‘The Walking Dead’: You Just Haven’t Earned it Yet, Baby

The Walking Dead
April 15, 2018

For maximum emotional manipulation, we begin the finale episode thusly:

Rick is in his bedroom when Siddiq arrives with a bottle for New Baby, and Rick asks him to tell him how Carl died. Siddiq explains that his mother thought that by killing the zombies, they released their souls. It was a story that he shared with Carl, so Carl decided to honor this woman he had never met by killing some forest zombies, and in the process, he done got bit. Siddiq adds that in the end, all we have left of the people we have lost is their ideas, before thanking Rick, I guess for Carl saving him? For Rick allowing him to hang out? For Rick not killing him with his bare hands since he’s prone to doing so? Dunno.

Outside, Kid asks Carol if she’s going to return to The Kingdom once this is all over and done with, and she’s all, “Don’t pressure me, Kid.” And King Zeke tries to give one of his flowery speeches to Jerry about if this is their last morning, it’s a glorious morning, or some bullshit, but Jerry is like, “This isn’t the last of shit.”

If they kill Jerry, we riot.

Team Rick meets and goes over the plan, noting that they’ve locked Gregory up in the big house because fuck that guy. They also wonder if Dwight is setting them up with bad info, and decide to approach the situation cautiously.

Meanwhile, Morgan, freaked out by the Nice Saviors having gone outside the gates to clear some zombies, and then returning through the gates. In his paranoia, Morgan very nearly kills Kid. And Rick is like, “Hey, buddy, maybe you should sit this one out?” In response, Morgan reminds Rick that what they did to those other Saviors — the ones who saved them who they lied to and killed — that was really shitty and they are very bad people.

Anyway, now all they can do is finish this once and for all. YES. GOD. PLEASE. FINISH IT. PLEASE.

At the Sanctuary, Dr. Mullet delivers the bullet order to Negan, handing him a gun so he can try out the bullets’ quality for himself. Negan is pleased with the results, and when Dr. Mullet asks if he can join him on his attack on Team Nick, Negan is like, “Sure, why the hell not.” Dwight in his new prison sweats and Father Gabriel are also loaded up into the trucks so they can witness what is about to happen.

Negan hands a map to some random Saviors, and they’re all “AYE-AYE, CHIEF!” prompting Negan to call them idiots under his breath.

Father Gabe is in Negan’s truck so that Negan can make a “confession”: the Random Idiot Saviors are being sent to their death. Negan has sent them to a location that he identified on the fake map that Dwight delivered to Team Rick, a map that Team Rick will rightfully be suspicious of. Team Rick will kill Random Idiot Saviors, find another map on them which will lead them to what they believe is the real location. While they’re busy chasing after Negan, other Saviors will head to Hilltop and kill everyone there. Father Gabriel is all, “THE FUCK?” before pulling a Lady Bird.

Stumbling blind through the forest, stumbling blind through the forest, stumbling blind through the forest, and Negan and Dr. Mullet eventually catch up with him, the latter holding a gun to Father Gabriel’s head. Negan contemplates Lucilling the priest, but doesn’t, instead loading him back up into the truck so they can continue on their way.

And Team Rick does exactly what Negan expected of them: they kill all the Random Idiot Saviors, find the other map, and decide that this is the real location, and they should confront Negan there. Also, too, Morgan is haunted again, this time by Asshole Savior. Ok.

On their way to the next location, Jesus suggests to Morgan that he try something new: how about NOT killing everyone in sight? Maybe he could use the pointy end of his Jedi stick on zombies, and the dull end of his Jedi stick on living human beings? How about trying that on for size and seeing how it feels?

As they arrive at the meeting spot — at the bottom of a hill … the top of which they then don’t scout … for some reason — they admire an enormous herd down in a valley beneath them. And then everyone is like, “Alright, well now what?”

Eventually, that damn whistling starts up, seemingly coming at Team Rick from all sides as Negan addresses them unseen via loudspeaker. Negan explains that he has Team Rick surrounded but dares Rick to “make it fun” for them. He adds that he has some of Team Rick’s buddies, including Dwight, Father Gabriel, and Dr. Mullet who made today possible. Negan counts down from three, preparing to shoot Father Gabe himself, but when he gets to 1, and the Saviors begin shooting, the majority of them collapse to the ground, apparently shot.

In … whatever the hell just happened … Negan manages to get shot in the hand, and flees as Team Rick comes running up the hill to shoot and fight whomever is left. At some point, one of the Saviors figures out what happened: Dr. Mullet compromised the Saviors’ weapons … or the bullets … so that they would fire backwards? I don’t know …

… the point is, Dr. Mullet was Team Rick all along. Eventually, Team Rick establishes the upper hand and they call for the remaining Saviors to surrender, which they do.

However, there is one bit of unfinished business: Negan. Rick chases him down the hillside towards a tree that has two stained glass windows hanging from it? Shooting at Negan, shooting at Negan, shooting at Negan, but the only thing Rick manages to hit is one of the windows. Rick runs out of bullets fairly quickly, and is forced to fight Negan, a fight which he loses.

Before Negan can Lucile him, Rick pleads that Negan give him ten seconds to hear him out — to do it for Carl — and Negan obliges because plot. Rick reminds Negan that Carl said they don’t have to fight anymore, before being all “PSYCHE!” and slashing Negan’s throat with a shard of glass.

But then, Rick has a this …

eric true blood eye roll

… and calls out to Team Rick to save Negan. As Maggie collapses in rage and sorrow, Siddiq tends to Negan and Rick explains to the Saviors that Negan’s way of doing things is over, that everyone has to make nice now and start a new world. AND IF THEY DON’T MAKE NICE, THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES.

Rick then sends everyone home. As people begin to leave, Rosita punches Dr. Mullet square in the jaw for puking on her (FAIR), Morgan hands his Kingdom elbow guards to Carol to give to Kid, and Rick has a good cry under that stained glass window, as we saw him do in the season premiere.

Meanwhile, back at Hilltop, guards spot Savior trucks on their way towards them, and they sneak everyone out of the gates and into the woods. Tara and the Nice Saviors make a plan to return to Hilltop to confront the Bad Saviors (although, Tara won’t let Nice Saviors have guns). Before they can return, however, there are a bunch of explosions at the gate, killing the five Saviors who showed up, thanks to Aaron and the Ocean Amazons who thought to bring a bunch of molotov cocktails with them … even though they had no way of knowing that they would be walking directly into a fight, BUT SURE OK WHATEVER. Hilltop is saved, hooray.

Later at Hilltop, Nice Savior explains to Maggie that the other Good Saviors are headed back to the Sanctuary, but wonders if it would be cool if he could stay at Hilltop and help her build shit. Maggie’s all, “Sure,” while also giving him a bit of a flirt eye? Was that a flirt eye, Maggie?

Elsewhere, Tara and Rosita visit a former Sanctuary outpost where Negan’s harem are wearing normal clothes for a change and building gardens and shit.

Daryl drives Dwight out into the woods, where Dwight is all, “I know you’re going to kill me, and I totally deserve to be killed but I need you know that I am legitimately sorry for everything I did wrong.” But instead of killing him, Daryl tosses him the keys to the truck, threatens Dwight to never show his face around here again, or Daryl WILL kill him, and then orders Dwight to go find Sherry. Dwight complies, driving to some little cottage where he finds a note to him from Sherry:

“D: Honeymoon ∞”

Whatever the hell THAT’S supposed to mean, but hey, he seems happy, so.

Morgan pays a visit to Haircut over in Garbagetown and explains that Rick has invited her to come join him. And she’s like, “Cool! By the way, my name is Ann. Alright, let’s go!” But Morgan explains that he isn’t going back with her, he needs some time alone.

Carol returns to The Kingdom with King Ezekiel, Jerry and Kid. Bye.

And at Hilltop, Maggie holds a secret meeting with Jesus where she explains that Rick was right about not killing the Savior survivors, but he was wrong about not killing Negan. So what they’re going to do, see, is build themselves up and grow stronger and then when it’s time, they’ll show Rick and Michonne that they done fucked up. And Jesus is all, “HELL YEAH,” and then Daryl steps out of the shadows and is all, “HELL YEAH, TOO.”

Over in the infirmary, Negan’s throat has been sewn back together by Siddiq, and Rick and Michonne are like, “LISTEN PAL, HERE’S HOW IT’S GOING TO GO DOWN. You are going to be our prisoner for life, and you’ll have to watch us do all the things, and you will serve as an example to other assholes who get ideas. GOT IT?”

Father Gabriel returns to his burnt church in Alexandria where he prays to God that he “understands now” and that he “can see.”

symbolism ta-da

Finally, for one last kick in the gut, Rick writes Carl a letter in response, explaining that he forgot who he was, but that Carl made him remember, that Carl was bringing him and everyone to the “new world.” Carl made it real, Rick can see it, and Rick remembers.



  1. Jesus? That Jesus? Jesus is one of Maggie’s conspirators? The same Jesus who convinced Morgan to not kill Saviors whom they were LITERALLY FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES, that same Jesus is on board with Maggie being upset that Rick spared Negan? Why?
  2. I mean, Rosita, sure, I could see Rosita getting on board with Maggie’s plan, and I will give them Daryl — he was tortured by Negan, after all. But Jesus?
  3. I mentioned this earlier, but the Ocean Amazons, how’d they know to come to Hilltop with bombs? They were armed and ready to go — even though they had no reason to believe they were walking directly into a war?
  4. Dr. Mullet’s plan? How’d he pull that off? I mean I get it … kinda … but it seems to have put a WHOLE lot of faith in none of the Saviors firing any of those guns before the appointed time?
  5. Also, why didn’t he tell Daryl and Rosita what he was up to when they kidnapped him? I mean, they might not have believed him — but, then again, they might have. (I mean, I know the reason for this — to surprise the viewers — but that’s just dumb.)
  6. No, seriously, Jesus?
  7. How much time has passed since Glen died? Because where is Maggie’s baby bump? As someone who has been pregnant twice, I’m here to tell you that unless she is only about two months along, she should be showing by now. And I’m pretty sure it’s been longer than two months since Glen died. The Walking Dead wiki tries to claim that it’s only been about 20 days since Glen died, but I think we can all agree that’s completely insane.
  8. So, Negan’s plan. Why didn’t he just send Team Rick to the spot where he intended to ambush them in the first place? Why go through the whole charade with the two maps and getting his own people killed if he was just going to lead Team Rick to that spot to be confronted directly? I mean, I suppose it deprives Team Rick of valuable time to come up with some sort of plan or strategy, BUT STILL.
  9. When King Zeke and Carol return to The Kingdom, it’s just them, Jerry and Kid. So where were all the other people from The Kingdom? Did they not go to Hilltop for protection? Did they just stay behind in The Kingdom without their leader because that just seems foolish.
  10. Where’s Sherry?
  11. What did that “Honeymoon ∞” message even mean? (I know that’s an infinty sign I’m not dumb, I just don’t know what “honeymoon infinity” is supposed to mean, especially since Sherry is nowhere to be found and feel like I missed something.)
  12. Is she alive?
  13. Should we care?
  14. Oh, so we’re just supposed to accept that Rick has redeemed himself here? Really? It was not a day or two ago (or an hour ago if the timeline I mentioned earlier is to be believed) that Rick lied to and murdered men who had just saved his life, but because he has this one moment of mercy with Negan, all is supposed to be forgiven? HE JUST TRIED TO MURDER NEGAN, and now that he’s feeling self-righteous and spewing back at everyone else Carl’s words, we’re supposed to pat him on the back? COME ON. Also, too, Rick was a fucking monster throughout the second half of the season, and I get that he was in a griefrage, but why on earth did Carl’s words in a letter resonate more with Rick than Carl’s DYING WORDS? Carl basically said the same thing as he lay dying, so why is it only now that it has sunk in with Rick? Maybe because the whole thing was merely a plot device to give Rick a redemption arc over the back half of the season? YEAH, WELL, I REJECT THAT. Rick is bad, this storyline was bad, and the writers should feel bad.
  15. I mean, Jesus? THAT JESUS? The Jesus who has been sparing everyone since we met him? THAT GUY?

But hey, when it is all said and done, I’m still going to check in on The Walking Dead when it returns in October, in part because the story itself is promising a new direction for the series, and in no small part because Scott Gimple will no longer be the showrunner. Hopefully, once Andrea Kang takes the reins next season, she will lead the show into more interesting, less hopeless, and less repetitive places.

As Rick himself says, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” It really, really does not.

The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.

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