The Walking Dead midseason 8 finale episode 8 titled, “How It’s Gotta Be was both explosive and also cataclysmic. Flaws yes, yet the episode did endear. With that, major spoilers are ahead.
The story begins with a montage of facial images of Rick, Carl, Ezekiel, Carol, Aaron, Maggie, Jerry and others, as is usual in a season premier, midseason finale/premier, and season finale of any episode of The Walking Dead. It’s just their way, those who are Scott Gimple showrunner, directors and screenwriters, of letting the viewer know that somethings all about to go down. Serving as a preamble to such an explosive story, which in this case was directed by Michael E. Satrazemis, and written by both David Leslie Johnson and Angela Kang. Shortly after that, all the action starts.
Upon arriving at the Savior’s Sanctuary near end of the previous episode, Rick with Scavenger leader Jadis and her people are all surprised to see the herd of walkers gone. Remember, it was Rick (Andrew Lincoln) who had told Jadis (Pollyanna Mcintosh) in the previous episode that his team had unleashed the walkers upon the Sanctuary, surrounding the Savior’s headquarters about twenty deep. Also, Rick’s snipers who were at the Sanctuary’s perimeter are also gone after he found one dead. Soon after, Rick and the Scavengers are met with gunfire before all take cover.
Flashback scenes follow, with Rick and son Carl (Chandler Riggs). The scene follows both their encounter with Siddiq (Avi Nash), a man in need of food whom Carl met at a gas station, and later went back to give aid after Rick scared Siddiq off with a gunshot in the season 8 premier. Then another scene has Carl questioning Rick’s way of combating the Saviors.
“Well, you think we’re gonna be out there, picking strawberries for Negan?” Rick answers, to war against Negan’s rule over Alexandria, the Kingdom, and Hilltop. “What, are we just gonna kill all of them? Find some way forward, that’s harder. That’s something more. Dad, that’s how it’s gotta be,” Carl explains. It was a worthy scene displaying Carl’s wisdom from his matured manhood while still a teen.
Yet that was what season 7 was all about, with Rick’s people and Alexandria, are all later left with the notion that all-out war was needed to fight Negan and his Saviors. A man who doesn’t negotiate. The way forward had already been tried in the brutal season 7 premier. Left with war declared against the Saviors in the season 7 finale.
Then the action kicks up back to the present with Rick and the Scavengers taking cover from gunfire from the Sanctuary. Quickly after, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Jerry (Cooper Andrews) miraculously appear to whisk Rick out of harm’s way in a pickup truck. “We have to warn everyone. They’re gonna hit back,” Rick exclaims as Jerry floors it.
True. For while Negan and his contingent of Saviors heads towards Alexandria, Aaron and Enid travel to Oceanside to appeal for reinforcements. Similar like Rick who sought the Scavengers.
Meanwhile at Alexandria, after Michonne (Danai Gurira) plays with the tot Judith, she meets up with Daryl (Norman Reedus) who recently arrived with Tara (Alanna Masterson). “I’m sorry. I couldn’t,” Michonne explains. “Don’t be. It worked,” Daryl replied graciously. For before, both Michonne and Rosita (Christian Serratos) appeared all in on Daryl and Tara’s plan to ram a truck to breach the Savior’s Sanctuary so that the herd of walkers could storm in. Which did happen, after Rosita back out who wanted all to wait for Rick’s plan followed by Michonne also leaving. Yet innocent workers at the Sanctuary were also killed. Unbeknownst to Daryl and Tara.
Rosita showed maturity in this episode, finally. For she previously acted rashly in two attempts to kill Negan in season 7, both ended disastrously with the capture of Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and the death of Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). And it’s Sasha’s death which now haunts Rosita the most. Now there’s Daryl and Tara, whom both are confident about the aftermath of their recent attack against the Saviors, while totally unaware of what awaits. This episode is similar to what happened in season 6 episode 12 titled, “Not Tomorrow Yet,” after Rick successfully led a team at a night mission against a Saviors outpost, all believing they had vanquished the Saviors.
Meanwhile, Carl while in his room finishes a farewell letter to his father Rick. “Just survive somehow,” were among the words, the same words Enid (Katelyn Nacon) left for Carl when she was about to leave Alexandria early in season 6. People like to leave a lot in The Walking Dead.
Then the cataclysm starts. Natania (Deborah May,) leader of Oceanside, gets shot by Enid as Aaron (Ross Marquand) fought off Natania. Yet quickly after, both are captured by Oceanside.
Savior lieutenant Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith) arrives at the Kingdom with a Saviors contingent for an immediate takeover. Followed by also demanding the capture of Ezekiel (Khary Payton). The night is young. While Rick, Carol, and Jerry each drive a car to warn their communities, a truck hits Jerry’s car. All happening before Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Jesus (Tom Payne), Dianne (Kerry Cahill) and Neil all from Hilltop are driving in a lead vehicle en route to the Sanctuary, all who are unaware of what had already transpired.
“Do you think they’ll surrender?” Jesus asks. “They will, eventually,” Maggie answers. Then the convoy stops. A tree blocks the road. And Maggie more than the others, knows what that means. Savior lieutenant Simon (Steven Ogg) appears after intercepting the convoy from a van, as he and a group of Saviors had captured Jerry. Neil is shot. A death is required whenever the Saviors are met with transgression. And from there, Maggie’s forces are forced to surrender.
That leaves Alexandria, now surprised that they are suddenly under siege. Given a count of three for all to surrender, Carl takes charge to lead others to safety. Followed by offering himself as a sacrificial lamb to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in the absence of Rick. Yet Carl gets away.
While at the Sanctuary, Eugene helps Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) while ill and Dr. Carson for the two to escape to Hilltop. A change of heart brought on by guilt on Eugene’s part. For it was Eugene who also had fixed the loudspeakers that drew away the herd of walkers from the Sanctuary.
Rick returns to his home in Alexandria where Negan awaits. A fight ensues. Yet Rick manages to escape. Later, he finds Michonne who led him to the others all safely hidden in the sewers. He also surprised to find Siddiq, the man Carl had befriended. Then finally there’s Carl, looking ill, to reveal that he had been bitten on the side, presumably during the previous episode when Carl helped Siddiq kill walkers.
All things considered the midseason 8 held up, though there were odd moments. While Rick fought Negan, he had regained his Colt Python gun before both sailed through a glass window as Negan jumped him. While still having a gun afterwards, Rick could have gone back to finish Negan off, who was only armed with Lucille (the barbed wire bat).
Also, the moment when Rosita had let both Daryl and Tara off the hook. After the Saviors arrive, Daryl and Tara thought themselves at fault for the Saviors escaping after they breached the Sanctuary with Morgan’s (Lennie James) help. Whereas Rosita says, “I didn’t want you guys to do it, but maybe you needed to. Maybe you needed to play things out to figure sh** out.”
Wrong, they could have waited it out and let Rick’s plan unfold while snipers were at lookouts surrounding the Sanctuary perimeter. Be that as it may, the episode didn’t disappoint overall. It became memorable. Which is good. This midseason 8 finale of The Walking Dead gets four stars out of five.