This review contains spoilers.
So, it is here, at last, the final episode of Season 8 of The Walking Dead. And boy was it a good one!
Overall, Season 8 has been a return to form for The Walking Dead. Yes, it still has some issues that it has carried over, but hopefully, with a new showrunner for Season 9, these writing and episode formatting issues can finally be corrected. The pace, which has been the show’s biggest problem, was, for the most part, fixed this season and you rarely found yourself wanting the show to increase its urgency. We’ve had lots of great standout episodes and overall the way the ‘All Out War’ story arch has played out, has left me satisfied.
So, onto the episode itself.
We start with some utterly beautiful dialogue from Rick during a flashback of ‘Sherrif Rick’ and young Carl walking hand in hand. It was a lovely scene, one that would ultimately be used to bookend the episode. More beauty was to follow, with a truly outstanding scene between Rick and Saddiq. Avi Nash knocked it out of the park here, he was absolutely superb. I’ve been banging his drum all season, and hopefully, in Season 9 his role (and Aaron’s) is much larger. It is also worth mentioning here, that the music for these two scenes was simply breathtaking. It was so emotive, it elevated the amazing acting on screen and really drove home that emotional reaction.
We got a great scene between Jerry and Ezekiel, one that helped lighten the tone, but still felt in tune with everything else that was happening. Morgan was continuing his breakdown, more on that later, and the group finally left Hilltop to take out Negan. All this before the credits hit. What a great start, one that set the bar for the rest of the episode.
Negan and The Saviors started their preparations too. Negan gleefully, yet calmly, explaining his plan to Gabriel was a nice touch. It showed you how in control of the situation he was. How brutal he was to sacrifice his own people so that he could execute his plan. He was moving all the chess pieces on the board, he was pulling all the strings, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan did it with pure elegance. I think my favourite scene here was Negan testing out Eugene’ss homemade ammunition on the ‘rick’ dummy. It was very subtle, they didn’t zoom in or linger on the shirt. It was well worked.
As Rick and Co walked into Negan’s trap, the whistles strike up, and you know it’s about to go down. The whistling is not everyone’s cup of tea. For me, I enjoy it. It works when there is a trap and there is a large group of them. It worked well when they first arrived on the scene, and it worked again here. It’s very menacing. Let the fight begin!
With The Saviors surrounding the group, Negan ordered the slaughter. But it did not happen, in fact, something obvious happened that I’ve been telling you all won’t happen because it’s too obvious. The Savior’s guns exploded, thanks to Eugene and his dud bullets. While I loved it at the time, as I was so engrossed in what was happening, I would later reflect that this irked me a little. I don’t mind being wrong. But they have mishandled Eugene for two seasons now and all but killed off the character to the audience. The redemption didn’t feel earned or logical, it felt out of the blue, so it stuck out a lot. But, IF we get the old Eugene back, then the character may yet be saved.
Now for the one-on-one. Rick Vs Negan for the final time. It was not as hard hitting or brutal as their previous encounters, but it was the most emotionally charged. Rick pleading for Negan to end it, with Negan counting down was a great moment. I was genuinely unsure of how they would end it. Turns out they decided to pull from the comic. And I am very happy about that. Rick cuts Negan’s throat, just enough to down him, and orders Siddiq to save him. This causes a massive outburst of emotion from Maggie, which you can understand. Negan is down The Saviors surrender. The war is over.
With Negan patched up and lying weakly in a hospital bed, we get ‘Rick’s reply’ to the opening of the episode. Again, it was acted, shot and scored beautifully. But that wasn’t the end of the drama.
Maggie is talking to Jesus, saying that Rick was right to allow the surrender of The Saviors. But soon adds that Rick and Michonne were wrong in allowing Negan to live. And out of the shadow pops Daryl. Agreeing. DUN DUN DUUNNNNNN.
Now, a few things. Maggie is not going to be the big-bad for the next season. Nor should the storyline go past the first three episodes. It’s just not a strong enough conflict to carry an entire season. Yes, it creates some potentially interesting storylines and it will cause some internal fighting, something that we haven’t really seen since back at The Prison. But I’m just not interested in seeing this dragged out. Get The Whisperers in ASAP! That is the story we want. I used to be in the “If Daryl dies we riot” brigade, but he’s been making stupid decisions all season and has hardly been used. As for Maggie, she’s grown as a leader, and this just sets the character back. As for people going crazy that Jesus was there, he IS NOT on their side. His whole thing has been to build for the future and let people live. He’s probably going to be the one to tell Rick and Michonne what Maggie and Daryl are planning. I smell a fake out either way.
Always nice to see Kal in The Walking Dead. He some dialogue too, more Kal, please!
Oceanside finally do something, molatoving The Saviors at Hilltop. Hopefully, this means Aaron can come back into the fold and get some more screentime.
Morgan *sigh*. I think Lennie James is fantastic, but Morgan as a character? I’m done. I no longer invested in him and I’m sick of all the ghostly visions he’s having. Go to Fear The Walking Dead, refresh, and we’ll see what happens in the future. But they cannot drag this story out anymore on this show.
Eugene and Rosita had a nice moment when she punches him in the face as payback for puking on her. They seemed to accept Eugene back into the fold pretty quickly, too quickly for me.
Dwight leaves to find his girl. Daryl tells him not to come back. At this point, I know which character I would prefer to be on the show. Austin Amelio was again, fantastic and hopefully, he’s going to be back again pretty soon next season.
What did you think of the episode? Happy with the way they ended it? What are your predictions for Season 9? Let us know in the comments.