The season eight finale of The Walking Dead finally gives us the proper conclusion to the all our war with the Saviors that has dominated the plot for the last two years, including enough epilogues to give The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King a run for its money. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 16 “Wrath” Recap”
The penultimate episode of season eight was almost completely devoid of our main cast, focusing instead on the drama and near Civil War erupting among the Saviors when Negan returns. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 15 “Worth” Recap”
This week on The Walking Dead every possible emotion was wrung out of the escaped prisoners subplot from last week, leading to an episode brimming with emotional guilt and depicting our heroes brutally murdering people.
But hey, we got to see Rick and Morgan team up again.
Last week’s zombie fiasco allowed some of the captured prisoners at the Hilltop to make a break for it, led by professional long-haired asshole Jared. Henry, the kid who had foolishly opened their pen, was also missing, so Carol and Morgan set out to find them.
We’ve had a lot of Carol and Morgan scenes together, ever since they both ended up at the Kingdom last season. Their mutual respect and trust has been well-developed, which makes Morgan’s descent back into dementia all the more troubling.
Morgan’s character development has been incredibly frustrating. I love how Lennie James portrays the character, but I’m mostly confused as to what Morgan’s state of mind is at any time. Over the years he’s gone from dependable, to completely insane, to zen-like pacifist monk, to murderous rampage. His latest stint is another bout of madness that at this point just feels tiresome. Even Carol can’t snap him out of it, and she continues on to search for Henry, while Morgan tracks down the escaped prisoners in different direction.
Rick is going a bit crazy as well, still suffering from Carl’s untimely death. He goes to Alden, the one seemingly decent dude from the Savior PoWs, to ask where his buddies might’ve gone, seeing as how Simon basically disavowed them in the earlier fight.
Alden grudgingly reveals a diner location, and then gently suggests that Rick not murder them all. Rick basically replies with, “whatever dude,” and trots off. He meets up with Morgan, and the two instantly get captured. Come on, these are two of the biggest badasses of the zombie apocalypse!
They awaken tied up to some drama unfolding in the prisoner group. One of their members is heavily injured, and they know a herd is headed this way. Jared wants to first bring them back to Negan, then just kill them. Rick and Morgan play a little good cop, bad cop, with Morgan threatening to kill them all while Rick suggests they can all head back to Hilltop and let bygones be bygones (kudos to Andrew Lincoln for not literally winking at the camera).
Our plot herd shows up right on schedule, and some of the prisoners decide to free Morgan and Rick to help them fend off the herd.
I’ll admit what happened next caused me to actually blurt out the line, “holy crap!” The pair do help defend against the herd, but then they slowly make their way behind the other Saviors, who are likwise firing into the oncoming zombies. They give each other a look, then completely turn on the Saviors, murdering about half a dozen men in cold blood. Again, holy crap.
Jared escapes, of course, and Morgan hunts him down. After a brief fight Morgan holds him in place while some zombies chow down, leading to one of their more brutal, nasty murders we’ve seen outside Lucille. Morgan gets his vengeance for Henry, and this whole loose end is bloody well tied up.
Henry is actually alive, the little scamp. He’s in a bit of trouble in a swamp, and Carol is able to easily save him, and bring him back to the Hilltop, followed by Rick and Morgan’s return. A single glance from Alden knows that Rick has no more fucks to give when it comes to dealing with Saviors, further proving that he should absolutely not be in charge of diplomacy. Or anything, really.
Meanwhile we get to check in with the big cliffhanger from two weeks ago: Jadis capturing Negan. This was a bizarre sequence of events that involves Jadis sort-0f torturing a tied-up Negan, Negan emotionally confessing that his bat is named after his loving wife, and the two of them seeing a helicopter (!) fly over head, which Jadis fails to signal with a lit flare in time.
Not only does Jadis not actually hurt Negan, she can’t even bring herself to destroy his beloved bat. Instead she simply lets him go, and Negan walks away, which makes most of this a colossal waste of time, even with that WTF helicopter.
One of our final scenes checked in with Daryl and Rosita. The pair are spying on the bullet-making outpost that currently houses Eugene and Father Gabriel. They’ve deduced that the Saviors attacked with zombie-coated weapons and arrows because they’re low on ammo, and confirmed that Eugene has started making bullets.
Time is against them. Leave it to Daryl to go off half-cocked on a dangerous, reckless plan to assault the entire outpost to sabotage their efforts. At least they’re giving these two something to do other than piss and moan.
Rick and Morgan: Seeing Rick and Morgan kicking ass together is a lot of fun, even if them getting jumped and captured together is some major BS. I do wish we’d slow down and let them work out some serious issues with their now common history of losing their sons.
Carol: Once again it’s up to Carol to do the right thing. She prioritizes saving Henry, and does just that. But I’m putting her here for being the only one able to really get through to Morgan (though ultimately she fails to sway him). Her scene with Lennie James was one of the most emotional of the entire season, and that includes the whole Carl-dying thing.
Rick, Morgan: These two dudes are really losing it, and it’s getting harder and harder to cheer for them. Rick is evolving into a straight-up evil character while Morgan tends toward being a sociopath.
Jadis Capturing Negan: Seriously what was the point of this, other than to let Simon carry out the attack on Hilltop? Thus far all of Jadis’ antics have felt like big globs of filler in a slow-moving half-season. The helicopter was a fun tease but for right now doesn’t change the situation.
This week on The Walking Dead we finally got to see the big siege between the Saviors (now led by Simon) and the Hilltop, and it was mostly too dark to see anything.
After Rick’s reckless attack last week, the Saviors are now led by Simon, and Simon wants to go full-on scorched Earth in their siege of the Hilltop. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 13 “Do Not Send Us Astray” Recap”
This week Rick officially returns to the Hilltop, only to immediately go off half-cocked on a last minute plan to attack Negan, further proving that he learned nothing from his son.
On the flip side, Maggie begins to see the value of trusting and working with others. We saw a glimmer of this last week when she acquiesced to letting the Savior prisoners have some outside time. This week she spots an odd message just outside their walls – an offer of exchanges from a newcomer.
Michonne jumps all over the opportunity, despite the danger. Rick isn’t here to caution them against it, since he’s already left to scout for Saviors. Hilltop is very aware that an attack with the newly freed Saviors is imminent. Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12 “The Key” Recap”
We say our goodbyes to Carl Grimes in the mid-season premiere.
Rest in peace, Carl Grimes.
As expected, the extended mid-season nine premiere was a heart-wrenching swan song for Carl Grimes. We’d learned the gut punch during the mid-season finale: while helping new recruit Siddiq, Carl was bitten in the abdomen, sealing his fate. We spend most of our episode this week with our teary goodbyes, while also following the much more action-packed adventures of Carol and Morgan rescuing Ezekiel.
We left off at the mid-season break with our beleaguered Alexandrians holed up in the sewers beneath their neighborhood, which was under violent attack by the Saviors. The Saviors had recently broken out of the zombie barricade thanks in large part to the incredibly ill-fated plans of Daryl, Morgan, and Tara (which no one brings up or addresses, so far).
It’s there that Rick returns to find Carl, beginning to succumb to his bite wound after helping provide smoke bomb distractions and get everyone to safety during the attack. If you’re gonna kill off Carl Grimes, you damn well better make sure he goes out a hero.
It’s fashionable to hate on Carl. He had the dubious role of being the annoying kid in a hostile environment. His main role (initially) is simply motivation for Rick. As the years and actor Chandler Riggs grew older (something the comics don’t have to deal with), Carl evolved into his own character.
I’ve always been a fan of Carl and how he’s portrayed in both the comics and the show. He has his share of teen angst but he’s also empathetic, clever, resourceful, and incredibly brave. Mercy killing your pregnant mom is beyond fucked up and would ruin most young people’s entire lives, but Carl is able to come out the other side an even stronger person.
With his fatal bite we knew this was not exactly going to be a feel-good episode. Our heroes make the choice to stay until the bombing above them ends, then hightail it over to the Hilltop – the only location that was spared an all-out attack.
Rick opts to stay behind with Carl, and Michonne joins him. Daryl takes Judith. He says some nice stuff to Carl but, dude, you’ve been a fuck-up all season and in some way caused this whole attack to happen.
There’s a heart-wrenching scene where Rick gives Judith The Cowboy Hat, and promises that she’ll beat this world even though he couldn’t. More gut-punch scenes follow between he, Rick, and Michonne.
I do like that the focus was always on Carl, instead of using Carl’s imminent death to focus on Rick. In fact, Andrew Lincoln barely spoke this entire episode, manifesting his anguish as near speechlessness.
The theme of this season has been Mercy vs Wrath, with Rick as vengeful badass versus peaceful farmer. Carl has been trying to appeal to the latter. They’re in the middle of a war, but Carl is looking at the after, towards the peace that can, and should follow, and how to unify and build that community. Good dude, Carl.
But the war still wages outside, as we see with our other major scene this week. Carol joins Morgan at the Kingdom, where they quickly stage a rescue operation for Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s antics during the mid-season finale ultimately saved his people, but put him in captivity by the Kingdom Savior liaison Gavin.
I couldn’t think of two better badasses for Operation Stealth Assassins than Carol and Morgan. Sure Morgan’s a bit unhinged, hunting down enemies when it wasn’t necessary, but Carol’s there to point him in the right direction.
Gavin and his crew hole up in Ezekiel’s theater, and our heroes come in gun’s blazing. At one point a man gets on top of Morgan, wrestling him to the ground. Morgan responds by reaching into a wound in the man’s stomach and PULLING OUT HIS GODDAMN ENTRAILS.
Morgan has lost all fucks at this point. Ezekiel is saved but Gavin runs away. Instead of letting him go, Morgan picks up his sharpened spear and hunts him down.
The scene between Morgan and Gavin is cut together with Carl pleading to Rick about a peaceful future. Carol and Ezekiel likewise plead to Morgan that he doesn’t have to murder everyone. The point was to show the dichotomy between mercy and wrath, but it comes off a bit sloppy.
In the end it’s Henry, the younger brother of the slain boy whom Morgan had mentored, and whose death pushed him over the edge, who kills Gavin. Spear through the back of the throat. It shakes up everyone there, even Morgan is visibly upset. Carol is furious but Ezekiel, being the astoundingly patient, kind leader that he is, immediately forgives the boy and puts his arms around him.
It’s revealed toward the end of the episode that the cryptic, brightly-lit flash-forward scenes we’ve been glimpsing since last year’s finale are actually Carl’s dreams, not Rick’s. Carl dreams of a peaceful community like they briefly had at the farm and prison. In the dream Rick is older, bearded, and limping (comic fans know what’s up). We interact with a few characters, including Jerry and Eugene. But the biggest twist is Judith running up to a smiling, friendly Negan.
***MASSIVE COMIC SPOILERS***
In the comic, Rick is able to beat and subdue Negan during the big climax (while also sustaining a nasty leg injury), but he makes the very important decision not to murder him on the spot, but to imprison him, which is the first step toward creating a new world of law and order.
Eventually (the comics literally jump ahead several years) Negan’s role expands to become Rick’s confidant, and they continue to have an interesting relationship.
Is revealing Negan in the dream the show’s way of testing audience reaction? Is AMC afraid people will flip out if Negan doesn’t die? Is this their way of showing us that yes, Carl’s plan even includes clemency toward Negan? In any case it’s an important step to take for Rick, and perhaps Carl’s death will help him view granting mercy to Negan as a way of honoring Carl.
***MASSIVE COMIC SPOILERS***
Carl’s time draws near, and he grabs his gun. He knows neither Michonne nor Rick will be able to do it. Carl’s always been the strongest one of them all. We hear a shot from inside the building as Rick buries his face in his hands. The next scene he and Michonne are digging his grave, and we, the viewers, are kept at a distance.
Rest in peace, Carl Grimes, the second most tenured character on The Walking Dead (technically Morgan but he was gone for a few seasons so…). Despite your perceived character immortality, even you couldn’t make it through unscathed. Eight and half seasons is nothing to scoff at, and I think the show will be much poorer without you in it. Your legacy will live on through Rick, and through the important choices he’ll have to make in the episodes to come.
Carl Gimes: Carl is a great character, and he was great all the way to the end. This episode smartly kept the focus squarely on him, allowing ample time for him to explain how his father molded him and how he evolved and grew in a zombie apocalypse. I’m upset to see him go, but at least they did right by him in his send off episode.
Morgan & Carol: When Carol’s about to leave to join up with Morgan, one of the rescued Kingdommers tells her, “You versus all of them? They don’t stand a chance.” Amen, sister. This duo makes rescuing Ezekiel from armed guards looks easy, despite Morgan being a tad unhinged.
Carl’s Musical Montage: The opening montage provided a brief flashback into Carl getting bitten and hiding it, which we frankly didn’t really need to see. I also didn’t at all care for the song that played over the whole thing. A bad start to an otherwise solid episode.
You deserve better than this, Carl.
The 90-minute mid-season finale unfolded pretty much as I predicted, with the Saviors striking back swiftly and brutally against all three communities. I did not expect it to end with a far left field bomb drop in the discovery that Carl has been bitten, and his days are numbered.
We picked up right where last week left off, with Rick, Jadis, and the Scavengers approaching the now walker-less Sanctuary. That’s a dumb idea; gunfire erupts from the building, and the Scavengers scatter. So long subplot that went absolutely nowhere! Continue reading “The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 8 “How It’s Gotta Be” Recap”