by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 8.
Negan struck back this week, and he struck back hard. He actually borrowed a page from Rick’s playbook, taking out all of the scouts and then striking all 3 communities at once, just as Rick took out the Saviors’ scouts, then struck at the Sanctuary and all of the Saviors’ outposts at once. Yep, it doesn’t feel so good when your own strategy comes back to bite you, and that’s what Team Rick learned in this episode.
Of everyone, I felt most sorry for the Kingdom people, who were barely aware of the Saviors’ existence (since Ezekiel had initially kept knowledge of the Saviors from them to allow them to live in peace) and then lost practically their entire army, only to be raided in the middle of the night and harassed by Gavin and his thugs. It makes sense that the Saviors chose to relocate to the Kingdom, because they knew that the majority of their army had been wiped out, and they weren’t likely to find much resistance. And they were right. The people of the Kingdom really looked pathetic standing there in the dark, many of them probably wondering just what the heck was going on. Yet with Ezekiel running around in the background, I was hoping that he was going to sneak amongst his people and encourage them to guerilla warfare, fighting the occupying Saviors from the shadows. But instead, he did what a true king would do: he sacrificed himself for his people. He allowed all of them to escape, surrendering himself so that they would not be pursued. Of course, he could have gone with Carol, but then the Saviors would have chased after him and his people. This way, the people of the Kingdom have a real chance to escape the Saviors.
The only thing that confuses me in all of this is Morgan. Where is he? Is he inside the Kingdom’s walls, and could potentially help Ezekiel? Or is he outside of the Kingdom’s walls, where he will meet up with Carol? Either way, you know he’s going to come into play when the show resumes.
It’s interesting that the Saviors knew that the Hilltop people would be out on the road, rather than at their compound. They set up the ambush away from Hilltop, and were completely ready for them. Did they get the information from Jerry? He was on his way to the Hilltop to warn them when they crashed into his car. It’s possible that they tortured Jerry to reveal that the Hilltop people didn’t know what had happened and were on their way to the Sanctuary. But the real question is, where is Jerry now? Do the Saviors still have him, or did he somehow escape (doubtful)? Or did he go back with Maggie’s people to Hilltop? That’s certainly possible, although we didn’t see him arriving there. I suspect he’s still a Savior captive.
Maggie is definitely a strategist. She was working out in her mind what to do even as the Saviors appeared on the scene. She was all ready to ask Simon for the box, knowing what she was going to do with it. And she had very little hesitation (there was some, but only a little) in killing Mr. Peepee-Pants Savior (whose name turned out to be Dean). I just wish that she had killed Jared instead, but he probably has some story part left to play. I loved the message that Maggie wrote on the box too. We know that Negan doesn’t really care for his people individually, but he definitely cares about them as a group. He doesn’t want his people to be killed; he wants them to survive and work for him. If he knows that Hilltop has 38 more of his people (Is Gregory included in that count?) then that will mean something to him. Unfortunately for Maggie, it doesn’t mean that Negan will back off. It means that Negan will stage an attack on Hilltop. But she knows that, which is why she said that Hilltop would be the ‘last stand’.
Back at what was left of The Sanctuary, Eugene set up an escape for Gabriel and Dr. Carter 2.0, simply because his conscience wasn’t letting him sleep. I guess that’s as good a reason as any to do the right thing. But he sent them back to Hilltop, which right now is actually the safest place around, since Alexandria is in flames and the Saviors are all over the Kingdom. Did Eugene know that this was happening, and consciously sent them there, or did he just do that because Dr. Carter was from Hilltop and that’s where Maggie was?
Eugene was also doing some work behind the scenes. He apparently came up with a plan to allow the Saviors to escape the horde that was flooding into their compound. I doubted it at first when Simon said it to Maggie, but then later Dwight confirmed it. So Daryl’s question was legit: was what he did the reason the Saviors escaped? Certainly, letting in the horde opened an exit for the Saviors, and a way for them to whittle down the group bit by bit, to allow them to leave. There are no signs of the horde now, so presumably most of those walkers are dead. Or would Eugene have saved them anyway? He was on the verge of drawing the horde away last week when Dwight shot his makeshift drone. So was it really Daryl’s fault or Eugene’s fault that the Saviors escaped? Personally, I’m still on Daryl for this, because his actions were stupid and impulsive. That’s what led to Glenn’s death, and he should have known better. I hope he’s beating himself up over this.
Dwight completed his change-of-sides, revealing his true allegiances and killing off as many Saviors as he could. Laura apparently escaped, so she’ll be telling Negan just what Dwight has done. And no one gave Dwight credit for the risks he has taken. He’s been shot in the arm and Daryl viciously stripped his vest from Dwight’s back, and no one offered a word of gratitude. If I were Dwight, it would be enough to make me wonder if I wanted to continue to be allied with these people. But he is staying, and that says a lot for him. Dwight has come a long way, and he isn’t the pushover he used to be.
The only part of the episode that really didn’t work for me was Aaron and Enid trying to go to Oceanside. I get that they were desperate and were going to reach out to these people who had already rejected them twice (sounds like the Heapsters, who not surprisingly turned tail and ran when they realized that Rick was in over his head) and from whom they had stolen weapons. I get that they got a literal truckload of alcohol to smooth things over. I get that they didn’t just want to walk into Oceanside and have them think that they were under attack. I get that they waited at the spot and went out to talk to the Oceansiders in the middle of the night when they arrived. What I don’t get was why Enid was so stupid as to shoot the person they encountered, who just happened to be the leader of the group. This just makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I’m not even sure why this part of the story was even there. Maybe it will make a difference in the next half-season, but right now this whole bit just has me shaking my head.
Rick started and ended the episode, under attack at the Sanctuary, and then returning to Alexandria after Negan’s assault, only to find the man himself in his home. I enjoyed the little fight they had, and would have loved to have seen Rick swing away at Negan with Lucille, when he had the chance. But he didn’t. Instead, Rick flew through the window and ran away, which was probably the better choice at the moment. Then he found Michonne, who brought him to the sewers and revealed the remaining Alexandrians.
Of course, the ‘shocking moment’ we were promised was nothing like what I had predicted last week. That’s because I was using the comic books as a predictor, and trying to predict how that storyline might be altered for the show. Instead, the show pulled something from out of the blue and had Carl reveal a walker bite. This is very far off from the comics storyline, as Carl has a lot of character interactions and moments long after the war with the Saviors is done in that universe. It really leads me to wonder if the show will veer even further off from the comics in the future.
In terms of logistics though, Carl was utterly incompetent in the woods a few episodes ago when man-bonding with Siddiq, and frankly, that kind of behavior deserves a walker bite. It’s very obvious (now) that he was bitten when he fell while attempting to take out a single walker. But knowing this makes his actions earlier in the episode more clear. He wrote a goodbye note to his Dad (which Rick might actually find, since it looks like his house is the only one in Alexandria that might not get blown up). It looked like he was attempting to run away (into the sewers) when Negan showed up. And he told Negan to kill him, if Negan needed an example.
Of course, Negan would never kill Carl. Maim him, possibly, but not kill him. Negan likes Carl, and sees something of himself in him. That’s why Negan told Rick that Carl would grow up to work for him. That’s what Negan actually wants: to kill Rick and co-opt his son (And maybe Judith too, who knows?). I’m curious to see Negan’s reaction once he learns what happens to Carl.
But Carl’s storyline isn’t over yet. He’ll likely still be around for a couple more days, and in this season, a couple of days might be the entire remaining 8 episodes. He won’t survive the season, but he will be around on the show for a while.
For those who play the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s season 8 mission is Tara and Daryl killing off a few Saviors at their ambush outside of Alexandria, and taking Dwight with them as they return to their group. It’s a little off from the episode itself, but works in the context of the game. Since this is the last week of the half-season, those who have played all Season 8 missions so far will be able to unlock Jerry as a playable character in the game.
Do you watch The Walking Dead? Join the conversation on FoCC!