by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 15.
We’re one episode away from the season finale, and it shows. The tension ramped up this week, with the focus on the Saviors and how things are pulling together with Negan’s return. We all knew that Negan was a strong force holding all of these disparate people together, and this episode demonstrated exactly how he does it. Negan is not only clever and cunning, but he can read people. He can sense what they’re thinking by interpreting their emotions, and knows how to manipulate them into doing what he wants. And as we also saw this week, he’s not only good with his weapon of choice, but he’s pretty handy with his fists too.
Negan’s plan to flush out the traitors was brilliant. He didn’t simply confront Simon and Dwight and deal with it that way. Instead, he let them think that their actions were accepted, giving them just enough rope to hang themselves. Simon was convinced that he was able to stage a coup, and gathered all of his supporters together just in time for Negan to execute them all before his eyes. Dwight, confident that his alliance with Team Rick had gone undiscovered, betrayed Simon, thinking that between the two evils, Negan was the lesser. Yet at the same time, Dwight played into Negan’s hands by sending out the false plan of attack via Gregory (an even more unreliable source).
I empathize with Dwight, because I can understand his predicament. He caved in to Negan’s overwhelming persona and physical character, because that was the best way for him to survive, but he is committed to getting out from underneath and being the man that Sherry wants him to be, even though she is no longer around. When Dwight betrayed Simon to Negan, it was a smart move, given what Dwight knew at the time. Unfortunately for Dwight, he didn’t have the one crucial piece of information that Laura was still alive. Had he known that, he would have been hiding out at Hilltop with the others.
Simon was never one of my favorite characters, but now that he’s gone, I realize what a great villain he was to watch. I especially loved his walker scene, as he snarled like a mad dog, ready to attack even while chained to the fence. I don’t recall ever seeing that much personality from a walker before. Walker Simon needs to go down as one of the best walkers ever on this show, right up there with Bicycle Girl and Bloated Well Man. Let the memes begin!
Gregory is still amusing, and I’m glad that Simon didn’t kill him, if only for the entertainment value that Gregory provides. He’s back in the Hilltop pen, but the message he delivered will be viewed with skepticism. After all, Gregory has turned his coat so many times, it’s a wonder that it hasn’t worn out! Hopefully Team Rick will lay in some backup plans in case the information on the map doesn’t prove to be correct… and as viewers, we know that it won’t. I do have one question though: how does Gregory travel safely between Hilltop and the Sanctuary? Sure, he had a car on the way back, but how did he manage to leave with Jared’s group and then make it safely on foot to Simon? Jared’s group of tougher men ran into much more trouble. I really want to know how Gregory weaseled his way back to the Sanctuary.
We also got a glimpse into what’s going on with Eugene. He’s under pressure to deliver, and we all know that Eugene under pressure is Eugene at his best. He comes up with creative solutions and good ideas in situations of duress, such as releasing a fire hose on a bunch of rampaging walkers, dipping guard walkers into molten metal, and escaping the besieged Sanctuary by using walker bodies as a barrier from the remainder of the horde. One of Eugene’s more memorable moments was when Dwight was going to kill him, and Eugene bit Dwight in the crotch to escape. I was reminded of that last night when Eugene used his own vomit to distract Rosita, so that he could then escape by hiding in a pile of walker ash. Whether or not you like Eugene, you have to admit that he’s the guy you want to figure out a quick and dirty plan in an emergency situation. I have no doubt that he’s going to deliver every single bullet that Negan asked for, and more.
I feel sorry for Eugene, and not just because I can relate to his areas of weakness. I suspect that Eugene really did want to go back to Team Rick, but the way Daryl, and especially Rosita, spoke to him, he knew that he wasn’t truly welcome there. No wonder he escaped! Now he’s filled with a determination to help Negan win. I have to wonder how this will play out in the final episode, as the war comes to its conclusion.
There were other small pieces to the puzzle that were laid out as groundwork for the final showdown. Rick realized that he was a father to Carl, but is currently being an absentee father to Judith. Michonne is dedicated to following Carl’s last wishes. Aaron is willing to starve himself to play on the Oceansiders’ guilty consciences. And Jerry apparently really loves playing with Baby Grace. I loved seeing him walking by with her in his arms while Rick read his letter!
Lucille is all clean and ready to begin her next mission. Will Negan have his way, or will Rick? Somehow, despite all of this mess, I have a feeling that Carl’s words will have their impact, and a compromise solution will be found. Carl’s death at the beginning of the half-season is proving to have an impact all the way through the end of season 8, and I expect to see it do so again next week.
For those who play the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game, this episode’s season mission is Rosita and Daryl hunting through dumpsters, looking for Eugene, but only encountering walkers. The Talking Dead contest has also ended, with Tara being declared the winner. All players of Walking Dead: No Man’s Land can pick up their reward of Tara’s special pistol and armor in the in-game shop.
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