Review: The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 5 “The Big Scary U”

Unexpectedly, ‘The Walking Dead’ delivers an excellent episode that isn’t concerned with mindless action, repetitive tropes of the post-apocalyptic genre or cartoonish characters. Instead, the writers finally present Negan as nuanced with deep personal regrets and fascinations, brilliantly compared with those of Gabriel. As both a character and member of Rick’s gang, Gabriel has largely been useless and devoid of any true purpose on the show. However, this episode superbly provides the opportunity for his view of power in a religious sense to be discussed in relation to Negan. The god-like imagery utilised to showcase Negan’s rule is purposeful here, showing his ability to keep control and retain a level of sanity amongst those fighting each day for survival. While Gabriel is initially unable to understand Negan’s rule as a form of using power for protection, a clear deviation for the goodness and kindness his religion emphasises, the pair’s interactions are well written to show development for the priest. Furthermore, the discussions between the outpost leaders fittingly highlight a power imbalance that resonates with and promotes Negan’s perspective. Without Negan, the Sanctuary would fall into chaos and these sequences emphasise this. Darryl and Rick’s short scenes and eventual conflict do tread upon these themes as well, as they decide how to handle the workers, but unfortunately often break into what is otherwise a well structured episode. 9.1/10

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