SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD! SERIOUSLY, I’M NOT KIDDING!
Right now, I would say that 75% of The Walking Dead fandom is heartbroken. The end of tonight’s episode has generated some very real angst among some people.
As for me, I’m actually feeling rather proud of myself because I predicted that all this would happen. I predicted it way back on November 5th and I’ve even got the tweet to prove it. But, before I go on, I think it might be good to consider the words of a song from 1965. Here are the Poets with That’s Way It’s Got To Be:
See, it all gets back to what has always been the underlying theme of The Walking Dead. Nobody is going to get out of this show alive. It doesn’t matter how good you are. It doesn’t matter how likable you are. It doesn’t matter how much the audience loves you. Everyone on this show is eventually going to die. The only question is whether someone will be around to keep them from reanimating afterward. Negan, Rick, Maggie, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Eugene … none of them are going to get out of this alive. Death will come for everyone eventually and tonight, it appears that it’s coming for Carl.
As I tweeted on November 5th…
Tonight’s episode featured a lot of Carl. When Negan and the Saviors showed up at Alexandria and demanded that Rick be given to them, Carl is the one who offered to sacrifice his life so that the rest could live. (And, of course, we now know why Carl was willing to do that. He literally had nothing to lose.) When the Saviors were blowing up Alexandria, we watched as Carl made his way through the flaming wreckage of his former home. Throughout the show, we got flashbacks of Carl arguing with Rick about Rick’s harsh philosophy. Tonight, we saw more of Carl then we’ve seen in a while and I spent the whole show assuming that meant that Carl was probably not going to come to a good end…
But still, it’s hard to overstate the emotional impact of seeing Carl there at the end, bitten by a walker and fighting to breathe. As Chris Hardwick and Khary Payton stated at the start of Talking Dead, Chandler Riggs really did grow up over the past few seasons of The Walking Dead. It’s always kind of been easy to make jokes at Carl’s expense. Early on in the show, it always seemed inevitable that he would end up getting lost or picked up the by the wrong people. Whenever I live tweeted those early seasons of The Walking Dead, I almost always suggested that the ideal solution to almost any problem would be to sacrifice Carl. But tonight, Chandler Riggs showed why Carl has become a favorite of many fans of this show. The episode ended with Carl still alive but fading. Will he die? I really don’t see how he can’t. He’s been bitten on his side so it’s not like they can just chop off a limb, like they did with Herschel. If the show is to have any integrity, Carl has to die and he will be missed.
Up until that final scene with Carl, tonight’s episode could have just as easily been called “Everyone Better Do What Rick Says.” Darryl took it upon himself to crash that truck into wall of the Sanctuary, which is actually what Rick did not want him to do. As a result, the Saviors escaped, were able to launch a counter attack, destroy Alexandria, and take over The Kingdom. Carl, meanwhile, went off on his own, helped out Siddiq, and ended up getting bitten for his trouble. From now on, everyone better listen to Rick.
Rick got the line of the night when he asked Negan, “Don’t you ever shut the Hell up?” That’s something that I’ve been wondering for a season and a half now. Tonight, Negan actually lived up to his fearsome reputation. As for the other Saviors, Simon made me say, “Oh God, this fucking guy again…” as soon as he got out of that truck and Gavin came across like a teacher trying to control an unruly classroom. I guess Dwight is officially a part of Rick’s group now.
This was sometimes a hard episode to watch, not because it was bad but because it literally took place in the dark. All of the action played out at night and the show actually did good job of using the darkness to its advantage. There was an eerie and horrible beauty to scenes of Alexandria burning to the ground.
But you know what?
In the end, all anyone is going to remember about this episode is that final scene with Carl.
That’s the way it’s got to be.
And with that, The Walking Dead is on hiatus. Season 8 will resume in 2018 and so will our coverage!