So many emotions are coursing through me as I sit here and ponder the outcome of this mid-season finale. The season started strong with Rick taking back his leadership position in Alexandria; giving Negan the proverbial finger in response to his aggressions. They formulated a plan, working closely with The Kingdom and The Hilltop. Each group armed themselves with plans that they were sure would not fail. . .until they did.
Each of the leaders had a sense of bravado as they waged war on The Saviors. Everything was going as planned, until King Ezekiel’s group was massacred and left Jerry, Carol and Ezekiel running for their lives. After this massacre, Ezekiel realized that this is real and that the lives of real people depend on him. He let them down.
Fast-forward now to the immediate consequences of Daryl and Tara’s actions. After ramming the Sanctuary with the garbage truck and allowing the herd of walkers to enter the Sanctuary, it caused an immediate response from Negan. Simon made it clear that Eugene is the one responsible for getting everyone out of the Sanctuary safely.
Eugene goes to speak to the doctor and Gabriel. He tells them (in a way that only Eugene can) that he poisoned the guard who is now, “riding the porcelain horse” and “drops” the keys to a truck in front of Gabriel in order for him to escape. When Gabriel asks him why he does these things, he responds, “I just want to sleep;” indicating that he does have a conscience after all.
Eric and Enid head toward Oceanside with the intentions of talking them into fighting with them against the Saviors. However, things go dramatically wrong when they are startled by Natania, and Enid shoots her accidently, and then they are taken prisoner
Back in Alexandria, Negan comes calling. He gives them three minutes to respond and begins whistling. Carl shows great maturity and leadership as he plans their escape through the sewer system. He sounds very ‘Rick-like’ with his commands and mannerisms. He eventually responds and tells Negan to, “kill me. If it will stop all of this; kill me.” This is not what Negan expects and it makes him think. Carl has reached his pinnacle of maturation. He acts so calmly and bravely, which juxtaposes the fake bravado that the others have been showing in the last several episodes. Carl asks Negan if this is who he wants to be.
Through all of this, Maggie and Jesus are leading The Hilltop to Alexandria, unaware of what is taking place. They are stopped at a roadblock by Simon who opens a large truck and brings Jerry out. He ends up shooting and killing Neil who is sitting in the backseat of the SUV that they are driving. At this point Maggie internally snaps, and when she gets back to The Hilltop she executes one of the POWs. She puts him in the coffin, made for her by The Saviors and writes that this is one. They have 38 more– she will not go out quietly.
At The Kingdom, Ezekiel is still trying to collect himself when Gavin brings his group to talk. He tells them that they now belong to the Saviors. Thankfully Carol (everyone’s favorite bad-ass hero) comes blazing in with a school bus and gets everyone out. When the bus flies out of The Kingdom, Ezekiel runs behind them and locks the gate. He turns and smiles at Gavin; even with the threat of the Saviors hoisting Ezekiel’s head fon a spike doesn’t scare him.
As Rick makes it home and sees Alexandria being blown up, he finds Michonne who takes him underground. He sees Siddiq and Carl–and he as he gets closer to Carl, he sees it: a bite on his side.
Throughout the episode there are hints to let the audience know that Carl is on his way out. From the surprising request for Negan to kill him, the letters he was writing to Rick, and the calm leadership he gave when they needed it most. During Talking Dead, Scott M. Gimple was asked if he will die. His response is that it will take the course that bites take. Carl (and Chandler Riggs) has grown up before our eyes and he will always be a member of The Walking Dead family.
How will this all play out? We will have to wait until February 25, 2018 to find out.