The war is over, and it signifies a huge turn for some of the longest running characters in “The Walking Dead.”
The entirety of season eight has been a buildup to the end of the war. The showdown that viewers have been waiting for in a Rick and Negan fight delivered everything viewers could want. The episode delivered a hearty mix of story lifted from the comic books and new material.
Negan and the Saviors’ preparation for the final assault:
Tensions are high at the sanctuary.
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is in the main hall portion of the compound, meeting with his troops and discussing the finer intricicies of the upcoming fight. He meets with Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who tells him the ammo is all ready for the fight. To prove this, Eugene offers Negan a revolver to fire at a “Rick” labeled dummy.
Dwight (Ausitn Amelio) is held as a prisoner. Negan tells him how the people of the Sanctuary have lost all respect for him.
Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is told he is going to ride with Eugene and Negan to the battle. In the car, Negan confesses to father Gabriel that he plans on killing every single member of our surviving group. He tells Gabriel of the planned ambush of Rick’s people.
Gabriel, deciding he cannot let his people be massacred, jumps out of the car and tries to run. Eugene chases him down and stops him.
At the Hilltop, Rick and friends ready themselves:
Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies are readying themselves at the Hilltop.
Morgan (Lennie James) is clearly hallucinating and losing his mind. Ezekiel (Khary Payton) has a back and forth with Jerry (Cooper Andrews) about how optimistic they are for the battle laying ahead.
The new group of former saviors is trying desperately to integrate into the Hilltop society. Maggie (Lauren Cohen) is reluctant, but her attitude is thawing.
The group marches to war, with a lingering shot of Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick holding hands. While the main group is gone, a secondary contingent of saviors arrives at the Hilltop. The group evacuates. Just as the saviors are coming through, the Oceanside women appear with Aaron (Ross Marquand). This was an awesome and joyous moment for people who have been watching this group develop since last season.
The big shebang:
When Rick’s group arrives to the appointed ambush location, Negan’s whistling begins. The last time they heard whistling in this manner, they got circled and ambushed by Negan.
Negan’s voice booms over a loudspeaker. He tells Rick that the game is over. The Saviors appear on the ridge of the hills that surround Rick’s people, and it is obvious that they are stuck like fish in a barrel.
Negan gives the command to begin firing, and all of the saviors’ guns explode in their hands! As it turns out, Eugene made flawed ammunition for the saviors’ last battle on purpose.
There is a quick route as the saviors quickly surrender. Negan runs. Rick gives chase.
Negan has a busted up hand and Lucille. Rick has a gun, which he quickly runs out of ammo with. The two brawl briefly, and Negan believes he has the upper hand.
“I’m bigger, I’m badder and I have a bat!” Negan proclaims. Despite all he as done, Negan is pretty damn entertaining.
Rick asks for 10 seconds to make a case on behalf of the late Carl (Chandler Riggs). Negan accepts. During the 10 seconds, Negan realizes he loses this fight, even if he kills Rick. His people have already surrendered, after all. Right as he is about come around to Rick’s way of thinking, Rick slices his neck, just enough to incapacitate him.
The rest of the crowd appears behind Rick, in seeming disbelief that the war is finally over. Rick orders Siddiq to save Negan, and Maggie just about loses her mind in disgust and frustration. For those who don’t remember, one of the first people killed by Negan was Glenn, Maggie’s husband.
The rest of the episode is filled with cleanup footage.
Some of Rick’s people are delivering people and supplies to the sanctuary, where healing really has begun, it seems.
We get a shot of Negan in a hospital bed. Michonne is standing over him and Rick is also in the room. They tell Negan that the world has moved on, and that he will serve as living evidence as such. Negan is condemned to live in prison until the day he dies.
Morgan is leaving the show. He is too disillusioned with the way things have gone. Before leaving, he stops by the trashpile to invite Jadis (Polyanna McIntosh) back to live at Alexandria. She gleefully accepts and introduces herself as Anna.
One of the last scenes of the episode shows Maggie speaking to Jesus (Tom Payne). She tells him that what Rick and Michonne have done is unacceptable. They will bide there time, but there will be revenge. Darryl (Norman Reedus) is also here, and tells us that he is also in on this plan. It seems these guys wont be hapy until Negan is dead.
I am extremely happy with this season finale.
As a comic reader, I got the ending to the war that I expoected and the changes in story that I anticipated, while still being twisted around by differences in storytelling. This was an awesome finale, and when the show returns in the fall, I have a feeling the show is going to feel pretty different.
I can’t wait.