Tonight is “Honor,” the midseason premiere for Season 8 of The Walking Dead. This will definitely be a huge episode, considering how the midseason finale ended. There’s no reason to believe that Season 8 Episode 9 isn’t going to be absolutely heartbreaking. Fans are really nervous about what might happen tonight, and what surprised might be in store that we aren’t even expecting. When we left off in December, Carl had revealed to Rick that he had been bitten by a zombie. The Saviors escaped and were trying to take back over. Negan and Rick had a big fistfight. Maggie was holding prisoners at Hilltop. Ezekiel locked himself in with the Saviors to help his people escape. Everything was falling apart. And now we’re really nervous about what’s happening next.
This post will have spoilers through Season 8 Episode 9. 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 opens with Rick standing with bloodshot, red eyes like we saw in the season premiere. “Your mercy prevails,” he says quietly. Then he flashes forward to when he’s older with a grey beard, talking to Siddiq and Jerry. It looks like the flash forward might just be his hallucination/dream.
Now we’re at present day, as Rick and Michonne are outside. They appear to be digging a grave. :(
Next is a flashback to the moment Carl was bitten, while trying to help Siddiq kill the walkers. It’s horrifying. The look on his face as he realizes what just happened to him… My heart’s breaking watching the scene. Carl tries to be stoic despite what just happened. He pulls himself together, bringing Siddiq to the sewer to stay until he talks to his dad.
Carl’s back at his house at Alexandria, looking at the bite on his chest, the bitemarks on his shirt… A look of despair passes over his eyes, as the realization sinks in. This isn’t something you can ignore. But then he puts his hat back on his head. Today, he must go on.
Carl gets a letter from Michonne. “I had to see it for myself. I’m sorry I didn’t say goodbye,” Michonne wrote to him. This inspires him to write letters to everyone he loves, including his dad. A song plays in the background called “At the Bottom of Everything” by Bright Eyes.
Now he’s back in the sewer, setting up a bed for Siddig and helping get things prepared. And then we see him back in the home, writing a letter to Enid. (Poor Enid.) Next, he spends part of his last day with Judith, playing and taking photos with her so she can remember him.
Carl spends time outside, planting in the garden, just like he did with his dad. He takes a moment to wave at Michonne as she drives past, and then leans his face back, enjoying the sun on his skin. I’m not sure if anyone else would handle their last day so well. Poor Carl. You deserved better than this. :(
Now we’re back at the Sanctuary. Morgan is there with a sniper rifle, scoping the windows. Shots are fired and he’s keeping an eye on what’s going on, watching the Saviors shoot down walkers as they approach. “They’re trying to make a path, blocking out the walkers with bodies, they’re trying to get out. We need to tell everybody.”
But then he’s under fire. He can’t get the word out. He crawls away, seeking to escape, and he tries to distract the walkers from the Saviors’ plan. Right before the commercial break, we learn that Morgan did escape. But where is he going next?
After the break, we return to one of my favorite characters, Carol. The little boy Carol’s been helping, Henry, wants to go with her. “Morgan taught me the stick, you taught me the gun.” He wants revenge for his brother’s death, but Carol says no.
Now we’re back to the present, with Rick and Michonne realizing what happened to Carl. Rick is devastated and in shock. “I don’t…” The look on his face is heartbreaking. “How?” Carl apologizes. Oh my gosh. :( “I wasn’t sure if you’d make it back before… just in case…” He gives his dad the letter he wrote. Michonne is shaking her head in disbelief.
Rick is at a loss for words. This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to him. This is a heartwrenching scene. It shouldn’t be happening… Carl says it happened helping Siddiq, the guy from the gas station before. “It just happened… I got bit…”
Now we’re at the Kingdom with Ezekiel. A Savior (Gavin) tells him that Negan will kill him. “I liked you Ezekiel. You got it…you accepted things for what they were and you didn’t get big ideas in your head. Rick went and planted one right in there. And here we are.”
“I made a choice I could live with,” Ezekiel says. “Now it’s your turn to do the same.” Powerful words.
The scene shifts to Morgan. He and Carol are meeting. Morgan says they have Ezekiel on the other side of this place and they can take them on one by one. Carol says it’s better to avoid them altogether for now until they can take them on. But after talking, they realize they have to tackle this now because they have Henry too.
After the next commercial break, Siddiq brings Rick and Michonne anti-inflammatories to help with the fever. “It did for my mom and dad,” he says, his voice breaking. He explains that he was a resident, so yes, he’s a doctor. Rick asks Carl if he knew Siddiq was a doctor. Carl says he helped Siddiq just because Siddiq would die alone and he needed them.
Bombs are exploding outside. Carl coughs and Rick gives him a drink. The scene is so very, very sad. Michonne takes her anger out on Dwight. “Make them stop!” Dwight says he can’t. Michonne is heartbroken. She loved Carl like he was her own child.
Rosita wants them to leave the sewers. Dwight says their best chance of survival is to stay. He said it wasn’t about destroying the place because they didn’t have the ammo for that. “After they’re gone, that’s when we go.” Rosita reluctantly agrees. “OK. We wait.”
And then they break for another commercial, because this episode apparently has a lot of commercials.
We return to Carol and Morgan at the Kingdom. Morgan says they’ll have to go through the courtyard, exposed. “This is it.” They knock out the guards and are on their way. “You want me to just do it?” Carol asks. “No,” Morgan says. He kills one of the saviors. “Got all of them. They could have found Henry,” he explains to Carol. “I’m not worried about them,” she responds.
Yep, looks like Morgan’s OK with killing again. (“Here I go killing again!” is probably what Morgan’s thinking.)
Michonne is with Carl, heartbroken. Carl is sooooo sick and pale. :( “It’s gotta stop. It’s not supposed to be like this. I know it can be better,” Carl says. Michonne is devastated.
Daryl hands Judith to Rick and goes to look outside because the artillery sounds have stopped.
The scene shifts back to Carol and Morgan. Morgan hears talking and goes to see what’s happening. He sees Saviors loading a truck. Carol tells him to leave it but he can’t. Morgan has tasted blood and he’s not about to stop now. But Carol stops someone from killing Morgan right at the last second. In his fervor, he almost made a fatal mistake.
“It always comes down to this,” Gavin is telling Ezekiel. “It always has to get dark, ugly, and inhuman. You know I’m not like this, right?”
“It is not too late to walk back from something decided,” Ezekiel says. (Meanwhile, some fans are wondering if this was also a writer’s way of wishing they could walk back killing Carl…)
“You did,” he responds. “And look what it got you.”
That’s when Gavin calls his colleagues on the radio and realizes no one is answering. He pulls out his gun, realization dawning.
Now we’re back at that heartbreaking flash forward/dream-that-will-never-happen. Rick is with an older Judith and they stop to talk to Eugene. Everyone’s happy. But then the scene shifts back to Rick and Michonne digging a grave. Ugh.
Back in the present, Rick is holding Judith. Michonne tells him that the Saviors are gone and they can go to the Hilltop. Rick says that Carl can’t travel and he has to stay with Carl. “We’ll both stay,” Michonne says.
“Will you take Judith?” Rick asks. “She needs to be there. If she…if anything happens…”
Daryl offers to take her. “I’ve got this.”
Carl is getting sicker and he wants to say goodbye to Judith before she leaves. “You be good, OK? For Michonne. For Dad. You’ve got to honor what somebody tells you…but you don’t have to always. Sometimes kids have to show their parents the way.” He’s referring to saving Siddiq, and Rick knows it.
Carl gives his hat to Judith. “This was dad’s before it was mine. Now it’s yours… it always kept dad with me… It helped me. Maybe it will help you too.”
Oh my gosh, this is heartbreaking.
“Before Mom died, she told me that I was going to beat this world. I didn’t. But you will. I know you will.”
Judith just starts crying.
“These people,” Daryl tells Carl, “You saved them all. It’s all you man.”
Daryl has few words, but his words are always powerful. Now I’m thinking about how Carol has no idea this is even happening. :(
Siddiq is overwhelmed by Carl’s sacrifice. “You brought me here. You gave me a chance. I know I can never repay you, but I can honor you… By showing your family that what you did wasn’t for nothing. That it mattered, that it meant something. Because it did. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to honor you, Carl.”
“Congratulations,” Carl says. “You’re stuck with us.” (Is that a good thing?)
I still can’t get over that Carl gave his hat away. His iconic hat has been passed on to Judith. It’s over for Carl. :(
After yet another commercial break, we return to Ezekiel and Gavin, the Savior. “This is who I am,” Gavin says. “I live, you die.” Ezekiel says all his compromises were ultimately saving the Saviors’ lives. “No more.”
They’re in Ezekiel’s “throne room.” Despite Gavin’s threats, Morgan and Carol aren’t giving in. Ezekiel gets a gun during the fighting, and now he can fight back too. While fighting for his life, Morgan goes VERY dark and pulls out a Saviors’ entrails to save himself. WOW. We haven’t seen anything that dark since Rick bit a man’s throat out to save Carl.
Gavin takes off running, escaping the gunfire somehow.
Ezekiel is safe. Morgan and Carol are fine too. Ezekiel wants to leave, but Morgan isn’t ready. “All of them are dead,” he says.
Back at the sewers, Rick and Michonne are caring for Carl in his last moments. :( Carl looks very, very sick. “I don’t want you to be sad,” Carl tells Michonne. “Or angry. You’re going to have to be strong for my dad. For Judith. For yourself… Don’t carry this. Not this part. You’re my best friend Michonne.”
“You’re mine too,” she says. “You’re mine.”
This is so sad. Carl shouldn’t be dying.
After yet another commercial break, we return to see Rick and Michonne now trying to take Carl with them. It’s odd, since earlier Rick was completely against this idea when he had lots of people who could have helped. But now that they’re alone, they’re going to try to get Carl to the Hilltop.
Meanwhile, Gavin is being hunted by Morgan in a scene straight out of a horror movie. Morgan is definitely going back to his “Clear” roots. Will he be able to pull himself back from the brink?
Michonne and Rick make it to a chapel in Alexandria, because Carl is so sick. “I didn’t want you out there,” Rick says, and that’s understandable.
“Back in the prison, when we got attacked, there was a kid a little older than me, he had a gun. He was starting to put it down, and I shot him. He was giving it up, and I just shot him,” Carl confesses. He’s so pale. “I think about what I did to him and how easy it was to just kill him.”
The scene cuts to Morgan and Gavin, juxtaposing the mental place that Morgan is in right now, where killing is easy for him again. “You ask Ezekiel, I kept my word,” Gavin says to Morgan. He tells him the Hilltop is still standing. “You think you can beat me, you can’t,” Gavin says. “It ain’t going back to how it was.”
“No,” Morgan says.
The scene shifts back to Carl. Rick tells him, “What happened, what you lost, all those things you had to do, you were just a boy.”
“You saw it,” Carl says. “How easy it got.”
The scene shifts back to Morgan. Gavin asks if he’s killing all the men because of the kid. Killing him won’t make it go away, he says. Morgan doesn’t kill him. He tells him to get up. Morgan is making the right decision.
Back to Carl. “That’s why you changed,” Carl tells Rick. “You put away your gun. You did it so I could change, so I could be who I am now. What you did…How you stopped fighting, was right. It still is. It can be like that again. You can still be like that again.”
Back with Morgan, Ezekiel tells him that ending Gavin is the coward’s way. They won. Living with this is Gavin’s burden to bear.
Rick tells Carl: “I can’t be who I was. It’s different now.” But Carl tells him that he can’t kill all of them. There has to be something next for him and for them. “There has to be something after.”
Morgan is facing the same decision, right in front of him, that Rick is facing philosophically. Carol reminds Morgan that he said they could be better than the others. “I have to,” Morgan says. “I have to.” And he picks up his staff to kill Gavin, but someone else stabs Gavin in the throat from behind.
Henry trained under Morgan on the staff, and trained with Carol on shooting. He’s the one Carol wouldn’t take with him. He killed Gavin. (And yes, it appears that every time Carol interacts too much with a child, something goes terribly, terribly wrong.)
Carl tells Rick that he’s seen the future. “You have a beard. … Judith is older and she sings songs that I used to before. Alexandria is bigger. There’s new houses, crops, people working. Everybody living, helping everybody else live. You can still be you. You were. That’s how it could be.”
So those flashforwards we’ve been seeing? They’ve been from Carl, not Rick.
“Carl, it was all for you,” Rick says. “Right from the start. Back in Atlanta, the farm, everything I did it was for you. Then in prison it was for you and Judith. It still is. It’s gonna be. Nothing is gonna change that.”
“I want this for you Dad,” Carl says, weak and pale, barely able to speak.
“I’ll make it real,” Rick says. “Carl I promise. I’m gonna make it real.”
Wow. So those flashforwards we saw, that we thought might be a time jump or might be hallucinations from Rick, were actually from Carl. Was Carl actually seeing the future? Was he hallucinating from a fever? Was that just his dream for Rick? That’s up to the viewers to decide for themselves.
This last segment, juxtaposing Carl and Morgan, was likely the best part of the midseason premiere.
It’s not over yet… Ezekiel is with Henry, telling him it’s OK. “Don’t look at him, look at me…”
Carol, unhelpfully, says: “You were supposed to stay at the cottage. This wasn’t for you.” Ezekiel rebukes Carol for being mean, and hugs Henry instead. “All will be resolved.”
Carl is still hanging on. Rick is heartbroken, apologizing for not being able to protect Carl. “A father’s job is to protect his son.” But Carl tells him a father’s job is not that. It’s to love. :(
Carl pulls the gun out of Rick’s holster. He says he knows it has to be somebody you love, but Michonne can’t do it herself. “I still can,” Carl says. “I grew up. I have to do this. Me.”
Ugh. Remember when Carl had to kill his mom, in a similar dark scene, as she lay on the ground? :(
“I love you Dad,” Carl says, crying.
“I love you, I love you so much,” Rick says, crying back. “I’ll make it real. I will.”
Let me be clear, I DO NOT LIKE that Carl died. It shouldn’t have happened. But the scene was beautiful and heart-wrenching. Rick and Michonne stood outside as Carl shot himself in the head. Then they dug his grave.
Then we have one more flashforward, as Judith is saying good morning to … Negan. And Negan happily says good morning back. Apparently Carl also had a vision of Negan living in peace with Rick.
At the very end, Rick is sitting on the ground in front of a tree, his hand bleeding. His eyes bloodshot. Devastated. Broken. He’s wearing a different outfit than he was wearing while burying Carl. His hand is injured and it looks like he might be shot. This scene is from the future. And it leaves us with a lot of questions. Is Rick dying? Was he shot or bitten? Did he hallucinate a lot of this? What’s happening?