Alright, who's been cutting onions in here?
The Walking Dead finally returned from its (lengthy) hiatus, and as expected, we were gifted with one of the most emotional episodes in the series' history. As previously announced, The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 9 was Chandler Riggs' last, officially bringing Carl Grimes' story to an end.
However, just because Carl's story is over doesn't mean his legacy and hope for the future won't continue. That much was abundantly clear from Carl and Rick's final moments together.
As much as I wanted to love this episode, especially with the emotional exchanges between Carl, Rick, and Michonne, I just couldn't quite get myself to that level. I liked it, but I didn't love it.
That's unfortunate considering how much of a turning point this is for the series and its core members. A better job could have and should have been done showcasing the relationships between Carl and the other members of the group.
Carl, it was all for you right from the start. Back in Atlanta, the farm, everything I did was for you. And that prison? It was for you and Judith. It still is, and nothing, nothing is gonna change that.Rick
It wasn't the best use of extended time, either. I come down on extended episodes a lot because when they're done properly, they can enhance the material. When done poorly, they detract from it.
Case in point: Did we really need 90 minutes dedicated to Carl's swan song? No.
Perhaps if the extended runtime was better utilized and focused more on Carl's relationships with some other group members, some with which he has a significant history, it would have been different. Instead, the main focus was on Rick and Michonne, perhaps rightfully as they are the prominent figures in his life.
I just wish we would have seen more emotion from the rest of the group.
It's difficult for me to understand how someone such as Daryl, who is basically family, can give nothing more than a nod and few thankful words. Then again, Daryl has never been one to showcase his feelings about anything.
Granted, we don't know what interactions went on between Carl and everyone else while trapped underground before Rick and Michonne arrived, but why not incorporate some of that into the extra runtime?
I know you can't see it yet -- how it could be. But I have.Carl
The episode did a decent job of callbacks to earlier seasons and addressing some issues such as Carl shooting the teen during the Governor's initial prison attack on The Walking Dead Season 3 Episode 16.
I'm glad they finally touched upon that again, but it really felt more like a last-ditch attempt at addressing some lingering issues that would probably never be addressed once Carl is gone.
I've never been a big Carl fan, but there's no denying that The Walking Dead is ideally Carl's story, and it will continue to be even after he's gone. With Carl instilling his vision of a brighter future in his father, you can bet Rick will make it real one way or another.
I'm gonna make it real. Carl, I promise -- I'm gonna make it real.Rick
Carl's death will become the catalyst to pushing Rick toward the new ideal and direction, and while I'm still disappointed in the way the death was handled, at least it will serve a significant purpose going forward.
My issues with Carl's demise are by no means a jab at Chandler Riggs who, by the way, completely knocked it out of the park with his best performance of the series. It's not easy to go head-to-head the pure, raw emotion Andrew Lincoln brings to his scenes, but Riggs deserves incredible praise.
It was heartbreaking, yet touching how Carl used what time he had left to make memories with Judith. The photo and handprints that the two made together were incredibly moving.
As cliche as it sounds, it really drove home how someone chooses to use what little time they have left. If we all knew when our number was up, would we live our lives differently?
Would we be putting our focus on making memories, spending time with the ones we love, and taking the time to appreciate the sun shining on our faces -- things we too often take for granted? I'd like to think so.
Thank you, Chandler Riggs for all of the amazing work you've done over the past eight and a half seasons!
Morgan and Carol's rescue attempt on Ezekial injected some much-needed action into an otherwise somber episode. I have to say, these two working together are simply amazing to watch.
They've both come a long way in their relationship since first being at odds when Morgan arrived at Alexandria on The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 1.
There was no doubt that they would get Ezekial back, though at times I worried for Morgan's safety, especially considering Lennie James' tenure with The Walking Dead is coming to a close to cross over to Fear the Walking Dead.
Those worries will be present every time Morgan appears throughout the duration of The Walking Dead Season 8.
Ezekial: I've ferried my people to freedom. What befalls me now matters not.
Gavin: It matters, you idiot!
Now, of course, we don't actually know how Morgan will be written out of the series, but it's unlikely he'll be riding off into the sunset. After all, this is The Walking Dead we're talking about here.
Think about it, how many characters can you name that simply "left" the series up until this point? Morales and his family come to mind, but we all know how that turned out.
I typically like to praise The Walking Dead for their fun and creativity when it comes to Walker kills, but I have to say that as far as human kills go, this episode takes the cake. Morgan reaching into the Savior's gaping wound and ripping out his insides was sick and twisted, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
But that's because I'm a sick and twisted individual.
It's not too late to walk back from something decided.Ezekial
While it was fantastic watching Morgan and Carol wipe the floor with Saviors at the Kingdom, Gavin was one that I was on the fence about. He's the one Savior who has continuously shown remorse and reluctance in carrying out Negan's requests -- at least when it comes to killing.
Ezekial saw that humanity in Gavin as well, and he continued to press that it was not too late for him.
Personally, I would have been fine with Morgan taking out Gavin. However, that honor went to little Henry, who had been keen on getting revenge for his brother Benjamin ever since he was killed on The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 13.
What I found fascinating about this development was how it paralleled Carl's first human kill during the Governor's prison raid.
The fact that Henry killed a defenseless person in similar fashion provided even more veracity. Couple that with the fact that Henry simply can't stay in the house and do what he's told and we find a parallel.
Call it reaching, but the semblance between the two can't be ignored
Mom told me I would beat this world. I didn't. You will.Carl [to Judith]
The biggest development came at the close of the episode. During a flash forward the man working in the vegetable garden in Alexandria who Judith greeted turned out to be none other than Negan!
Now, that isn't to say what we have seen thus far in these flash forwards will come to pass exactly as depicted since these glimpses into the future are actually Carl's vision of how things can be, but it's an interesting idea to think Rick and Negan might be on the same side in the aftermath of this war.
Of course, nothing is set in stone, but you can rest assured that Rick will do all that he can to honor his son and make that vision a reality.
Now let's turn it over to you, TV Fanatics! What did you think of the midseason premiere, "Honor"? Are you upset, glad or indifferent to see Carl go? Will Rick be able to make Carl's vision reality? Will Henry follow in Carl's footsteps?
Sound off below and let me know!
The Walking Dead returns with a new episode Sunday, April 4th on AMC at 9/8c.
Remember to watch The Walking Dead online right here via TV Fanatic!
Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.