REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S8 Ep8 – How It’s Gotta Be

The Walking Dead, S8 Ep8 - How It's Gotta Be

Everything came to a head in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, as Rick and his allies faced off against the Saviors in a major way, the build-up from the past few episodes finally making everything worth the wait.

As always, the episode started slow, moving all the pieces on the board and setting them up for the major fights to come. And then, everything started happening all at once.

The Walking Dead, S8 Ep8 - How It's Gotta BeMy main beef with this episode, as eventful as it was, is that it was too dark (in lighting, not just in tone). Since the events took place at night, all scenes were dimly-lit at best and just all shadowy and barely visible. As another reviewer pointed out, it was difficult to appreciate major confrontations and losses when one cannot even see what’s going on or distinguish one place from another. The characters walked in shadows the whole time and though scenes took place simultaneously in various communities, one could barely tell them apart. So that really took away a lot of the appreciation for one of the season’s best episodes. I was just so relieved when they started blowing things up because at least there was some fire to light up the scenes.

Everyone made a play. Carl had a plan to seemingly sacrifice himself to Negan. Maggie had her own plan of attack. Ezekiel decided to break out of his funk and defend his kingdom, letting everyone else go as he remains a noble prisoner. And the others likewise followed through with their own plans. Rick and Michonne reunited at the end as the remaining main cast members gathered together to nurse their wounds after the big fight.

The Walking Dead, S8 Ep8 - How It's Gotta BeThere were dramatic close-ups of their faces at the end, as if to give us a roll call of who managed to survive the dark mid-season finale. And everyone lived, which is pretty good going for The Walking Dead, and especially for a mid-season finale.

Most characters are pretty well-protected by plot armor at this point, so that we don’t expect to see them die. But someone has to die in a finale or that’s just not like The Walking Dead. At the end of the episode, there were still many threads left unresolved and the war with the Saviors seems not over yet, even after Rick and Negan had a proper fight (again, it was too dark to appreciate).

The Walking Dead, S8 Ep8 - How It's Gotta BeBut we are left with the major kicker that Carl was bitten, breaking Rick and Michonne’s hearts. So yeah, everyone’s alive, but Carl’s days are numbered. So that accounts for all the screen time he got in the episode. Really, we should have seen it coming. He will be sacrificed in the end and that raises the stakes for whatever comes next on the show. Their victory came at a heavy cost and we’ll need to wait till next year to see how they pay it.