It’s been a pretty enduring season for The Walking Dead, a roller coaster that many fans will prefer to leave behind, myself included. Opinions are divided and most viewers haven’t been happy with recent decisions for the overall direction of the show. Here’s my review of what was an interesting and important turning point for Rick and the gang…
They had to do something with Negan…
No doubt JDM has brought a masterclass of villainy to TWD, his arrival two seasons previous will go down in history and turned the whole story upside down. The original execution and motives of such a big character is probably the sole reason for the show’s downturn. I have covered Negan before but my concern has always been what will they do with such a momentous character, a seemingly indestructible force in a fragile world. His whole deal seemed to grow stale after the past two years, and there were scenes where I honestly thought the show’s writers didn’t know what to do him.
This seasons final episode set in motion a direction which sat somewhere between expected and unexpected. We finally got some level of resolve towards Negan and an indication of where his fate will move to next. You could tell especially in his half of S8 that they were doing something, and the pay off came, eventually.
Clearly the show running powers that be have spoken…
Looking around the internet rumor mill its no secret the show runner position for the walking dead has changed mid season, lets face it, they had to change things. You could tell almost straight away in the mid season premiere it was out with the old and in with the new, of course Carl’s death foreshadowed anything drastic and essentially became the theme of events to follow.
Although I truly believe Carl’s death should never have been, it has given the show an almost refreshing direction, now stay with me here, but the Rick we saw in the last episode of this season has been shaped by the loss of his son and the legacy he left behind.
Mercy is the greatest weapon of all, and a key to character development…
We’ve seen Rick take down the big bad before, we’ve seen the group move from settlement to settlement before, we’ve seen them deal with trust issues before. The decision for Rick not to kill Negan has interrupted the stale routine this show has got itself into, they have broken the cycle and maybe without knowing displayed a huge amount of development for the characters of this show. The take away moment from this episode was Rick showing mercy to a defeated Negan and the saviors. He has taken the high road and showed that people can be better than just killing.
That triple cross though…
Eugene was playing chess quite simply and to see the moment his manufactured bullets backfired was a huge unexpected twist. Something had to happen and this was the moment the tables turned, for the better.
For the greater good of the group
Let’s face it there have been some wonderful character performances throughout the 8 years of TWD. Many of which were on display in this episode which to me felt like a television special. Jerry and King Ezekiel are wonderfully likable characters with a natural chemistry on full display as the episode opened.
Morgan has always been a favorite for me and the deep psychological issues he faces and tackles is superbly depicted. His character may seem erratic but under the hood he knows what is going on, and even referenced to the ‘bar’ scene him and Rick found themselves in a few episodes previous. Their decision to break the bond of their word didn’t fall on silent ears and was addressed, a pivotal moment which has broken the usual vague style TWD carries.
An unexpected emotional moment came to me through Dwight’s retribution and apology to Daryl. He is a man with nearly nothing left and somehow stands out as someone very relevant in the world where Negan is now a prisoner.
I enjoyed Father Gabriel’s journey toward the light, and again it seems his faith has pulled through. Another example of great emotional acting.
There’s still a long way to go
I know for a fact it wasn’t perfect, but this episode was the first good’un in what seems like a long run of dud episodes. Most of the season was in fact a dud without direction and too spread out. With the dissolution of Negan’s reign there seems to be a new fresh route this show could take.
There are still many open plot points which need to be answered, that will always be TWD’s style, but for the first time in a long time, this show has got itself a win, and we still get to keep Negan, something which I am sure will have some level of resurgence and value in later episodes.
A feel good factor
It feels good for the first time in a long time to watch this show, that whole putting the audience though as much shit as the characters has finally been lifted. Carl’s memory and contribution were memorialized throughout the episode playing on the audiences heart strings and perhaps sub consciously nodding to the fact he probably shouldn’t have died, even though his death may have got the Walking Dead out of this rut.
Overall I liked the episode
From the very open of this episode I could tell it was going to be good. The twists and turns which led to Negan’s defeat were simple and straight to the point. I enjoyed the fact it happened just after the halfway point leaving more time to move towards next season’s plot.
The overall character development of this show has been flexed in this episode and I think the cast have ridden a proverbial shit storm out of a shituation. Full credit to the sheer effort they put in to make this whole deal feel so emotionally real. TWD has always captured the emotion above everything else.
Should they really be divided?
That’s the question most people are asking, and I think its another interesting twist. Was it right to publicly show mercy to Negan in front of the likes of Maggie. If so a civil war could be on the horizon. I’m not sure I fully believe the motives of Jesus and Daryl as they align themselves with Maggie, that may be my only criticism of a decent episode of the Walking Dead and for the first time we have no frustrating cliff hanger!