Revelations! Callbacks! Helicopters! The Walking Dead season 8’s episode 5, The Big Scary U, was full of surprises and fan servicing setups, making it one of the stronger outings in an otherwise disjointed season so far. It wasn't without its hiccups, and some of the events played out in cringe-worthy fashion at times, but I enjoyed many of the episode’s isolated moments, even if the sum of its (many) parts still leaves me wanting.
And I'm not just wanting, either, but asking too, as the episode poses yet more questions for the show as it gears towards its mid-season break. Here's the biggest questions I'm still wondering about and if you haven’t seen the episode yet, turn away now because there’s huge spoilers to follow.
1. So is Gabriel Negan’s mole or not?!
The real surprise of this episode, frankly, was that Lucille didn’t end up covered in Gabriel’s brain fluid, thanks to the Father’s curiously chummy relationship with Negan. But does this confirm the long standing theory that Gabriel is Negan’s mole? Did Negan decide to spare him because he genuinely believes in “killing the right people”, for example, or is it indicative of a more long-standing partnership between the pair? The Father has repeatedly expressed his desire to find purpose and redemption in the post-apocalypse, but would double crossing Rick to serve a tyrant achieve this?
If Gabriel’s traitor status is true, does that mean his ‘capture’ by Jadis’ Heapsters in season 7 was all a setup, designed by Negan so Rick could find them, only to be double-crossed all along? Alternatively, as the last scene suggests (which I’ll talk about in a bit), perhaps Gabriel’s friendliness to Negan is all just an act in itself, and he’s actually working as a double agent for Rick… Either way, those RV scenes have thrown up a whole can of new questions regarding the character’s loyalties and future position in the war to come.
2. Is Eugene on to Dwight?
Now that Negan is back in charge and ready to clean up Rick’s mess, his first order of business is weeding out the covert agent amongst his ranks, before probably killing them in a very slow and horrible way. The audience, of course, knows who it is; it’s Dwight, but is anybody else close to blowing his cover? His fellow Saviour leaders show him a few dodgy looks across the table more than enough times to suggest he’s a top suspect, but I think Eugene - as the only one who can definitively count himself out as the culprit - has Dwight all figured out.
The question is, what will he decide to do with that information? Will he stay in Negan’s good books by outing Dwight, or do his former ties with team Rick make him more sympathetic to their cause? Only time will tell, but first, Eugene’s got to sort out that Walker infestation.
3. Is Rick and Daryl’s bromance over?
As predicted from episode 3’s foreboding, Rick and Daryl’s conflict of ideas finally came to a head in episode 5, or, more specifically, a headlock. Yep, the cop and the tracker had a full on fist fight over their competing battle plans and, though they both came to their senses after a few minutes, Daryl wouldn’t even offer Rick a ride to the Kingdom on the back of his motorbike by the end of it.
Does this mean we can say buh-bye to The Walking Dead’s most precious relationship? What does this mean for all that Rick and Daryl fanfiction? Having gone through so much together over the course of seven seasons, it seems as though these two blood brothers are diverging onto different highways, each one pursuing a vision for tomorrow that’s incompatible with the other. Can we not just let bygones be bygones and hug it out, guys?
4. Who is in that helicopter?
On his lonesome walk back to a mourning Kingdom, Rick is suddenly greeted by the appearance of a helicopter flying right over his head, which isn’t something you see every day in zombified Virginia. What could this mean? Is there still remnants of civilization somewhere in Southeast America? Or is this another one of Negan’s toys, only to be used in case of emergencies?
Interestingly enough, a helicopter was spotted in The Walking Dead right back in season 1, and then again in a flashback scene during season 2 (not to mention the UFO seen floating in the background of an episode from last season), which naturally prompted many questions from fans and viewers at the time. AMC promised that the mystery would be addressed at some point, but are yet to give an answer, so are the showrunners finally delivering on their word, or will this unidentified hovercraft forever remain The Walking Dead’s perpetually airborne enigma?
5. Why does Negan imprison Gabriel?
Yes, they may have tussled around a little when things got heated inside that RV, but the fact is that Negan and Gabriel had a serious heart to heart in this episode. Negan opened up about his pre-apocalypse story to Gabriel, and you could sense both characters expressing their mutual admiration for one another. The pair even had a cool scene amongst a zombie horde together, and saved each other from certain death more than a few times during the escape, so why the hell did Negan decide to lock Gabriel up as a prisoner by the end of it?
Does he not trust his new friend quite yet? Is solitary confinement a way of testing Gabriel’s mettle? Or is he still pissed off that Gabriel tried to shoot him? Negan can be a dick, but he’s also proven himself to abide to his own code of honour and diplomacy in the past, so why the undue punishment for his former camping chum?
6. What on earth was going on in that cliffhanger?
As if there weren’t enough unanswered questions regarding Gabriel, the last we see of him he’s in a cell, sweating profusely, muttering something about getting Maggie’s doctor out of the Sanctuary. Wait, what? So he is still working for Rick, then? Or has he just changed his mind about Negan? And why does he look so ill? Was he bitten during the escape from the RV? Has he deliberately infected himself so that he can speak with the doctor he apparently intends on rescuing? Just what in the hell is going on here? Episode 6 has some serious explaining to do...