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TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.16 “Wrath” (Season Finale)
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The Walking Dead episode 8.16 review

The Walking Dead
Episode 8.16 “Wrath” (Season 8 finale)
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott Gimple
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Christian Serratos, Tom Payne, Khary Payton, Austin Amelio, Alanna Masterson, Katelyn Nacon, Steven Ogg, Pollyanna McIntosh
AMC
Air Date: Sunday, April 15, 2018

Warning – SPOILERS for AMC’s The Walking Dead…

Here we are, at the season 8 finale of The Walking Dead. After a frustrating first half of the season filled with an overabundance of gunfire and a story that dragged on, the second part returned this past February with a more compelling tale, one led by Carl’s vision of the future. But will Rick and Negan compromise to allow this peaceful future to become a reality? All indications so far have been, no, they won’t, especially since Negan told Michonne that “winning is about killing every last one of you.”

On last week’s episode, 8.15 “Worth,” Negan faced his betrayers. Simon, who was plotting a coup, died by Negan’s bare hands, while Laura’s return led to the reveal that Dwight was the mole who was feeding Rick information. Negan’s plan for Dwight had yet to be revealed, but we know he set him up to deliver Rick fake battle plans that would lead his enemy right into a trap. The episode also saw Rosita and Daryl’s failed attempt to capture Eugene, who is head of Negan’s bullet-making operation.

In this week’s episode, 8.16 “Wrath,” the allies ready for battle against Negan and the Saviors, while Negan prepares his army for a mission to wipe out their enemies once and for all.

The Season 8 finale opens with a flashback of Rick walking hand-in-hand with a very tiny Carl, which calls back the memory from Carl’s letter to his father about this moment in their history.

This segues into the Allies readying for battle against Negan. We also see former Savior POW Alden leading a group of walkers away.

Inside, Rick is looking over Grace when Siddiq comes in with a bottle for the baby. Rick asks the man how Carl died. Siddiq explains that he had told Carl of his mother’s belief that people’s souls are trapped inside the “monsters” (the walkers). And that killing them allows them to move on to the afterlife. In an effort to win over Siddiq’s trust and honor the man’s mother, he went to kill some of the walkers. It was then that Carl got bit. “All that’s left of the people we lose, what was theirs, are their ideas,” Siddiq says. “Thank you,” Rick says, seeming to finally accept Siddiq’s presence in their community.

Rick goes outside and sees Morgan, who just had another one of his hallucinatory freak-outs. Here, Morgan tells his friend that they are worse off than they were before, and that it was a huge deal that Rick gave his word to the Savior POWs and then went back on it, killing them. After this, the Allies set out from Hilltop to face Negan.

At the Sanctuary, Negan is menacing Dwight, who’s now in the light jumpsuit with the A on it (like they had done with Daryl when he was captive). He then moves on to Eugene, who assures his boss that his bullet order has been fulfilled, and even has Negan test out his handiwork. All seems ready to go for them to face Rick and defeat him. We then see Negan set up a group of his people to walk into a deadly trap just so he can get a strategic advantage over Rick by planting a map on them for Rick to find and follow.

Rick and company do come upon those Saviors and waste them all, including a pleading one killed brutally by Morgan. It’s during this time that Morgan hallucinates zombie Jared, who asks him, “You don’t die, right? You ought to try it sometime. You don’t think you can kill your way out of this, do you? Not gonna happen.” Jesus tries to counsel Morgan about not always killing — Morgan’s old philosophy — telling him to use the pointed part of his staff for the dead, and the flat end for the living. Carol approves of Jesus’s method.

In the car on the way to the fight, Negan tells Gabriel about the group he’s sacrificed. This is when the vision-impaired priest bails out of the moving car and runs right into a walker in the woods. He’s saved and it seems like Negan is finally going to kill him, but at the last second, lets him live.

Meanwhile, Rick, as planned, finds the map and they follow it to where they think Negan is, thinking he’s avoided a trap, when he’s really walking right into one. When they get there, they can see the horde of walkers in the distance. Then they hear whistling, but it’s Negan and crew on walkies. Negan then tells Rick that his old friend Eugene is there, and he’s the one who made this all happen today (because he made the bullets). He also reveals that his ally Dwight inadvertently led them into Negan’s trap. Lastly, we see Negan’s got a gun pointed at Gabriel’s head and lets Rick know that he’s cleaning house today on them all. Negan counts down from 3 and when he gets to 1, his army starts shooting at Rick’s group — but the bullets backfire on them, killing them!!! Dwight takes this opportunity to attack Negan, who manages to run away with his bat, though his hand is injured.

In another area, we see Tara leading the Hilltop community to a safe rendezvous point, but she branches off to created a diversion, and Alden and his men go with her to help. They see the Saviors in the distance and are about to attack when their enemies are ambushed from the other side by fire bombs! It’s the women of the Oceanside come to fight on Rick’s side, at the urging of Aaron, who’s there to being them into the melee. We then see the Saviors led by Laura on the other side surrender on their knees to Maggie.

Meanwhile, Rick runs after Negan, and the two go at it. Negan reveals that his “eenie meenie miney mo” selection process that led to Glenn and Abraham’s murder was not really random. He just didn’t want to kill Rick in front of his son, but now he thinks he should have done that. Rick appears beat and Negan is about to end him, when he pleads for just “10 seconds” for Carl’s sake, and Negan obliges. They’ve already set us up to know that Rick is no longer a man of his word, so this plea is just a ploy… and it was, because Negan gets too close to Rick, who then slashes him in the throat. “Look what you did,” Negan gurgles, “Carl didn’t know shit,” and then Negan collapses.

Flash to Rick with tiny Carl walking hand-in-hand. This is the memory that Carl wrote about in his plea to his father for a future of peace.

In the present, Maggie and the group, including their new POWs, see what just happened. Rick turns to them and says, “Save him.” Maggie freaks out at this, because all of her motivation has been to kill Negan because he killed Glenn. “He killed Glenn!,” she screams, “We have to make it right!” But Michonne holds her back and Negan is helped. Rick says after all they’ve lost, there has to be something “after.” He tells the POWs to put their hands down, because they’re all going to go home now to live a different life. Negan’s way is over. “Anyone who would live in peace and fairness and find common ground, this world is yours,” he tells them, because “death” is coming. With this we see the horde in the far distance. It’s time to live in harmony and for the living to band together to prepare to fight against the dead. He walks off to sit under the tree where they had been fighting, the one that has the two stained glass windows hanging from it. We see a close-up of his bloodshot crying eyes — this is a flashback to earlier in the season that predicted one possible future. “My mercy prevails over my wrath,” he says, which we also had previously heard this season.

As the groups prepare to leave, Rosita approaches Eugene, who confirms that it was he who sabotaged the Saviors’s weapons. He was inspired by Gabriel, as well as what Rosita had said when he captured him. Just then she punches him in the face. “That’s for the puke,” she says, referring to when he vomited on her to make his escape. “Fair play,” he responds, rubbing his cheek.

As Carol goes to leave, Morgan gives her his things, saying to give them to Henry. He’s off to try to be “OK.”

Everyone gathers back at the Hilltop, where Alden tells Maggie that while the other men are going back to the Sanctuary to try to make it better there, but he’d rather stay where he is. (This is after earlier in the episode she told him that he’s not “one of us.”) He’s able to build things and he wants to help work on the plans from the Keys To The Future manual, and Maggie agrees.

At the Sanctuary, we see Negan’s wives, and for the first time they are dressed in normal clothing. They’re tending the garden when Tara and her crew arrive with people and supplies to help rebuild.

Out in a truck, Daryl takes Dwight into the woods. Their previous agreement had been that Daryl lets Dwight live long enough to defeat Negan. So now’s the time. Dwight gets on his knees and awaits his fate, as he apologizes for killing Denise and all the other bad things he had done. He cries as he professes to being a “piece of shit.” It’s then that Daryl throws keys to Dwight, telling him to go away and never come back, or he’ll kill him on sight. “Go out there and make it right,” Daryl tells Dwight as he walks off. “Find her,” referring to Dwight’s wife Sherry, who had run off after saving Daryl at the Sanctuary. Yay!!!!!

After that, we see Dwight pull up to their old house. Inside is a brief note from his wife that reads, “Honeymoon,” likely directing him to met her where they had honeymooned, with an infinity symbol beneath it, signifying that she loves him forever. He smiles, and we smile too!!!

The finale really wrapped up a lot, because it even went back to the Scavengers’ base to where Jadis still resides. Morgan arrives there to basically swap places with Jadis, who is now going to live at the Hilltop at Rick’s request. “You can call me Anne,” Jadis says to Morgan, finally revealing her given name. While she doesn’t want to be alone, Morgan does.

At the Kingdom, Jerry, King Ezekiel, Henry, Carol, and others triumphantly return.

At the Hilltop, in a very upsetting scene, Maggie conspires with Jesus and Daryl, because they all are disappointed that Rick and Michonne did not kill Negan. They feel that while Rick was right not to spare the Saviors who surrendered, he was wrong about Negan. They’ll bide their time and rebuild, Maggie says, and then show Rick and Michonne how they were wrong. Umm… I don’t like the sound of that. They better not harm or turn on Rick and Michonne! If they plot to kill Negan, I’m fine with that, but not if they destroy their friendship with Rick and Michonne, or hurt them in any way.

So, what happened to Negan? At the infirmary, Siddiq tends to wounded Negan, while Rick and Michonne let him know that while they let him live, things will never be the way they were before. “We are not gonna kill you or hurt you,” Rick tells him, “You’re gonna rot in a cell for the rest of your life.” Carl envisioned a better future for them all, and they are going to make that happen, but Negan will be held up as an example of what not to be.

At Father Gabriel’s burned out church, the holy man thanks god for his blessings, and his sight is restored.

The finale’s last scene is the flashback again of Rick and little Carl, as we hear Rick’s voiceover response to Carl’s final letter. In it, he says he remembers that day walking with his little son, as it was the first time he knew who he was in life. That day led him to where he is today, to this new world. “Carl,” Rick ends his response, “you showed me the new world, you made it real, I see it. I remember.”

Wow, what a fantastic season finale! It was great to see Rick and Negan have a rematch, and I really thought it was going to end with Rick truly no longer being an honorable man after he slashes Negan’s throat. But then he let Negan live. Honestly, I’m kind of on Maggie’s side with this one. Some people shouldn’t be allowed to live, and it feels like Negan is one of them. Not necessarily because he killed Glenn, which is a valid enough reason, but Rick and his crew killed people too. No, because, as Rick says, of how Negan made people live. Even in this precarious situation, Negan tries to say that he “saves people,” which is true in a way, but he also kept people under his thumb and was the sole judge, jury, and executioner. He kept people down and made them live in fear.

As for what Maggie will do to Rick and Michonne over this, I’m really worried. I was upset already with how Daryl treated Rick this season, and I would be very surprised if peace-loving Jesus hurt one of his own people. So what will they plan to do? Plus, Daryl repeatedly said he didn’t trust Dwight and would kill him for what he did to Denise, yet in the end, he let Dwight go — will he let everyone know that this is what he did or will he say he killed him? So, Dwight can be redeemed, but they will punish Rick, when Rick has been there for them always? I really just do not like this!

On a more pleasant note, Eugene came through!!!!! Honestly, I feel like this was a highly unlikely scenario. He’s always been about self-preservation and he had a really good thing with Negan. Negan, unlike his former friends, showed him respect and gave him a good life, while his former community was down on him for all of his lies and cowardice. But yeah, what a twist!

And speaking of twists, the Oceanside showed up at just the right time! They hardly got any screen time though, which was a bummer. Did Rick even realize he had these allies? I don’t think he did.

What will be for Season 9? Right now, Negan is captive and it doesn’t seem likely that anyone will try to rescue him to restore their old lifestyle. But we know how persuasive he can be. Also, maybe in Maggie’s quest for revenge, she’ll end up inadvertently releasing him. But I don’t want to see a season of Maggie fighting Rick, because that would really really suck.

Video

‘Negan’s Bullet Tester’ Season 8 Finale Official Sneak Peek Ep. 816 | The Walking Dead


Eugene reports bullet production to Negan.

‘Wrath’ Official Sneak Peek Ep. 816 | The Walking Dead


Next on The Walking Dead.

[Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC. Courtesy of AMC. Used with permission.]

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