Spoiler Alert! This post contains massive spoilers for The Walking Dead episode 805 - "The Big Scary U."
Tonight's episode opens just before the battle begins. Gregory had just come to the Saviors to squeal about the siege in the hopes of currying favor with Negan. He insists that he is still "the guy" at the Hilltop. Negan thinks he is playing both sides. In actuality, Gregory is playing one side: his own. Simon wants to wipe Rick's army out, but Negan refuses -- people are resources. He is actually offended at this suggestion. Instead, he wants to capture Rick, the widow, and the king alive -- and kill them violently and horrifically in public. That's when the shooting starts. Negan is very calm and peeks outside. He decides they are going to go outside and talk.
Now we are back in the current timeline. Negan and Gabriel are locked in the trailer together. Negan wrestles him briefly, and then, in an oh-so-Negan way, he becomes BFFs with Gabriel. He finds a gun with a full clip on Gabriel and considers killing the preacher, but decides that Gabriel made the smart play by not firing. What follows is an attempt to humanize Negan, to show that he is not irredeemably evil. Gabriel decides that the reason he ended up in this trailer with Negan was to take his confession. It's kind of amazing to me that after all of this, Gabriel still believes in a god. Anyway, in order to get Negan to open up, Gabriel shares what he did to his congregation. Negan admits that he had a lawful wife "before all this," and he admits to cheating on her, but he seems to have loved her. She got ill after "all this," and when she died and came back, Negan couldn't put her down. That is his weakness.
Back in the meeting room, Negan's main commandos are sitting around, getting nervous. Regina wants to assume Negan is dead and suggests using the workers as, basically, human shields to get their fighters out of the compound. Eugene says this is a bad idea; Dwight agrees with him. Gavin is nervous and sees a lack of supplies coming through as a sign that someone on the inside is a rat. After the meeting, Eugene meets Dwight and thanks him for backing him up.
Negan has finally decided that no one is coming to rescue them. It is up to them to get back to the compound. He drags in a zombie and the two men drench themselves in zombie offal. Outside, they move slowly, deliberately through the crowd of walkers. Negan falls, and Gabriel has the option to help him or leave him to his death. He doesn't think about it: He helps him. This turns the zombies on them, so the pair work together to get into the compound.
Another meeting. A blonde woman rushes in to warn the "higher-ups" that the workers have come inside. The hallway is jammed with workers, and Simon goes to speak to them. The workers are angry. Power is off, the factory is too hot to work in, and they can't go outside, so they are coming upstairs. Simon is furious, but his word carries no weight with them. One woman points out that the deal was for them to work in exchange for food and safety. The workers are on the verge of an uprising when Regina steps forward and reminds them that "I am Negan." One of the workers pulls a gun; Regina shoots him dead.
Then they hear whistling, and everyone drops to their knees. Negan appears, Gabriel at his side. Negan promises that they will find out what happened here, just as soon as he has a sandwich and a shower. Then they can get back to doing what they've always done -- "save people." Someone calls out their thanks to Negan -- "Thank god for you."
I find it interesting that Negan believes what he is doing is saving people. I honestly cannot tell if he truly believes that what he is doing is saving people, or if it is a convenient lie he tells his followers -- and himself. By enslaving people, but keeping them from getting eaten, he saves them from death, but are the lives they are living now worthwhile?
The Saviors figure out that the gun the worker had was from the Sanctuary's own armory. What's more is that a lot of them were stolen, far too many for workers to have taken them. Someone on the inside stole the guns and passed them out to the workers. Eugene notices a tiny red smudge on the corner of the gun sack. He got a smudge of the same color on his thumb when he was visiting Dwight and touched a chess set he made, one whose paint was still wet. He looks at Dwight. Eugene knows, but he seems content to keep the secret. I wouldn't be surprised if Eugene used this to get back in with Rick and his crew.
Negan has his people take Gabriel to a room, telling them to be gentle with him. Later, Eugene goes to visit, bringing him clean linens with the hope of reconnecting. When Gabriel doesn't answer the door, Eugene enters -- and finds him in a corner, shivering and feverish. Eugene promises to get him to the doctor, but Gabriel is only concerned with getting the doctor back to Maggie. I'm not really sure what happened here. Did Gabriel suddenly get the flu, like in the span of an hour or two? Did he get ill from something in the zombie guts? Is that possible? Did Negan's men infect him with something?
I didn't find this to be a satisfying "villain reveal" episode. I didn't feel any sympathy for Negan, but I think that I was supposed to. This was not like the episode back in ... Season 3? where see the Governor before he becomes the Governor. This felt like a half-assed attempt. Either go all the way and make Negan a sympathetic character, or don't do any of that. Leave him as a purely evil human being.
Meanwhile, we get a little more on Rick and Daryl's story. The driver of the other truck, Yago, is dying on the ground. He says everyone is dead; no one won. The men go back to the truck and start to unload the weapons. Daryl finds a cache of explosives; he puts them all into a backpack and tells Rick his plan: He wants to blow open the Sanctuary, let the zombies flood in, and take out whoever is left inside. Rick refuses. He wants to stick to the plan. There are workers, children, the elderly inside. He only wants to kill fighters. Daryl decides it is not his choice. The two men fight, Daryl getting Rick into a chokehold. Rick throws the explosives back toward the truck, which by now has lit on fire. The two men run just in time to avoid the explosion.
After, they are still friends (as evidenced by Rick pointing out that chokeholds are illegal, and Daryl admitting he knows that) but they still believe each was in the right. Rick's truck won't start, and he knows Daryl isn't going to give him a ride. They leave in different directions, Rick determined to finish this. As Rick walks, he is gobsmacked when he sees a helicopter flying overhead. He decides to follow it. A scout in a tall tower spies Rick walking toward him and uses a bird whistle to signal someone.
What were your thoughts on this episode?