[Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers for “How It’s Gotta Be,” the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead’s eighth season, along with some references to previous seasons of the show]
The Walking Dead’s eight season has finally reached its mid-season finale with “How It’s Gotta Be,” an episode which places a feeling of uncertainty onto the viewers throughout. As the fight rages on, sacrifices are made, and there is a shocking revelation regarding one of the show’s beloved main cast members.
“How It’s Gotta Be” takes an unexpected turn within the last few moments of the episode’s run time with a reveal so massive it will surely change the direction in which the show is heading. During its final scene after the fighting stops and everything seems to settle down in the sewer, Carl reveals that he has been bitten near the stomach, which he can not recover from. The episode sees one of the highest points in actor Chandler Riggs’ portrayal of the character, as his time on set since 2010 begins to dawn upon its final moments. The audience has witnessed Riggs play this role since he was only 10 years old, and now he has fallen victim to a threat that is still quite present amidst all the warfare.
This moment may come as a shock to longtime fans of not only the television series, but also the comic book, as Carl Grimes grows to be an even more prominent role in the story. With entire story arcs based around the cover not even touched upon in the show, it poses the question of where the television series is planning on heading. It was an interesting decision to kill Rick’s son, who the audience has witnessed grow throughout the seasons, in a mid-season finale, and I hope that it plays a role greater than just to shock the audience. The character learned over times not only from his own mistakes, but also the mistakes that Rick made as he watched them first hand, and could have grown to be the group’s new leader. However, it seems as if AMC has a different idea in mind as to where the show may head in upcoming seasons.
Since the show’s initial debut, Rick Grimes has worked to protect not only his crew, but specifically his children. As the mid-season finale closes, Rick is left with a walker-infected son, and a daughter who is most likely not his in the first place. In the current situation of where the Grimes family stands, with Lori and now Carl deceased, it raises the issue of why Rick continues to push on. Similar in fashion, however, to when Lori died back in Season 3, I would imagine that Rick will find himself out of control and on the front-lines once again. However, the eighth season has done well in establishing Carl as a pacifist, and this may impact the way in which Rick takes on the Saviors from this point forward. For the second half of the eighth season, I expect to see an end to the All-Out War, whether as the result of violence or some other method. It is also not out of the picture to expect Negan to die by the Season 8 finale, as Carl’s death proves that truly no one is safe on the show.
The mid-season finale also introduced some key development moments that will be important in future episodes. In the finale, Dwight finally makes his allegiance with Rick’s crew clear, as he leads a group of his former crew mates into an ambush set up by the show’s heroes. Dwight is seen gunning down Negan’s men, and confirming that he has, in fact, fully switched over. The episode also kept audiences on the edge of their seat, as Jerry is held captive when Simon runs into the group in their car. In such a monumental episode for the season, I was truly surprised to see that Jerry was spared, while much more major characters were lost. The mid-season also has its fair share of action, and one of my favorite moments featuring Michonne in Season 8.
The All-Out War season has been a rollercoaster so far, providing the audience with the most major death the show has seen yet. Season 8 marks a very clear split in the direction of the television series and the comic, and it is strange to see how the show loosely follows some aspects while radically changing others. Now that we have reached the mid-point, it is interesting to look back and see just how much has happened since the first episode of the season. While Rick and Negan have come face-to-face multiple times, there has been little progress towards one of them eliminating the other. Since the season began, however, the writers have managed to take away characters such as Shiva, along with Carl, and even some characters of lesser importance like Morales, who was re-introduced for the sole purpose of getting killed by Daryl.
Overall, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead came as a surprise, and I’m curious to see the direction in which the story seems to be heading. With the possibility of Carl one day taking over removed completely, it makes me question what the end goal of AMC’s post-apocalyptic drama may be. Although some may be shaken by the loss of such a major character, I will make sure to keep tuning in every week to see where the show leads. For more news and reviews on The Walking Dead, keep it here on NYCityGuys!