HOLLYWOOD—The season eight finale of “The Walking Dead” arrived on Sunday night and man did this episode deliver. Audiences all knew blood would be spilled, but the question of the hour was: who would make it out alive? Let me just point out something, if you expected this to be a lengthy finale, not this time around, it clocked in around 70 minutes, but it was pure bliss for each of those minutes. The episode, amply titled ‘Wrath’ saw a nearly 2-3 season battle between Negan and Rick Grimes culminate in all-out war and it was a bloody mess to say the least.
The episode started with an image from the past, with Rick walking a small Carl alongside the countryside. Things transitioned to walkers following several members of the Saviors crew, just as Rick heard Saddiq explain how Carl was bitten by a walker. The Kingdom, The Hilltop and the Alexandrians seemed to be in cheery spirits, but little did they know an ambush was about to transpire; one least expected. For once Daryl was right, Dwight’s plan was not accurate and Morgan spiraled, and attacked Henry. Morgan was speaking some major truth to Rick, who took some of it in, but with caution.
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan and company were preparing for war, just as our villain decided to taunt Dwight before planning whatever torturous mayhem he has planned. Per usual, Eugene continued to kiss Negan’s a**, as Father Gabriel watched in disgust. The gang was ready to ambush Negan’s crew with walkers in tow. Carol continued to worry about Morgan’s psyche as it became apparent that he might put the others in more harm than he knows. Ezekiel found Negan’s map just as planned, and I’m frustrated that Rick, Carol and the others haven’t realized they are being deceived. Just as Negan decided to confess his sins, Father Gabriel decided to jump out of the moving vehicle. Hmm, could this be Gabriel’s end or is his character more vital to the rest of the narrative than we expect?
Eugene has really crossed over to the dark side to say the least; the way he talks to Father Gabriel is just sickening to say the least. Looks like Rosita and Daryl really pissed him off to say the least. Jesus had a riveting conversation with Morgan about taking another path of redemption using his nifty stick to say the least. The entire gang seemed ready, but little did they know the Hilltop was in imminent danger. However, Tara was prepared to seek shelter for herself and her comrades. About 30 minutes in and the action is not as forward as I expected it to be, but it seemed the writers were slowly building up to a war fans have eagerly and I mean eagerly waited for. Jesus, Maggie, Michonne, Rick, Carol, Dwight and the others found themselves right in Negan’s clutches, with Dwight and Father Gabriel being utilized as bait.
Gosh, I’m praying, praying that the TWD Gods finally deliver Eugene’s demise on a silver platter for once; it’s long overdue. Unfortunately, Negan’s plan was not what he expected, as the Hilltop, Alexandrians and the Kingdom got the upper hand. Oh, this battle is juicy good, Negan was shot in the hand, Father Gabriel delivered a few punches to Negan, just as Eugene cowered yet again. Tara wanted to be a hero, with a few Saviors by her side. Eugene was near death, but little do you know Rosita spared his life. I wonder why? Just as the Saviors closed in on Tara, the ladies of the Oceanside with Aaron in tow attacked. Yes, the good guys are finally winning, they are winning. Outnumbered, the Saviors surrendered just as Rick went after Negan.
No Lucille, no gun, Rick and Negan had a fist fight battle to the finish, where it looked like Negan had the upper hand in the beginning, but Rick fought back. Rick was definitely hurt, but begged Negan to give him the opportunity to broker peace utilizing Carl as the catalyst. However, it was all a ploy, as Rick viciously slit Negan’s throat with a chard of glass. I expected Negan to die, but for a second, just a second, I thought the writers might deliver a curveball similar to what they did with Carl’s demise. Our heroes witnessed Negan presumptively take his last breathe until Rick asked Saddiq to save Negan’s life. This was against Maggie’s wishes and she broke down in tears wanting vengeance. Must say I’m in agreement with Maggie. Negan did brutally murder her husband in front of her and that woman is owed her vengeance.
How noble of Rick to take a torturous three seasons of anguish to try to be the better person for Carl, just as we received a glimpse of a massive horde of walkers and I mean massive ready to pounce at any given opportunity. Wow, Eugene actually cares about people; he rigged the weaponry of the Saviors actually saving everyone. However, I loved watching Rosita deck Eugene in the face. Her reasoning was more hilarious: “It’s for the puke.”
With Negan’s reign of terror coming to an end, it looks like Maggie is turning lives around one Savior at a time. Tara reunited with the ladies of the Oceanside, just as Daryl and Dwight had that long awaited confrontation. Dwight repented for his sins, as he begged for his life. Daryl, who I thought was certain to take out Dwight, gave him an opportunity to live, but warned if he ever returned he would end him. I was wondering when the audience would see Jadis. She received a visit from Morgan who informed her that she could return to the community, as Morgan learned Jadis’ real name: it’s Anne! We’ve known for a while that Morgan was leaving “The Walking Dead” to head to “Fear the Walking Dead,” so his departure was no surprise.
Dwight arrived at the home where Sherri was hiding out. She left him a note, just as Carol took Henry up on his offer to return to the Kingdom. Maggie and Jesus had a conversation, where she made it clear that Rick and Michonne are now enemies of hers. Whoa, this is without a doubt a game changer, because even Daryl is in on the plan. This is an absolute first, we are seeing allies turn into enemies and this is going to take the series in an entirely new direction. Rick and Michonne had a conversation with Negan who was recovering from his injury, but they planned to do what occurs in everyday life: if you commit a crime you go to jail. Good, you cannot reform a person like Negan, but I fear this will only empower him more as he seeks vengeance and he might actually get it.
The final moments of the season eight finale saw Father Gabriel thanking God for his blessings, just as Rick made his peace with Carl’s death. It took him a very long time to get to this place, but dare I say Rick has found a bit of solace. I must say this finale surely felt like the end of a saga, and opens the door for all sorts of interesting stories to intersect and collide as season nine kicks off in October. Until Halloween “Walking Dead” die-hards!