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"The Big Scary U"
The Walking Dead episode
File:Negan and Gabriel.jpg
Negan and Father Gabriel make their way through the herd, located outside the Sanctuary courtyard, covered in walker guts.
Episode no. Season 8
Episode 5
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Teleplay by David Leslie Johnson
Angela Kang
Story by Scott M. Gimple
David Leslie Johnson
Angela Kang
Original air date November 19, 2017
Running time 52 minutes
Guest actors
  • Jayson Warner Smith as Gavin
  • Traci Dinwiddie as Regina
  • Elizabeth Ludlow as Arat
  • Lindsley Register as Laura
  • Mike Seal as Gary
  • Charles Halford as Yago
  • Jon Eyez as Potter
  • Jose Miguel Vasquez as Jose
  • Brooke Jaye Taylor as Brooke
Episode chronology
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"The King, the Widow, and Rick"

"The Big Scary U" is the fifth episode of the eighth season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead, which aired on AMC on November 19, 2017. The episode was written by Scott M. Gimple, David Leslie Johnson and Angela Kang, and directed by Michael E. Satrazemis.

This episode mainly focuses on the events at the Sanctuary right before and after the combined attack. For the first time, minor details about Negan's backstory are revealed.


In a flashback, Gregory (Xander Berkeley) bargains with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his Savior lieutenants—Dwight (Austin Amelio), Simon (Steven Ogg), Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith), Regina (Traci Dinwiddie), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) - offering to expel any Hilltop resident that sides with Rick. Simon suggests they can just wipe out Hilltop if they do not comply, but Negan sternly reminds him that they are useful resources. The meeting is broken up by the start of Rick's militia attack on the Sanctuary.

In the present, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) finds himself trapped with Negan in a box trailer outside the Sanctuary, surrounded by a group of walkers. Negan doesn't kill Gabriel, but instead lulls him into talking about his past, learning that Gabriel seeks to atone for betrayal of his own congregation. Negan talks of his own past to gain Gabriel's confidence and help. They work together to pull in and dispatch a few walkers to cover themselves in their viscera to make their way through the group.

Meanwhile, the Savior lieutenants believe Negan to be dead and discuss how they will handle the power vacuum. Gavin raises the possibility that the militia's attack succeeded due to inside information from one of them. Dwight, who had provided Rick with that info, diverts the discussion to issues with the anxious workers on the floor below, knowing that if they do not assert a form of authority, they could rebel. Leaving matters be for the time being, they return to their quarters. Eugene comes by to drop a gift of appreciation to Dwight, and notices a freshly-painted chess set in his room. Some time later, Simon decides to cut off the Sanctuary's power to conserve resources. Several workers come upstairs to protest the conditions and demand to see Negan. The lieutenants ability to control the workers is weakening when Negan and Gabriel arrive. Negan quickly reasserts his authority and the workers obediently return to the lower floor. Negan tells his lieutenants to gently lock up Gabriel in a cell. The Saviors discover weapon bags left by the militia and evidence that they were used to convey stolen Savior weapons to Rick's allies. Eugene discovers a spot of paint on one bag, the same color as from Dwight's chess set. Negan privately asks Eugene to figure out how to rid them of the walkers around the Sanctuary. Later, Eugene goes to visit Gabriel and finds him quite ill, and quickly calls for medical attention.

Elsewhere, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) go to a dying Yago (Charles Halford) to find out what happened. Yago reveals that all the Kingdom militia were killed, except for King Ezekiel, Jerry, and Carol. Rick takes the weapons aboard the Saviors’ truck they had prevented from returning to Sanctuary. He and Daryl get into an argument on what to do with the weapons, Daryl believes they should use them against the Saviors, while Rick sees a more humane solution. The argument turns to a fist-fight, which inadvertently results in a bag of dynamite being thrown at the truck, destroying it and the weapons. Daryl refuses to give Rick a return ride to Alexandria, leaving Rick to follow a helicopter flying overhead.


"The Big Scary U" features the first details of Negan's backstory within the television series.[1] In the case of the comic series, Negan had been present within the narrative for about 50 issues before Robert Kirkman wrote Negan's backstory in "Here's Negan". Kirkman said that he purposely held off on giving Negan's background as he felt "that story works best when Negan has been around for many years".[2] Similarly, how the television series was treating Negan's backstory had been unclear since his introduction at the end of season 6; Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan in the show, was not clear of the character's background initially.[1] Kirkman has stated he would like to see Negan's story play out on television through Morgan, but could not speak for how long the show plans to keep the character around.[3]


Critical reception

"The Big Scary U" received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds an 81% with an average rating of 7.07 out of 10, based on 27 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "The Big Scary U" slows down the action to spend some quality time with -- and thereby humanize -- two of its much-maligned cast members.[4]

Noel Murray of Rolling Stone called "The Big Scary U" one of the season's best episodes because it provided more nuances to Negan's character than had been shown before, and because it filled in some of the story gaps of earlier episodes.[5] Joe Otterson of Variety likewise called the episode "one of the more satisfying episodes of the season thus far" for focusing on Negan.[6]


The episode averaged a 3.4 rating among adults 18-49, and had a viewership of 7.85 million viewers, which marked a six-year low for the series.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Goldberg, Lesley (April 7, 2016). "'Walking Dead' Exclusive: See the First Page of Negan's Backstory". The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/walking-dead-see-first-page-881581. Retrieved April 7, 2016. 
  2. Goldberg, Lesley (October 29, 2016). "'Walking Dead': Will Negan's Backstory Be Explored?". The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/walking-dead-will-negans-backstory-be-explored-941857. Retrieved October 29, 2016. 
  3. Wigler, Josh (November 20, 2017). "How 'Walking Dead' Gave New Life to its Nastiest Nightmare(s)". The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/walking-dead-negan-origin-explained-1059650. Retrieved November 20, 2017. 
  4. "The Big Scary U". Rotten Tomatoes. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_walking_dead/s08/e05. Retrieved November 19, 2017. 
  5. Murray, Noel (November 20, 2017). "'The Walking Dead' Recap: Father Figures". Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/recaps/the-walking-dead-recap-father-figures-w511901. Retrieved November 20, 2017. 
  6. Otterson, Joe (20 November 2017). "‘Walking Dead’ Recap: Negan’s Backstory Comes Into Focus (SPOILER)". https://variety.com/2017/tv/news/walking-dead-recap-season-8-episode-5-negan-1202617991/. Retrieved 15 November 2018. 
  7. Porter, Rick (November 21, 2017). "Sunday cable ratings: 6-year low for ‘The Walking Dead’". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-nov-19-2017/. Retrieved November 21, 2017. 

External links