The Walking Dead: “The Big Scary U” Review

Previous episode – “Some Guy”

***WARNING! THE WALKING DEAD IS ABOUT TO BE THOROUGHLY SPOILED***

A much needed breather from the open warfare that has decimated the shows’ population.

Negan gets a proper episode

Jeffrey Dean Morgan put together a wonderfully dark episode for Negan. This was by far the strongest episode for the villain so far. It was believable, sincere and if anything, even more menacing. Father Gabriel delved behind the pantomime facade to reveal a deeply troubled man.

Their interactions inside that trailer really made this episode special. We got to see inside Negan, his weakness, and his fragility, both characteristics that made Gabriel’s position increasingly perilous. We saw that Negan’s memory of ‘real life’ is distorted beyond recognition. Drawing on his experience as a teacher of some kind, he feels the need to control his ‘classroom’ at the sanctuary. He chooses to do this by means of fear.

Fear = Control.

This insight into Negan’s mind presents an incredibly vivid picture of the man’s insanity. Yet at the same time his understanding of the workings of society, however brutal, make a certain degree of sense. In many ways, Negan is right.

I agree with his insistence that his people obey the rules. Those rules are integral to society, as indeed they for us real world folk, although I do differ a touch from his attitude to punishment (catastrophic head bludgeoning is a little excessive).  Negan and Rick are similar on multiple levels, not least because they each believe they are doing the best they can for their people.

Straight talking

There is nothing more satisfying than a guy on a TV show echoing the view of the audience. Negan has such a concise way of speaking. No mincing, no innuendo, he just puts it all straight out there. I love that in a man. So when this awful, horrific monster turned around and called Gregory a dickhead… I creased up, and applauded. It’s needed saying for a long time.

He does talk so well, at time during this episode it felt like he should be the protagonist. He is so entertaining, so interest as a character yet so god damn terrifying that every moment he is on-screen is tense. Your head could be bashed in at the slightest whim, yet it’s not, because he understands the importance of the people and the trust they have placed in him.

Something that this episode does extremely well, is to paint Negan as a highly intelligent man. Totally twisted. But calculating and pragmatic. He knows how the get the best out of his people, how to lead the saviors efficiently and effectively. He has single-handedly created a thriving community. Sure his methods are questionable, but you cannot argue they have worked.

This is by far the strongest element of the episode. You understand where Negan is coming from. Could this be the moment when this character becomes who we all hoped we would be?

Living vs Dead

Negan and Gabriel eventually escape their trailer shaped coffin by means of the guts trick. I thought this was a very tidy way of pointing out that it wasn’t just our group who used such tactics. The scene outside was entirely horrific. The walkers were both repulsive and terrifying. The whole scene really did put me on edge. It was wonderfully shot, getting across that claustrophobic feel that you were struggling to breathe.

It also highlighted one of the key questions I have from this episode: could Negan actually be a good guy? Not in terms of the story, of course, he’s an asshole who killed Glenn. But he went out of his way to save Gabriel. Of course we don’t know his intentions yet, but he put his life at risk to save another’s. You cannot ask for much more than that.

What this really shows above all else is that, while the war is between the Saviors and the allicance, the real fight is between the living and the dead. If only people could see eye to eye, unfortunately this show is a true representation of real life.

Dissent in the Ranks

The show did have a pronounced low point. Rick and Daryl beat down on each other in one of the most nonsensical scenes in the show’s history. I was upset at this for a number of reasons.

Firstly, where  the hell did this come from? Why would Daryl suddenly kick off like that? They’ve spent the last three episodes kicking ass together. Sure, they might not agree on how to deal with the saviors, but these guys have trusted each other since series 2, and always maintained a highly respectful relationship, even when their individual interests have differed. It all just felt like a very cheap way of causing  the beginnings of something very bad.

Secondly, why would you want to split these two up? They are by far the best characters in the show, and have single-handedly provided all of the best scenes of the opening 4 episodes. If I was the one who lived and died by the rating on this show, I would keep those two together for as long as possible. And definitely not stage some ridiculous, kids in a playground style wrestling match.

Maybe something interesting will happen as a result. Probably not, it will more likely result in our favourite two characters avoiding each other entirely until the end of the series. One of them will probably end up dying too knowing this show.

In summary

Easily the best episode of the season so far. Psychologically and emotionally draining, with some excellent interactions between Negan and Gabriel. That punch was probably the best Walking Dead moment of all time. It’s a shame Rick and Daryl completely lost their minds without any kind of justification, but that helicopter definitely means something. It’s yet another pilot episode call back, something I’m hoping will have an impact on episodes to come.

Simon Ostler

I am currently training to become a Journalist. I write best when my subject is something I enjoy. I have spent time working with CAR Magazine and Parkers.

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