Airing in the UK on FOX, Mondays at 9pm
Writers: David Leslie Johnson & Angela Kang
Director:Michael E. Satrazemis
Essential Plot Points:
- And we’re right back with Rick. He is TERRIFIED. Breathing FAST. He squawks his walkie talkie, desperate to find out if anyone is left.
- And then we’re in the forest with Rick and Carl, immediately after abandoning Siddiq. Carl is mad as hell at what his dad’s done.
- Back in the present, Rick, Jadis and the Junkers storm Sanctuary. They find walls of Walkers, immediately come under fire and Rick takes cover. He yells orders to them but they run off.
- Jerry and Carol rescue him and they speed off.
- And we’re back with Carl, making his dad think about what happens next. And we also get a sneaking suspicion about how this is going to go…
- Enid and Aaron are en route to Oceanside. Enid is worried about whether or not they’ll even talk to them. Aaron can’t stop thinking about how recently Eric was with him.
- They trade out driving and Enid takes a detour. She has an idea about giving something they can use, and she’s just seen a sign to a distillery…
- Back in Alexandria, Daryl and Michonne check in with one another. Michonne apologizes for leaving him. Daryl is fine with it. The plan worked after all…
- A visibly upset Carl is writing letters to people. He looks at Enid’s note, JUST SURVIVE SOMEHOW…
- Tara and Rosita check in with one another. Rosita went back to the warehouse and emptied it of anything useful.
- Aaron and Enid park up for the night near Oceanside. They’ve retrieved a truckload of booze from the brewery, They go to sleep but are woken in the early hours by a noise. Aaron and Enid circle around the truck in different directions. There’s the sound of a struggle and Enid sees Aaron on the ground with someone standing over him. She shoots.
- And kills Cindy’s grandma, the leader of Oceanside…
- At Alexandria, Michonne finds Carl sneaking into the sewers. He begins to explain about Siddiq and then…
- Negan. And the Savior army. Outside the gates. Negan gives them 3 minutes and then he’s coming in.
- We see Jerry, Carol and Rick speeding home in different cars. And then we see Jerry side-swiped. NO! OUR FEELINGS, JERRY!
- Which continue to be murdered by the note he leaves Ezekiel. We see the King, alone in his theatre, disconsolate. The Saviors storm it and Ezekiel hides.
- Maggie and Jesus are leading a convoy out. There’s a tree in the road and Maggie orders them to stop and turn around.
- It’s too late. The Saviors pull up. A group drags Jerry, beaten semi-conscious, out into the road n holds a gun to his head. They rest a coffin against Maggie’s car.
- And then Simon monologues. For the hundred thousandth time…
- At Alexandria, they have two minutes and Carl has a plan; delay Negan long enough to get to the sewers, let him have Alexandria and get everyone else out. Michonne isn’t happy but Carl points out victory isn’t holding a place, it’s rescuing the people within it.
- At the Kingdom, because for some reason we’re treated to three times the Savior monologuing this week, Gavin announces that the Kingdom and everything in it belongs to Negan. Oh and the Saviors will be moving to the Kingdom until Sanctuary is refurbished.
- Back at the convoy, Simon orders every gun handed over or Jerry dies.
- At Alexandria, Carl confronts Negan. Carl tries to reason with him, pointing out there are kids inside. Negan isn’t having it, retorting that none of this is fair.
- Carl pushes back, HARD. So hard he offers himself up as a sacrifice and for for the first time, Negan is speechless. Carl repeats himself; if his death makes everything different, for everyone, then why wouldn’t he?
- Negan’s speechless.
- On the other side of Alexandria, Dwight and the other half of the Saviors pursue the evacuation convoy. Disgusted by Carl distracting him, Negan orders the bombardment to begin. Alexandria is peppered wth grenades.
- Carl makes his way back through town, scattering smoke grenades everywhere he goes to slow down the Saviors.
- Back at the Kingdom, Gavin is still talking, He demands Ezekiel as the one person who has to be given up.
- No one says anything.
- Gavin doesn’t have the stomach for this and basically bargains himself out of the standoff. With no choice, he gives them 5 minutes to give up Ezekiel.
- At the convoy, Simon is also still monologuing. He explains how every settlement is being dealt with but Hilltop will be allowed to continue producing. As music begins he explains that Eugene led the rest of the herd away.
- Simon gives her two choices; he kills Jerry, puts her in the box, executes her in front of Hilltop and sticks her head on a pike before ending Hilltop.
- Turn around. Right after someone’s been killed.
- The extra in Maggie’s car, it turns out.
- Maggie agrees. And asks for the box to take her guy in to be buried in. Simon agrees.
- It’s midnight and Eugene can’t sleep. Fighting down nausea and disgust, he drinks and tries to get back to sleep.
- Carl stumbles through Alexandria.
- Tara, Michonne, Rosita and Daryl wait at an ambush point. Rosita reassures Daryl that it isn’t his fault. It would have have happened anyway. Daryl pops a flare and throws it into the road.
- Dwight and his convoy roll up, with his number two increasingly worried that Dwight is leading them into an ambush.
- He is.
- And slaughters the Saviors they don’t get. His second realises the truth way too late, shoots him and is driven off.
- Negan breaches Alexandria and heads in, ordering his men to find Carl but not kill him.
- Carl, injured in the getaway, limps along towards the rendezvous. He drops smoke to cover his tracks.
- Eugene wakes up Doctor Carson and Gabriel. He tells them that while he has no intention of going with them, there IS a chance they could escape.
- At the Kingdom, Ezekiel triggers a massive explosion and while the Saviors are distracted, breaks the barricade. Carol races up, sending Naveela and the others to a rendezvous point only to see Ezekiel lock the gates. Smiling, his voice returned, he says ‘Save them, as you saved me.’
- And the Saviors take him.
- Maggie strides up to the POW camp at Hilltop. Gregory manages to be unbearable with under a minute of screen time as Maggie chooses a Savior and orders him brought out. The Savior swaggers and Maggie shoots him in the face. She order Jesus to fortify Hilltop in preparation for the last stand and walks off, weeping.
- At the ambush, Dwight signals the others it’s safe. He pleads with them that he’s on their side. Daryl tears his vest off him and leaves. Rosita, silently, grumpily, helps Dwight up.
- At Hilltop, Maggie writes WE HAVE 38 MORE. STAND DOWN on the coffin and says ‘Leave it where they’ll find it.’
- Gavin is berating Ezekiel. On the other side of the wall, Morgan listens to him being taken away.
- Back at the remains of Alexandria, the ambush team head into the tunnels. Michonne is blisteringly angry at what’s been done to their home and closes the tunnel with her still outside.
- Rick heads home, looking for his family. Negan is, of course, waiting. They beat the hell out of each other, culminating in Negan putting Rick through a window and Rick running off.
- Michonne is going street to street, killing Walkers. She’s jumped by a Savior who she hacks apart, screaming with rage, as Rick walks up.
- Michonne leads Rick back to the tunnels.
- At Hilltop, Maggie and Jesus both struggle with the realities of what has to come next.
- In the tunnels, Rick checks in with his people. Tara, in particular, is clearly horror-struck by what’s been done and allowed to happen.
- We touch on pretty much everyone, all haunted and exhausted. Rick finds Siddiq in the tunnels. And next to him, Carl.
- Carl is soaking wet, pale.
- And bitten.
- Rick and Michonne are reunited with their son. Just in time to see him die.
We’re honestly conflicted about this episode. There’s some really good stuff in here, one MASSIVE, show-changing event and…well…a lot of other stuff.
It’s not that the episode’s bad. It’s that, much like a lot of the show’s extended run-time episodes, it feels less like a jam-packed hour of TV and more like a really grim checklist.
- Daryl and Tara newly guilt-ridden over their actions? Check
- Maggie crossing a line that will haunt her forever? Check.
- Rick and Negan engaging in a superficially satisfying but ultimately meaningless fist fight? Check.
- Very nearly every character still alive getting a moment on screen whether the episode warrants it or not? (sigh) check.
The Hilltop and Kingdom sequences, in particular, are in this weird, liminal space where you can tell they’re necessary but they aren’t exactly gripping. Likewise, the Aaron and Enid stuff which exists to do the exact thing the Carol and Morgan plot did a while back; set up the next season and not much else.
That by itself would be fine. But when you also get the emotional redemption (ish) of Eugene, Alexandria burning to the ground and more, the episode should feel like it’s an hour-long version of that ‘ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE NEXT HALF HOUR!’ intro on Stingray. Instead, it feels, far too often, like a trudge.
Worse of all, the crammed script makes it feel like the show wasn’t sure if they had a good plan here. And believe us, they do. The slow reveal on Carl is an absolute hammer blow, as Chandler Riggs shows us this pained, careful, odd kid who has grown up at the end of the world, doing the last good thing he’ll ever do.
Riggs is amazingly good throughout and word is that his swansong episode, the next one, is an all-time highlight for the show. We can believe it, and he’ll be missed.
But what now?
This must surely mean the heavily implied time jump that would bring the show in line with the comics is out of the window? And if so, that means that the end of the Savior war could go a very different way. Let’s be real for a moment; it might not end this season. And if, like us, you could honestly do with Simon and Gavin never EVER having to make a speech again? That is not good news.
The truth is that the death, or imminent death, of Carl Grimes puts us in the exact same position as the characters; off the map. Nothing we expected will be arriving the way we thought it might. And the The Walking Dead will never, ever be a close adaptation of the comics again.
That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not a comforting one. The fact that Carl’s demise fits into the ‘something big/someone big happens/dies at the start, middle and end of a season’ doesn’t help matters either.
Of course the events of this, and the existence of Fear The Walking Dead, make it seem very likely the show is going to carve a very different path for itself and we’re absolutely there for it. But, especially after the Glenn and Abe deaths, this is a very hard pill to swallow. Not hopeful, by any means, but always compelling this is a mid-season finale that will go down in history. But we’ll need a while to confirm if that’s in a good way.
- If you go back and check the previous episode, you can both see Carl get bitten and see him realize he has been. That’s really smart narrative engineering.
- Michonne hacking the Savior apart, showing she’s about as sick of them as we are by now.
- Eugene! Coming through! Mostly!
- The structure. The payoff that everything Carl is doing is because he knows is a gut punch..
- The sheer courage of this choice. Carl being killed (And it’s been made clear that there’s no workaround here, he’s leaving) is a massive, permanent diversion from the comics. The show will be a very, very different thing next year.
- Jerry being so fundamentally likable even the Saviors comment on it as they decide whether or not to kill him.
- ‘A goddamn mess of death and the dead.’
- The random and oddly talkative Hilltop resident in the back of Maggie’s car is shot. That’s a shocker.
- Enid accidentally shooting Cindy’s grandma is the furthest from subtle the show has been since the first time Glen ‘died’.
- The sludgy pacing.
- Three separate Savior monologues. Please, PLEASE don’t do that again.
- Michael E Satrazemis is a fixture on the show having directed 11 episodes and worked on many more. He also directed an episode of recent, execellent paranormal Amazon show, Lore.
- David Leslie Johnson & Angela Kang have been busy this season. They co wrote ‘The Big Scary U’, Kang co-wrote ‘The King, the Widow and Rick’ with Corey Reed and Johnson wrote the phenomenal ‘Some Guy’.
- SERIOUSLY THOUGH IS JERRY OKAY?!
- ‘What about that really heavy looking crate? AWESOME.’
‘Is this who you wanted to BE?’
- ‘It’s just a mistake. I made one too.’
‘Just umm…I ain’t sleeping tonight.’
- ‘Whoops. I appear to have dropped the keys to a vehicle adjacent to aforementioned north side gate.’
- ‘You’re doing the right thing.’
‘As previously debated, that assessment is relative.’
‘No. It isn’t.’
- ‘Your Majesty…’-OUR FEELINGS, CAROL, ALL OF THEM, OUR FEELINGS.
Review by Alasdair Stuart