It all comes down to this episode. The Walking Dead season 8 has been all about war between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). They have fought back and forth. They’ve lost a lot of lives on both sides. Rick’s son Carl died during the war, something that affected both Rick and Negan, but they continue to fight.
Negan has Eugene (Josh McDermitt) making bullets. Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) almost messed up the bullets. His mistake would have made the guns backfire when shot. So Eugene inspects each bullet himself. It doesn’t help that Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) tried to kidnap Eugene and Rosita basically called him trash. Eugene is determined to see his former friends fall.
Aaron (Ross Marquand) has been sitting outside of Oceanside, waiting to talk to them into joining the fight. Cyndie (Sydney Park) says they made their decision, but Aaron won’t leave. Aaron told them that they can’t truly live until they stop the Saviors.
Negan set up a new plan to ambush the Hilltop, but his plan was a fake. He knew that Dwight (Austin Amelio) was feeding information to Rick and used the plan to expose him. Rick is walking into a trap. But he and others are determined to come out on top and kill Negan. May his Mercy prevail over his “Wrath.”
Rick remembers. He remembers taking walks with Carl. In a flashback, we get to Rick and very young Carl walking down a dirt road.
Rick checks on Gracie and then sees himself in the mirror. Siddiq (Avi Nash) comes up behind him with a bottle. Rick moves so Siddiq can feed Gracie. He asks Siddiq how it happened. Siddiq tells him about his mother’s belief that when they kill the dead, they release their souls. Carl was helping Siddiq release souls to honor Siddiq’s mother. Siddiq apologizes for not seeing the danger that caused Carl to get bit. He says that when people leave, all that’s left is their ideals. Rick thanks him and leaves.
Outside, Henry (Macsen Linz) tells Carol that they are going to win. And asks her to return to the Kingdom after. Carols answers with a maybe. Jerry (Cooper Andrews) and Ezekiel (Khary Peyton) are talking about their last stand. Ezekiel says to justify what they lost, they must risk everything. Jerry says they’re not losing anything. Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Carol (Melissa McBride), Rosita, and Daryl go over the map and the plan. Maggie tells everyone that they locked up Gregory (Xander Berkeley) inside the house. Daryl points out that even Gregory could be setting them up.
Morgan (Lennie James) walks by, looking for something or someone. Carol checks on him to make sure he’s okay. The gates open and the Savior/prisoners enter. Morgan gets ready to attack Alden (Callan McAuliffe), but Henry stops him. Maggie tells Morgan that the Savior/prisoners offered to move the walkers away from the gates. Morgan calms down. Rick tells everyone to get ready. Maggie tells Alden that his people are coming. They will remain inside the Hilltop, but they are not a part of them.
Rick tries to sideline Morgan, but Morgan argues that he needs to be there. He says he’s keeping everyone alive. Morgan says he and Rick are worse than they used to be. He’s talking about how Rick gave his word to those men in the bar. Something went wrong for Rick. For both of them because they both lost everything good. So what does it matter if they spend what they have left on keeping people alive? Rick says they haven’t lost everything. Morgan disagrees. He just wants to finish this.
The Saviors prepare for battle. Dwight has been dressed in the same outfit that he put Daryl in. Negan taunts him, saying he used to be respected and now he has nothing. He send Dwight away and turns his attention to Eugene. Eugene delivers the bullets to Negan and has him test a gun. Negan seems happy. He asks Eugene if he’s aware of the plan and if it’s something he wants to see. Eugene says he needs to see it. Negan wants to bring Gabriel along too. He has some things he wants to confess.
In the car, Negan confesses that he sent a team of his own men to be sacrificed. He admits to Gabriel that he set up a trap for Rick. He gave Dwight a location to find Negan. Rick will find the sacrificial Saviors there and kill them. Then he will find another map that will say where Negan is, but it will be an ambush. Gabriel jumps out of the car.
While he’s talking, we see Rick’s team encounter the sacrificial Saviors and kill them. Morgan sees Ghost Jared (Joshua Mikel) after making the last kill. Jared says Morgan can’t kill his way out. Jesus (Tom Payne) brings Morgan back and they find the map saying when and where Negan will be. The team heads out to find Negan. Rick radios Maggie to let her know it was a trap so they are changing the plan.
Gabriel runs through the woods to get away and into the arms of a walker. Laura (Lindsley Register) kills the walker and Eugene yells at Gabriel for trying to run. Negan hits Gabriel in the stomach with Lucille, reminding Gabriel that he didn’t want to die a fruitless death. You can’t always get what you want. Instead of killing him, Negan orders his guys to load Gabriel in the truck.
Death in the Valley
Jesus talks to Morgan telling him that he doesn’t have to kill people to stop them. He makes a deal with Morgan. He tells him to use the pointy end of his stick to kill walkers. And use the blunt end to stop the living. And then things will get better. Carol sees the exchange and says she likes Jesus. The group stops walking and they see a large herd of walkers in the valley below. Jerry asks if they’ve ever seen a herd that big. Rick says no, but the world is changing.
At the Hilltop, Kal (James Chen) and Eduardo (Peter Zimmerman) look out for any sign of the Saviors. A truck approaches and Kal yells out for everyone to go. The Hilltop residents leave through the secret tunnel that Sasha made. The Hilltop residents run into the woods to escape the Saviors. Tara tells Kal to lead everyone to safety. She is going to hang back and slow the Saviors down. Alden says he’s staying with her. Tara won’t give him a gun, but Alden says he’s staying anyway. The rest of the Savior prisoners stay too.
In the field, Maggie and her team meet up with Rick’s team. They hear the Saviors whistling. Everyone has their guns up, ready to fight. They hear Negan’s talking through a speaker. Rick tells him to come out and face them. Negan says he’s everywhere. They just have to pick a direction and run. He says he brought Rick’s friends, Eugene, who made today possible. As well as Dwight, the gutless nothing that sucks at life who had nothing to do with the trap that Rick ran into. And Gabriel has to go too. Negan is cleaning house today. He says there never had to be fight; Rick had just accepted how things are.
Eugene looks around menacingly. The Saviors come out with guns ready to shoot. 3-2-1, they shoot at Rick’s people. The guns backfire. Eugene sabotaged the bullets. Rick’s group attacks the remaining Saviors. They fight with guns; they fight hand to hand; too bad there’s not a tiger. (RIP Shiva).
Negan yells at Eugene and Gabriel hits Negan. Negan falls back to a truck and grabs Lucille. He hits Gabriel in the stomach and turns to run. Dwight tries to stop him, but Negan throws him off and runs. Regina (Tracie Dinwiddie) goes after Eugene, but Rosita shoots her and other Saviors to save Eugene. Morgan sees Dwight hiding from gunfire. He fights off a Savior and knocks him down. Jesus stops Morgan from killing the guy and the fight continues.
Tara and the Savior-prisoners wait for the Saviors to run around the corner of the fence. Once they see them, an explosive goes off, stopping the Saviors. Tara jumps out to see who threw the explosives. Aaron and Oceanside join the fight.
Rick’s people run up the hill. Laura asks them to stop. She and the rest of the Saviors surrender. Rick chases Negan down to a tree with stained glass hanging from the limbs. Rick and Negan fight. Negan taunts Rick by saying Carl would still be alive if he had killed Rick instead. Rick says his people surrendered, but Negan says he will get out of it. Negan beats Rick to the ground and picks up Lucille. Rick starts talking about the future, saying they can work together. Negan just needs to listen to him for ten seconds…for Carl. Negan starts counting. Rick says Carl was right. There doesn’t have to be a fight. He was right. Negan looks at Rick and starts to cry. Rick slashes Negan’s throat. Negan says Carl didn’t know a damn thing and he falls to the ground.
As Rick looks at Negan, he remembers taking walks with young Carl. He turns around and everyone is watching them. Rick yells for Siddiq to save Negan. Maggie starts screaming that he killed Glenn and they have to make it right. She screams that it’s not over until he’s dead.
Rick tells everyone that after everything they did and everything they lost, there has to be something after. He tells everyone to go home. Negan is alive but his way of doing things is over. Anyone who can’t live with that will pay the price. Anyone who wants to live in peace, this world is theirs. They are life. The herd in the valley, that’s death and it’s coming for them. If they work together, the new world will begin. There’s gotta be something after.
Rosita asks if Eugene sabotaged their guns. He admits that he got the idea from Gabriel. He knew when he vomited on her that he was going to do that. Rosita punches him for puking on her.
Morgan gives his armor to Carol to give to Henry. He asks her to tell Henry that he will be okay. Carol asks if he really will. Morgan says he will try to be.
Rick sits under the tree and says “my mercy prevailed over my wrath.” Rick cries now that the war is over.
Something for After
Alden asks Maggie if he can stay at the Hilltop. He’s been reading The Key book and offers to help build those things. He says that’s what he wants to do with his life. And she gave him that life. Maggie agrees to let him stay.
Rosita, Tara and Eduardo drop off supplies at the Sanctuary. They are going to help them put in new glass. Rosita looks at Laura and they nod at each other.
Dwight gets in a truck with Daryl. Daryl drives him to the woods. They both get out of the truck. Dwight says he knows why he’s there. He apologizes for everything he did to Daryl, Tara, and everyone. He has to pay and he’s ready. At least he got to see Negan go down, and that’s enough. Daryl throws the truck keys at him. He tells him to leave and never come back. If Daryl ever sees Dwight again, he will kill him. Daryl walks away and yells for Dwight to find her. Dwight goes to his and Sherry’s meeting place. When he goes inside, he finds the pretzels have been eaten and the beer is gone. There is a note that just says ‘honeymoon’ and has an infinity sign underneath. Dwight smiles knowing that Sherry is still alive.
Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) is still at the junkyard when someone knocks. It’s Morgan. He tells Jadis that Rick said she could go to the community, if she wants to. She asks why. He says they are trying building something and she doesn’t’ want to be alone. Everything that’s worth a damn is about people. Jadis tells him her real name is Anne. She gets her things, but Morgan says he’s going to stay there. He needs to be alone. He can’t be with people right now.
Ezekiel, Henry, Jerry, and Carol return to the Kingdom.
Maggie talks to Jesus in her office, saying he was right about saving the Saviors. And Rick was right about not killing the rest of them, but Rick wasn’t right about Negan. She says they have to build up the Hilltop to be stronger than before. Rick was wrong to do what he did…Michonne too. So they are going to bide their time and wait for the right moment to show them. Daryl comes out of a dark corner and agrees with her.
Negan is locked in a cell. Rick and Michonne tell him that Carl dreamt of a better life. He wanted them all to work together to make something bigger than anyone than all of them. Negan is going to be locked in a cell for the rest of his life. He’s going to watch as they build a civilization He’s going to be evidence that things can change, so he can see that he was wrong. To show everyone that there’s a better way.
Gabriel walks into this burnt chapel in Alexandria and gets on his knees. He cries as he thanks God. He says he sees and he understands.
Rick remembers his walk with Carl again as we hear him talk to his son:
I forgot who I was. You made me remember. I remember that feeling, walking with you that day. Like I finally knew who I was for the first time in my life.
Thing is, we were walking side by side but you were bringing me somewhere. Bringing me here. Bringing all of us to the new world, Carl.
You showed me the new world. You made it real. I see it. I remember.
Negan. He does live in the comics, I knew they wouldn’t get rid of JDM. That’s fine. I’m fine with that. The communities work together to rebuild and live in peace. Okay…I’m fine with that as well.
Eugene’s betrayal…I knew last week he was going to turn at the last minute. They were harping too much on how Gabriel tried sabotage the bullets. Then Eugene’s eagerness to inspect every last bullet was the real indicator. Then there’s Rosita and what she said to him last week. Rosita is Eugene’s oldest friend in the apocalypse and the one person who he wants to impress the most. She’s always thought he was a coward, but her harsh words made him want to do something good and brave. So I guess this is how he shows her that he’s better and redeems himself.
Maggie, Daryl and Jesus. On one hand, I hate to see those three planning to “show them” that they were wrong. Yeah, not everyone is going to be happy with Rick’s decision. But he’s just trying to move forward peacefully. And how long before a loyal Savior tries to kill Rick to avenge Negan. And then we’re back to where we started…two groups trying to kill each other.
This group, minus Jesus, has been through everything. I mean…Rick called Daryl his brother! However, we’ve seen Daryl disagree and fight Rick on this whole Negan thing all season. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. Although, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Daryl to turn on Rick. I guess he thinks Negan needs to pay for everything that happened to him or maybe he also wants revenge for Glenn. Who knows? It was a shock to me and one that I’m not excited to see play out.
Maggie looked up to Rick and learned from his leadership. But her reaction to his decision to let Negan live should have been an indication that this wasn’t over. Of course she’s going to fight back and avenge Glenn. It’s like, Glenn’s death means nothing now. When she says they will “show them”, I think she will just try to kidnap Negan and kill him herself.
I’m not even sure why Jesus is in this of the triad of evil. I thought he was a peaceful man. Maybe they want to give him more depth or something. I mean, wasn’t he just telling Morgan that they can stop people without killing them?
Overall, this episode had a peaceful ending and set up an interesting turn for season nine. Until then, thanks for recapping with me!