The eighth season of The Walking Dead has been a long, slow build toward a final confrontation between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), but their relationship is rather complicated. Good lord, what a stinker. Last night we got one out of three plus a tangle of loose ends and unanswered questions. But she doesn't kill the fallen Savior, nor does she take her vengeance out on Rick personally. She's a former journalist and she's recording people's tales: who they've met, where they've been, where they're going. How could Daryl let someone that hasn't been honest in the past free, but turn on Rick who has been by his side for years? All those screentime minutes just for that 15-second scene in the finale?
The first half of the episode was a retread of all the countless montages that have come before, with members of Alexandria, The Hilltop, and the few that remain from The Kingdom suiting up for battle, giving exposition-laden pep talks to one another while a quiet, somber score plays in the background.
The writing was so, so weak.
It was a put into play by Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who's been serving as The Saviors' bullet manufacturer for most of the past season. This makes Negan hesitate slightly, nearly appearing to break Negan emotionally, giving Rick just enough time to use a shard of broken class from the ground and swipe it across Negan's neck. Same for Gabriel despite his escape attempt. He's finally realized that there is a future, even if Carl won't be around to see it. Rick wants that civilization and, hopefully, normalcy for Judith and all other children in the world. As per usual, we'll have to spend a long, tortured summer spending entirely too much time thinking about this. Even the Saviors' failed ambush was painfully corny. Right as the moment was about to happen, The Saviors took aim, then literally all of their guns backfired at once. The show has gotten away from walkers being the main threat for some time now and it feels like the time is right for them to become the focus and threat once more. I can't tell you how happy I am that someone is trying to keep journalism alive after the zombie apocalypse, but Morgan is less impressed. Heck, an 18-month break might even work wonders for both the cast and crew, who look to be going through the motions thanks to the hectic workload. Daryl and Rick's relationship as brothers in arms may be effectively done, even if the plan is now for Team Hilltop to bide their time without making any overt moves. So now, hopefully, Season 9 will be Rick and Michonne vs. Negan and Maggie. This effectively neutralized Negan's army and left them helpless against Rick and his group.
Yep. In the end, Rick refused to kill Negan, fulfilling his son's dying wish. It, too, echoed the aftermath of their most painful encounter with The Saviors, when Maggie tearfully pleaded with a newly-broken Rick that the "have to go fight him". The show's biggest dramatic failing is that its characters never seem to develop. Indeed, the show's "All Out War" storyline proved tough for viewers to endure, with Season 8 averaging 7.8 million viewers (not yet accounting for the finale); still enviable numbers, but far removed from its Season 5 (2014-2015) heyday average of 14.38 million viewers. Or Christmas. Maybe Valentine's Day. However, the latest trailer for Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 2, does indicate that Madison has been reunited with them. I live in terror that the week I finally give up on it will be the week it finally starts getting good.
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