Issue 174 of The Walking Dead brings us the moment we have all been waiting for since Issue 100.

5 stars
Finally after 74 issues, we finally got the scene we all wanted to see in The Walking Dead.
Going into Issue 174, A Solitary Life, I was actually pretty concerned.
So far, this story arc of The Walking Dead was not really doing it for me.
The conflict between Rick and Dwight seemed unnecessary and tedious, The Princess character was annoying and Beta met a hugely unsatisfying end.
I was really concerned that Issue 174 would suffer the same fate Issue 173 did, by giving us an unsatisfying death, that death being Negan’s.
I actually thought there was a high possibility Negan could die in A Solitary Life because I did not really think he had a place going forward in the story.
Thankfully though, he does have a place because Negan survives… for now at least.
The Issue starts with, well, Negan being Negan.
He is picking a flower to put on Lucille’s grave, while talking to it with his usual profanity of constant F bombs.
Negan remains a delight to watch and I really am surprised how much I have come to like him as a character, despite what he has done.
When we meet The Governor he was a character I loved to hate but Negan has become a character I hate to love.
He is just fascinating to watch and I really liked his arc in this Issue.
As the Issue goes along, we see Negan find another baseball bat and, after some debate, decides to create a Lucille 2.0.
However, he is then interrupted by Maggie holding him at gunpoint.
This is something we have wanted to see since Issue 100, when Negan killed Glenn, Maggie confronting him about it.
This scene was really moving and was obviously major turning points for both Maggie and Negan.
I particularly like how Maggie says all she can remember of Glenn is him with his bashed in skull, screaming her name in agony.
It is a chilling moment and really illustrates how much Glenn’s death still weighs on Maggie.
Negan’s reaction also surprised me.
I knew he regretted what he had done but I never thought he actually felt guilty about it.
Negan has said he has not felt emotions since his wife’s death so I felt it would be unrealistic if he was guilty about killing Glenn, however Kirkman handled this extremely well.
Negan compares Glenn to Lucille and feels guilty because he took someone’s Lucille away, when he lost his own.
It really brought you into Negan’s perspective.
Negan even wanted Maggie to kill him but Maggie refused, saying he is not worth it.
After this, it is clear that Maggie and Negan’s confrontation has changed the both of them for the better.
Maggie is able to seemingly put Glenn’s death behind her when she kisses Dante, who is hilariously left stunned by this and Negan has also seemed to put Lucille’s death behind him as well because he burns the second Lucille he had built.
This was a fantastic Issue.
It was great to see such an excellent issue, after the last few have been mediocre at best.
Negan was fun to watch, as always, and watching Maggie confront Negan about Glenn’s death and how they both grew from this confrontation was so satisfying.
It made me wonder where both characters would go in the future.

What happened to Negan is no longer unknown in The Big Scary U.

5 stars

Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 episode 5 follow.

The Walking Dead has delivered its best episode of season eight yet, with The Big Scary U.
The U, in this case, stands for unknown, as Gregory points out in the opening sequence, which is one of the longest, if not the longest, opening sequence in all of The Walking Dead.
This opening sequence goes on for a while but every moment of it is absolutely riveting, even though no action is happening.
Negan is scarier than he has ever been in this episode, as he yells at Simon for suggesting killing everyone at the Hilltop.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is definitely the standout of this episode, delivering his best performance as Negan so far.
I cannot wait to see more of Negan in the rest of the season.
bloody negan
And it is about time we saw him too since both he, Gabriel and the rest of the main Saviours have been absent for four episodes.
It is kind of strange, considering that Negan is the leader of The Saviours and yet he has not been seen in the war since the first episode, although this is because Morgan had scheduling conflicts.
It was great to see the way Negan and Gabriel interacted this episode, with a scene ripped straight from the comics, when Negan reveals he had a wife to Gabriel… after Gabriel tries to kill him, of course.
Meanwhile, inside the Sanctuary, we see the remaining Saviours falling apart.
This gives us a clear indication of why Negan has been able to keep power so long, he is the only one of this group that can keep them together, no matter how extreme his methods are.
We got a really good look at who many The Saviours are, who we did not have a good sense of earlier, which I really liked.
First there is the new Saviour Regina, who we met in the season premiere.
We got a good look at who she is along with who Simon is.
Until this episode, Simon felt more like a generic henchman to me and I had no interest in him.
This episode changed that however as we saw how Simon reacts to this dire situation and we also got a sense of his backstory as well, if it was his backstory.
From what Negan says, it appears that Simon was in charge of The Sanctuary before he arrived and was incapable of leading.
This clearly translates to how things play out in The Sanctuary and it makes Simon seem like he will have a bigger role in the war to come.
simon broods
Also, Eugene has discovered that it was Dwight who is working with Rick and the others, although it appears he is keeping quiet about it, at least for now.
Hopefully he and Dwight will begin working together soon.
Finally we have a few scenes with Rick and Daryl, where we continue to see how dangerous Daryl is becoming.
He is willing to bomb The Sanctuary, even if it risks the lives of the innocent people inside.
Rick thankfully is against this and it leads to an interesting fight between the two.
This leads to a great callback to the first season with Rick telling Daryl “a choke hold is illegal,” which is what Daryl said when Shane choke held him in the first season.
The two then go there separate ways with Rick going to see Jadis and the Trash People.
However, along the way he sees a helicopter flying overhead.
I’m curious as to what this could mean for future storylines but also I’m wondering what is The Walking Dead’s deal with helicopters.
There was one in Season One, a second one in Season two, one in Fear The Walking Dead and now in this episode.
It is kind of weird how a helicopter is a recurring thing in the world of The Walking Dead.
helicopterjpg
Overall, this was a fantastic episode.
It is easily the best of the season so far, with great scenes like the one between Negan and Gabriel.
It is episodes like this that show The Walking Dead is not losing its cool.

The Walking Dead crawls out of its grave for an exciting season premiere

4 stars
And here I was thinking The Walking Dead was un-dead and buried.
After one of the worst cliffhangers in television history, followed by the worst season of The Walking Dead, it seemed like the show was following the example of Heroes, starting out as a fantastic show before eventually fading into downright stupidity and ridiculousness and then finally ending to the relief of everyone.
Which is why I am overjoyed to say The Walking Dead has crawled out its grave prematurely to deliver an exciting season premiere and 100th episode with Mercy.
The show runners seem to have taken the complaints about season seven into account because when viewing this episode it no longer feels slow and struggling for ideas.
This is all out war and it certainly shows.
Mercy is kind of like the season six premiere as the story is told in different timelines, although this time there are more timelines and it is not very clear which is happening when, with a few exceptions.
In this episode we see Rick leading Alexandria, the Hilltop and The Kingdom’s forces to attack The Sanctuary and bring an end to Negan’s reign once and for all… but since this is only the beginning of the season we all knew it was not going to go down like that.
The opening moments of the episode are certainly thrilling, as we see Rick and the group take out Savior lookouts on the way to the Sanctuary.
This has probably my favorite moment of the episode, when a Savior that Rick takes down taunts him, telling him how he saw Rick cry and beg during the season seven premiere and saying Negan will kill Carl.
It is then that Rick, rightfully so, allows the man to be eaten by a Walker.
It is brutal and shows that, although Rick believes only Negan has to die at this stage, he is not above killing anyone else to achieve that goal.

Rick in grass
This episode has plenty of callbacks, it being the 100th episode and all, including a shot for shot recreation of the first episode’s opening scene, only it is Carl instead of Rick.
It is in this scene where Carl comes across a mysterious man who most people seem to theorize is Siddiq but since this person looks nothing like the Siddiq from the comics I think he is someone else.
We’ll have to see what part he has to play in the coming story.
The confrontation with Negan at his factory brought a smile to my face as Negan and Rick’s roles seemed to have reversed, with Rick having the upper hand and reminding Negan of how weak he made the group feel and now how strong they are compared to him.
“Are you going to make me count?” Rick asks, repeating a line Negan spoke to him in the season seven premiere.
The shootout that follows is intense and shows Rick’s dedication to killing Negan, completing ignoring an advancing Walker herd.
It is Gabriel who snaps Rick out of it and urges him to leave with the others.
God bless Gabriel, the TV version of him is so much better than the comic book version.
A rare occurrence when a TV character is better than their comic book counterpart, in terms of The Walking Dead.
However not all is good for Gabriel because he risks his life to safe the cowardly Gregory, despite his betrayal, only for Gregory to steal his car and leave him to die.
While it is great to see how much Gabriel has changed during his time on the show, (at the beginning he wouldn’t risk his life to save people he knew and now he is risking his life for someone he barely knows and betrayed them) this can only lead to bad things for him.
Sure enough it does, with Gabriel being trapped in a trailer with Negan.
“I hope you got your s$*!ing pants on,” he says.
We do Negan, we certainly do.

gabriel
However, although this episode is a great step in the right direction for The Walking Dead, not everything is perfect.
The uncanny valley, in terms of special effects, in this episode is very apparent like in the previous seasons.
For example, Shiva the tiger looks very realistic with its CGI however a shot of a car exploding looks unbelievably fake and made me wonder why they couldn’t just blow it up practically, they did it later in the episode.
Also, while the multiple timeline idea is a very intriguing way to style the episode, I do have a problem with the Old Man Rick timeline.
Fans who have not read the comics will not know what this means but as someone who has read the comics I think this spoils the events of all out war and removes all tension surrounding who will live and die.
Because of this Old Man Rick timeline fans will now have no reason to think Rick, Michonne, Carl or Judith will die during all out war because we see them in this future timeline.
Instead of actually showing this timeline they should have just hinted at it with maybe a few shots of Rick’s cane, the flowers and Old Man Rick himself.

old man rick
However, other than these problems this was a great way to start season eight and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season will go.
Hopefully The Walking Dead will go all out for all out war.