Four episodes into the uprising against the biggest, baddest villain in The Walking Dead history, there was still one piece of the puzzle missing as we rolled into the season’s fifth week on Sunday, November 19: what’s been going on inside the Sanctuary, robbed of its leader and besieged by walkers?
Well, wonder no more. “The Big Scary U” filled in the blanks, catching up with the Sanctuary’s leadership and taking a peek inside the trailer where Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was having a religious experience with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam).
We Are All Negan
In a flashback to the hours just before Rick (Andrew Lincoln) arrived to shoot up the Sanctuary, Negan took a meeting with Gregory (Xander Berkeley) and his management crew. It went about how you’d expect, with gratuitous phallic analogies (personal fave: “a thick and veiny show of force”), some sniveling from Gregory, and still more phallic symbolism as Negan banged his big swingin’ bat on the table and declared his intent to kill Rick, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) in as prolonged and public a manner as possible.
But when the show jumped ahead to the present moment, it found Negan’s generals sitting around the table with bigger problems to deal with — including the one where they evidently had a mole in their midst.
Meanwhile, trapped in a trailer with Negan, Father Gabriel put his priestly skills to the ultimate test: could he get Negan to confess his sins before death (in the form of a hundred slavering zombies) came for them both? The answer: Ehhhhhh, sort of.
Right around the time the dead began to break through the walls, Negan stopped bragging about his leadership skills and started telling the truth about his life before the apocalypse, when he was a terrible husband to a dying wife who he didn’t have the strength to kill when the zombie plague took her. And Gabriel would have to be satisfied with that, because the time had come for the men to cover themselves in zombie guts and make their escape. Unfortunately, this camouflaging technique has always been kinda hit-or-miss, and this time, it was a miss. Gabriel tripped over a prone zombie and went down hard, alerting the entire pack to the presence of humans.
The Plan Must Go On
As things unraveled inside the Sanctuary, the show made an obligatory cut to Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) finding out that virtually all the Kingdom’s soldiers were dead — to which Daryl responded by trying to make off with the stolen RPGs in order to bring the whole conflict to an immediate, fiery end.
Cue yet another argument about whether or not it’s OK to kill all the Saviors, followed by yet another fistfight, followed by that awkward moment when your heroes are too busy punching each other in the face to notice that the truck filled with military-grade explosives is on fire. One massive fireball later, the guys were back to square one and Plan A: Daryl returned to their home base, while Rick continued on foot toward his next destination … and an inexplicable encounter with a helicopter, just in case you were wondering whether those were still around.
Negan Comes Home
With the Sanctuary fully under siege, things were beginning to unravel. Most of Negan’s people believed Eugene (Josh McDermitt) was the likely mole — except for the actual mole, Dwight (Austin Amelio), who managed to take Eugene’s side without raising eyebrows. When the power went out, a horde closed in on the Saviors: not the walkers, but the workers. The confrontation turned violent almost instantly, as guns were pulled and one worker went down — which was when Negan strolled in whistling, accompanied by Gabriel, saved from certain death outside just so he could witness this moment.
“Thank you, Negan!” someone shouted from the crowd. “Thank God for you!” Gabriel looked like he was going to barf and not just because he still had a bunch of rotted intestines draped around his neck.
A Sweaty Pickle
How will this all end? In the final moments of the episode, it looked like it might all come down to the series’ most polarizing figure: Eugene. Given an ultimatum by Negan (either figure out a solution to their current problem or be murdered) Eugene showed up with a care package for the now-imprisoned Gabriel. But when he opened the cell door, he found poor Gabe stripped down to his undershirt, shaking and sweating, in dire need of medical attention. Yep, draping yourself with diseased intestines will do that to you. Will Eugene’s conscience finally eclipse his sense of self-preservation?
The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.
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