The Walking Dead
- TV Show
- Current Status
- In Season
- run date
- Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Steven Yeun
- Drama, Horror, Thriller
Will Carl’s death mean a return to form for The Walking Dead? I don’t have much faith in that after the following events.
This week’s episode was split into separate character profiles for Michonne, Negan, Enid, Simon, Jadis, and Rick, though it’s not fully clear why these specific names were chosen as highlights — and these characters weren’t always the stars of their own sections. The first, for instance, may focus on Michonne, but the camera tends to linger on Rick, who’s having a private moment over Carl’s newly dug grave and ignoring Michonne hacking away at walkers in the background.
Elsewhere, Rick is already reneging on the promise he made to his son. Carl’s death tries to fill the empty space between the events of the hour, but it only gives the impression that season 8 so far doesn’t have a clear plan to get to its conclusion — much like Rick’s wobbly logic as he trudges forward in the present conflict.
A wooden cross fashioned out of sticks and rope protrudes from Carl’s grave site. Rick initially dangles his gun from the branch, but further reflection prompts him to take it back.
Michonne surveys an Alexandria in ruins and the walkers that now wander freely along the streets. She goes to close the gate as more of the dead shamble towards the opening, but the snarling corpses wedge themselves between the gate and the door, providing a needlessly gory moment when a walker’s face gets caught on the lock and its decaying flesh is pulled from its skull. It’s needless because it ruins the mood the episode is trying to set with a gruesome shock factor.
Michonne and Rick lifelessly wander Alexandria to scavenge what they can. Rick pulls a walkie off of a body, while Michonne is taken aback by the paint handprints Carl made with Judith on their porch. She begins to cry but must hold it in when she sees more walkers stalking towards them. There’s no time to mourn in this world because when someone dies, walkers are typically close by. It’s this bottling up of emotion without a release that tends to cause characters to act impulsively and make horrible decisions.
She returns to grab Rick, and the two pile more supplies into their van, nearly ready to leave. But Michonne is struck by the image of a burning gazebo. Carl used to sit on its roof, so she and Rick rush over with fire extinguishers to try and snuff the flames. There are too many walkers, and they’re forced to flee — leaving this reminder of Carl in ash in their rearview.
On the road, Rick wipes away tears as he wonders what Carl meant by his last words. “Did he want us to stop fighting? … [to] surrender to Negan?” he asks. Rick’s final promise to his son — on his deathbed, no less — was to fulfill his vision for the future, and already he’s poking holes in it. Carl mentioned this is the paradise his family could have if he could be more like the Rick he once was, but present Rick seems to see this as a weakness, as he interprets Carl’s wish as more of a submission than a compromise. He refuses to even read the letters Carl wrote him, a decision he clings to when Michonne shows him an extra letter Carl wrote to Negan.
This scene also highlights the often simple dialogue written into The Walking Dead. Rick blurts out that he wants to go see Jadis. “Why now?” Michonne asks. Because, as he so plainly lays out, the Scavengers were with him attacking The Sanctuary and are probably Negan’s next target after Alexandria. “They’re ours, not theirs,” Rick says. (Carl was also his son, not Negan’s, and he’s irked by the fact that Carl wrote his enemy a letter.)
So they head to the junkyard. As soon as they enter, they trip a trap and trash falls down to block the entrance, while they hear the snarls of walkers approaching them.
It seems the main purpose for these sectional breaks is more to mark shifts in time because, again, while this portion is supposed to focus on Negan, it hones in on Simon.
Negan learns over the walkie that the Alexandrians managed to escape, though he still doesn’t know about Carl. They talk about Hilltop and how their plan went swimmingly, even though Simon didn’t want to play it like that — more basic dialogue. Simon, however, is antsy. He doesn’t know what to do with himself if he’s not “running down Rick and company.”
Negan tells him to see the Scavengers, but to only deliver the standard message: kill one of their own to force the others to fall in line. Simon lets his frustration show and suggests they cut their losses and kill them all, because Negan’s way hasn’t been working as of late. Negan warned him to follow his orders, but more in a subdued don’t-f—with-me sort of way and not in his typical Negan manner.
Their conversation is interrupted when Saviors enter with a gift from Hilltop: a wooden coffin containing the now-turned corpse of the Savior Maggie killed. Again, Simon sounds off about going to kill every last one of the Hilltoppers, and this time Negan screams at him to “do your job.”
(Recap continues on the next page.)