'The Walking Dead' S08E09 Recap: 'Honor'

We last saw Rick and Co in the most dire circumstances we’ve ever found them. The Saviors had sent a team that routed the Kingdom and captured Ezekiel, at the same time Negan had taken a group to Alexandria and completely firebombed the nicest neighborhood in the apocalypse to hell forcing the residents to hide like rats in a sewer. It just got worse from there as Rick shows up in the sewer to a group that won’t look him in the eye. He continued down through the line of survivors to the end where he found Carl. In probably the most surprising and shocking moment of the series run Carl lifts his shirt to reveal a walker bite making this mid-season finale the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of The Walking Dead. There is no hope, they are beaten and demoralized.

If you were hoping for a quick upturn in fortunes you were disappointed. I genuinely held hope that we would get a curveball with that bite reveal and Carl wasn’t going to die. It just seemed too obvious after that reveal, especially with the social media storm that followed. I was wrong, and Carl died. This episode serves as a goodbye to one of the few OG survivors left, and they do it in a very good way. It didn’t feel like a 90 minutes attempt to tug at your heart strings, though it did just that at times. They sprinkled in a few well-placed flashback montages that really reminded you that this kid has grown up on this show. It was a proper send off for a character that started out being known as the most annoying on the show and grew into a legit hero. Carl’s journey was so much more full than many give it credit for, from a squeaky annoying kid, to burgeoning cold blooded killer on a dark path, around to someone who does what needs to be done but holds hope for the goodness of mankind and a light of hope.

Though many will say that killing Carl is a mistake, and so did I at first, I think we’ll end up seeing the wisdom of this move in time, mostly due to two factors. 1. Judith has been long dead in the comics, so Carl was necessary to keep Rick driven…since Judith is alive she now becomes that motivating factor. They even went so far as to have a literal passing of the hat to show that in the episode. 2. Carl’s final moments with his dad are going to have far reaching effects on the outcome of the War and how Rick handles it. In many ways, assuming they go the same way they went in the comics, this makes more sense knowing how Rick eventually deals with Negan and the end of the war. We find out that the ‘Old Man Rick’ sequences were not flash-forward’s but rather Carl’s vision for the future of the community. It’s a place of peace and happiness, with even Negan smiling and tending to the gardens. Carl uses his last moments to give his Dad hope for the future. After his final talk with Rick Carl asks Michonne and Rick to leave him as he draws his weapon, fully showing the man he’s become choosing to end his own life rather than putting Rick of Michonne through the trauma doing so would cause. This is going to change everything…. until the whisperer war.

Believe it or not there were actually two storylines in this episode, remember how I said earlier that the Saviors captured Ezekial? Well someone had to go get him, that someone, err,  those somebodies being the baddest tactical team in all the land. Carol and Morgan. I know Morgan’s getting ready to leave to go be a part of ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ but I can’t help but to hope for a world where those two have their own show just going around kicking ass and taking names. This was obviously the side story of the episode but it did provide us with some great action pieces as the two of them went Zero Dark Thirty on the Saviors sneaking into the Kingdom and picking off the bad guys one by one before a final showdown in Ezekiel’s throne room where the remaining saviors were gunned down save for their leader. I can NOT find that guys name anywhere, he was a big part of the episode but doesn’t even have a slot in the IMDb page. He’s the one that was always leading the Savior contingent in the Kingdom. He’s chased down by Morgan who has another crises of faith as he prepares to kill him, but is stopped by Carol and Ezekiel who both tell him it’s not the way. It’s all for naught though, while they are arguing Henry, the little boy who’s taken to following Carol around, had snuck into the camp and stabbed the Savior through the neck getting revenge for his murdered older brother. This storyline was well done and much needed, breaking up the crushing depression of the Carl storyline with some much needed adrenaline infusions.

All in all a very well done episode and a fitting goodbye to the most changed character on the show since it’s inception. The previews for next week’s episode certainly don’t show a Rick who’s turned over a peaceful new leaf but I’m still sure that we will see the effects of this episode wave out for seasons to come. Until next week deadites when we get back to our usual format and back to the action!