Warning: Although this is a Spoiler-Free review, only read ahead if you’ve seen the first half of season 8 of The Walking Dead.
We’ve had a very significant cloud hanging overhead since the the final episode before the hiatus of The Walking Dead. That is of course, the fact that Carl slipped up, and caused himself to get a big old walker bite right in the stomach.
Of course the most heartbreaking thought is imagining how Rick and Michonne will react to this news. It’s hard to say solidly how they take the news. If you’re looking for a realistic portrayal of a father who just found out his son’s impending fate, though, you will definitely get that on Sunday night. You’ll see the stages of grief from his parents, and some semblance of understanding from Judith.
Just as quickly as we found out about Carl’s bite and had to accept that he was leaving, and then wait for the episode, Rick and Michonne had a similar amount of time to accept. They don’t have a whole lot, but thankfully they are tucked away from the crazy world around them. They are able to hear him speak, and he had a clear enough mind to get the proper words out and in many different forms.
Over at The Kingdom, Ezekiel faces an acceptance of his own, but whether or not it comes to fruition, you’ll have to wait and see.
Carol and Morgan battle with their own demons to help change his fate. Morgan’s passion for killing Negan’s men does not seem to wane, much to Carol’s constant pleading with him. He finds himself inhibited by somebody unlikely who may eventually come into play in a larger role as time goes on.
Over what seems like an hour long goodbye at Alexandria, the term “slow-burn” seems like the best way to describe it, as Alexandria quite literally burns around them. Carl’s message to his father becomes clear and you can definitely see it in Rick’s eyes. He tells them to end this once and for all, and never forget who he really is, and the good he holds inside. The viewer gets the feeling of peace and resolve from the heartbreaking moments, but not after feeling Rick’s emotions, and Michonne’s pain.
As intimate as being trapped in a tiny sewer system, the episode leaves you feeling very close to the characters. There aren’t too many words spoken, only the important ones. Whether it’s one more look back at the young hero, or a small wave goodbye, many relationships do get closure. Some do not. There are calls back to other significant deaths, and specific incidents involving Carl that Rick is now aware of, that came as a result of one of the most major.
The premiere of 8B is family oriented, and will definitely make you want to go hug yours once its over.
I called the review “Hopeful Endings and Sad Beginnings” because of how Carl shapes the episode. Even in death he makes things seem hopeful and okay. He has a familiar vision for what Rick’s future holds. He even pulls out a few chuckles from his dad, but there is then a moment of realization that things will still have to move on. There is still a lot to do. If Carl’s words aren’t grasped onto, they may not have the strength to “Be smart.”. “End This,” and “Do what’s right.”
I believe that Carl’s strength in these moments will make moving on a lot easier, though.
I think this episode will leave Walking Dead fans satisfied. It was done beautifully. Even though it is a devastating end for one major character, how they did it may signal a step in the right direction for the series.
The Walking Dead season 8B premieres this Sunday on AMC.
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo