Do you like the endless sound of machine gun fire? How about fading shots of close ups to character’s faces? Well, if you said yes to either, you’ll love The Walking Dead Season 8! Seriously, while this half wasn’t without merit, it was a lot of noise and very little else, which given the subtitle to the season / comic book arc is “All Out War!” isn’t exactly unexpected, but I was still hoping for a bit of drama here and there… Let’s take a closer look anyway!
Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel rally their communities together to take down Negan, eventually lead the group to attack the Sanctuary, taking down it’s fences and flooding the compound with walkers. The all out war has begun.
*Spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
“I trust this man I met only a short time ago to lead us all to victory!”
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) – The former sheriff now leads the Alexandria settlement in a united front against Negan and his “Savours”. If all goes according to plan, it should be done quickly! …. *ahem*
Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – Quiet and brooding right-hand man to Rick, and not unaccustomed to doing something reckless in a rage…
Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) – Leader of the Savours and a bit of a crazy, barbed wire bad swinging madman.
Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) – Maggie is the leader of the Hilltop community and is currently with-child… though that doesn’t mean she’ll back away from the fighting, given the father to her child was among the first casualties in the war…
Michonne (Danai Gurira) – Michonne was beaten half to death at the end of the previous season, so is sitting this full-scale assault out… for now.
Morgan Jones (Lennie James) – Morgan was doing his best to survive in the post-apocalypse with his son, then his son died and he went crazy, then he went overly nice and anti-killing, and now he’s back to being crazy. Hooray!?
Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) – Carol was trying her best to sit out the war, she had enough of death and killing… but then she heard of old allies falling, and well…
King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) – Leader of the Kingdom community who does his best to lift his people’s spirits by acting as a old fashioned English King, like he used to do in plays. He believes it will all work out without much loss… Hmmm…
Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) – Eugene is a self-confessed coward, and when he was taken in by Negan and the Savours from Alexandria, he soon became acclimatised to his more pleasant surroundings (insane and bloodthirsty leader aside), so much so that he may be persuaded to further betray his old friends, if given the right reason to do so…
Jesus (Tom Payne) – Paul “Jesus” Rovia is a kind soul, still clinging on to the goodness of people and how there is no excuse for killing a defenseless man… that’s going to go well in this all out war!
Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) – Rick’s son who is trying his best to see goodness in people, willing to help out lost travellers if they seem like they could help Alexandria and not be a threat. This will lead to nothing but good things…
Dwight (Austin Amelio) – One of Negan’s top soldiers who, after his wife had a … hard time of it under Negan, has decided to betray his old leader and join up with Rick and co… When the time is right.
Simon (Steven Ogg) – Negan’s second-in-command who may well be even more insane that he is. Utterly ruthless and likely to snap at any second, you’d probably prefer to deal with the boss himself…
And many… many more!
This is a good example of great reaction of shock, and not so great reaction of shock…
While there were a lot of issues with this half-season, there were some highlights. Mainly, it seems, people’s unrealistic attitudes and character traits are becoming undone, which is good. King Ezekiel’s smiling royal character and “we won’t lose a single guy” attitude is crushed by seeing the majority of his people get cut down by a high-powered machine gun, not to mention his pet tiger! Negan’s invincible-feeling crazy arsehole shtick is dented by Rick and co. successfully taking some of his locations and very nearly killing him. Negan and priest (still! Somehow…) Gabriel have a sort-of heart-to-heart while being surrounded by the undead in a trailer, and while it’s not exactly Governor levels of understanding how he fell down this dark path, it at least gave him a tiny bit of humanity and backstory. Carol and Morgan are back on the “if we don’t kill them, they’ll just kill us” bandwagon, which, as harsh as it is, makes sense in the situation, and generally by the end, there are very few character who seem to be acting stupidly.
There have been one or two places where Rick has started to doubt his ruthlessness and start to think of other ways, just a few, but that’s good. I mean, I understand ruthlessness towards the Savours, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t really understand early scenes where Rick refuses to help struggling survivor Siddiq despite the fact that he clearly wasn’t a threat and could be a handy new soldier in their fight… it’s especially at odds with a scene later where he regrets that his old brief acquaintance Morales is killed before his eyes, despite the fact he was holding a gun to him… This is sounding more like a complaint, so hang on, what I like is a protagonist who isn’t too straight forward. He still has some good in him, and that’s good, especially if this show does continue to roll onward.
Speaking of Morales, I found that to be hilarious, even if that wasn’t the intention. Rick was all shocked that it was this guy he barely knew from several years ago, and then Daryl just walks in the kills him with one shot. “Don’t you know who that was?” Rick asks, for some reason distraught, “Yep. Doesn’t matter.” Is Daryl’s response … Yep, it really didn’t matter! Good point, now let’s move on.
The final episode was exciting at least… well, except for the telegraphing of the big twist. They start the episode with Rick worrying about Carl and remembering when Carl was the voice of reasons in the recent past, then we see Carl write some secret letters and look all mournful, so… Yeah. Not a shocker when it was revealed he was dying, which is a shame because if it happened suddenly out of a blue it would have been a real slap-in-the-face wake you up shocker, given the character is still alive and crucial to the comics. Damn it, this is supposed to be the “good” section! But yeah, the Savours retaliate after being on the back foot (including another great performance by Steven Ogg as the unhinged Simon), Rick and Negan have a good punch up and Eugene shows that he’s not just a coward, but a coward with a slight conscience… who still let the killers out of the base to destroy all his old friends homes and possibly lives, but there you go. He’s complex! His letting the Doctor and Gabriel go was interesting, I’m not sure how much I can hate the character, it keeps dipping and raising, which is a good thing as a viewer. Keeps me interested. The final scene could have been over-played and over-dramatic, but it was shot brilliantly, so there’s that as well.
That look on Rick’s face means “Wait, I just walked into an enemy camp, by myself, knowing my weapons would be taken at the door?”
Wow, the first few episodes are noisy and loud. So much machine gun fire! Ignoring the fact that this is several years into an apocalypse and the idea both sides have this much ammunition is rather stupid, it was still a crazy amount! It’s like both armies had infinite ammo cheats on…
Then we get to my main gripe about this half-season: stupid decisions. Rick especially. He calls out Negan and his men to the front of their base surrounded in cover and with guns and rifles every where, and then tries to negotiate with Negan’s others and never takes a shot at him, while he’s in the wide open, without a gun, and Rick and his men WITH guns. Then later he walks up to, ugh, the Scavengers, who I still can’t stand (how did they become a simple-speaking tribal people in just a few years?! Argh!) ON HIS OWN, and tells the people who just recently betrayed them, that if they don’t help him his men will kill them. Surprise surprise he gets captured by them, and was about to be executed until he managed to escape and luckily, despite being surrounded by her men, the leader of the Scavengers agrees to his terms… for some reason. What would have happened if they just knocked the back of his knees out and shot him in the back of the head, like they were trying to do just a day or two ago… Come on, think of an actual plan, Rick! Lastly, while fighting with Negan, he gets the upper hand and picks up the latter’s trademark barbed wire bad and… hits him with the handle end. Why? You said Negan is yours to kill and no matter what you’d kill him, and you get the chance and you hit him with the non-deadly end? Jeez. Annoying!
At least King Ezekiel leading his men across an OPEN FIELD towards the enemy base with trees and cover either side of them was written for the reason of showing how stupid and over confident Ezekiel was… Oh and Jesus (the character), what a cock. In an all out battle with people who wouldn’t think twice about killing you, he still keeps trying to capture them alive because they might change? Come on! Just this once realise the situation your in! There are times when the “we must be better” stuff makes sense, but this isn’t one of these times. Actually, also Dwight, who has betrayed the Savours, sees Eugene on the roof about to undo their plans by leading the zombies away, and who has already admitted to knowing he’s the traitor and would clearly tell if given the slightest push, and he can’t bring himself to shoot him? He’s been a member of the Savours for a while now, I’m sure innocent lives weigh on him all the time, just shoot him, toss his body off the roof down to the undead and carry on with your life.
The first half of Season 8 is a mixed bag, but mostly towards the negative. It seems “All Out War” means “All Out War at the expense of everything else”. Our lead protagonist is an idiot, and a lot of his army aren’t much better. A good final episode helps some, and it did have some good moments sprinkled around, but overall… not a great set of eight episodes…