AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 8, Episode 16: “Wrath”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple, Angela Kang, & Matthew Negrete
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 8 episode, “Worth” – click here
* Season 9 recaps & reviews to come next year
We open with former Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) walking with little Carl down the road, ages ago when things were . Then we cut to current day, where things are much different, though Rick’s still got a little one around now. But the rest of life has changed significantly. It’s sad to see Siddiq (Avi Nash) with Rick, just because the latter sort of can’t even be around the former without feeling the pain of remember his dead son. Rick asks him to explain what happened that fateful day, so Siddiq explains how simple it was, and how Carl “died paying respects to a woman he never knew.” That pretty much sums up the good heart the kid had; even the fall of society and the world wasn’t enough to kill that part of him. I hope Rick’s able to move on from this eventually, to make good for his boy in some way.
A big fight is coming. Everybody at the Hilltop is getting ready, some are eternally optimistic whereas others make sure to plan and remain realistic. Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Rosita (Christian Serratos), they’re all prepared. Poor Morgan (Lennie James) isn’t well, though. He’s all but losing his mind entirely. He’s got PTSD, and nearly kills little Henry after not realising some of the Saviors were lending a hand, not escaping like he thought. His mind isn’t up to whatever comes next. The juxtaposed situations of him and Rick keeps on being more devastating, as he keeps on falling into a void while Rick continually tries to hang onto humanity.
The Sanctuary is getting locked and loaded, as well. Dwight (Austin Amelio) is looking rough, stuck in chains, though Eugene (Josh McDermitt) goes on towing the company line as “bullet maker.” Will the fake doctor do something heroic in the end by sabotaging the ammo he’s making for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors? Or, is he going to go down a coward? We’ll see. Also, I’m still concerned for my man Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) the longer he’s with Negan.
Rick and “his band of pricks” are in the woods, heading into Saviors territory. At the same time, Negan is waiting for them to head right into the trap he’s setup. Looks like there’s a possible massacre waiting to happen. He’s drawing them to a mass murder. That is, if Rick and Co. can’t figure out they’re being fooled. And you can’t count out the priest, either. Gabriel tucks and rolls, even with his fucked up eyesight, heading for the trees, determined not to let his old pals get killed. Yet Eugene and Laura (Lindsley Register) find him before long.
Soon enough, Rick and everybody get ambushed by Negan just over the horizon. A shitty situation. Negan gives a countdown. Then, as it finishes, the Saviors all try firing their guns and the ammo backfires, wounding and killing many. LET THE REDEMPTION OF EUGENE COMMENCE! Hell, even Rosita saves him after all they went through.
Negan gets his hand fucked up in the chaos. This gives Rick and everyone else the chance to run in, guns blazing, samurai swords slicing. But Negan slips out with Lucille, too. Elsewhere, Tara (Alanna Masterson) and the others, including the mutinous Saviors, are headed towards the violence. Oceanside’s decided on joining the battle, led by Aaron (Ross Marquand), tossing Molotov cocktails.
And Rick has chased Negan out into a field. To a place we’ve seen before, where Rick sat nearly dead by the tree, that pane of stained glass hanging from it. There, he and Negan face off brutally. The two men beat one another viciously. Until Rick evokes the name of his son, for “10 more seconds” just to explain a way for them to change things, how Carl talked about in his letter. Negan gives Rick the time to talk. That’s when former Sheriff Grimes distracts, then slits the man’s throat with a piece of the stained glass window. The clue was there all along, and I love how they used it earlier only to weave back towards it at this point. So much horror has led to this moment. And in the background, Maggie, everyone else, they watch as Rick puts an end to this saga.
Except he then tells Siddiq to “save him,” which drives Maggie insane. She can’t accept that, not after what happened to Glenn. She wants Negan to die. Rick still believes in “something after.” He wants to try returning to a more civil way of living. That is, of course, if you can’t live in “peace and fairness,” then you’ll be dealt with appropriately. Rick points to the massive horde of walkers off in the distance, trying to show everyone the greater evil they must fight against.
But can it work? Can people live amongst each other that way after all they’ve put each other through? Most importantly, can Maggie live in this new world alongside Negan?
Things either have to move on, or not. So, for this moment in time, they move on. People try living in harmony. The Sanctuary an the Hilltop, they join together as one in the aftermath. Each community tries putting the other back together, everyone in unison. In theory, this could work, especially with Rick’s mercy prevailing over the violence of his wrath.
Then there are the more difficult pieces to put back together. Daryl and Dwight take a ride to the forest by themselves. Dwight’s ready to accept his fate, believing the worst of himself. He apologises one last time. Daryl doesn’t kill him, he just gives him keys and tells him to go out in the world, “make it right.”
At the garbage dump, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) gets a visitor: Morgan. He’s trying to turn over a new leaf, as well. He tells Jadis that Rick’s welcoming her into their community. She also reveals her real name is Anne. Anne’s heading to the community, while Morgan is deciding to stay by himself, willingly isolating himself from any sort of community. Well, we’re also going to see him tonight on Fear the Walking Dead, so maybe this is a way to tuck him out of the way without having to kill him (which is great because I love his character).
Maggie’s got her own ideas about how the new world will be, she doesn’t agree with Rick and Michonne. She’s going to change things. With her is Daryl, as well. So it’s a very divided camp regardless of what Rick decided on doing with Negan. Rick and Michonne are planning on letting the guy “rot in a cell” as evidence of a return to civilisation.
All this promises a unique season next year, where the power dynamics in the group we love are going to be much different than before. Could provide fresh things for The Walking Dead after so many years. The series could use a shakeup, and this might be the one it needs. Really enjoyed how things ended. Plus, there’s the hints of the Whisperers for those who’ve already jumped into the comics; if you saw those poles along the path where Rick and Co. saw the horde out in the forest, this could be a clue of this group, as they use these types of markers to point out their territory – anyone who comes across the markers is automatically an enemy, and they do NOT play around.
Let’s see what Season 9 is going to do. Plenty of time until then to speculate. I’m really anticipating this switched up relationship between the survivors. It’ll be different seeing some of them infighting, and secretly at that as Maggie indicated. SO MUCH to look forward to + so long to wait.