TV Review: The Walking Dead – Season 8, Episode 16

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Season 8, Episode 16: Wrath

PLOT: The survivors of the Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom communities have their final confrontation with the villainous Saviors.

REVIEW: It’s all been leading to this. After two and a half seasons, the battle between the group of zombie apocalypse survivors known as the Saviors, who are led by the baseball bat-wielding brainsmasher Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the survivors from the other communities the Saviors used to rule over – the Hilltop, the Kingdom, the Alexandria Safe Zone – has reached its conclusion. The theme of The Walking Dead‘s eighth season has been “all-out war”, but if you were expecting to see a lot of action in the season finale, and I figure a lot of viewers did tune in with the hopes of seeing a substantial finale battle (I know I did), those expectations should have been tempered. There’s not very much action in Wrath at all.

There is, as you can usually expect from The Walking Dead, a long build-up to the main event we’re waiting to see, as we watch the characters get in place for the “ambushing of an ambush” action. Finally, the gunfire starts… but then it’s over quite quickly. Although I was hoping for a more exciting finale, I can stir up some appreciation for the fact that Wrath didn’t subject us to another shootout. We’ve had plenty of those this season, most of them ranking among the least engaging firefights I’ve ever witnessed in a film or television series. So I am glad that this episode wasn’t just packed with more shots of people firing a ridiculous amount of bullets. The reason the gunfire stops so quickly also makes for a great moment, one which is meant to redeem a reviled character. This moment of fun isn’t enough for me to let that particular character off the hook just yet, though. They’ve done too good of a job of coming off as being despicable slime lately, I’m not prepared to forgive and forget.

We do get some explosions in here when the members of the Oceanside community make a “surprise” entry into the fight against the Saviors. It’s not really a surprise, because if they didn’t join the fight most of the scenes involving that community up until this point would have been a waste of time. Good for Rachel (Mimi Kirkland): after repeatedly suggesting that people be murdered in her previous appearances on the show, that bloodthirsty little girl finally got to cause some bodily harm in this episode.

Action was not Wrath‘s primary concern, though. The battle ends earlier than anticipated so the show can spend some time wrapping things up and setting up other things. There was maybe 4 minutes of action sprinkled into this episode’s 48 minutes.

What Wrath was really concerned with was trying to make sure the death of Carl Grimes in the mid-season premiere had some kind of meaning in the end. I still think killing him off was a mistake, because of what his death takes away from his father / Alexandria leader Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and because of the stories from the comic book source material that were left to be told with him in them. I think there were other ways to get Rick and his companions to come to the conclusion they come to here without having them trying to honor Carl’s last wishes, but the show did do a decent job of attempting to justify his death.

Showrunner Scott M. Gimple has said that Wrath was meant to function as a finale not just for season eight but for the first eight seasons of this show as a whole. When Angela Kang takes over as the new showrunner next season, the show will apparently be quite different. The “honoring Carl” element, which comes complete with flashbacks of Rick taking walks with his young son, does give it some sense of being a more expansive wrap-up, but for the most part it felt like me like less of a conclusion and more of a stepping stone. It finally brings the Saviors story to an end with some obligatory violence, then begins setting up the new situations we’ll be checking in on when season nine arrives later this year.

Wrath is an episode I’ve been desperate to see come along, because I have gotten very tired of the Saviors story. I’m glad to see that finished, I’m glad this season is over. But these glad tidings were delivered in an episode that was pretty underwhelming to me. Like most of the season that preceded it.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: There are a lot of zombies seen strolling around, but the threat of flesh-eaters is greatly overshadowed by the threat of other people.

GORY GLORY: It doesn’t come with an exceptional special effect, but someone very deserving of having their throat slit does get a throat slitting.

FAVORITE SCENE: Before going into battle, Kingdom resident Jerry (Cooper Andrews) didn’t believe that he was experiencing the last of shit, he wasn’t accepting shit, and he didn’t plan on losing shit.



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Source: JoBlo

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.