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TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 8, Episode 9

02.26.2018

Season 8, Episode 9: Honor

PLOT: While Carl slowly succumbs to his bite wound in Alexandria, Carol and Morgan go on a mission to save King Ezekiel.

REVIEW: Whether it was a wrong-headed creative decision or, as some fans theorize, a decision that was made simply because AMC didn't want to deal with negotiating a new contract with actor Chandler Riggs now that he's a legal adult (and given the fact that they've seemingly given up on negotiating a new contract with Riggs's co-star Lauren Cohan, that theory doesn't seem too unlikely), it's a decision that has been made and put into action: the character Carl Grimes has been written off The Walking Dead.

Carl revealed at the end of the season 8 midseason finale that he had been bitten by a zombie in a spot that made his death a certainty - you can hack off an arm or a leg, but you can't cut out a torso bite. This midseason premiere is all about saying goodbye to Carl, with a whole lot of scenes consisting of his father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and basically-stepmom Michonne (Danai Gurira) crying by his side while he ties up loose ends.

Carl has never been a favorite character of mine, in fact I've often found him to be annoying as hell, but removing him from the show is a shocking move because he basically is the point of the show. As Rick tells him in Honor, everything he has done in this series to this point has been for Carl, starting from the very first episode when Rick woke up from a coma and had to travel through zombie-infested Georgia in hopes of finding his family. There's a reason why fans and cast members alike thought the show would end with Carl going off into the sunset: it's all been about keeping him safe. So while taking him out of the equation, the show has to give Rick a reason to keep going. That reason is the vision Carl has for the future of the Alexandria community, which finally explains that goofball "Old Man Rick" flash forward we saw in the season premiere.

The episode also has to touch on things that have now been rendered virtually meaningless. That time when Carl was a callous little bastard and looked like he could grow up to be a post-apocalyptic serial killer. His mother's dying moment, one of the most heartrending scenes in the show's entire run, when she told her little boy he was going to beat this horrific world he was growing up in. These things are addressed in an effort to give them a final purpose. I don't agree with the choice to kill off Carl, but at least the show did go back to these important points rather than just kill him and be done with it.

This was an emotional episode, with Riggs doing some heavy lifting in the drama department. I'm sure other productions will take note and we'll be seeing more of him in his post-Walking Dead future. Carl has touching moments with Rick and Michonne, although Rick was doing quite a job keeping his grief in check. He was much more reserved than I would usually expect from that character.

So as not to have an entire hour of bedside chit-chat, Honor also has a B plot in which Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) infiltrate the Savior-packed Kingdom to save King Ezekiel (Khary Payton). That adds in some appreciated violence and gore.

Honor was decent, but didn't really need to be the 15 minutes or so longer than the average episode that it was. Rick promising a dying Carl that he'll make his vision of the future come true almost seems like it could have been a series-ending promise, but this is far from the series finale, and the whole issue with baseball bat-wielding villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) still has to be resolved.

Now we'll see how the hell they're going to proceed from here.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: Some zombies get mowed down, and there's a flashback to show the moment when Carl was bitten, but the best zombie in the episode doesn't even do anything other than lie on the ground. It's an awesomely grotesque, rotten walker that has gotten its leg caught in a "string and tin cans" security system.

GORY GLORY: It's a great display of cringe-inducing badassery when Morgan ends a fight with a gut shot opponent by sticking his hand into the man's wound and pulling out a strand of intestine. 

FAVORITE SCENE: About ten years ago, I came across a folk rock song called "At the Bottom of Everything" by Bright Eyes. I liked the lyrics, listened to the song a good amount of times, and then it faded away. So when "At the Bottom of Everything" kicked in at the head of this episode, it was a blast from the past - I was reminded this song existed, and I enjoyed listening to it again while watching a montage of Carl going through his day and preparing for death. The montage is so long that the song even restarts for a reprise of the first verse, that was a bit odd, but this was still my favorite part of the episode.

FINAL VERDICT

Source: JoBlo

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