AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 8, Episode 9: “Honor”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell
* For a recap & review of the mid-season finale, “How It’s Gotta Be” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Lost and the Plunderers” – click here
“My mercy prevails over my wrath”
We see more of those future moments with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his thick grey beard. Things are well around their community. But in current day, he and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are busy burying Carl (Chandler Riggs).
Jump back to the moment when Carl was bitten in the woods. The kid hides it from Siddiq (Avi Nash), and the two of them head on down into the sewer back towards home. Carl doesn’t tell anybody, likely so that his father won’t worry. Yet he has to deal with it all alone. He patches himself up, changes his shirt, and heads back into the world again bearing his secret.
Meanwhile, he waits to see if the others will make it back okay. He takes the time to write letters to everyone important to him. What’s most important is we see the selflessness of this young man. He’s a character I hated at one point, who I’d hoped would eventually get bitten or killed, which is horrible to write. It’s true, I can’t pretend. And here we are, I’m lamenting the fact we’re about to lose him.
Over at the Sanctuary, Morgan (Lennie James) is keeping an eye on things from his sniper’s nest when he spots a crew of Saviors who are gunning down a horde of walkers outside. Looks like they’re clearing a path. Morgan almost gets shot before realising the Saviors are mounting an escape, forcing him out onto the streets. He’s able to slip away back to the forest, then further back to the quieter roads, so he can try to get word out about the assault headed for his people.
Good ole Carol (Melissa McBride) is busy with her own troubles, leading people back to a cabin where they’ll be safe for a while. She hopes to meet up again with Ezekiel (Khary Payton). And where IS the king at? He’s in the hands of the Saviors, about to be offered up to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Doesn’t seem like there’s going to be any mercy, either.
Under Alexandria in the sewers, Rick’s just finding out about his son’s bite. Above them explosions and gunfire continue erupting. So difficult to watch the father, after all he and his boy have been through together, see his son wasting away towards becoming one of the undead.
Siddiq – a doctor in residency – offers up some “anti–inflammatories” to try easing Carl’s pain. At least if the kid’s dying they’ll have someone with medical experience around now. A silver lining for those going forward still alive. In the meantime, Michonne begs Dwight (Austin Amelio) to try calling the Saviors off, but he advises they wait it out, and then leave. Not everyone’s sold, particularly Daryl (Norman Reedus). However, they don’t have a whole lot of options.
Carol and Morgan meet up on the edges of the Kingdom, and looks like it’s murder time. No better pair, right? They work their way up through the street like two ninjas. Although Morgan’s mental state is never too hot when he’s out there killing people, no matter how much they deserve it; shows he’s got one hell of a moral compass. Not far, Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith) is preparing to move out with Ezekiel, but soon he hears the gunfire coming for them. Not far behind are Carol and Morgan.
“It is not too late to walk back from something decided”
Too emotional watching Carl say goodbye to little Judith. Big brother tries handing down a few last lessons: “Sometimes kids gotta show their parents the way.” Afterwards, he passes on the sheriff’s hat which was given to him, to his little sister. A symbolic gesture of strength in their family. One that baby Judith can grow up with, too. NO, I’M NOT CRYING; YOU’RE CRYING! Everybody says goodbye. Even Siddiq, who says he will “honour” Carl, so that his death will not have happened in vain. Daryl also tells his little buddy that he was the one who saved all those people in the sewer.
Man, Carol and Morgan are not fucking around! They come down on Gavin and his remaining men hard in the auditorium. Soon enough, there are no Saviors left except for Gavin. He slips away; not without Morgan on his tail. He certainly doesn’t get far. Morgan can’t stop himself from killing Gavin at this point, illustrating to us that he’s significantly changed in terms of his moral compass. He doesn’t get the chance before a little kid from the Kingdom does it for him. Maybe that compass won’t change after all.
As Carl’s wasting away he’s taken over into one of the houses by Rick and Michonne. The kid talks to them both. He tells Michonne not to “carry this” anger and pain after he’s gone. He also confesses to shooting that boy outside the prison, with Hershel, admitting he didn’t need to kill him. He’s been carrying that a long while. But Rick tries to tell him growing up as a boy in a post-zombie wasteland world isn’t so clean cut to say one thing is good or bad, not like before. Nevertheless, Carl urges his father that there’s “gotta be something after” all this warring.
So, all those grey beard Rick dreams? Those are the descriptions of Carl, of how he hopes the world can be after all the brutality. He sees new houses and crops and happy, smiling people together. He imagines it all for his father, if only Rick can hold onto himself and who he is after the devastation. For his part, Rick tells his son how much he means to him.
When all is said and done, Carl chooses to put himself out of the misery after saying one final goodbye to Michonne and Rick. We also get another glimpse of the kid’s imagined world in the future, and guess who’s there? Negan, with his own white beard.
“I‘ll make it real”
And what about the place we’re seeing Rick, bleeding out by that tree? Not a good sign.
Wow, if anybody who loves this show is left with a dry eye after that, you’re heartless. I went from not caring about Carl for seasons and seasons to truly loving him as a character. Now, he’s gone, and Rick must find a way to carry on. He can do it, if for no other reason but to honour his boy and take care of his little girl. Excited for what the back half of Season 8 is poised to bring. Hopefully something new, fresh, and wild.
“The Lost and the Plunderers” is next time. Buckle up!