The Walking Dead: The Big Scary U
November 20, 2017 10:23 AM - Season 8, Episode 5 - Subscribe

With war raging all around him, we get a close look at Negan and the lives of the Saviors during the conflict through a familiar set of eyes. And finally get some backstory on Negan. called this one of the worst episodes ever and I could not disagree more on that.
posted by agregoli (19 comments total)
Worst ever? I didn't think so, actually. There were so many bad ones in the prison (the vet, who knows how medicines work, sends people on a quest for antibiotics to fight a virus. that one really rankles) and so many bad ones at the farm. And so many where nothing happens and they're just talking talking talking.

It was alot better than Rick's group walking around and talking. At least we saw some people trying to do something (Negan's people). I really didn't need to see Gabriel try to figure out his purpose (again! I thought your purpose was taking care of Judith so you can't screw any important stuff up).

*I complain about the talking because this show thinks it's a character study so there's alot of talking but neither the writing nor the acting is good enough to be that kind of character study.
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:23 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

The worst episode of TWD, hands down, is the episode called "Eastman." There is no other contender as bad as that one (I loved most of the prison (there is one bad episode where everyone is just puking blood which sucks) and all of the farm was great for me - I have watched those two farm seasons a lot).

I think the writing isn't great for dialogue in this show, no. I disagree about a lot of the acting. At least, Jeffrey Dean Morgan in this episode was FANTASTIC and he might be the best actor to ever be on the show.

Gabriel is so annoying and has never been cool - I was intrigued for a minute when he was quoting scripture and killing people but they couldn't decide if he was a badass or not and now we're back to him being trembly and praying.
posted by agregoli at 12:02 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think the worst mistake they made in the episode was right after the workers were rebelling, and one was shot and killed - and enter Negan! Everyone kneels and listens to him. As he leaves, someone yells something like "thank god for Negan!" in a clear, steady voice. Stupid. First of all, who the hell EVER talks back when Negan is done talking? And second of all, they should have framed it differently - imagine the emotional punch of seeing someone cradling the person who was just shot, crying quietly while Negan speaks - and then THAT person, hysterical, crying out, "Thank god for Negan!"

It is a shame I can think of better scenes than the show creators can, but I think it's really that they are RUSHING so much this season. This episode cheered me because they finally slowed down and tried to give a framework for what's going on, but that one moment really bothered me with how odd it played.
posted by agregoli at 1:34 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think the writing isn't great for dialogue in this show, no.

That felt particularly bad in this episode: a couple of the lines -- Negan's Lucille poem, in particular -- landed so thuddingly badly as to yank me right out of the scene.

I would have liked more time spent on "so what happens to Negan's lieutenants when they think Negan's dead"; it felt like the show was starting to lean into a "they fight over succession" power struggle but didn't have enough time for it to build to anything much.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:54 PM on November 20, 2017

So, who has a helicopter?
posted by valkane at 6:46 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

They've had several episodes in a row of running gun battles, so for both pacing and probably budgetary purposes it felt like they decided to slow down and write a script that was 90% bottle episode with a couple of small action sequences. It's not a terrible idea, but the success of a bottle episode usually depends on the audience caring about the characters in the bottle. Friends, Negan and Gabriel are not those characters.

At the end of the season opener when they revealed that Gabriel was trapped with Negan I thought that for sure Gabriel must have dropped his gun at some point, because otherwise I couldn't imagine holding an automatic weapon and being scared of a dude standing ten feet away from me holding a baseball bat. Although I guess we've already established that Lucille can be used lightsaber style to block bullets.

I think Jeffrey Dean Morgan is doing the best that he can with some terrible dialogue. Every time he drops another clumsy scatalogical or anatomical reference, I find myself thinking "someone wrote that" in dumb amazement. Can you imagine what working for Negan must be like? Not the terror or the dehumanization, but just the pain of listening to the words coming out of his mouth?

Worker: Here are those reports you wanted.

Negan: God damn, I knew I liked you! I hope you wore your poop-out-your-pee-hole hat today.

Worker: Um... What?

Negan: Your poop-out-your-pee-hole hat. It's the hat that you wear when you poop out you God damn pee hole.

Worker: Are you... having a stroke?

Negan: Oh, I am stroking all right! I am stroking all over the damn place! I am stroking long, and hard, and poop-pee-balls-balls-balls!

Worker: I'm... Um... I don't even know, dude. I think I'm supposed to be scared, but I'm mostly just confused about what is going on with you right now.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:53 AM on November 21, 2017 [12 favorites]

(I like Negan - this episode made me like him more - except for, as you say, when he's speaking in baby talk)

Doesn't this not fit the definition of a bottle episode though? It involved main characters - Negan, Daryl, Rick, Eugene. I thought a bottle episode was tangential to the plot (this one was all plot explanation) and had minor characters as the feature.
posted by agregoli at 8:17 AM on November 21, 2017

Hey, here's another quibble - what the hell is with TWD and men who think their greatest sin is NOT killing their zombie wife? We saw it with Morgan (who at least DID make a HUGE mistake not killing her, since his zombie wife ended up killing his son), and now we see it with Negan? It is a non-necessary repetition and very weird. And then we also had the Governor who couldn't kill his zombie daughter. Apparently, the show is eager to have men kill the women they love, as long as they are zombies.
posted by agregoli at 8:24 AM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Doesn't this not fit the definition of a bottle episode though? It involved main characters - Negan, Daryl, Rick, Eugene. I thought a bottle episode was tangential to the plot (this one was all plot explanation) and had minor characters as the feature.

I'm not 100% certain about this, but I think that you have that backwards. My (admittedly limited and possibly incorrect) understanding of a bottle episode is that it tries to use a tight group of mostly main characters, because it allows them to save on budget by using actors who are already under contract.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:27 AM on November 21, 2017

Wikipedia says: In episodic television, a bottle episode is produced cheaply and restricted in scope to use as few non-regular cast members, effects and sets as possible. Bottle episodes are usually shot on sets built for other episodes, frequently the main interior sets for a series and consist largely of dialogue and scenes for which no special preparations are needed. They are also commonly used when one script has fallen through and another has to be written at short notice.[1]
posted by agregoli at 8:34 AM on November 21, 2017

So, it did use very limited sets, but DID use regular (and expensive) cast members, so...half a bottle episode? The bottle was half-full? I dunno. It was obviously a cheaper episode for effects.
posted by agregoli at 8:35 AM on November 21, 2017

I think we're reading the same thing but parsing it differently.

In episodic television, a bottle episode is produced cheaply and restricted in scope to use as few non-regular cast members... as possible.

My reading of that is that a bottle episode uses primarily regular cast members (and thereby using as few non-regular cast members as possible). If you look at the examples listed on the Wikipedia page, you'll see that they're episodes where they use regular cast members of the respective shows almost exclusively.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:41 AM on November 21, 2017

Ahhh got it. Yeah I read that weird.
posted by agregoli at 8:42 AM on November 21, 2017

Oh geez..AND Carl put his mom down after she died so she wouldn't zombie. This is some weird vaguely-problematic-in-a-way-I-can't-articulate shit.
posted by agregoli at 8:55 AM on November 21, 2017

I didn't hate this episode, at least for the moments when Rick and Daryl weren't on screen. Like, I feel like anyone who has seen even one episode of the TWD knew that all that could happen there was that Daryl would want revenge and Rick would try to hold on to his humanity, and they would dick around until the truck exploded and snatched last week's victory out of their hands. We all knew that was going to happen and I would have rather it just be handwaved with a single shot of both of them with black eyes and a single exchange:

R: Sucks that the truck blew up and took those machine guns with it....
D: Ayup

On the other hand, the stuff at the Sanctuary was actually pretty good. I'm enjoying the interplay between Gabriel, Eugene, Dwight, and Negan. Which is not a sentence I would have ever imagined typing a season ago.
posted by 256 at 2:41 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

So, we’re just not gonna talk about Chekov’s Helicopter? That’s cool. But you know that’s what’s gonna pitch the battle. Mark my words.
posted by valkane at 6:51 PM on November 21, 2017

I have no idea what to say about the helicopter besides...if it's Negan's, they have an advantage. If it's someone else's, then they have an advantage. That's really all we know.
posted by agregoli at 6:57 PM on November 21, 2017

I mean the helicopter is exciting, but it's not the first one on this show and the others didn't ever lead us to who owned the helicopters.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:31 AM on November 22, 2017

Well, the one that crashed was owned by the military...shot down by the governor's people. But there were a few mystery ones flying around in other episodes. It would be neat if someone was still using them to herd walkers.
posted by agregoli at 5:48 AM on November 22, 2017

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