“This is my show.”
Well, people are not happy about that. Before the episode had even aired in the UK I must have seen a half dozen threads online calling for showrunner Scott Gimple’s head on a spike. But it’s time now to look past the backlash and decide, did killing Carl work from a storytelling perspective?
The episode begins literally where the last one ended, with Rick’s crazy eyes as he sees The Sanctuary is wide open. In their defence, the trash guys stick with him, for all of 30 seconds. As soon as the proverbial hits the fan they are off in the opposite direction. This does raise the question of what exactly the point in recruiting them was, and spending two whole episodes doing it. At this point, I’m a little disappointed that the trash people weren’t utilised more. I’ve been defending them since they first appeared, now they really do seem useless. Hopefully, something is planned for them further down the line.
I’m glad that at least Daryl and Tara seem to be regretting their decision to screw up Rick’s plan. We’ve been screaming at the tv for a few weeks now about these characters. It was a dumb plan, of course it would go this way. But perhaps the blame isn’t all on them. Eugene would have got the Saviors out eventually, Daryl and Tara just sped him up.
Speaking of Eugene, he might have a shot at redemption here. Helping Gabe and Dr Carson escape is a good way to make up for his actions in the past few episodes. Gabriel told him that the group would have him back, but I’ll admit that I have my doubts. I love Eugene, I think he’s a great character but I don’t see how anything short of a heroic sacrifice at the expense of his own life could win back the fanbase.
Now for the man himself – Carl. The obvious way the show has been going (same as the comics) is grooming Carl to replace Rick. It’s been like that this season especially. Carl is a man now, making great decisions for the group and acting as an effective leader. I was sure that it was, in fact, Rick who would be popping his clogs this season. But that’s the show, taking what you expect and turning it on its head. Now some have said the Carl death was too obvious, that it was clear he was a goner from the word go in this episode. I disagree, at least from my point of view. My heart was in my throat and I thought he or Rick, or even Michonne might get it. As the three of them converged on Alexandria, the dread of not knowing who’d make it out was real.
Without getting into the behind the scenes politics of it all, I think Carl’s death worked. The show has needed to kill off a big character for a while, to prove it still can (something Game of Thrones probably should have done this past season), who better than the last person you expect? Now whether the show can carry on without him is a different question. Carl and Rick are the main characters basically, and I don’t think Rick is going to react well to this. Even though it wasn’t Negan’s fault, I reckon some of that anger will be sent his way.
Negan and Carl always had an interesting relationship. How he reacts to the news of his death will be a key scene. Maybe it will win some more people over to my ‘Negan’s not such a bad guy” club. His and Carl’s scene at the gate was nice, and we almost saw the real Negan for a second.
The Saviors got a bit more of a foothold this episode, proving that maybe they weren’t as done and dusted as we thought, and that this war has some life left in it. They took some hits though, primarily through the good work of turncoat Dwight. Or should that be ‘New Daryl’? He’s far more interesting now, he may as well be Daryl 2.0.
Negan took a few hits too. And Rick actually (sorta) won another fist fight. The scene of them fighting in the house was so great. To see the two of them up close and actually trying to kill one another was excellent. If I had to pick, I’d say Negan lost that fight too, if only for the massive hit from Rick that knocked him clean off his feet.
A great character moment this week was Maggie killing the Savior. I wish she’d killed the greasy rat-faced guy but this was still good. I’m also glad she cried, just to know someone has some humanity left. I think her plan of bargaining with the lives of the hostages is excellent, I’m not sure how Negan will handle it.
This was a busy episode, I didn’t even mention Ezekiel’s plot. But Carl was the focus, and Chandler Riggs went out on a high. He really was one of the big elements of this show and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hesitant about the future. But as it stands, it was an excellent ending for one of the best characters.
Not sure what will happen when the show returns next year, but see you then!
Reviewed by Jack