Warning: Contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season eight.
The Walking Dead closed this season’s first half by grouping storylines under Negan’s blanket assault, albeit with little logic or sense.
Heading into midseason finale How It’s Gotta Be, anticipation was high for a major ‘shocking’ moment which would transform All Out War’s arc for the next batch of episodes.
The moment certainly delivered on paper, going against the comic source material by setting up Carl’s now-inevitable death. Everything surrounding this bite reveal however felt like a rushed afterthought, tying together characters in baffling ways with exhausting amounts of silly decisions.
It started on a particularly bad foot. Picking up following Rick’s sighting of Daryl’s truck assault aftermath on the Saviors, all the characters in the vicinity were weirdly pinged back to Alexandria. This idiotic decision to regroup for another assault, unsurprisingly, gave time for Negan’s forces to plan a comeback– the logic behind their rebound being, weirdly, pinned to ‘Eugene’ with no real explanation.
In fact, the plot is better summarised through a series of unanswered questions. Why did Rick go on a mission to win over the Scavengers only for them to disappear? How did the Saviors know where Maggie and Jesus would be driving and manage to put a tree in the road? Why did Maggie not make any attempt to fight back against Simon and the Saviors as they slowly surrounded them?
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How did Rick and Carol escape a car crash only for Jerry to be captured? Why did Morgan suddenly appear at the Kingdom after deciding to go solo? Why didn’t Rick finish off Negan? Why did Eugene suddenly decide to help Maggie by letting the doctor and Gabriel escape after effectively causing this onslaught in the first place?
The biggest hanging question, which the show will be answering for many episodes to come, is why kill Carl? He’s become a reminder for Rick about morals behind their conflict, with his death surely to add weight to his words when he eventually does face Negan, but it’s hard not to feel concerned considering the terrible plot decisions seen elsewhere.
His death, which will play out in the next episode, also raises the question of what exactly is the show’s point now? Carl represented a gateway to the future, a child who grew up in the apocalypse and has become hardened and more interesting as the seasons have continued. Rick still has Judith who could continue this through line, but her growth is hardly on par with the audience connection to Carl.
The Walking Dead has ended on a questionable future. With the show taking its biggest risk in arguably its worst season, there’s a hanging concern of whether the show will deliver the emotional punch needed for Carl’s exit. If it fails to live up to eight seasons’ worth of investment, it could be the final straw for many fans burned by reckless decisions.
The Walking Dead’s midseason finale airs in the UK Mondays on Fox at 9pm.
Questions after episode 8
How can there be so many plot-holes in one episode?
Did any of this episode make sense?
Should Carl have been given an early demise?
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