Airing Mondays at 9pm in the UK on FOX
Director: Greg Nicotero
Writers: Scott M Gimple, Angela Kang and Matthew Negrete
Essential Plot Points:
- Rick and the alliance head out to ambush Negan, taking out a patrol and finding new intel.
- Father Gabriel bails from a moving car when Negan takes him along for the final encounter and confesses his plan to kill everyone. Eugene chases Gabriel down and recaptures him.
- The fresh coordinates are fake and put Rick and the others at the centre of Negan’s counter-ambush. But a further deception swings the balance away from the Saviors.
This is how season eight ends, not with a bang but a whimper. Yet given the all-out war that’s gone before, that’s something of a relief. Everyone has become so good at killing, and it’s become as easy as finishing a whole can of pudding, that it’s crossed into normality. The ripples moving outwards from Carl’s death finally have their impact, and their positive influence change what could be a slaughter for either side into something more meaningful.
The writers (Scott M Gimple, Angela Kang and Matthew Negrete) run with that and offer up much more layered dialogue, as two main themes come to the fore: that people – Rick in particular – have forgotten what they were; and that “there’s gotta be something after”. So much of what’s said is laced with this, as characters contemplate what is to come and look back on what’s gone before.
Morgan has been the one to embody the struggle in this world that in order to change this awful situation you have to kill, but that killing actually changes who you are. He’s once again the show’s conscience, struggling with his actions to a point where he’s still seeing those he killed in hallucinations (and almost killing those he wrongly thinks are a threat, as seen when he decks his young ward Henry).
There’s been a lot of talk that the human versus human conflict in The Walking Dead over the past few years has seen a lot of viewers attracted by a zombie show switch off. This finale represents a moment of change not just for the communities at war but for the show as a whole. For all the intention to show that the disparate communities are not as allied as we think, given Maggie’s speech at the end of the episode, we doubt that a road containing such widespread human conflict will be trodden anytime soon. Rather that enormous herd seen on the horizon as the armies go to war is now the show’s literal horizon, and will be the main focus of efforts in season nine.
- Rick’s chat with Siddiq sets the tone for the change that’s about to come, and helps Rick recapture some of the heroic stature that makes him such a great character.
- We were starting to think Morgan’s drift into insanity was becoming a bit hammy but the fact that Rick’s double-cross of the Saviors (in S08E14 Still Gotta Mean Something) has pushed him further down that road fits well with his character.
- The mega herd from season six looks tiny compared with the one on the horizon.
- Like a bad Bond villain, Negan still can’t cut the chat and finish Rick when he has the chance. Less talk, more bat fella.
- The little speech Maggie gives at the end is out of character, despite how angry she is that Rick allowed Negan to live. The idea that she’s about to cross over into villainhood seems so far-fetched as to be ridiculous. And the fact she’s explaining it to Jesus, who always cautions against rash actions and killing, makes it seem even odder.
Jerry and King Ezekiel’s chitchat before they head into battle:
Ezekiel: “If this morning is to be our last, it will be a fine morning indeed.”
Jerry: “This isn’t the last of shit.”
Ezekiel: “It could be for some of our ranks. I accept that.”
Jerry: “I’m not accepting shit.”
Ezekiel: “It’s not simple acceptance or pessimism, no. Not that. But to justify everything we’ve lost, we must risk losing everything.”
Jerry: “We’re not losing shit.”
Morgan’s speech mirrors Negan’s mantra that “People are a resource”, but puts a positive spin on it:
“Everything is about people. Everything in this life that’s worth a damn is about people.”
Review by Matt Chapman