Tonight is “How It’s Gotta Be,” the midseason finale for Season 8 of The Walking Dead. This will definitely be a huge episode, as it’s the synopsis is enough by itself to give us a reason to believe that we might be seeing the second part of the all out war between Negan and Rick. Some people have been hinting that there might be a big death tonight. We have no idea if that’s true or not. But if it is, fans are really nervous about who they might be seeing for the last time.
When we left off last week, Daryl, Tara, and Morgan had defied Rick’s plan and drove a hole through the Sanctuary wall, leading the walkers to pour inside. Rick had wanted everyone to just leave the walkers surrounding the building, so he could bring the Scavengers back and show them that Negan was finished. But now the walkers — and Negan — may be missing.
This post will have spoilers through the Season 8 midseason finale. We will be updating this post with a recap and review of the show live as it airs. So keep coming back for more details about what happens tonight.
The episode begins with Rick seeing the Sanctuary, devoid of walkers. He’s calling for people to report to him.
Next we see Rick and Carl talking in a flashback, with Carl explaining that it wasn’t enough to want the man to survive. And they discuss what will happen when the fight is over.
Next, Rick is approaching the Sanctuary with the Scavengers and Jadis. Jadis comments, “Different from picture.” And people begin shooting at them. This is not what he expected at all.
Carol drives onto the scene and picks Rick up, saving him and taking him away from the Sanctuary and the Scavengers.
Next we see Carl asking Rick why they’re fighting. “We’re fighting so it’s all of us working together for something more than just killing other people,” Carl says. But Rick isn’t agreeing with him. “Finding some way forward…that’s something more,” Carl says. “That’s how it’s gotta be.” Carl and Rick have very different philosophies. And it’s interesting to see Carl lecturing Rick about ethics.
We see a scene cutting between Rick and Carl. Then a closeup of Carol. Then Ezekiel. Maggie. We hear Negan whistling in the background. And we see Negan, smiling, riding in a car somewhere.
Cut to the opening. Something serious is going to happen tonight.
After the commercial break, Enid is riding with Aaron. “They have to talk to us right? After coming all this way?” Aaron takes a moment to talk about the trips he used to take with Eric. For Aaron, the loss of Eric is just as heartbreaking as Maggie’s loss of Glen. Aaron says he has to make sure Eric died for a reason.
Enid reveals that they’re heading to Oceanside, hoping they will be open to talking. She takes a detour, realizing they need to bring something with them for Oceanside. They’re heading to a distillery.
Next we’re back at Alexandria. Michonne is with a much-older Judith, it appears. She and Daryl chat. She apologizes for not being able to help him and Daryl says it’s OK, because the plan worked.
We see Carl by himself, writing a letter to his Dad for some reason. There is a big focus on Carl this episode, which is worrying fans already. Is Carl writing a goodbye letter to his dad just in case something goes wrong today? He appears really upset. He looks at a paper that reads, “Just survive somehow.”
Next we see Rosita and Tara. Rosita says the plan worked. They’re going to use the equipment to redirect the heard after the Saviors surrender.
Next we cut to the outdoors, and Aaron driving a big distillery truck. He and Enid are near Oceanside. They’re waiting. Night falls and someone shows up. They knock down Aaron, Enid shoots, and other people from Oceanside show up. Enid has killed the leader of Oceanside.
Now we’re at Alexandria. It’s nighttime. And out of nowhere, Negan arrives.
“You lose. It’s over. You’re going to line up…and work up some apologies… Then I kill Rick in front of everyone and we move on. You have three minutes to open this gate.”
Carl and Michonne are at Alexandria.
We see shots of Rick, Carol, and Jerry driving. Someone is hit while they’re driving. Then we break to a commercial. Was it Jerry? (On a lighter note, someone on Reddit asked at this point: “Did Jerry get hit by Season 2 Lori?”)
After the commercial, we see Ezekiel reading a letter fro mJerry telling him that he had to bounce, and why. If Jerry was just killed, that’s just way unfair to Ezekiel considering he already lost Shiva :( There’s a big ruckus at the Kingdom. It looks like Negan’s men are here.
Thanks Daryl. Your plan didn’t work out well AT ALL.
Next we cut to Jesus and Maggie driving. Jesus wonders if they will surrender and Maggie says they will, eventually. But not right away.
There’s a tree in the road, blocking their way. This is NOT good. They’re leading a convoy and they’re all stuck. A truck drives up and pulls in front of them. This is creepy AF.
A whole bunch of people are leaving the cars behind them. It looks like they have Jerry in the truck in front of them. They’re holding him by gunpoint.
Simon is here. This is NOT good.
Carl is planning a way to leave Alexandria on foot. Daryl, Carl, Tara, Rosita, Michonne, they’re all here. Carl is advising them to leave and not try to keep Alexandria. They’re only goal is to survive tonight. He’s in charge now, and it’s his call.
Next it loos like we’re at the Kingdom. “The Kingdom and everyone in it now belongs to Negan… Everything you produce now belongs to us. You’re probably going to lose the freshman 15 pretty quick. All able bodied men and women will be transferred to the Sanctuary to see to its repair. … We’ll be hanging our hat here.”
As the show breaks to a commercial, I have to wonder… How did the Saviors get so organized so fast? Did all the walkers not affect them at all?
After the commercial, we’re back to where Maggie is stopped and Jerry is being held captive. Simon tells them all to hand over their guns and shoot him if anyone tries anything. They’re handing over their guns without a fight. Seems like that might not be the wisest course of action, considering what we know.
Back at Alexandria, Negan is speaking on a mic and telling Rick that he has to go. “Scorched Earth…” Carl stands over the fence. “He’s not home.”
“Look at you, answering the door like a big boy. I am so proud,” Negan says. “Dad’s not home huh? I guess he’s going to get back to a smoky surprise.”
Carl tells him families are there including his little sister. Negan tells him there were kids at the Sanctuary too, including a baby at an outpost.
This is a tough scene. But it’s compelling.
Negan reminds Carl that he had to kill his own mom once. “We need someone in charge who’s willing to do what it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen. .. That’s me.”
Carl: “We can stop this.”
Negan: “Your dad had it that I died no matter what. He gave my people a choice not me.”
Carl offers his life.
Negan: “What did you say?”
Carl offers his life again. “I’m serious…” He doesn’t want to die, but he says he will. “If me dying can stop this, if it can make things different for us, for you, for all those other kids, it would be worth it.”
“Is this who you want it to be?” Carl asks Negan.
WOW again. This is an amazing scene. Scenes between Negan and Carl are the best on this show.
Next we see trucks breaking through the fence right after Dwight insisted it would hold. These are the people Carl told to escape.
“I THOUGHT WE WERE HAVING A MOMENT YOU LITTLE A*****!” Negan yells out. Yes, their scenes are gold.
Here’s hoping they’re not building Carl’s character in this episode just to kill him.
After the commercial break, back at the Kingdom, the Savior says that Ezekiel has to answer for all of this and they can’t find him. “Do yourselves a favor and cooperate now.” He’s practically begging them not to make things worse and just give Ezekiel up. “All right. You’ve got five minutes. Then it’s Negan’s way.”
Now we’re back at the scene with Maggie. She asks how they got out. Simon just says they figured it out. (Seriously, we were all asking this, and this is the explanation we get?)
He tells her the Saviors are taking possession of the Kingdom and Alexandria. “But Hilltop? The farmers? It’s your lucky day. You’ve been chosen to keep producing. Gregory made a little bit of a full of me…so I’m hoping you’re the one to make things right… I need you to shift into active listening.”
Simon offers to kill Jerry, drag Maggie out of the car, and put her in the coffin Sasha was in. “Then we take you to Hilltop, gather everyone… and kill you in front of the whole place…And then put you on a spike in front of HQ. And my people will lead the walker herd to the Hilltop.” But he says she can just turn back, go back to farming, and save them trouble. “And we’re gonna have to kill one of your people. Then we’re aces.”
Simon turns around then and shoots Jerry. They didn’t show it on screen though, for some reason. Wait, never mind, Jerry is still alive. Who did Simon shoot?
Maggie asks to take the box home to bury Neal in… So it looks like Simon shot Neal and Maggie is at least pretending to play along. (Neal, by the way, is the guy in the backseat of Maggie’s car. He kind of gave off that red shirt vibe from the beginning of the episode.) As one fan wrote on Reddit: “RIP Beard man who got one line in this episode.”
During the commercial break, we see another harrowing episode of Red Machete. It’s just scenes of a walker wandering around with the machete in its chest, until the walker is killed. Okkk.
After the commercial break, we see Eugene back at the Sanctuary. His clock reads midnight. He’s drinking. (But honestly, Eugene’s not to blame for this. Daryl is. They were all caught in the Sanctuary until Daryl rammed through the wall, letting the walkers inside and somehow helping them all escape.) Eugene is crying. He’s really, really upset. The music gets intense and cuts to Carl as he’s escaping Alexandria. The Saviors are hunting him. This better not be the end of Carl.
He puts on his hat. Listens to the artillery. He’s moving in slow motion. Then takes off running right before the houses at Alexandria all explode. Did Carl plan that or was that Saviors’ handiwork?
Carl is standing there, appearing stunned after the explosion. He can’t move. His acting is phenomenal tonight.
We cut to Tara and Daryl. “They didn’t get out because of what we did with the truck. Even if they did, it was a mistake.” She talks about how her mistake led to Sasha’s death. They’ve all made mistakes. Tara, Rosita, Michonne and Daryl are waiting, guns drawn. Someone drives up. It’s Dwight. His passenger tells him to stop because he’s going to lead the trucks into a trap and get them killed. Tara’s group starts shooting at the cars. Dwight joins them, shooting the Saviors who are with them. He’s finally publicly chosen his side.
But the girl who was with him isn’t dead. She shoots him in the arm. “It was you. All of it. Tell them to stop.” She’s shot at and flees. Dwight is hurt bad.
We see more explosions. A truck is driving through a gate. It’s Negan, driving into Alexandria with his people. Everything’s on fire. “Well sh** we could have used those. Solar panels. The convoy they got away? Kid’s still got to be here.” He tells them to blow up every other house, but don’t kill Carl. He tells the Saviors to send Rick his way when he shows up.
Carl is limping away from Alexandria. Two Saviors see him, but he releases a smoke bomb and escapes like a real super hero. Somehow in the commotion he escaped into the sewer without being heard. Carl has leveled up to a badass superhero. He’s now Batman.
But where are Rick and Carol in the middle of all of this? We haven’t seen them for awhile.
During the commercial break, we were treated to that really annoying commercial for Apple where the girl says, “What’s a computer?” in a snarky way. Ugh, that commercial.
Now we’re back to the show, with Eugene visiting Gabriel. “I’m here to afford you that the guard at the gate is OOC. What you choose to do with that knowledge is none of my beeswax.”
Gabriel invites Eugene to come with him. “It’s not too late. They’ll take you back.” Eugene then “accidentally” drops the keys to a vehicle. Gabriel says he’s doing the right thing, and Eugene says that assessment is relative.
Ezekiel creates a distraction and helps his people escape. They’re after Ezekiel, and Carol shows up looking for him. But Ezekiel locks the gates, locking himself into the Kingdom with the Saviors, and tells Carol to save everyone like she saved him.
Maggie returns to Hilltop. She takes one of the prisoners out and kills him. “Saviors stole one of ours on the road. We’re not even but it’s a start.” Maggie said Hilltop might be the last stand. She leaves, heartbroken at what she’s had to do.
After the commercial break, we’re back to Dwight. He yells out, “It’s over!” while holding his shot arm. Tara, Rosita, and the rest appear. “I drove the convoy right up to the roadblock. I knew where it was,” he says. Daryl lowers his gun. Dwight: “I can’t go back.”
“How’d they get out?” Daryl asks. “Was it what I did?”
(Yes, Daryl, it was, and we’re all mad at you. But keep in mind, Daryl may be suffering PTSD from being held prisoner. No one should have been following him.)
Dwight says he wants Negan to die. Michonne announces that they need to get back NOW.
We’re back at Hilltop. Maggie has the coffin and she’s writing on it. “We have 38 more. Stand down.” Yes, she’s telling the Saviors they have prisoners.
A Savior is yelling out to Ezekiel: “Now, a lot more people have to die.” Morgan is sneaking up on him. Yes, Morgan has been at the Kingdom all this time.
Tara and Rosita are disappearing into the sewer grate. Dwight tells Michonne he’s sorry. Michonne is in shock, seeing what has happened at Alexandria. She puts the cover over the grate. She’s not leaving.
Now we finally see Rick. He’s running through the fog, gun in hand. He’s at Alexandria, looking for Carl. He goes into their home, calling for Carl, Judith, and Michonne. But Negan was waiting there for him. “Don’t make me do this now Rick. I’ve got plans for you.”
“When you’re a creepy stump with a head, that’s when I’ll kill you.”
Rick: “Do you ever shut the hell up?”
Negan asks him if he knew Carl volunteered to die. “What kind of boy did you raise? In a few years, he’s going to be one of my top guys.”
Negan and Rick are fighting. Negan has Lucille, but Rick gets him with a surprise punch and grabs Lucille. That doesn’t last long. But then Rick grabs a gun and Negan runs at him, pushing him out the window. Rick escapes. Negan got a little too cocky there.
Rick is escaping. Michonne, meanwhile, is at Alexandria, roaming the streets. A Savior catches her. “They’re all dead.” She slices him into tiny pieces with her sword, devastated. Rick finds her. “Where are they?” he asks. Michonne leads him away.
Now they’re underground. Michonne leads Rick to where everyone from Alexandria is hiding underground in the sewers.
Back to the faces montage. We see Maggie. Then Jesus. Rick in the sewers. Rosita and Tara in the sewers. Rick searching the sewers for Carl. A closeup of Carol (who didn’t have a big role tonight, surprisingly.) Ezekiel, smiling. Morgan. Dwight in the sewers. Eugene. Gabriel. Maybe we just saw Judith. And finally, Carl’s friend that he rescued– the guy Rick didn’t want to help. Carl: “I brought him here.”
Carl is OK.
“That’s how it happened,” Carl said.
But Carl’s been bitten.
He’s going to die.
Just as I feared. All that character development. And now Carl is going to die.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED.
I am not OK with this.
Here’s the scene again, if you want to rewatch it:
UPDATE: It’s an hour later and I’m *still* not OK with this. The look between Carl and Rick… The character development… Carl was quickly becoming my favorite character. And he got bitten trying to help Siddiq — trying to do the right thing. Now Rick will have no one to blame but himself. Losing Shiva was tough enough on this show. I don’t even know how I’m going to handle the midseason premiere, watching Carl get sicker and sicker. :(
According to Talking Dead, the show is returning on February 25. So mark your calendars.