In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap, Negan and Father Gabriel get to know each other, the Saviors look for a way out while Rick and Daryl come to blows…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Following four very high-paced episodes to start ‘The Walking Dead’ season 8, the fifth episode slowed things down dramatically as Negan finally made his return and we get a glimpse of life at the Sanctuary before and after the initial attack from Rick and the rest of the communities.
The episode kicked off with a flashback to Father Gabriel praying in his church before cutting to the morning of Rick’s arrival at the Sanctuary when Gregory was supposed to be Negan’s secret weapon to pull away the Hilltop from joining the war.
For all the faith Simon had in Gregory — he made him eggs and pancakes after all — Negan never quite believed in this “thin dicked politician” and it turns out his instincts are right on the money after the Hilltop quickly spurs his ultimatum and he’s thrown to the wolves.
It’s that same meeting where Simon suggests getting the Hilltop back in line by killing everyone who dares to oppose them but that only angers Negan. See for all his faults, Negan believes that people are the greatest resource we have left in this god forsaken world. People are the reason he’s risen to power. People are the reason he’s built this community. People are the reason he’s been able to survive.
Negan quickly shoots down that idea and believes that an alternative plan of attack must be prepared if they are going to knock down this insurgency. At that moment, Rick and his army arrive to knock on the front door — so when Negan emerged at the start of the season and says he was in a meeting, he wasn’t kidding.
It’s not really clear why there’s so much back story at the start of this episode — especially the section dedicated to Gregory being a gigantic weasel — but it definitely shows the power that Negan wields over his people and the influence he has on everything that happens inside the Sanctuary.
Perhaps that’s why Negan being missing in action with some of his leaders presuming he’s dead that the Sanctuary falls into disarray. It’s only momentary, however, because Negan is going to be a lot harder to kill than just tossing him into a trailer while he’s surrounded by a herd of zombies.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ titled ‘The Big Scary U’…
Leader of Men
Inside the Sanctuary following the attack from the Alexandrians, the Hilltop and the Kingdom, Simon and the rest of Negan’s generals try to figure out their next move without him around. Negan is presumed dead, which leaves a power vacuum at the top as he’s surrounded himself with people who are very loyal and people who can emulate him rather well but what they can’t do is be him.
The problems begin to mount when Gavin notes that a shipment should have arrived from his satellite outpost and the only way that didn’t happen is if Rick’s group managed to take them down as well. Gavin knows the only way Rick could take down that outpost would be with inside knowledge from somebody sitting in that room.
There are very few people in Negan’s inner circle and Gavin is convinced that one of them has betrayed him. Everyone quickly takes a look at Eugene, considering he’s the one outsider who joined this group from Alexandria but it’s Dwight who quickly changes the subject — because he is the turncoat — and decides that if no one else is willing to do the hard job and lead the Saviors to safety, he’ll do it himself.
The suggestions are few and far between including one plan that ends with basically sacrificing all the people inside the Sanctuary so the soldiers can escape. That’s obviously a plan that Negan would not appreciate whatsoever, but time is running out just like the food and water inside the Sanctuary and no one seems to have any answers.
After the meeting concludes, Eugene pays a visit to Dwight to reward him with a jar of pickles as a thank you for standing up for him at the meeting. It’s there where Eugene finds Dwight’s chess set that he’s been building for quite a while in his spare time when he’s not sending messages to Daryl. Dwight was obviously quite meticulous putting together this chess set, right down to the hand painted bases, which Eugene accidentally touches while staining his fingers.
Dwight appreciates the gesture but now it’s time to come to an agreement on the course of action that will save the Sanctuary from ruin, especially if Negan is never going to return.
After an ill-advised move to save Gregory — who then abandoned him — Father Gabriel finds himself locked in a trailer in the middle of the Sanctuary yard, surrounded by the dead and the only person to keep him company is Negan.
Inside the trailer, Negan first disarms the good reverend before the hunker down for a conversation while either awaiting rescue or their certain doom.
That’s when Gabriel says that he believes he was placed there to take Negan’s confession but of course the charismatic and rather brutal leader of the Saviors tends to disagree. Still they continue to talk as Negan explains to Father Gabriel how he’s not really an evil man — he’s just been put into a position where he’s in charge of saving a large group of people and that’s exactly what he’s going to do by any means necessary.
See, Negan doesn’t think he’s the bad guy in this story — he’s just been the person with better strategy, better preparation and better ways at keeping people alive versus all of his counterparts — including the last person who was in charge of the Sanctuary — and that’s why so many look to him for leadership. When Gabriel attempts to point out Negan’s execution of Glenn and Abraham, he points out an error in the storytelling.
Negan may have killed Glenn and Abraham but he didn’t get them killed.
Negan gave Rick every opportunity to surrender and abide by his rules but each and every time he was rejected — with a lot of bullets and blood —and so an example had to be made. Unfortunately that meant turning Glenn and Abraham’s heads into Sloppy Joe mix.
The conversation continues as Negan explains how he’s adapted to this new world and he’s teaching people just like he used to teach children. If you don’t stop them from being little assholes, they’ll eventually grow up to be great big assholes.
Negan’s philosophy might give Dr. Spock a run for his money in child rearing but his brief explanation does give some insight into his life before he was a tyrannical leader hell bent on ruling the suburbs outside of Washington D.C.
In a multi-part comic book that was put together just recently, ‘The Walking Dead’ creator Robert Kirkman finally unveiled Negan’s back story — how he was a high school gym teacher with a wife, who was diagnosed with cancer and later died at the start of the zombie outbreak. There have been rumors that we might get a full Negan episode this season that will detail his rise to power but that’s still unconfirmed.
We do get a bit of his back story here, however, as Father Gabriel continues to push and prod at Negan to confess his one weakness while demonstrating so much strength as a leader. With Gabriel pointing out Negan’s oppressive rule while taking several wives, he wonders if there was ever a No. 1 wife before all of this. Negan is clearly getting emotional as he stares as his baseball bat and praises Lucille before Gabrile snatches away the gun tucked away in his pants, trying to get the drop on him.
It doesn’t work.
Instead, Negan is able to subdue the gun while Father Gabriel flees into a room on the end of the trailer.
With a gun in hand, Gabriel implores Negan that working together as equals is the only way they can truly survive but he’ll only join him to escape if he confesses. So with his heart on his sleeve, Negan makes his confession to Father Gabriel.
Negan reveals that his wife was sick and he was a terrible husband, cheated on her constantly and was never very good to her but when she died at the start of the zombie apocalypse, he couldn’t bring himself to kill her. Even though he knew this was no longer his wife, Negan just couldn’t put her down. That was his one weakness.
While they didn’t mention it in the episode, in the comics, Negan’s wife’s name is Lucille.
Gabriel makes his own confession about his worse moment of weakness when he allowed his congregation to die outside his church at the start of the zombie outbreak. Finally after both of them have offered a confession, Negan pulls in a walker from outside as the zombies have started to break through the trailer walls and he offers Father Gabriel a truce so they can both make it out alive.
They cover themselves in the guts of the dead walker — a trick that’s been used a number of times on this show — and Negan even allows Gabriel to keep his gun as they open the trailer door. The zombies come pouring in but don’t touch Negan or Gabriel as they walk out into the yard, trying to make it to the Sanctuary doors.
Of course, Gabriel trips and falls, which forces Negan to save his life and they have to fight together to finally make it back inside the Sanctuary.
After stopping the Saviors from escaping with the heavy artillery from the satellite station, Rick and Daryl question the lone survivor who tells them that they eliminated the Kingdom’s entire army but they were finally cut down by a crazy woman, the king and the guy with an axe — aka Carol, King Ezekiel and Jerry.
Unfortunately as bad ass as Carol might be for stopping the Saviors, the Kingdom losing their entire army in one fell swoop is definitely a blow to the plans to win this war. Rick and Daryl go to retrieve the rest of the weapons from the overturned truck and that’s where they find a container filled with dynamite.
Daryl packs up a bag full and decides to ride to the Sanctuary where he will blow a hole in the side of the main structure, allowing the dead to pour in like ants and that will put an end to this war by dinner time. Rick doesn’t agree with his plan, however, because allowing the zombies to flood the Sanctuary will also cost a lot of innocent people their lives. Rick wants his revenge against Negan but there are families with children living inside the Sanctuary, who never asked for this war and just wanted to keep on living.
The disagreement ends with a punch being thrown and Rick and Daryl getting into a full blown fight. Rick finally gains the upper hand for a second as he grabs the bag of dynamite and throws it right near the burning truck because of course he does.
A second later, the dynamite blows up and with it goes the heavy artillery that Rick tried to take from the Saviors that would have been a major weapon to use against them in this war.
Rick decides there’s only one more play to make with the Kingdom being defeated and their big guns being destroyed. As Daryl rides back to Alexandria, Rick walks towards his final destination and he arrives for a meeting with Jadis and her Scavengers. It appears Rick is going to make them one more offer to join the war on the winning side or risk being eliminated all together. This didn’t go so well for him the last time but Rick seems convinced that he can turn Jadis to fight for his side of the war.
The Return of the King
The natives are getting restless inside the Sanctuary as the electricity goes out and as the heat begins to rise, tempers are starting to flare.
Simon, Gavin and the rest of the Savior hierarchy are soon confronted by the workers, who make their way up from the factor floor to ask about the plan to save them all with Negan no longer around. The workers are quickly running out of food and supplies and the escalating heat inside the building isn’t helping matters much either. Simon tries to convince them to go back to where they came from, but the workers are ready to revolt. They try to pull the old ‘I am Negan’ routine but without a leather jacket, a twisted sense of humor and a barbed wire covered baseball bat, it’s just not going to work.
At that moment, a gun comes out of the crowd when Regina — another of Negan’s generals — fires a shot back and kills the person dead. Simmering tensions are about to boil over when an eerie whistling comes cutting through the crowd like a knife through butter. A moment later, Negan emerges from the stairwell and everybody kneels — the workers and his generals alike.
Negan is alive and well but covered in dead guts so he wants a shower, a meal and maybe a massage and then he’s going to gather his troops and come up with a plan to fight back against Rick and the rest of the communities. The people quickly fall back in line with many of them thanking Negan for saving them. He has a hold on this community that isn’t just one built on brutality…it’s built on loyalty and these people stand by Negan.
Finally after he’s cleaned up and ready to face the day again, Negan starts to deal with the long list of problems they have to face, not the least of which is the fact that one of the workers got their hands on a gun. The only way anybody could have gotten a gun was with access to the armory and only a few select people have that right.
Eugene looks down at the bag that was found amongst the workers with the guns inside and it only takes him a moment to figure out who accessed the armory. He spots a dash of red paint on the bottom of the bag — the same red paint on his thumb after he accidentally picked up one of Dwight’s chess pieces that hadn’t finished drying. Eugene now knows that Dwight is the traitor.
Negan later asks Eugene for his help to find a way out of this mess and if he can’t come up with a plan, he’ll at least get a quick death rather than the slow painful variety. As ominous as that threat might be, Eugene doesn’t roll over on Dwight just yet — perhaps he’s not ready to really abandon his friends after all?
And finally, Eugene arrives at Cell No. 2 where Father Gabriel is being kept after he was captured as a prisoner of war following his ordeal with Negan. When Eugene opens the door to give him some supplies, Father Gabriel has broken out into a pouring sweat as he shakes on the floor. Eugene suggests running to get the doctor but Gabriel insists that he has to stay alive to help Maggie deliver her baby.
By all accounts that means Father Gabriel has been bitten and he doesn’t want to risk dying and then going after Maggie’s only hope for a safe birth. Of course we never see the bite so perhaps Father Gabriel is faking it to get some sympathy from Eugene but all signs are pointing towards the man of god about to meet his maker.
‘The Walking Dead’ returns next Sunday night at 9pm ET on AMC with a brand new episode.