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'The Walking Dead' Season 8 Mid-Season Premiere Post-Mortem

How do you waste an hour and make very little progress? Just ask The Walking Dead’s writers! The mid-season premiere, “Honor,” released today, welcoming everybody with a whole lot of the usual: Bloated speeches and unnecessary flashbacks sprinkled with powerful acting from the show’s leads.

We open on the woeful eyes of Rick Grimes, a broken shell of a man praying to an unseen force. It’s the same shot we were treated to in the first half of the season, but at least this time we know why he’s all weepy. After a brief interlude in the angelic world where bearded Rick Grimes has a brief exchange with Jerry, we get our first flashback of the episode, to that moment when brave Carl Grimes was bitten while trying to help out Siddiq.

The return to The Walking Dead is met with plenty of time jumps as we join Carl on his last day alive, playing with Judith, writing letters to those closest to him, and sharing a Kit Kat with Siddiq. This is precisely why we’re watching, to say goodbye to the younger Grimes, but we have to muddle through the rescue of former king Ezekiel, who’s still in the clutches of Gavin, Negan’s Kingdom liaison. We also find out how the Saviors were able to escape their zombie blockade and the plan is genius. They shoot their way out. Rumor has it Eugene came up with this plan, though it seems quite rudimentary for him.

From here, The Walking Dead gets formulaic. Carol shuts down Henry, the younger brother of Benjamin — a Kingdom resident that was killed by the Saviors over a missing cantaloupe — after he insists he helps her rescue Ezekiel. Pay attention, because I guarantee this is going to become a thing later in the episode. Scenes like these always lead somewhere.

Elsewhere, Morgan continues a descent into madness while Ezekiel refuses to let up on speaking like royalty, lecturing Gavin on the power of choice. Ezekiel’s interactions with his captor are the pinnacle of pointless as they only serve to distract us from Carl’s death and Carol and Morgan's rampage. We are treated to a very gruesome death at the hands of Morgan, the only notable gore throughout the entire episode.

Though the bulk of “Honor” dealt with the situations surrounding Carl and Ezekiel, there were minor, notable interactions in the sewers. As the Saviors continue to bomb Alexandria, the survivors discuss the best course of action. It’s Dwight who suggests they wait it out, and as much as everyone still hates him, they listen and, well, they wait it out. It’s not stellar writing, but it may show a shift in trust of the former Savior.

The episode had a tough time pinpointing a tone and sticking with it. This caused some severe missteps with the death of one of its most prominent characters, interlacing it with a strange horror-movie chase between a deranged Morgan and an injured Gavin. As Carl gets into confessing to the murder of a kid from season three, Morgan menaces Gavin over the slaying of Benjamin. While Carl tells Rick he has to holster his gun again as he did at the prison, Ezekiel echoes the same sentiment to the enraged Morgan. Amidst this confusing back-and-forth, we also learn that the white-bearded Rick is a dream scenario of Carl’s, where everyone, including Negan, gets along.

Fans of the series get it by now. The back and forth between Carl and Morgan is such a heavy-handed mish-mosh of scenes that continue the same back-and-forth over morality in the post-apocalyptic world we’ve been watching for seasons. Just as it becomes clear that Carl and Ezekiel’s points are being heard, little Henry shows up and executes Negan’s officer. I told you he’d be back to screw things up. I also predicted Gavin would be on the outs, though I expected him to last a few episodes.

To the show’s credit, this may be the best Rick has ever handled a tragedy, especially considering the number of times he’s cracked up over the show’s run. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to deal with an insane Grimes this time. The departure of Carl was wildly underwhelming, especially considering only one other character besides Rick and Michonne showed any sign of sorrow.

Can you guess who it was? Probably not, because it was Saddiq. Only Daryl has a very brief word for Carl before Siddiq, portrayed by Avi Nash, delivers an excellent performance in a sorrow-filled goodbye. I feel like more people were sad over Dale’s death in season two. Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs and Danai Gurira set the bar for acting this episode, and it’s disappointing to see the budding teen go not long after fans started to accept him.

In the final moments of "Honor," Carl takes his own life. With the silenced firing of a handgun, Rick, Michonne and fans all over break down in tears. With Carl's death out of the way, however, the show can return to what it does best: stretching storylines painfully thin. As we near the end of All Out War, hopefully, there will be some pleasant surprises this season.

Moments to Remember:

  • Carl recalls what Lori told him before she died, that he was going to "beat this world."
  • The passing of the Grime's hat to Judith was touching
  • Morgan's tangle with intestines was a kill to remember
  • Gavin hiding from Morgan like he's escaping from Michael Myers
  • Andrew Lincoln once again delivers an incredible performance
  • Negan, despite all he's done, makes an appearance in Carl's vision working with Alexandria