Though perhaps not quite as good as the preceding episode, “The Big Scary U” does show enough promise to keep things rolling by mixing things up a bit, in what could almost be considered a group of bottle episode scenarios in a trailer, a Sanctuary board room, and one other major scene.
1. Gabriel’s Absolution
Gabriel’s arc this season seems to finally have its point answered. He isn’t looking to die anymore, but looking to die with meaning. This fact brings his rather stupid decision to save Gregory (which Negan even calls him out on) into perspective, as it paints him as passively suicidal and jus waiting for a “meaningful” death rather than just wanting to be killed in the first place.
Of course, this might all turn out to be moot, given the symptoms he’s showing in his holding cell are not unlike those of someone who has been bitten and is in danger from the fever. One possibility is that this came from the guts usage earlier in the episode, but it’s unclear.
2. Negan and Leadership
During his stay, Negan has appeared to be an almost Joker-like presence, gleefully killing anyone who doesn’t fit to his strict rules with a smile on his face. This episode shows that he is far more than that, and showcases how he truly is a dark mirror of Rick himself in many ways. His angry shouting at Simon and disgust with Gregory’s spineless uselessness both show that he has more concerns than his own “code” to satisfy his ego.
The dark mirror comes in with respect to how he “saves” people. Rather than just protect others, he helps them to figure out where they are strong, and strengthens those parts to help them to defend themselves. Or at least that’s what he tells himself. Is this true? Who knows?
He cares about people, or at least understands that it’s better to keep them alive than to kill them (and only to kill those who are useful to kill to keep others in line). In his words, he does like to kill, but it’s to kill the “right people in the wrongest way possible” to keep others in line. Also, much like Rick, he understands tactics, such as how using their ammunition on the “hillbilly armor” the alliance put together would only serve to waste their resources.
3. Two Men in a Cabin
In a scene adapted from another moment of Negan’s from the source, there is a minor, yet tangible amount of character revelations from Negan whilst he is trapped with Father Gabriel in the trailer.
While at first he denied having anything to confess, on the confession of Gabriel himself, Negan actually admitted to his own greatest sin, from his own perspective: his treatment of his first wife, the original Lucille, who he not only cheated on while she was sick, but also was “too weak” to finish off before she turned when she died of her sickness after the dead rose. He seems to be truly broken up about this, and actually considers himself to be “weak” in that regard as a result, trying to build himself up otherwise in order to make up for his own weakness. In a way, this isn’t really all that different from Gabriel’s attempts to be a good preacher to make up for letting his congregation die in his own backstory, bringing them to a camaraderie of sorts as they both worked to fight off the undead to escape. Are they allies of a sort now? Hard to tell, but perhaps Gabriel can get out of things with his open mind… provided he can get out of it at all.
4. Trouble in “Paradise”
The Sanctuary is in chaos with the loss of Negan and, thereafter, the loss of power. The headhunt for the traitor (Dwight) is reaching its turning point, as people are finally figuring out what’s going on. Well… they sort of are. The random burnout of the generator (or is it random?) caused more chaos, actually leading to Regina, one of the outpost heads, killing one of the workers.
That said, though Eugene seems to have figured out that Dwight is the one responsible on account of the red paint both on his DIY checkers set and that on the sack with the stolen guns (though perhaps his sudden decision to be nicer to people again may have had something to do with it from viewers’ perspectives if they hadn’t already known about his betrayal), the returned Negan appears to have another matter for him: figuring out how to solve their coming food and water crisis before the workers rise up and all is lost. Still, Eugene doesn’t have to fret too much. After all, if worst comes to worse, Negan will just kill him off quickly and save him the trouble of seeing it all fall apart.Continued below
5. Rick and Daryl
In a dose of some additional forward movement outside of the virtual bottle episodes, Rick and Daryl continue their separation from one another. Daryl is continuing toward a road of not caring about any collateral damage, while Rick still does. Daryl wants to just end the war to finish all of the killing by wiping out the Saviors, but Rick acknowledges that attacking would possibly increase the Saviors’ forces by arming the workers, resulting in an even more uneven fight with the (assumed) loss of the Kingdom.
Of course, their eventual fight, which includes such comedy as them commenting on what moves are “illegal,” just leads to the destruction of the entire weapon cache that they had hoped to salvage… rendering the last few episodes relatively moot, all things considered. How exactly they hoped to get the guns away remains unclear, but apparently the dose of realism assumed from last episode was merely false hope.
Eh, par for the course at this point, logistics be damned unless it’s dramatically important.