The Walking Dead – Season 8 Part 2 Review

TWD S8 P2

The second half of The Walking Dead’s 8th season gets off to a painfully slow start, but picks up quite nicely, ending with a really strong set of episodes. This comes as a great relief because, as poor as some episodes have been, this is the blow off to a several-season-long story arc and it needed the grand finale to deliver. Let’s take a look at the end of the “All Out War”.

Synopsis:

Rick and his people are on the verge of being wiped out by a vengeful Negan and his Saviours, but an even more emotional blow has come from the revelation that Rick’s son Carl has been bit, and only has moments left to live…

*Spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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A testament to just how large the cast is, this isn’t anywhere near the whole crew…

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) – Rick was trying to build a better world for his children to grow up in, but now he has lost his son, all he can think of is a slow death for Negan…

Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) – Leader of “The Savours” and a generally unpleasant person to be around, unless he feels you’re on his side. After nearly being outsmarted and beat by Rick, he’s beginning to think letting him live was a poor idea…

Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) – Maggie lost her husband and the father to her unborn child to Negan and his baseball bat, so the idea of losing this war hasn’t even entered her mind…

Michonne (Danai Gurira) – Michonne is in love with Rick, and began to see Carl as an extension of her family, making his death all the harder on her. She only hopes she can honour Carl’s final wish…

Morgan Jones (Lennie James) – Morgan has been up and down on the insanity scale, going from normal, to slightly unhinged, to out and out crazy. Currently he on the latter, seeing images of dead people taunting him and stuff… He’s still kept on the battlefield though! What could go wrong?

Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) – Carol at one point had had enough of all the killing and fighting, but has since realised that she must once again take up arms in order to reclaim peace for everyone.

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – Daryl is a hothead, often letting his gut rule his brain. That being said he’s a hell of a shot and knows how to survive, so he’s a vital member of the team.

King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) – Ezekiel ran the Kingdom location with a smile on his face… until a good majority of the population was wiped out in front of his eyes. He may have been brought down to Earth, but he still wishes to see what remains of his people happy.

Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) – Eugene has swore his loyalty to Negan, and is now happily making bullets for the man to use against his old friends…

Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) – Gabriel was a priest before the apocalypse, but lost his faith among the undead. He has since flipped back and forth with his religion, but is currently on the side of God again… Despite being on the run from a group of killers… while losing his eyesight…

Dwight (Austin Amelio) – Dwight is a former Savour who has betrayed them in order to get revenge on Negan… at least that was the plan…

Simon (Steven Ogg) – Simon is Negan’s right hand man, but even more unhinged than his boss. Simon says (ha!) that people who don’t join with the Savours should be straight up wiped out, not given second or third chances…

Tara Chambers (Alanna Masterson) – Tara has been with Rick and group for a long time now, and has become hardened and weary as a result, despite that she herself joined them after following a man not too dissimilar from Negan…

Aaron (Ross Marquand) – Aaron is still dealing with the death of his boyfriend Eric, and wishes to make as big of a difference as he can in this war…

And many… many more!

The Good:

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Crazy and Crazier.

The battles between Rick and Negan are a highlight of this half-season. They exchange nasty jabs via the walkie-talkie, they have a great fight sequence in Episode 12 “The Key”, and of course in the finale they have another great showdown that ends in victory for Rick. The key here is Carl’s death, and how it affected both Rick and Negan, and how it ends up being Carl’s post-death letters that convinces Rick to spare his nemesis, putting him in a prison cell for life being a better punishment (which is true, really…) and also showing that the new community is going to be closer to the civilization they lost. Good stuff!

Speaking of Negan, another great storyline is Simon and his eventual betrayal of his boss. Simon gets annoyed with the idea of sparing these rebellious factions and ends up killing nearly the entire Scavenger population in a fit of rage (and thank God for that…) Knowing this will eventually catch up to him, when Negan vanishes to fight Rick, Simon takes over the tries to wipe out the Hilltop as well, only to fail. By Episode 15 Simon is confronted by Negan, eventually leading to a straight-up fistfight surrounded by other Savours to decide the leader, a fight Negan wins. It was great to see all this as Simon has been a standout character the last two seasons, so it was nice to see this story constructed to give the character a bigger role and send off than just being randomly struck down in a fire fight.

I like the constant struggle for Maggie to trust the captured Savours, even after a bunch of them stay behind when they could have ran. As hard as it would be in the middle of a war like this, saving as many people as possible and gaining more potential troops is the logical and humane thing to do, so it’s good to see it eventually happen.

Eugene, who slowly became someone to really detest, at least somewhat redeemed himself. Sure, he still freed the Savours to save himself which caused all this mess, but in the end he sabotages all his home-made bullets, an act that literally saves everyone from being slaughtered by Negan and his men, and potentially gives Rick the upperhand in his final showdown with the big boss. Given his extreme cowardice and likelihood to switch sides when pressured even a little bit, I’d still be weary of welcoming him back into the fold, mind you…

After using tainted weapons against the Hilltop citizens (something that never happens again…) several of the residents turn zombie during the night and start attacking each other in Episode 13 “Do Not Send Us Astray”. While it’s a little odd how quickly they turned, it was nice to see a throwback to when the Walkers were the enemy, rather than other humans.

The Bad:

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Oh bloody hell, just die already!

Episode 9 “Honor”, apart from being spelled incorrectly (Ha! British joke!… sorry) was sloooow going. I get that Carl’s death is a big deal, but boy it’s stretched out across the whole episode, and the episode was closer to a full hour than 45 minutes. By the end credits the emotional punch had long left, and I just wanted it to be over with already!

Gabriel was a bit of a pain to watch throughout this half season. He has strong faith in God, despite being blinded by fever, then he loses all hope (AGAIN) before ending the season in a church, religion restored (AGAIN). It’s an endless circle that’s becoming rather dull now.

Then there’s Aaron, who, when the Oceanside community refuses to help against the Savours, decides to camp outside of their town and slowly kill himself due to lack of food and water… Great plan! Several times he’s nearly killed by Walkers because he can barely defend himself any more… The hell plan is that? Instead of netting more troops he nearly cost his group one more. Yeah, right at the end they agreed and appeared in the finale to help out (though they were hardly instrumental in the end) it was still a really daft move.

There were also several scenes with The Scavengers’ leader Jadis, for some reason. I was so happy to see the illogical Scavengers wiped out because they made no sense, yet we got a bunch of scenes with her, including a weird showdown between her and Negan that involved a camp fire, a helicopter and Negan magically getting a hold of some flares… oh and a Walker tied to a shopping trolley, because… yeah. Anyway, she’s still alive and invited to one of the communities, so… great. Hopefully she can learn to speak properly by the time we next see her.

I’ll mention the cliffhanger here, as at the moment it’s a headscratcher. Maggie is talking to Jesus (that’s the person nicknamed Jesus…) and says how Rick will learn he made a mistake, which Darryl soon arrives in the room and agrees. Erm… So I assume she means keeping Negan alive, but, why would Jesus be in with this? He’s been the most anti-killing out of everyone! Anyway, I assume not much will actually come of it, I mean Maggie might try to get to Negan, and Darryl and Rick have already come to blows due to the former’s lack of ability to stop and think about the consequences of his actions, so… We’ll see…

Overall Thoughts:

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The last picture of Negan being a man in charge…

Season 8 Part 2 needed to wrap up the “All Out War” storyline, as well as the general Savours vs. Rick’s group story that had been going on since the end of Season 6, and it does so very well. Plenty of satisfying scenes between Rick and Negan, some good character development for a few of the lead cast, and Simon got a big send off. Can’t argue with that, and while the half-season wasn’t perfect by any means, it was still a good chunk of TV action. Now let’s hope they continue this momentum into Season 9…

4 Star Watch

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