Spoilers will be present for the midseason finale episode of The Walking Dead.
The first half of The Walking Dead’s eighth season came to a shocking close last night thanks to a rather enjoyable midseason finale that finally showcased some actual tension and action worth sitting through. This season has been painful at best, with most of the previous seven episodes being very slow moving with almost nothing happening of note in each one. Thankfully, everything came to a head in this midseason finale, which saw Rick and his compatriots losing their upper hand over Negan and the Saviors. Negan’s forces have Rick’s forces cornered on all three fronts, but that’s the least of Rick’s worries, especially after he returns to Alexandria to see it burning in ashes, not to mention his shocking reunion with his son Carl.
Even though this episode featured some real tension and helped to finally move past the all our war aspect of the previous seven episodes, it still had a pace that was so fast that it almost discounted everything that has happened before. When you consider what happened to Negan and his Savior-led compounds, it just feels cheap that he was able to mount a three-pronged attack against Rick, Maggie, and Zeke in the matter of hours after Eugene figured out how to free them from the walkers flooding into the compound. It just made all of the previous episodes feel irrelevant with a snap of a finger, so the show still hasn’t found its stride this season in terms of pacing.
Of course I made sure to note down this episode’s top moments, and I found eight of them in total. There could have been more, but these eight are the ones I feel made the most impact on the episode, or will have lasting effects as the season moves on. They’re not ranked, but they’re listed in the order in they appeared during the episode.
1. Enid Caps Grandma Oceanside
Aaron and Enid teamed up to try and persuade the Oceanside women to join their cause, and they even brought a truck full of booze to help make their case. Unfortunately, Aaron got attacked before they could make their bargain, so Enid shoots his attacker. It’s revealed that his attackers is none other than the leader of the Oceanside crew, so Aaron and Enid aren’t starting their negotiations off on the right foot.
This exchange will clearly impact Rick’s battle against Negan, but I do feel after a few apologies that the Oceanside team will join Rick before this season ends.
2. Negan’s Arrival
Even though we all knew it was inevitable, Negan’s arrival at Alexandria had to make this list. He showed up in style and didn’t disappoint in his speech to Carl, which almost made him appear human. Of course his arrival also signaled the loss of Alexandria, which is a huge moment for the show, especially for Rick. I anticipate that Negan himself will move into Rick’s house in Alexandria to make a point when the show returns in February.
Although, based on this season’s premiere, it does appear that Rick will take Alexandria back before it is all said and done.
3. Dwight Found Out
Dwight did his best to try and help Alexandria during Negan’s raid. He screwed up the barricade so Daryl and the gang could smash through with heavy trucks, and then he led a Savior caravan into a trap. He even started shooting Saviors himself during this trap, so he’s fully committed to Rick’s cause.
Unfortunately, one of the other lead Saviors saw Dwight killing their own, and she escaped, so Dwight is a marked man now and can no longer help Rick from within Negan’s ranks. This could screw some of their planning, but on the other hand Rick now has Dwight fully on his team now that he can’t return to Negan, so having another able bodied warrior can’t be a bad thing.
4. Eugene Succumbs to Guilt
Eugene is a piece of crap. He’s fully switched to Negan’s team, and even helped them escape Rick’s plan, but he’s finally starting to feel a bit shitty about his actions. In this episode, after not being able to sleep — even with the help of booze — Eugene goes to Gabriel and frees him and the Doctor. He even gives them a car to get away in.
This is a major moment for Eugene, and one that will more than likely help lead to Negan’s ultimate downfall. I’m not sure if Eugene will ever be able to fully redeem himself in the eyes of Rick’s compatriots, but he’s definitely setup for redemption, which may come in the form of his own sacrifice to ultimately give Rick’s forces the edge over Negan.
5. Zeke’s Sacrafice
During the raid on the Kingdom King Zeke finally awakes from his depression and actually does something heroic for his people. He ultimately sacrifices himself to save his flock, but I don’t think his fate is sealed. While we don’t get to see his fate, the fact that Morgan is lurking outside the door where Zeke is being kept leads me to believe that he will be saved right when the show returns in February.
When Zeke is saved I think he will have renewed interest in being a leader, but may vary well drop the bullshit act.
6. Maggie Evens the Score
Maggie’s group also got harassed by the Saviors in this episode, but unlike the other two camps, the Hilltop wasn’t under a direct assault. Maggie was stopped on the road and watched a Hilltopper get blasted by Simon, but after hearing him out and making it seem like she’d play along, Maggie showed that she’s still in charge by doing something drastic. In an effort to get even with the Saviors she shoots one of the prisoners at the Hilltop and makes sure that other Saviors will find his body, which was placed in a coffin that Simon had first built for her own corpse.
It appears that the Savior prisoners may be bigger bargaining chips than I expected, because I do believe Maggie will use them as leverage, and it appears that Negan at least isn’t a fan of innocent people dying, especially not from his own flock.
7. Rick and Negan’s Fight
Rick and Negan’s brawl was a major highlight from this episode, and while it didn’t lead to anything major, I had to put it on this list. It was exhilarating to see these two figureheads go at it for the first time in a somewhat fair fight. At times it looked like Negan would find his mark with Lucille, while at other moments in the scuffle it looked like Rick would get one over on Negan. It was just a great fight with plenty of tension, so I’m glad it ended the way it did, which will only setup Rick and Negan’s final confrontation to be even more powerful than I’m already expecting it to be.
8. Carl’s Bit
So this moment was saved for the show’s last, and while it was tragic, I can honestly say that I wasn’t emotionally impacted in the least. I credit a part of my cold reception to the fact that I’ve never liked Carl as a character, but I also think the reveal fell a bit flat is because the show as a whole has been a drag this season and most of last season. Much of the emotion that this show used to pack has been weakened due to plot threads in Season 7 and 8, so finding out that Carl has been bit and will die didn’t quite feel as sad as it should have been.
Worst of all he got bit saving Siddiq, or that’s how I interpreted it, because even finding out about Carl’s bite was a muddy affair. I think he got bit when he saved Siddiq, but maybe he got bit on his way into the sewer? Who knows, but outside of the fact that Carl will absolutely not make it out of this season, his bite reveal was kind of weak.
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