The Walking Dead Season Eight: All Out War or All Out Bore?

3 and a half stars
Warning: Contains major spoilers for this season.

I currently have mixed opinions about The Walking Dead TV show.
I was in denial for the first half of season 8 as, after looking back, I saw the episodes were not as good as I said they were in my reviews because I was just holding them to the expectations of what the show was currently producing.
So I decided to hold back on my reviews until the season ended so I could just gather my overall thoughts on season eight as a whole.
Anyway, after the painfully slow season seven the show finally delivered the All Out Story arc from the comics in season eight… only for the first half to be a disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some great moments in this part of the season, like the episodes The Big Scary U and Time For After but a lot of it was very lackluster.

Negan and Gabriel
The Big Scary U was one of the better episodes of the first half of season eight.

What really brought the first half of season eight down was its scope and the way it filmed action scenes, which made it all seem kind of boring.
Even though this was supposed to be a big explosive war, the battles always felt relatively small and a lot of the time the way the action was shot left me with little investment in what was happening and a little bored.
In the mid-season finale How It’s Gotta Be, Alexandria gets blown up by the Saviours but I just did not care because of the way it was shot and a lack of investment in what was happening.
Then there were the downright stupid decisions they made this season, like killing off Carl, which has to be, without a doubt, the absolute worst deviation they have ever made from the comics.
Carl was the future of The Walking Dead and is very important in the story going forward in the comics.
Who is going to replace him with now, Henry?

carl's death
Carl’s death was a massive mistake, especially since it looks like his role in future storylines will be replaced with a minor character, Henry.

However, I will admit that the second half of this season was significantly better than the first half.
There were only two bad episodes out of eight in the second half and the good episodes felt like The Walking Dead was finally getting back on track.
That does not mean I did not have problems with these episodes but they were still very enjoyable compared to what had come before.
All around I felt the acting from everyone was good, some actors like Chandler Riggs, as Carl, gave great performances in some episodes.
However, even though the performances were good the characters these actors played were very inconstant at times.
For example Negan, (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) kept changing from wanting to send a message to the rebelling communities to just wanting to kill everyone at the drop of a hat.
The main problem with this season though was how drawn-out it was.
It felt like the show should have just dealt with Negan in one season instead of putting the conflict with him into two.
They should have just had the first half of season seven deal with the build up to All Out War and the second half feature the entire war.
That would have allowed the story to be much more streamlined and cohesive.
Overall, season eight was good but it did have quite a few failings, especially in that first half.
Although, the second half did a really good job of redeeming the season.
Despite the fact that I think the Walking Dead has been in a decline of quality even since the season six finale, I believe the show can still go back to its glory days and maybe be even better than that because season nine will feature the New Beginning story arc.

bearded rick
The New Beginning story arc will give the show a chance to get back to its former glory.

This story arc will allow The Walking Dead to have a fresh start and draw in more of an audience, including the ones it lost because of the more recent seasons.
We will just have to wait and see if this happens though.
Season eight was a good season but the show really needs to get a handle on its issues if it even wants to get back to the glory days of seasons four and five.

Did The Walking Dead just doom itself with its latest episode?

3 and a half stars
Spoilers for The Walking Dead season 8 episode 8.

The mid season finale of The Walking Dead, The Way It’s Gotta Be, was a good episode overall but may have just doomed the show itself.
Coming into this episode, we all knew something big was going to happen, based on what the show runners said, and boy did it.
But maybe what happened was too big.
Because in this episode they actually set up the death of Carl Grimes.
Carl Grimes, the very future of The Walking Dead and they are going to kill him in the mid season premiere.
In the comics Carl has a hugely important story going forward and his very presence in both the comics and show defines who Rick is.
So, I believe that killing Carl was the worst possible decision they could have made because, without Carl, the story will no longer be as impactful.
The Walking Dead may have just doomed itself.

carl grimes
Carl’s upcoming death may have just ruined the future for The Walking Dead show.

Another thing I did not like was the spoilers.
The Walking Dead is terrible at keeping secrets because so many important deaths have been spoiled.
Noah and Aiden’s deaths in season 5, spoiled.
Glenn and Abraham’s deaths in the season 7 premiere, spoiled.
And now we have Carl, which was also spoiled for me.
I do not even go looking for the spoilers, I just run into them on accident and then the show is ruined for me.
The show really needs to get a handle on the spoilers being leaked.
Then there was Ezekiel’s storyline, which I found to be pretty ridiculous, considering how Ezekiel was able to free all his people.
Although the one thing I did like about this storyline was how they humanized Gavin again.
Then there was the explosive bombing of Alexandria.
Am I the only one who found this to be not that impactful?
I do not know why but a lot of the action in season 8 has not felt very intense for me.
This is strange because in this episode we have multiple buildings exploding and yet I do not even feel thrilled by it.
However, this episode is not all bad.
I loved the storyline with Maggie and, despite how much I hate what they are doing with Carl, Chandler Riggs did a fantastic job this episode.
He easily delivered his best performance as Carl.
The best scene he was in was when his possibly final confrontation with Negan.
The Negan and Rick fight was also fun to see.

rick vs negan
The Rick vs Negan fight was one of the highlights of the episode.

Like I said earlier, this was a good episode.
But the lack of excitement I felt during the action and the implications of Carl’s certain death left a bitter taste in my mouth.
I honestly do not think The Walking Dead can come back from this.
Well, at least I still have the comics.

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.

Some Guy is not some episode in the latest The Walking Dead episode.

3 and a half stars
Spoilers for The Walking Dead season eight episode four, Some Guy.

Many people are already calling Some Guy the best episode of Season 8 of The Walking Dead.
However, I do not feel that way.
I did like Some Guy but it had a few too many obvious flaws, for my liking.
In fact, I actually think this is the weakest episode of the season so far.
The Some Guy title refers to Ezekiel, in this episode, who we see torn down from a leader confident of victory, to a shell of that man who no longer wants to be called king.
I really liked a lot of the scenes with Ezekiel.
As the episode went along, we saw Ezekiel gradually lose more hope, starting with the death of his soldiers, until he loses it completely, with the death of Shiva.
Ezekiel and Jerry
Even Jerry had moments to shine in this episode, when he cut a Saviour, who was holding Ezekiel hostage, in half.
Although it is weird that he hits him twice with it, considering he obviously killed him with the first blow but that is a nitpick.
Carol is another central character in this episode, mowing Saviours down, left and right  and just generally being Carol.
However, although I did like these things, as I said, this episode did have more flaws than previous episodes.
For one thing, the danger never feels real in this episode.
For most of the episode, the characters never felt in danger to me.
When Carol was being shot at from behind the car, it was ridiculous that she was not hit with the amount of bullets being fired.
carol surrenders
Even worse is the scene where Rick and Daryl chase the Saviours with the 50. Calibur Machine Gun.
They are shot at repeatedly with this gun and, due to plot armor, are never hit.
If this was a real situation, then they would have been torn apart by gunfire.
It made the action feel very artificial and the danger not very apparent.
This episode also has a few scenes that just do not work.
First there is Ezekiel’s conversation with the Jeffrey Dahmer look alike, who took him hostage.
Some of this conversation was really good and interesting but, mostly, it was a bit of a drag.
I was just waiting for a Walker or Jerry to show up and kill him.
The final problem I have with this episode is Shiva’s death.
Yes, it was a sad death but the way it happened did not work at all.
In the comics, Ezekiel is overwhelmed by Walkers and about to be devoured when Shiva charges in and saves him, sacrificing herself in the process.
In the show however, Ezekiel, Carol and Jerry are not even close to being overwhelmed.
They could easily walk over an embankment and escape but Ezekiel wants to stay behind and sacrifice himself, even though they could all escape together.
This leads to Shiva charging in and sacrificing herself but since Ezekiel could have easily fled, her sacrifice felt completely unnecessary.
Shiva dies
Although, I did love Ezekiel’s reaction to her death.
Khary Payton did a great job in this episode.
It is these problems that makes me think this episode is the weakest in the season so far.
I still liked the episode though because there was enough character development, with Ezekiel, and some interesting action scenes to keep me interested.

Daryl is the real monster in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, Monsters.

4 and a half stars
SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 8, EPISODE 3.

The Walking Dead Season eight is still going strong with its third episode, Monsters, being released last night.
Season eight is a definite step up from Season seven, which often felt very drawn out, while season eight feels exciting and fast paced.
Even in its quieter moments every scene in this episode is brimming with tension.
Specifically the scene between Rick and Morales.
It was nice to see these two catch up, even if it was at gunpoint.
Morales learning that Glenn had a wife and him calling Rick “Officer Friendly,” (a callback to season one) were definite highlights in this scene.
Unfortunately, this ends when Daryl shows up and kills Morales, without a second thought, despite knowing who he is.
Originally, I found it very annoying that they brought Morales back, only to kill him an episode later.
I wanted Morales to have a big part in the story and contribute in the All Out War story arc.
However, despite this, I can still see that Morales coming back and dying did have a point.

morales dies
For one thing, he called out how violent Rick has become and even asks him, point blank, if Rick had a gun on him, would he would have pulled the trigger.
Secondly, it also helps to show how far Daryl has gone.
He holds absolutely no sympathy for the Saviors and it does not matter if they surrender to him, he will kill them no matter what.
Another scene that shows this is when Daryl executes an unarmed Savior, who is surrendering, despite Rick’s promise that he can live if he does so.
This not only highlights how far Daryl will go when it comes to the Saviors but it also shows how Rick is seriously beginning to question the group’s morality.
His interaction with Morales has begun to show him how morally unethical they themselves are becoming and all this is shown through a look he gives to Daryl, after he executes the Savior.
Andrew Lincoln does a fantastic job in this episode, visually.
Two other important things happened in this part of the story.
First we have the death of Eric.
Now, personally, I preferred his comic book death because it shows how quickly someone can die in war but this was a good death too.
Eric’s heartfelt goodbye to Aaron was sad and really made me feel for them.
However, I did not like how they were not very clear that Eric had actually die.
All we get is Aaron seeing a Walker in the distance and assuming it is Eric.
I would consider it a possibility that he was still alive had the writers not confirmed his death.
It would have been better if they had actually shown the Walker was Eric.
The second important thing that happened in this episode was Rick going back for Gracie, the baby he orphaned in the previous episode, who Aaron offered to take back to the Hilltop.
This open ups the possibility of a crazy fan theory to happen, which will be interesting to see if it comes true.
I will not state this theory because I do not want to potentially ruin it for people but I can say it will be one of the best twists The Walking Dead has ever done, if it does happen.
The other storylines in the episode are also really good.
First we have Morgan, Tara and Jesus transporting the prisoners from the outpost to the Hilltop.
After a group of prisoners, including Jared, try to flee, Morgan starts executing them but is stopped by Jesus.
This leads to a great fight sequence between the two, ninja against ninja.
morgan vs jesus
This was one of the most thrilling parts of the episode, however it did end with Morgan leaving, which I am concerned about.
Hopefully it will not turn out like Carol’s storyline from season six and seven.
Then we have the Hilltop storyline with Gregory arriving and begging to be let in.
This scene was hilarious, especially the interaction between Gregory and Kal.
“I did not eat those pancakes,” Gregory yells.
Xander Berkeley does a really great job of selling Gregory’s cowardice and pathetic nature.
Then Jesus and Tara arrive with the Savior prisoners who Maggie eventually decides to let in, despite the danger.
I wonder if Gregory will collude with Jared and the other Savior prisoners to take over the Hilltop.
The final storyline sees Ezekiel and Carol leading an attack on another Savior outpost.
Ezekiel was another standout in this episode, with his over confident nature backfiring at the end of the episode and is sure to continue to bite him, in the next episode.
The episode ends on a cliffhanger with Ezekiel’s men shielding him from gunfire.
We are certain to see the effects of Ezekiel’s over confidence in the next episode.
ezekiel rallies troops
But, despite how much I did love the storylines in this episode, there was still one problematic scene, along with Morales abrupt death and Eric’s confusing one.
This scene was a gunfight between the Alexandrians and Saviors, at the outpost Rick was attacking.
In this scene the editing is a bit choppy and I did not recognize anyone from Alexandria or the Saviors so I could not tell who was who.
I was unable to tell if the Alexandrians or the Saviors were winning.
Still, this and the other two problems I previously mentioned were very minor in comparison to the rest of the episode, which was very exciting and enjoyable.
Season eight is off to a much better start than season seven and I am eagerly awaiting the next episode.

A surprise return makes an intriguing twist for the Walking Dead.

4 and a half stars
All out war continued in last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, The Damned, which saw Rick’s group attack two separate Savior outposts.
The Damned was a definite improvement on last week’s episode, as an almost solely action driven episode that left you on the edge of your seat.
The Walking Dead is definitely learning from its mistakes in season seven by focusing on multiple characters, instead of a small group of them one episode and another small group in the next.
All the main characters featured in this episode are given their moments to shine.
I especially liked the dynamic between Tara and Jesus and their debate over whether they should just kill all of the Saviors.
Morgan was also a standout in this episode as we saw him go full clear mode and take out a bunch of armed men with no hesitation or remorse.
He even went as far to flashback about Rick’s speech in season six about killing all of the Saviors, which almost made him killed Jared, the Savior who killed Benjamin.
Morgan clear
I imagine that Morgan will come to regret not killing Jared, that guy is bad news.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the prisoners they captured this episode.
There was a lot of them so I wonder what they will do with them.
Will they escape or will someone like Morgan or Tara just start executing them?
We will have to wait and see.
The second of the three story lines this episode saw Carol and Ezekiel tracking a Savoir to stop him alerting his friends at the outpost of the coming attack.
This was a very minor plot point that is building to the big attack next episode, which will have dire consequences for Ezekiel, if they go the route of the comics.
However, although it was interesting to see Carol and Ezekiel interact, along with Ezekiel casually dropping his king persona, it did feel a bit weird, considering how it is urgent that they track this person and yet they are constantly stopping to talk.
Ezekiel and caroljpg
It was great to see Shiva in action again this episode, eventually taking down the man they were tracking and I look forward to see how she is utilized next episode.
Now for the third story line, which saw Rick, Daryl, Aaron and Eric and their forces attacking a second Savior outpost.
This story line by far had the best parts of the episode.
From Rick’s intense fight with the Savior, to learning he had orphaned a child, to Eric getting shot, this story line was filled with intense moments.
Not to mention the surprise return of Morales, which was unfortunately spoiled for me before I watched the episode (thanks a lot internet!).
morales
Morales has been the face of fan speculation and memes for years now, concerning his disappearance in season one and what happened to him.
The level of interest that has circled Morales over the years is kind of odd, when you think about it because he was only in four episodes and was more of a side character than anything else.
Still is is good to see him back and on the side of the Saviors.
Clearly a lot has happened since we last saw him, back in season one.
It will be interesting to see what they do with his character… if they do anything with him at all.
I hope he is not just a one episode bad guy that dies in the next episode because, if he is, what was the point of bringing him back?
I hope they actually do something with Morales and he has a point being here.
Overall, this was a great episode, with only a few minor faults in Ezekiel and Carol’s story line.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the next episode and what Morales’ return holds for the future.

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.