Published On: Mon, Apr 16th, 2018

A ‘new world’ begins as Season 8 of The Walking Dead ends

Spoiler alert: This story contains spoilers for The Walking Dead.

The war against the Saviors is finally over. How about the war against the fans?

Sunday brought an end to Season 8 of The Walking Dead and the “all out war” between Rick Grimes’ gang and Negan’s Saviors.

It was a perfunctory finish to a much maligned season that began with the death of a major character, then meandered through uneven episodes, illogical character development and giant plot holes.

I guess this was supposed to be the episode that convinced us that there was a grand scheme after all behind killing off Carl Grimes. But how are we supposed to buy Rick suddenly finding mercy for his enemies in Carl’s memory just two episodes after he slaughtered a room full of Saviors whom he had promised to bring back to Hilltop?

If Negan is a criminal, deserving in Rick’s and Michonne’s view of being locked up for the rest of his life, what does that make Rick?

The finale tied up some loose threads, some of them too neatly, and left a couple of others dangling.

Eugene to the rescue: Like me, you probably thought there would be some actual warring to end the so-called all out war. But we spent as much time watching people prepare for battle as actual fighting.

As he and Eugene headed off to whup Rick’s ass, Negan “confessed” to his prisoner, Father Gabriel, that he had sacrificed some of his own people to set a trap for Rick. And then there was a ridiculous distraction that had Gabriel jumping out of the car as it swerved to avoid a walker and running through the woods, except his eyesight was so bad he was running into trees, so of course he got caught. I guess this was supposed to convince us what a badass Savior Eugene now was since he pointed a gun in Gabriel’s face and threatened to “crack your cranium.”

As Negan had planned, Rick’s group massacred the decoy Saviors at a road block that had been on Dwight’s fake map, but Negan had planted another map on one of the doomed Saviors. Except when Rick et al got to that spot expecting to ambush Negan they heard his familiar whistle seemingly coming from all sides. “I ambushed your ambush with an even bigger ambush,” crowed Negan.

The Saviors did indeed look to have the upper hand as they suddenly appeared over a rise, outnumbering Rick’s group. But their weapons backfired thanks to Eugene having tampered with the bullets. (So yes, Eugene is a good guy after all, but Rosita still punched him in the face for puking on her.) Rick’s people charged and dispatched a bunch more Saviors with a minimum of fuss and the rest surrendered. Negan had run away after getting punched by both Gabriel and Dwight. I know Negan got shot in the hand, but you’re telling me he couldn’t have taken out Dwight, whose freakin’ hands were bound, with Lucille?

There wasn’t any fighting to speak of at Hilltop either, where another group of Saviors had been dispatched. The Hilltoppers all ran off to hide in the woods, except Tara and Alden and some other former Saviors but, before they could fire any shots, the Saviors got blown up real good. Aaron and the women of Oceanside arrived in the nick of time to lob Molotov cocktails at them. How convenient.

The ghost of Carl: With some fans still fuming over Scott M. Gimple’s dumb decision to kill off Carl, the episode at times felt like a sop to annoyed viewers. We were treated to not one but three montages of Rick and a young Carl walking hand in hand, hearkening back to Carl’s farewell letter to his dad.

Rick finally deigned to talk to Siddiq about how Carl got bitten but, honestly, the stuff about Carl honouring Siddiq’s dead mother by killing zombies to release their souls sounded just as stupid as it did the first time around.

Carl was also name-checked during Rick’s hand-to-hand combat with Negan. Rick was on the ground; Negan was about to brain him with Lucille and Rick asked for a 10-second reprieve “for Carl.” Negan fell for it.

“Carl said it doesn’t have to be a fight anymore,” said Rick.

“He was wrong,” said Negan. Then he got all teary-eyed; Rick got teary-eyed, too, and then he slashed Negan’s throat.

“Look what you did. Carl didn’t know a damn thing,” croaked a bleeding Negan.

But then Rick, thinking of Carl, decided to save Negan’s life — and Maggie lost her s–t. “No, no, he killed Glenn!” she screamed, as Michonne held her back. “It’s not over until he’s dead.”

Rick gave a speech to the captured Saviors about how it’s a new world for those who want to live in peace and fairness. “All this is just what was. There’s gotta be something after,” he said, echoing Carl again.

We also got to hear Rick’s posthumous letter to Carl, in which he thanked him for “bringing all of us to the new world” — which Carl could have done if he stayed alive.

When it comes to Negan, I’m with Maggie: he should have died. Instead Rick and Michonne concocted a plan to let Negan rot in a cell as “evidence that we’re making a civilization.”

But a) that’s not what Carl envisioned for Negan; b) how is that more merciful than killing him? c) I know Negan is a prisoner in the comics, but this is a TV show not a friggin’ comic book.

Morgan’s still not right: Somehow the sight of former Savior prisoners coming back to the Hilltop from a zombie-killing run got Morgan so worked up that he nearly put his bo staff through young Henry’s neck. And yet, Rick agreed — reluctantly — to take Morgan into battle, where he continued to kill indiscriminately.

After cruelly slashing the throat of a Savior who was trying to surrender, Morgan took some advice from Jesus and started merely knocking out his foes instead of killing them. But that change of heart might have had as much to do with Morgan’s vision of dead Savior Jared, who told Morgan he couldn’t kill his way out of things, as anything Jesus said.

Morgan said at least one thing that made oodles of sense when he told Rick, “We are worse than we were, me and you” and that killing the Saviors in the bar was wrong.

By episode’s end, Morgan had left Hilltop for the Scavengers’ dump, where he convinced Jadis, a.k.a. Ann, to join Rick’s group, telling her, “Everything is about people, everything in this life that’s worth a damn.”

Except when it’s not, since Morgan himself doesn’t want to be around people anymore. Go figure.

So long Dwight: While the Hilltoppers were practically singing “Kumbaya” with their former enemies the Saviors, Daryl couldn’t let his beef with Dwight go. I guess he missed the memo about Dwight having betrayed his own people to help Daryl’s friends.

Daryl drove Dwight into the woods where a contrite Dwight prepared to be executed, but instead Daryl gave him the keys to the pickup truck and banished him, promising to kill him if he ever came back. Dwight drove to the house where he had found a note from his wife Sherry after she fled the Sanctuary and found another one, with a single word: “Honeymoon.” So I guess Dwight will be just fine.

Trouble ahead: Rick and the Alexandrians spotted a huge herd of walkers in the distance before the battle with Negan; afterward, Rick tells the former Saviors they’ll have to stand together against the horde. But Rick may have more pressing problems closer to home.

Back at Hilltop, Maggie tells Jesus that Rick and Michonne were wrong about Negan, but “wait for our moment and then we’re gonna show him.”

“Yeah, we will,” agrees Daryl, listening from the doorway.

Rick hasn’t been the greatest leader, it’s true, but if Gimple and company think the way to win back fans is a survivor mutiny I think there’s trouble ahead for more people than Rick.

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A ‘new world’ begins as Season 8 of The Walking Dead ends