Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: “Big Scary U”

In which Kim and Shawn aren’t scared and kinda annoyed.

Kim: Well, we got Negan back. Apparently, everyone did. Thank God for you, Negan. Whatever.

I didn’t completely hate the episode, but I didn’t really care for it either. No, instead I liked snippets of it. Snippets that could have been far more interesting than they turned out to be. The rest? Complete garbage.

Favorite moments:

1.) Daryl vs. Rick: This is not the first throw-down we’ve witnessed this season between comrades. It was, by far, the most intriguing though. Please note when I say “intriguing,” I don’t mean I was on the edge of my seat or anything. I enjoyed seeing Rick get punched, more than once, because I’ve wanted that for a couple of seasons now. I think had Rick not messed up, again, Daryl would have gotten his way. I really do. But that doesn’t matter here.

What we’ve got is this bigger issue. Rick is a flip-flopper. Kill them all. No wait. Let’s only kill some of them. Hang on, go in, guns blazing. On second thought, let’s not do that. [yawn] Make up your mind, Rick. You don’t get to be both the good guy and the tool. We’ve already seen Jesus have a change of heart.

Imagine a world where Daryl and Morgan called all of the shots. You know what would happen? You’d be done with the Saviors storyline, you’d likely kill the Trash Dwellers too, and then maybe you’d have a shot at a peaceful community.

2.) Negan vs. Father Gabriel: I thought 95% of this was filler, and severely inaccurate filler at that. Here’s my biggest problem. The good Father is trying to get Negan to do a confession so they can move past things, blah blah blah. But – and this is a big one, not unlike my own – the G Father is an Episcopalian priest. You know what they don’t do? Believe in confession. I repeat: Confession of sins to priests is not practiced in the Episcopal Church. And so, Negan admits to being a total dick to his dying wife, G-Love offers him absolution and Negan punches him right in the face. Another thing I’ve been waiting for for what seems like forever.

The “Oh, Father!” porn moment: What am I talking about? Go back and watch as Negan cuts open a walker, pulls out his/her entrails, and adorns himself with an intestine scarf. Now, look at Gabriel. Very seductively smearing zombie blood on his nipples. In concentric circles. [cue porn music] Thanks for the laughter.

These are the only things that I liked that happened in this episode. And now, some things I hated.

You know at the beginning, when we were seeing how that snake, Gregory, got in the position he was in? And he was trying to talk his way out of a mess? And they played that music that indicated that you should be wondering if Negan would lower Lucille right onto both of Gregory’s two faces? Yeah? Well, there was zero tension because – news flash – we already knew how that turned out. You know what that was? Ten minutes of shit we didn’t need in an episode that was supposedly super-sized, where nothing else happened.

The worker’s rebellion? Whatever. I’ve got a news flash for those workers. In that moment, if you just rush the Saviors standing there, you’re going to overtake them. No, instead you stand there and bitch until Regina shoots someone and Negan shows up to remind you that you’re stupid, and you’re grateful for that.

I’d like to keep this even because of my OCD and love of the number 3, so I’ll give you one more tidbit that I hated. Every time Simon opens his mouth, I tune out. I’m waiting for someone to punch him in the face. I thought it would happen when Negan was yelling at him during the Gregory Conference, but no. My son summed up Simon really well. He said, “he reminds me of your creepy Uncle Bob who works at the gas station.” And while I don’t have an Uncle Bob, or any family member who works at a gas station, his comment made more sense than anything else that has happened in this show this season.

This episode felt like they left a flaming sack of dog shit on my doorstep. Only it was a flaming bag of explosives and Rick hurled it into the truck full of weapons we watched them try to get for a couple of episodes. Nice job, superstar.

There are only a few episodes left in 2017. Thank God for you, mid-season break. Whatever.

Shawn: With the holidays, the family home and time off work, I have had more time than normal to let this episode settle in my brain. I don’t know that I’d put it in “flaming bag” category but maybe just that point in which you are bagging it up. I didn’t hate it, which is something I thought I should say before I launch into my thoughts.

1.) The nagging feeling that nothing is happening. That feeling might be because nothing is happening. This season has all been a single day. I know we tried this in the quarry a few seasons ago and that didn’t work well for me then. This “experiment” of slowing down time again feels forced at best. If you feel like you have to tell the story of a single day over the span of a whole half season, let’s make it a day worth telling that story. This attack doesn’t feel that unique. I would have done that for the final attack on the Prison by the Governor but that was only an episode. You’ve essentially told an episode worth of material in five hours so far.

2.) We got Negan back. The pairing of Father Gabriel seems like a random character generated moment. Spin the wheel of characters we can kill off and send that one to hang out with Negan. It accomplishes a few things. We finally get to see a “softer” side of Negan (or is it an act?) and if we have any insight into how to defeat the big, bad guy, it’s lost because Father G won’t make it back to tell the group. It gets Father Gabriel his most lines since the first time we met him. In many ways it was Gabriel’s least annoying moments and that is the big clue that we are killing off the character.

3.) A flashback that actually worked. If I had a favorite moment of the episode, it was watching the business meeting of Saviors Inc. If you are going to make us care a little more about Negan and his team, then show us their vulnerable moments. They are sitting around talking strategy, wondering if someone ordered lunch for the meeting, drawing three-dimensional cubes on the agenda and wondering if Negan is ever going to quit going on about things he could have covered in an email. Seeing the flashback also felt like it was to an event that happened a month ago, not half a day. This is a problem for the show. This day isn’t some action packed event that you look back on in five years and tell stories about – it’s like a Tuesday that you’ve forgotten by Thursday.

4.) Psycho Day. If this was set over the course of a couple months before and after the attack, it would make more psychological sense. In the course of a single day, Rick has had three changes of mind on violence, non-violence, violence. Rick and Daryl have had a fun little buddy chase and then turned against each other and accidentally destroyed all the weapons in what should have been their big hug it out moment. Ezekiel has lost his Shiva and his mind on this day. And Morgan has done another 180 and maybe hinted at a 360 before it’s all over. The Rick/Daryl thing really doesn’t make sense because they’ve disagreed over much bigger things before and always found a way to come to an agreement. This just didn’t seem like the time to break up.

5.) Negan The Saint. Negan worked with kids and had a sick wife. OK. That’s the big secret? Isn’t that everyone’s backstory? That is a reality story. That isn’t a TV story. In a TV story about a zombie apocalypse, you can make him as big or small as you want. The bigger the villain, the more tragic the backstory or it doesn’t work emotionally. You have to make his story worse than the Governor who sat there with his zombie daughter each night. His fall should be one that makes us care about who he was so much that it hurts to see who he is.

6.) Workers revolt that showed us the crap we’re dealing with here. With the power off, the workers were hot and bothered and wanted to take a vacation day. When they went to the boss’ office and the boss was gone, they asked the assistant managers. Well, it turns out that because Negan just yelled at them all in that meeting, none of them wanted to step up and make a decision. What we got was a mess of arguing assistant managers until they turn around and the boss is back. With the boss there, the workers lost their interest in rebellion and take a knee. It’s all part of that inconvenient logic of the Saviors. It only takes a dozen zombies to take down any human on the show but 75 Saviors can’t take out Negan? They haven’t shown us any reason that these average Joes feel the need for Negan as their leader.

The bag is being filled, for sure. Maybe next week we will ignite it.

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Shawn Bourdo

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