void if Negan is gone for good? They are already battling for top dog.

But like in an episode of “24,” it’s also time to find the mole. We know it’s Dwight. The Saviors realize someone internally has been feeding intel to Rick, allowing his crew to choke off the Saviors’ outposts. Gavin and Regina are especially incensed. Dwight tries deflection by focusing on trying to fix the current dilemma before the workers rebel. There is a legitimate worry that the workers could lturn on them, it could go bad quickly and they need the workers for food and laundry and such.

Eugene throws water on Regina’s plan to use workers to fight off the walkers while a band of Savior soldiers escape. Dwight agrees and Eugene later thanks him for the support since Eugene would be the most obvious mole given his prior allegiance to Rick.

Right now, the Sanctuary are not able to get supplies because of the walkers surrounding the grounds. They are rather quickly starting to run low on water and will eventually fall short on food as well. (They don’t appear to have much in the way of farmland.) Plus, they stopped electricity to save fuel and it’s super hot.

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Negan and Gabriel use the “zombie goop on myself” way of trying to trick the walkers from seeing them. (See Rick and Glenn, season one, or Rick and Jessie & her family season six.) For a time, it works. But then Gabriel trips and for some reason, that triggers the walkers to attack them. The rules on this show are that arbitrary. They do make it inside in the end.

At this moment, some workers come upstairs to complain about the heat and lack of water. The Saviors’ soldiers’ jobs are to protect the workers and in exchange they are kept as slaves, safe from walkers. When they get too uppity, Regina shoots one, just in time for Negan to arrive.

“A lot of you fine folks thought I was dead,” Negan declared, zombie goop all over his leather jacket. “Chewed up, never to be crapped on again. Well, here’s a little refresher on who the hell I am. I wear leather, I have Lucille and my nut sack is made of steel. [Yup, nether region reference again!] I am not dying until I am damn good and ready!”

Jayson Warner Smith as Gavin, Austin Amelio as Dwight, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

He cleans up and sends Eugene to prison. With his managers back in the meeting room, an angry Negan said he wants to root out the mole and get things back in order. Eugene, who had accidentally touched some paint on a chess piece Dwight had been working on earlier, looks at paint on his finger and the paint on a bag Gabriel had carried and figured out that Dwight is the mole. Will he rat Dwight out?

He has an opportunity in front of Negan right after the meeting but chooses to stay mum. Negan says if Eugene can figure out how to solve this, he will be duly rewarded. If he fails, Negan will kill him quickly so it’s not even worse when the workers rebel and the Sanctuary falls apart.

At the end, Eugene gives Gabriel some welcome gifts in his prison cell but Gabriel appears deathly ill. Is he overheating? Did he get bit and we missed it? Why is he telling Eugene to get Dr. Carson back to the Hilltop? Is he hallucinating?

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

***

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Meanwhile, Rick and Daryl are having a difference of opinion after the remaining Savior survivor from the chemical plant tells them all the soldiers is dead from the Kingdom.

We know that’s not true. Carol, King Ezekiel and Jerry made it back. But Rick and Daryl believe the Savior before he croaks.

Daryl takes some TNT from the truck and plans to blow a hole in the Sanctuary to let the horde of walkers in. He thinks Negan will have no choice but to surrender. But stupidly noble Rick is worried the worker slaves might perish as collateral damage. Daryl doesn’t care and thinks most will survive anyway.

To stop Daryl, Rick decides to fight him (think Jesus and Morgan two episodes ago). Punches are thrown. A bloody cut appears on Rick for the umpteenth time above his left eye that will be fine in a couple of days. Daryl even gets Rick in a choke hold after Rick throws the bag of TNT away from Daryl onto the truck. The truck blows up. The two stop fighting, staring at the explosion and realize Daryl’s plan is now officially over.

They split off like a peeved married couple. Daryl goes to Alexandria, presumably. I’m not sure what his next move is. Rick goes to re-negotiate with the Scavengers,as shown in the trailer for next Sunday. On his way, Rick sees a helicopter that doesn’t seem to be Negan’s. He has never mentioned he has such equipment. What’s going on? Who’s is it?

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Xander Berkeley as Gregory, Steven Ogg as Simon – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Earlier, we see Simon supporting Gregory after Gregory showed up to warn them about a pending rebellion. Unfortunately, he was a little late to the game and Negan sees right through Gregory’s efforts to negotiate, saying he is trying to play it both ways and then makes penis references again. Gregory promises that he could convince his Hilltop people to support him and the Saviors and not Maggie. Negan isn’t so sure but he decides to give him a chance. We know how that turns out.

Overall. this episode was heavy on exposition, the lightest on combat this season. There are some interesting twists, including Daryl and Rick comically fighting each other and Negan’s minions jockeying for power. It was nice to learn a bit about Negan’s background but it doesn’t really make him any more sympathetic even if he did work with kids before the apocalypse. He justifies his leadership style as a way to force people to focus on their “strengths” as a way to deal with weaknesses and to ensure compliance and stability. Or something like that. He’s more Johnny than Daniel if you want a “Karate Kid” reference.

Grade: B

 


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