SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the season 8 finale of The Walking Dead.
For two-and-a-half seasons, Rick and Negan have been on a collision course — an “All-Out War” that began with Rick murdering Saviors in their sleep, moved to the next stage with Negan executing Abraham and Glenn, then expanded to include multiple battles involving multiple communities.
All along, Rick promised he was going to kill Negan, even telling the big bad at one point that he was already dead. But after the death of his son Carl — who pleaded with his father to show mercy and put his violent ways aside — the question became, would Rick go through with it? We finally got our answer in Sunday’s season 8 finale, titled “Wrath.”
The finale began with a quick flashback to a pre-apocalypse Rick and Carl and then brought us to the Hilltop, where the allied forces set out for the final confrontation with the Saviors. They started by slaughtering some poor saps Negan had sacrificed as part of his ruse, but then realized it was a trap and changed their strategy.
However, this led to another trap when Rick and Co. found themselves surrounded by unseen whistling Saviors while climbing a hill. All appeared over as Saviors lined up to gun them down, but the bullets they all fired blew back on them thanks to Eugene sabotaging them to malfunction. And once the women from Oceanside showed up at the Hilltop to help defend it from another pack of baddies, the tide had turned.
Rick and Negan ultimately had their big confrontation by that tree with the stained glass windows we had seen teased earlier in the season. It was a brawl that culminated with Negan taunting Rick that Carl might still be alive if he had killed him instead of Abraham and Glenn. Rick then asked for 10 seconds “for Carl.” He then presented Carl’s vision of them living together in peace, but as Negan paused and seemed to be buying in, Rick slit his throat.
But it wasn’t over. He then instructed Siddiq to “save him” — thereby infuriating a weeping Maggie, who has sought revenge ever since Glenn died. Rick then instructed all the captured Saviors to put their hands down, saying they could now live in peace and work together to take on the real threat of the undead. “Negan is alive,” he told them, “but his way of doing things is over. And anyone that can’t live with that will pay the price. I promise you that.”
While the battle was over, there were still some loose ends to tie up. Rosita and Tara went to Sanctuary to help put it back together while Daryl brought Dwight into the woods, but instead of killing him, told him “You go and you keep going. If I ever see your face around here, I’ll kill you.” He then told him to “Find her,” meaning his wife, Sherry. But then Maggie told Jesus that Rick was wrong to not kill Negan, and that Michonne was wrong too. “We’re going to bide our time, wait for our moment and then we’re going to show ‘em,” she said before Daryl stepped out of the shadows to agree: “Yeah, we will.”
Michonne and Rick then told Negan, “You’re going to rot in a cell for the rest of your life,” and that keeping him breathing would show the power of a new way. And then the episode ended with Rick reading his own letter back to Carl and more flashbacks of the duo in happier, less zombie-infested times.
What did you make of The Walking Dead finale? Hit the comments to weigh in and come back for our recap and interviews with key cast and crew.