Last night marked the return of season 8 of The Walking Dead, and we said farewell to a character whose fate was all but sealed at the mid-season finale back in December. It has been a while since I have written a review for an episode of TWD, so I’ll use this one as a stepping stone to outlay my thoughts for the rest of the season as well.
The episode itself was pretty straight forward. Rather than focusing on as many different storylines as possible, this week followed just two, with one dishing out the action for all those people who are growing tired of the show, and the other to provide us with some drama, which hit and missed for the most part.

The entire episode was centred around the events of mid-season finale when it was revealed that Carl; son of Rick Grimes and one of the last remaining Atlanta crew, had been bitten and, as we know, when you are bitten – THAT IS IT. You are done. If you are quick enough, you can chop off the arm or the leg, but a gut bite like that? There is no coming back.

While Carl was not the best character in the show, in fact I will be glad to no longer have to see his hair any more, it did mark the end of an era, as well as an interesting point to see how Rick will react to the death of his son. It is interesting as we would like to see him go ballistic on Negan and the Saviors, even though it is not their fault, but I think that there is clearly other ideas in mind.

So the episode began with a flashback to when Carl was bitten whilst helping Siddiq out in the woods. From the moment we see the teeth sink in, we see Carl realise that there is nothing anyone can do. He is going to die and he is going to have to tell his father that, which is probably more worse than actually dying.
He then proceeds to enjoy his last day or so alive, before the Saviors attacked, and it was quite nice seeing him enjoying himself, which is quite a change from the normal overly dramatic doom and gloom which has been featured throughout this series. We saw him plant a tree, help keep Siddiq secret down in the sewers, and spending some time with his sister Judith, which was nice as she is often forgotten about whilst her Dad is off all the bloody time.
It then jumps to the point we saw at the mid-season finale when he has just unveiled his incurable wound to his father.

These scenes went as much as you would expect. Carl said a few goodbyes to a couple of people, Rick didn’t want to accept it, and in the background the rest of the Alexandrians were figuring out what to do. All the while we saw flashes of the same future we saw earlier in the season, where Rick has a big grey beard, Judith is older, and it seems that Alexandria is blooming with crops and the community is thriving, an almost utopian state for them. It is the same future that the comics jumps to after the end of the war with the Saviors, and it will be interesting to see if they do actually get to this, or if it is just more of a “what-if” and the series heads in a different direction. More on this later.

Meanwhile, over at the Kingdom, Ezekiel is held by Gavin (who I went out of my way to find out what his name was, as this will be the last review to feature him), and the rest of the Saviors. Now Gavin is a brilliant character as I always felt that he really couldn’t give a fuck. He was so unenthusiastic about everything, as if he really couldn’t be bothered with all of this hassle, and last night we saw him actually with a little bit of emotion, even if the actor was not that great at it.
We saw a bit of a different side to Gavin in that he did just want them all to get along and work together, however, he had been caught up in Negan’s web and was unable to escape due to the fact that he just wanted an easy life, which ultimately makes him a good guy. And to be honest, we have never had a reason to dislike the bloke. Sure, people he has been associated with have been dicks, but he was never. He always resolved matters peacefully, and he made sure to mention this to Ezekiel when the shit hit the fan, which is most certainly did when Carol and Morgan (both now rocking extremely high kill-counts) fought to rescue the captured King.

Morgan is a bit of a strange one to me, and I have probably mention this in previous reviews, but I feel like this sudden blood frenzy is a huge contradiction to how he was in season 7, when Morgan was banging on about how shouldn’t kill and yadda yadda yadda, but now he is shoving a blunt spear into unconscious faces. Did those Saviors really need to die like that? It seems a little savage if you ask me. I know the whole thing is savage, and they would kill them if they got the chance, but one of the guys was knocked out on the floor…

Just before I bring this up, why did Gavin and Ezekiel stay? Was that small force really all that took the Kingdom? Minus the few that Morgan and Carol killed along the way. That means that the Savors captured the Kingdom with about 15 guys… whilst the Kingdom still had all of its fighters and their King inside of it. They did come as a surprise, but surely it is not enough men to capture an entire community and send all the people running.
But if some of the attack for left, if there was more of them, then why didn’t they take their high valued target with them? Maybe I missed something. I am sure someone will enlighten me in the comments.

Anyway, one of the great moments of the episode takes place in this story when Ezekiel, Gavin and the last few remaining Saviors are held up in the Throne Room. I am not speaking of Carol and Morgan’s ambush, which they managed to kill all the Saviors and shoot Gavin in the leg, without cover, as that was a little bit eye-rolling (in Call of Duty, I can barely kill one guy before the rest of them have turned and dropped me, so Morgan and Carol’s shooting was on point – and they did not know how many people were in the room and their locations, but we will have to just over look these details). The moment was when one of the shot Saviors got the jump on Morgan and the two of them were struggling on the stage. Morgan puts his hand inside the guy’s wound and rips out his intestines. Savage. The guy dies… but I don’t think that would instantly kill you, so let’s just say he passed out because of the pain (which, by the way, is what they say you would do if you were eaten alive by Zombies. So these scenes where people are crying out in terror as their flesh is being devoured, probably wouldn’t happen).

So Gavin makes a hobbled run for it, but doesn’t get far when he is corned by Morgan and his stick. Even with Gavin’s pleas and the fact that; “yeah… you know what, he hasn’t done anything wrong”, Morgan still has made up his mind that he deserves to die. Unfortunately the kid he was training with a stick does the job, and poor old Gavin has his throat punctured with a spiked stick from behind. The kid was shown earlier when Carol was telling him to leave with the others and not risk his life, but naturally the fact that they brought that up earlier in the episode meant that it was going to come back at some point, so this came as no surprise.
Personally I was a bit gutted Gavin copped it, but it was a long time coming as I suspect that all of the high ranking capitans will meet their demise in this half of the season.

Throughout Morgan deciding if he wanted to kill Gavin or not, we flicked back and forth to Rick and Michonne with Carl, as he gives Rick advice about how they can make the world better moving forward, a world where they can all live in peace together. It was a world that he wanted to see, but will now never do, but he has a nice little moment with Judith when he tells her that she will one day see it.
Naturally Rick asks someone to take Judith, as god forbid he might actually look after her for once, and the rest of the Alexandrians head off to the Hilltop where the Saviors had not attacked.

Carl’s death is dragged out a bit here, to the point where you feel yourself looking at the clock thinking “Coorrrrrrr, this is taking its time, ain’t it?!”
But I suppose that Carl is an important character, as being Rick’s son and in it from the very beginning, that he did deserve a bit send off. It is just a bit of a shame that it was so dragged out, which did lose some of the impact of it.

Carl did mention a few points about a kid that he killed back in season 4, but I honestly didn’t even remember it, and I am sure nearly everyone else had forgotten it as well, so his reveal about killing just became easy, was a bit of a waste. The scene is similar to a moment in an issue of the comic, but the death that Carl did in the comic was a lot more powerful at the time, so we did remember it when he brought it up.

As he lays dying in the half destroyed Church that Michonne and Rick carried him to, he tells his father of the vision he has had of the future, which flashes with the scenes that we have seen throughout the first half of this season (with Rick and his beard and the rebuilt Alexandria). We see an older Judith getting an apple off of Eugene, who appears to have been accepted back into the fold, and more shocking than that, we see Judith run over to the crops to greet a friend of hers, a man who gets up and turns around with a smile on his face and greets her back; Negan. Who looks more like someone you would call “Uncle Negan”, given his glasses and attire in this scene.
It is a curious moment that makes you either imagine what life would be like if they did all live together in peace, or if this is where the series is ultimately heading. It has been renewed for another season, so I would be surprised if they followed the comics and jumped the time forward two years to reach this moment, only to knock it down again as the comics have done. I would rather see this way of life as the ‘end goal’ and it should be how the television show should finish.

Because, if you think of it, the show has been going on for eight years. Not many series (that isn’t animated like the Simpsons, or a soap) go on for that long, and given how it is now suddenly cool to dislike The Walking Dead and the writers cannot seem to do anything right, it is time we think about how they are going to actually end it. If it does go for two more seasons and go to season 10, then what will be the way they send the show off? The comics can continue on, but television is a completely different media platform and does not obey by the same rules. You cannot simply keep a tv show going indefinitely and expect the same level of fans that you had in its hay-days. It is too expensive to make and keep going. As the show grows in popularity, so does its cast, and their wages become increasingly more demanding.
The Walking Dead is on its way out, and it is up to them to decide if they want to make it end on a great note, or if they will eventually just be cut off. If they plan to continue the show for as long as they can, then it will end badly. It is best that they have an ending in mind, and I think that this peaceful future would be a great way to see the show off.

Anyway, the closing scenes are that of Carl deciding to shoot himself. The three of them say their goodbyes to one another, and Rick and Michonne sit outside while Carl does the deed himself. Finally we see them bury Carl in the graveyard that many characters have been put into since they first arrived at Alexandria back in season 4.

And that marked the end of Carl Grimes, Season 1 episode 2 to season 8 episode 9. A fantastic run, even if the character might not have been the greatest, it was still amazing if you think back to the little boy in the paw logo t-shirt running over in excitement at the sight of his dad back in the first season, and then you look at the long haired, one eyed, survivor that he became when he finally met his end.

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