Last night’s episode of Lifetime Presents: The Walking Dead was an emotional journey through Carl’s last day on this zombie-riddled planet. After taking a bite to the belly, Carl spends the day getting his affairs in order for a tearful goodbye and a last-ditch effort at a humanitarian plea for peace. Interspersed with overexposed, utopian dream sequences, “Honor” felt more like an episode of This Is Us than The Walking Dead (save for Morgan’s intestinal fortitude).
The fact that the show took an entire episode to tell the story of Carl’s death is indicative of the poor writing this entire storyline has exhibited. The last two seasons have seen us back and forth in an unending stalemate that looks less like a war and more like a bore. The midseason-finale shock moment was knowing Carl was bitten and destined to die. The midseason premiere was an hour of saying goodbye to Carl. Lately, we don’t even get any exciting moments in the bookmark episodes…
From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week.
Joe Brosnan: Siddiq
Imagine you’re in a new relationship. It’s a pretty big deal. Until very recently, it seemed like the entire world was out to get you. But then, you meet someone who makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about what it means to be a good person. This new, beautiful soul tears down your walls and invites you to live inside theirs.
Just as you’re about to apologize to whatever deity you had previously written off, things take their seemingly inevitable turn towards shit. Your partner is dying. Dying quickly. But rather than die and let you mourn in private, you’ve been invited to meet the entire extended family. It’s here that they’ll all learn about your partner’s doomed life. And not only that, they’ll also learn it was sorta, kinda your fault. And this family, well you see, they’re not exactly the most forgiving. Rick, your almost father-in-law, has literally bitten out a guy’s jugular. You see Daryl over there? He’s dumb as rocks and easy to anger.
Normally, anyone in the above scenario would be killed so quickly and effortlessly that the death wouldn’t even warrant an immediate cut to a five-minute-long Hyundai commercial montage. But somehow, Siddiq faces all this and comes out just fine.
And I’m glad. We’re in desperate need of new characters—especially non-Savior new characters—and I have high hopes for Siddiq. It’s a damn shame we needed to lose Carl to get Siddiq, but if there’s one thing we know here at CrimeHQ: when it comes to The Walking Dead, it’s best not to think too hard about the plot and to focus on the … um, zombies, I guess.
Pritpaul Bains: Carl
It was nice to see Carl embrace his fate with poise and hope. He sure managed to get a lot done over the course of the day or so after being bitten, though. From that sendoff montage of him playing with Judith, saving the Alexandrians, and dissing Negan to his painfully long deathbed scene (seriously, I kept expecting him to be dead after every return from commercial break only to find him dispensing even more wisdom on the preservation of humanity), The Walking Dead continues to play fast-and-loose with its established rules as is convenient.
Sure, back in Season 1, Jim took a few days to die, but we've seen folks turn in 15 minutes, an hour, a minute. That the future visions were Carl's, not Rick's, was a nice little twist, but why does Rick look like Santa Claus while everyone else looks pretty much exactly the same?
Carl's parting words to Rick—“You can't kill all of them, dad. There's gotta be something after. For you. For them.”—may end up being the reason the writers chose to off him. This provides some justification for a choice Rick may end up making with Negan down the road. We'll see how it plays out.
Adam Wagner: Ezekiel
The King has returned to his former glory. Vindicated by his decision to risk his life for his remaining people, Ezekiel is at peace with where he is and who he has become. Gone are the nihilistic ramblings of a man defeated; returned are the King’s speech and inspirational proclamations. Welcome back, King Ezekiel. Let’s hope you live long enough to see this out.
From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.
The last time Rick lost a family member, he grew a beard and went on an unstable murder rampage. But Carl is hoping for a beard of a different color. Knowing his death is imminent, Carl tries to insert his vision of his father at peace: a feeble old man with a long grey beard and a limp that requires a cane. So, not only does Rick have to lose another family member to this world but he’s also destined to age rapidly and look like Tim Allen from The Santa Clause. Oh, and he and Negan are besties now. Sweet dream, Carl.
RIP, buddy. Gavin genuinely seemed like a good guy caught on the wrong side of a war that didn't really present any good choices to speak of. I had hoped Morgan would spare him to begin some sort of redemption arc where he managed to find a middle ground between “kill nothing” and “kill everything,” but unfortunately, this was not to be because of some random annoying blonde kid who decided to show up out of nowhere and pretend someone cared about his backstory. Fuck you, Henry.
Morgan, for god’s sake, will you make up your damn mind already? Are you a killer? Are you non-violent? Pro-gun? Pro-stick? Crazy? Sane? Actually, you know what, it’s better if you just go away. I hear Carl’s Dreamland has a few openings. Why don’t you check it out?
A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.
JB: Us, The Viewers
The title of Hershel’s Hero was created to honor the people who would make the late, great Hershel Greene proud. These are the types of people who aren’t quick to judge. Who don’t get worked up easily. Who remain faithful to their friends even in the darkest of times.
Who else does that better describe then us, the viewers? First, they took our T-Dogs. Then, they came for our Abrahams and Glenns. And now, they’ve taken our Carls. But do we flee? No! Do we complain? Well, yeah. Do we daydream about the return of Westworld? Definitely.
The kid gets a token nod here for “saving” Morgan (sort of? I mean he was still gonna kill the guy and still killed literally everyone else in his path). But this his only reprieve. Who the hell does he think he is? Are we expected to allot him any gravitas at all? His motivation and insertion into this story are stupid; I hate him, and the only justification for bringing him to the forefront is so that he can be horribly murdered by the Saviors. Goddammit, TWD. You've given us enough characters to dislike.
Despite his imminent death, Carl continues to spout wisdom well beyond his years. He’s had a rough childhood, and he’s definitely “grown up.” Too bad he doesn’t get to be the badass he remains in the comics. But his humanistic view of the world after the fighting and his staunch reminder that compassion and forgiveness are what make us human have him placed right next to Hershel in our HH HoF.
- A very big hat off to Chandler Riggs. It’s well known at this point that the actor was blindsided by Carl’s death, and Chandler aced his sendoff. (Even Negan agrees.) (JB)
- Why do they decide to take Carl into a smoldering house? I know he’s dying but that doesn’t seem safe… (AW)
- Morgan and Carol teaming up? May as well just put your guns to your temples and pull the trigger yourselves, Saviors… (PB)
- Carol's lingering “I'm not worried about them” to Morgan was pretty perfect. (PB)
- I audibly booed at my television when (that kid) stabbed (that guy) through the neck. And I’ll do it again now that I’m thinking about it: BOOOO. (JB)
- Jerry would ride from the Kingdom just for dessert (and then stay to help). Never change, Jerry. (AW)
- Even in fairytale dreamworld, Eugene speaks insufferably. Sorry, Matt Damon, I do not like these apples. (JB)
- Really glad they decided not to drag out Ezekiel's rescue across multiple episodes. (PB)
Zombie Kill of the Week
For this week and this week only, the ZKOTW will sustain a little loose translation in honor of Morgan channeling his inner zombie and ripping that savior's guts out.