The Walking Dead: Some Guy & The Big Scary U Review
AMC‘s The Walking Dead, season 8, episodes 4 & 5, ‘Some Guy’ & ‘The Big Scary U,’ seemed to confirm that the All Out War arc is at least capable of taking breaths without breaking stride, and that preconceived notions of the show’s ‘monsters’ are still up for debate. On the other hand, it also confirmed a fear of mine, regarding the script/ budget being able to keep up with its scale & pace.
To the first point, there were still plenty of bottles floating around on a sea of violence. ‘Some Guy’ focused on the price of Ezekiel (Khary Payton) playing the role of King, while ‘The Big Scary U’ considered shuffling the deck chairs of a sinking Sanctuary, while redefining who/ what the Big Bad is.
At first sight, I had hoped Ezekiel’s flashback intro was bringing some pre-apocalypse context to the King; but it turned out to be part of the current conflict’s curtain call. As curtain calls go, it was pretty standard – the usual montage of high anxiety intersected by high hopes – but better served as a hindsight moment.
Of course, plot-timing saw to it that Ezekiel woke up before his carcass cocoon re-animated; but alone time was needed, in order to cap the irony twist to the flashback rally. There was also some fuzzy math, involving an M2 .50 Cal machine gun, a disposable douche (not actually a redundant statement, given the context) given more sound-boarding opportunity than necessary (or possible), and a mixing of plot-timing with plot-armor that could’ve unraveled space-time (never cross the streams).
Now, if you found yourself asking “where’s Carol (Melissa McBride)” in all of this, then you haven’t been paying attention since… I’m going to say season four…?
Of course Carol gets in the cut, and teaches valuable lessons to all would-be militia-types. Lessons like don’t give away a crucial firing position, unless you’re prepared to shoot-n-scoot; and don’t bunch up, in the age of automatic fire (’cause people who teleport into ceiling fixtures can mow you down, blind). Well, that last one when writers remember that Humans make lousy shields, against high caliber rounds, anyway; but there was still a lot of fast-and-loose gunnery on display (for the record: 20-30 round mags don’t last long, on full auto, and digital after-effects still require some effort going into making a gun at least look like it’s being discharged – or a pickup like it’s being hit). Worse, the Killer Queen seemed to suffer from selective brilliance. Nobody thought to shoot under the vehicles, and it took her a while to figure out how to not kill two birds while saving two stones (which seemed like an obvious fix, once the Saviors delivered a set of keys to her; but….)
The King & I plot could serve as an example of how to do a bottle episode, without really skipping a beat; but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Watching Carol joyfully tag-out, to the two other founding members of the Road Regime, was a helluva shot glass refill. Justice League should have moments like this. The lateral pass thing, I mean – not the horrible gun-play/ car chase thing that came with it (that you’re likely going to get plenty of, from the film). No, the follow-up road ruckus was actually too cheesy for me to bother harping on some of its details; so let’s say we just call it wrap, with a win for Rick’s round one – even if it came at the episode’s expense.
Horrible, horrible way to follow through….
What I can harp on was the bottoming out to the Kingdom’s role in that round.
Plot timing gave Disposable Douche all the time he needed, to be the most hated also-ran of Round One (so far – Jared’s still around, somewhere); but this was just a set-up for some Jerry (Cooper Andrews) heavy-lifting (up to a point, anyway). So with all the talk of tigers, there still had to be a scenario where another left-field save could be pulled off. That combination, of predictability & inevitability (to its outcome), lessened to blow (the stop-n-stare-sacrifice-wasting trope almost killing it, entirely) – and such a moment just deserves better.
Oh, and in case you missed it – what, with him hammering home the same line, and all – the “some guy,” in question, was Ezekiel.
The mute conclusion did complete the ironic cap to the episode’s triumphant beginning, however; so in somewhat ironic fashion, the Kingdom’s loss made for a thematic win – though I would not wager that view against grieving/ fuming viewers.
With the Kingdom loss (and the founder falling out) rounding off Rick’s Round One win, it was time to see how the other half has been living/ dying. ‘The Big Scary U’ (no affiliation with Wossamotta U, or any other institution of higher learning) picked up where things left off, concerning Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), and Sanctuary – all under siege.
The confession line, on its face, was just ridiculous; but the smile that came with it, however, sold the moment. Negan’s initial ‘confession’ helped. What followed was more of why Negan’s not so bad, Gabe & Co. aren’t as good as they think they are, and it all wasn’t terribly unconvincing. A little bit of meat poncho bonding sealed the deal. Between Rick, Carl, and Gabe, Negan seems more interested in selling the idea of Negan, than being Negan.
It’s been an uneven, but entertaining effort, so far.
I’ve been appreciating what All Out War has meant for the setting of TWD, in relation to periods of historic Human tumult; but Negan made a point that justified his place at the center of this one. Credit Rick all you want, but Negan’s the real reason for the combined commune conflict. His point reflected the simple historic fact that a tyrant can do more, to keep the peace between disparate interests, than a liberator.
Even without going all high-minded about it, you gotta admit that Negan’s honesty – particularly about himself – makes him the most interesting monster on the field.
While Savior culture made cannibalization inevitable, Dwight (Austin Amelio) & Eugene (Josh McDermitt) kept their respective, personal narratives going – even as events forced them to intersect.
Eugene was smart enough to finger Dwight, red handed, by the end; but I did figure him smart enough to have seen through Dwight’s earlier power play. Messing with the dial, corralating Dwight’s cleverness with Eugene’s smarts, might cause the inside man angle to drag, for a bit.
The good news, in that regard, is that Gabriel has brought his own element to that dynamic, while any Sanctuary tension gets better with Negan directly presiding over it.
If ‘Some Guy’ inspired (hopeful) thoughts of Justice League, then ‘The Big Scary U’ went a little Batman v Superman – a dissenting point of view escalating to violence with incoherent speed, ending in pyrotechnics that made the whole thing moot. More to the point, however, the scene underscored where Daryl (Norman Reedus) & Rick (Andrew Lincoln) hover, on the monster scale – and how determined each was to maintain a drive/ resistance to that end.
A possible watershed moment, I guess – an important reminder of the path-to-villainy scenario, how refreshing it is that Negan owns his monster status, and the fact that OC Daryl started out as a Neo-Nazi – but its sudden onset, and wasteful result, seemed vaguely silly.
Rick: “I’m not ready to not be the good guy, just yet.’
Daryl: “Well, I don’t like to be touched by people who kill-joy my kill joy; so: take that.”
Rick: “Aww, Hell no! I’m totally ragin’ out, over this (c’mere)!”
Daryl: “You had this comin’; they have it comin’; everybody’s gettin’ theirs, today!”
Daryl: “… But I s’pose everbody can wait ’til I get more genocide gear.”
Rick: “Great! So, I’ll just get back to Alexandria – tell everyone you’re the reason they can never have nice things.”
Daryl: “Well, you don’t got a ride; and I don’t got a bitch-seat on mine (bitch). So… take the high-road on foot, hero!”
Sorry if my take-away cheapened the moment (I could break down the entire ‘Some Guy’ episode, as such); but a show like TWD really should limit how often it takes me to MST3K places.
The good news is that it ended with Rick walking up on an outpost of Garbage Patch Kids. I like these squirrely scavangers; I have no idea what Rick was thinking (Daryl didn’t hit him that hard), but I’m eager to find out; and the founder fallout could lead to something that warrants it happening, after all.
Here’s the thing, though: Between Negan’s swagger, the increased ratio of violence to speechifying, and an eye on the big picture, I’ve been basically hopping over the show’s puddley bits. The downside to All Out War has been an unavoidable increase in careless action sequences. The gun play goofs have become impossible to ignore, and Jumped the Jeep might actually become a thing, for series fans. It’s not that I’ve been ignoring them – they’ve been so obvious, I just didn’t feel the need to point them out.
As long as I still see a path to a bigger picture – both for show mythology & individual characters – I’d just as soon keep track of that. It’s not denial – I just like to point out what others might miss; and if everyone can see what’s been going blatantly wrong….
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