Well there it was, the finale of season 8 of The Walking Dead. It has been a long road, full of ups and downs, highs and lows, action and dullness, but we finally got there, and wasn’t it a bit naff?
As a fan of the comics, and having read them all (in case I have never mentioned that before), but when they did this part of the story in the comics; the whole war between the united forces of Alexandria, The Hilltop, and the Kingdom, verses the Saviors, I thought that the ending SUCKED. I was thoroughly disappointed with it. Really (and I am going to be jumping a bit forward in this review) I think that Negan should have met his end here, however, Robert Kirkman always wished he hadn’t killed the Governor off as quickly as he did, and I think that really shows here with this Negan story, especially (spoilers!) as he is still alive to this date! And that “All Out War” arc was about 4 years ago.
I watched the Fear The Walking Dead premier of season 4 (which in American they showed straight after the finale of the vanilla Walking Dead) and I didn’t realise that it was going to follow on from it. So I kind of knew that a few certain characters were going to survive the war… but I didn’t realise that EVERYONE would survive! Not a single fucking person died in the “epic” finale to the intensive battle between the Saviors and everyone else. Oh sure a few nobodies were killed, as per usual, and I think most of those were Saviors (I can’t think off the top of my head if any good guy soldiers died), but I have to say that I was disappointed no one of importance died from either side (not even that horrible Savior bird who is now second in command).
Speaking of Fear The Walking Dead, I really enjoyed that first episode of season 4. Even if you have never watched it before, don’t worry! As the episode is solely about Morgan going on some pilgrimage across America, running into a few new faces, getting into a few situations, and then right at the end, bumping into the cast of the previous 3 seasons, so you really don’t need to have seen it. In fact it picks up from where this season of the regular Walking Dead ended; with Morgan living at the Junk Yard, as well as a couple of guest stars from the cast (such as Jesus, Carol, and Rick) before he heads off for FTWD.
For a show that was always been a bit lukewarm, the first episode of season 4 was quality, even better than the episode that this review is actually about!
Anyway! Moving from that.
The finale picked up from where the last episode left off; Dwight had accidentally given the good guys some false intel, and Rick and his crew were heading out to face them, not knowing it was actually a trap.
Negan has left some cannon fodder Saviors in the place where they were suppose to be, so as to not let Rick and co know that they are coming for them.
On the way to the ambush, Negan brings Gabriel and Eugene with him, and we still are unsure of Eugene’s loyalty, although we are lead to believe that he is now fully working for the Saviors, but as I have mentioned before, I have not been so sure and believed this to be a smokescreen.
En route, Gabriel makes a break for it, only to realise that he is almost blind (for some reason… I still am not sure as to why this was), before being captured by Eugene. Negan gives it the big one like he is going to kill him, but we all knew he wasn’t.
Elsewhere, Morgan has been doing his current mental-Morgan act and nearly stabs that kid (who let the prisoner Saviors out) in the face, which causes him to have a little bit of a breakdown. Jesus suggest to him that he uses his stick for knocking people out, rather than killing, which makes sense as to why in Fear The Walking Dead afterwards, Morgan is once again saying that “He doesn’t kill”.
When they attack this decoy group of Saviors, Morgan resists the urge he has of stabbing one of them in the face with his pointy stick (horrific way to kill someone btw).
So there is a fake map on one of the bodies that leads Rick and the others into Negan’s trap. Just as we they get into position, another group of Saviors attack the Hilltop (or at least pull up to it) and they sneak out the back way, but as they do, Judith is crying and Tara is worried it will alert the Saviors, so she decides to stay back and hold them off, along with that ex-Savior (you know the one who Maggie is eventually going to get with – think Dante, if you’ve read the comics), but as they do, suddenly some over the top explosions occur and it is revealed that those poxy women from the woods (that Aaron was spending ages trying to convince to join them) has shown up with a load of Molotov (which don’t really explode like that. It was a bit over the top).
These women were so barely in the finale, as well as this battle being incredibly pointless, to the point that it was totally not worth the hassle that it took for us to get to this point with them. What a pointless fucking storyline that had no pay off whatsoever. I just really wished they hadn’t wasted our time with this woodland woman group over the last couple of seasons.
Unless they redeem themselves in a later season, I will still be annoyed at this.
This was the last we saw of this part of the story, so I guess we are to assume that the woodland women, Tara, and the ex-Saviors, slaughtered the Savior forces at the Hilltop….
Anyway, so Rick and his army is walking through the middle of a hilly field, with no possible cover at all! When they hear the classic Savior whistling. I have to admit, I do like that they have been consistent with this whistling. At the end of season 6, when they first properly encountered the Saviors and they were whistling, I thought “that’s stupid… I bet they won’t ever do that again”, but thankfully I was wrong and they have used it a lot.
Disclaimer, I do not overly like the whistling, I just like that they have stuck to it.
Negan announces over a mega phone that he has pulled a fast one, and that he has Dwight and Eugene to thank for making this all possible (for the fake map and of course the bullets Eugene made). Suddenly an onslaught of Saviors appear on the hills all around Rick and his army, and it looks like they are about to meet their maker, there is no possible way they could get out of this!
When every single Savior fires their gun at the same time (as per Negan’s order) and their fucking hands blow up as it is revealed that Eugene has made bullets that will misfire, resulting in him crippling the entire Savior army, Negan included, who was about to put a bullet in Gabrial (for some reason… not that he has actually done anything the poor guy, in fact he has not had the greatest season, as in the first episode he was captured and he hasn’t seen the others since).
Negan makes a break for it as Rick orders his forces up the hill to lay waste to the crippled Saviors lying wounded on the ground, as well as any stragglers who didn’t get their hands blown off.
After a few close combat battles (someone stupidly goes up to Michonne, with her sword drawn, and attempts to take her on), as well as a little moment when Rosita saves Eugene from getting killed and gives him a little nod, Rick manages to catch up to him.
Once again he fires all of his bullets into the tree he is hiding behind (conveniently the only tree with glass windows hanging from it… for some fucking reason), so he must take on Negan hand to hand.
Eventually, after the struggle, whilst Rick is on his back, Negan admits that the whole “eeny, meany miney mo” thing when they first met was fake and that he didn’t want to kill a father in front of his boy, but it would have been the best thing for them, as none of this would have happened.
Rick says that if he gives him 10 seconds, he would be able to convince him of a better way, which Negan begrudgingly does. During this time, Rick, unexpectedly to some (not to the comic readers) slashes at Negan’s throat with a shard of glass (coincidently from the broken glass panels randomly hanging from this one tree in the middle of nowhere).
Meanwhile the rest of the Saviors, lead by that bastard woman one, have surrendered and everyone has come to see Negan slowly bleeding to death.
Rick has imagines of him and a young Carl, as well as Carl’s words, and tells Siddiq to save him.
Maggie loses her shit and screams at Rick, telling him that he can’t be allowed to live. Rick then tells the Saviors to lower their hands and go back home, try and rebuild it and that he is going to show them a new world, one that isn’t how Negan tried to rule it.
Oh and Rosita gives Eugene a little smack and all is forgiven.
This was only the first 25 minutes or so of the episode… which might sound good, but the rest of the episode dragged. It tried to show how they begin to get everything back to normal, or at least how they intend to push forward in the aftermath of this war.
We see Gabriel in his church thanking god and now saying that he can see (oh Gabey… what you have got coming… if it follows the comics that is).
We see the Saviors (receiving a shipment of windows, to replace the ones shot up in the very first episode) all hilariously growing flowers, now that they have changed their ways.
The ex-Savior says to Maggie that he wants to stay at the Hilltop and has been reading that Key to the Future book and offers to make a bunch of stuff from it.
As well as Morgan deciding to leave, heading off to the junk yard and telling Jadis (calling herself Ann) that she is welcome back at the Hilltop, but Morgan isn’t coming, as he wants to just be left alone – which is where we see him in the beginning of Fear The Walking Dead.
One thing that annoys me is that Daryl takes Dwight out into the woods, at which point Dwight believes that he is going to be killed and says how he is ready, but Daryl throws him some keys and tells him to leave, never to return or else he will kill him.
Now, Negan has done a hell of a lot worse, yet he gets to live. Dwight, sure he killed Denise, but he has profusely apologised (which doesn’t justify killing someone, but in the world of TV shows, its okay to redeem yourself from something like this), as well as helped everyone immensely at the risk of his own life.
Yet he is forced into exile, rather than being allowed to stay in the new world in which he helped to create. What a crock of shit! He may as well stayed as Negan’s number 2 and helped bring down the good guys, or stayed as Simon’s number 2 and brought down everyone. I reckon Simon would have let him co-run the Sanctuary and everywhere else. What a jib.
He heads off and goes to the place he left those bottles of beer and crisps for his wife, who had run off, to find the beer drunk, the crisps eaten, and a note saying about their Honeymoon. So I am assuming he is going off to meet her like at the end of the Shawshank Redemption.
In one of the last shots, a shady Maggie is meeting with Jesus and talking about how Rick’s plan was good and worked, but letting Negan live was not. It is implied that they are leading a secret coup, especially when Daryl is revealed to be another member of the group involved in secretly plotting against Rick, but personally I do not buy it. It is a good idea, and that is why I think the show will not do it.
I don’t believe that Jesus, who literally told Morgan not to kill half hour into the episode ago, would then be on board for killing Rick. So I think there is more to this than we know.
Finally the episode ends with Negan in recovery, as Michonne and Rick show up and give a big man speech about how he is going to live the rest of his life in a cell as he gets to rot watching the new world unfold (they didn’t say it as well as I have just said it btw), but it is all very breathy and they come across as dicks, as per usual.
And that leaves The Walking Dead over for another year (or at least until October).
Now… I have to admit that I am glad we are past this point in the story, as this was crud in the comics as well (no where near as good as the prison war in the comics, which was spot on, but rubbish in the show).
Here, in the comics, the series gets really good. We jump to that time when Rick is older with the beard (remembered at the beginning of the season… or was it after the midseason break… I can’t remember), and where everyone is living together as a collective, all the safe zones working with one another, communities forming, safe roads to travel, crops thriving, farms, etc etc
And it is a dramatic jump (even in time), but it really works and rebooted the series, which was what it needed, as the All Out War arc even bored a few people who I knew who was reading the comics (including my fellow Breaded Robot), so I am hoping that they will do a similar reboot style here and rejuvenate the series, which has been losing fans and viewers dramatically.
If they do decide to go this way, which they 100% should, then we have a lot of good things to look forward to, such as the Whisperers (actually that story line ended rubbish, but it began brilliantly), as well as the commonwealth, which is what I think that woman is from who gave them the Key to the Future book.
And we might finally get some answers as to what the hell that helicopter is all about! I for one am excited, only because we are finally past this All Out War story, which was not even enjoyable in the source material.
Overall, the season finale of The Walking Dead was a bit meh, which is what most of the season has been really. We had no major deaths (not even Kai, that Asian bloke at the Hilltop who keeps guard, he got clipped in the comics when Negan does his final assault), and so it felt anticlimactic.
The first half was okay, as we got to see some action and there were some interesting moments when he weren’t sure who was on whose side, and if Negan was going to die, but then the rest of the episode dragged as they tried to show them starting to lay the seeds of this new world Rick envisioned.
We are lead to believe some of Rick’s closest allies are leading a plot against him, but we will have to wait until next time to see if this is true.
I have no idea if the new season will be out this year, but I am most certain that it will and we will have The Walking Dead back on our screens in October, and hopefully by then they would have reinvented the show, the same way that the comics did at this point, and really push the series forward.
Until then people, thanks for reading this review, and if you have been following them each week, thank you even more. I hope you have enjoyed it and we’ll see if I do this again in October.