The Walking Dead returned for the second-half of its eighth season on February 25, with the beginning of the end of the show’s wartime story arc being heavily advertised.
Warning – this post will contain show and comic spoilers!
The show has crossed the 100-episode mark, pushing the showrunners to pull out all the stops and get creative to keep things original. Despite dwindling ratings and some concerns from fans that the show had lost its edge, the season 8B premiere, titled “Honor,” brought both heartbreaking emotional moments with gory and twisted action sequences mixed in.
While the show has followed the source material for the most part, they have made certain changes along the way. Some characters that are still around in the comics are gone in the show, and vice versa. One major deviation from the comics is the loss of Carl Grimes, one of the show’s main characters who has been around since the first season.
Carl’s death was teased at the end of season 8A, with his fatal wound being revealed during the midseason finale. As Carl slipped away surrounded by his loved ones, both sides of the war were counting their casualties. The Saviors, the show’s primary antagonists, continued to destroy the survivors’ homes and hunt down those who had dared to challenge their rule over the region.
Another one of the show’s primary protagonists, Ezekiel (leader of a settlement known as The Kingdom), wound up in custody by a group led by Gavin, one of the Saviors’ primary lieutenants. But despite being told his days were numbered and that his fate was sealed, Ezekiel seemed content with his decision to fight back against his enemies.
As his captor seemed to fight back a sudden growth of conscience, Ezekiel’s old allies, Morgan and Carol, swept the area he was in. After laying waste to enemy troops using stealth in some cases and sheer brutality in others, they finally made their way to Gavin and a chase ensued.
With Morgan attempting to track him down, the show alternated between that scene and the last words of Carl, who pleaded with Rick to show mercy and build a life beyond killing and brutality in the future. This continued to present one of the series’ central questions, concerning whether civility and mercy could prevail in a world of lawlessness and savagery.
Just as it seemed Morgan was about to execute Gavin for his crimes against Ezekiel and The Kingdom, a young child named Henry carried out the brutal task instead. Seeking revenge on those who killed his brother, the child’s gruesome act created further questions about the lessons the example the main characters are setting.
The show also showed more visions of the future, complete with an elderly Rick whose baby daughter was, at that point, old enough to walk and talk. Negan, the leader of the Saviors, was also present in the vision – drawing questions as to how such a seemingly conflicting scene could develop.