SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the Season 8 finale of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Wrath”
“The Walking Dead” closed out its eighth season with a final showdown between Rick’s coalition and Negan’s Saviors.
The episode opens at Hilltop, where Rick and company are preparing for battle. We also get some excellent Ezekiel-Jerry banter, which has been missing from this season. While everyone else seems steely and focused, Morgan is starting to crack up. He is prepared to attack Alden and the Saviors who have agreed to help Hilltop, only to be stopped when he attacks Henry, the boy from the Kingdom.
Rick suggests Morgan stay behind but he says he can’t. He tells Rick that the two of them are now worse than they used to be because they have lost everything good in their lives. With that, the team sets out with Rick and Michonne exiting the gates hand in hand.
At the Sanctuary, Negan and his troops are preparing as well, though Negan takes some time out to insult the now captive Dwight. Eugene helps the preparations by delivering the shipment of bullets he promised Negan. Before they leave, Negan asks that Gabriel be brought along as well for a confession of sorts.
On the road, Negan tells Gabriel that he has sent some of his own men to set up a road block knowing that Rick will find a kill them. This will convince Rick that the false intel he got from Dwight is legitimate, which Negan hopes to cement even further by giving his men a fake map with more battle plans. But Rick quickly deduces the plan is false and radios Maggie to say they are changing up their plan.
In the car, Gabriel waits for the car to slow to avoid hitting a walker to leap from the vehicle. He runs off into the woods but can’t get far due to his poor sight. Eugene catches up with him and threatens to kill him before Negan arrives. Once again, Negan flirts with the idea of killing Gabriel but once again decides not to do so.
Rick and his team march onward toward the crest of a hill, where they see what appears to be a giant walker herd off in the distance. As they come to a clearing, they hear Negan’s trademark whistle, with the Savior boss announcing himself via some kind of loudspeaker.
His troops appear and prepare to fire. But the second they pull their triggers, the bullets explode inside their guns, courtesy of Eugene. Some of the Saviors try to attack their would-be bullet maker, but Rosita protects him. The Saviors who didn’t die in the initial onslaught surrender. Negan makes a run for it, but Rick chases him towards a tree with two pieces of stained glass hanging from it, the same tree we have seen flashes of throughout the season.
At Hilltop, the residents flee as a Savior convoy approaches. Tara stays behind to slow the Saviors down, with Alden and his men agreeing to help. Turns out they didn’t need to stay, as Aaron has led the women of Oceanside to the rescue. The women chuck Molotov cocktails at the Saviors (probably not the best idea to whip firebombs at Hilltop’s wooden outer walls, but the help was no doubt appreciated).
Rick and Negan fight, but Rick tells Negan that it doesn’t have to be this way, that Carl didn’t want it to be this way. Negan lets his guard down for just a moment to hear what Rick has to say, only for Rick to slash his throat with a piece of broken glass. He turns to find his people and the captive Saviors watching. He tells Siddiq to save Negan’s life, which sends Maggie over the edge.
Rick tells the captives that they will all go home, and that Negan’s way of doing things is now over. They will leave in peace and equality or they will die. Rosita asks Eugene if he sabotaged the bullets, which he admits. He played along with the Saviors in order to defeat them. Rosita is grateful, but still gives him a shot to the jaw for throwing up in her in the last episode. Morgan also surrenders his protective gear to Carol, telling her to give it to Henry and to tell the boy that he will be OK.
Things aren’t so rosy between Dwight and Daryl, however. Daryl drives Dwight out into the wilderness. Dwight knows he has been brought there to die, falling to his knees crying as he apologizes for all he has done. Daryl tosses Dwight the keys to the car and tells him to never come back. But he also tells Dwight to “Find her,” referencing Dwight’s missing wife Sherry. Dwight returns to the home he and Sherry shared, where he finds a note from her that reads simply “Honeymoon” with an infinity symbol.
Morgan heads to the trash heaps to find Jadis, whom he tells that Rick has invited her to join their community. She agrees, but Morgan plans to stay in the heaps himself, needing time to be alone. Jadis also reveals her real first name is Ann.
At the Hilltop, Alden offers to help Maggie build up the community with the book left to them by Georgie. Later, Maggie sits in a private meeting with Jesus where she tells him Rick and Michonne were wrong to let Negan live. She decides they will build up Hilltop and bide their time until they can show Rick how wrong he is. Daryl steps out of the shadows and agrees with her.
Negan wakes up handcuffed to an infirmary bed in Alexandria. Rick and Michonne tell him that they are keeping him alive and locked up to serve as a reminder to all that they are building a civilization of law and order. The season finale closes with Rick writing his own letter to Carl, flashing back to a day the two spent walking in the countryside when Carl was just a boy. Rick thanks his departed son for helping to lead him and the others into the new world.
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