17th Apr2018

‘The Walking Dead 8×16: Wrath’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

the-walking-dead-wrath

With this week’s episode of The Walking Dead said to be a finale of the previous 8 seasons, expectations were that something big was going to happen. What we were given may have provided this, but also highlighted some issues with the series going forward, but was it a satisfactory finale?

With Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies getting ready for the finale stand against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviours, they are unaware they are walking into a trap. Will Negan win out, or are the odds finally against him?

In this season there have been many storylines that have tested the audience’s connection to certain characters. With Rick acting just as bad as Negan, and Negan almost showing himself to be morally above Rick, just who should win? The answer of course lies in Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) wishes.

I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of Rick’s ability to have his eyes opened to his own evils, it seems a poor excuse at times for the monstrous things that he has done. It is telling though that Morgan (Lennie James) compares Rick to himself. Morgan knows that his actions are wrong, and is in a dark place, and this recognition that he and Rick are the same is somewhat of an eyeopener in understanding where Rick mentally is.

What we do see though is Rick taking the actions to move beyond the violence that is plaguing the survivors. He even points to the huge herds of zombies in the distance to highlight that the people, whoever they are have one common enemy and should focus on them. What he gives the show is a feeling of future, and of course that he is finally listening to the wishes of his son.

When it comes to Negan, I feel that Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives a stellar performance showing the inner struggle that Negan is going through. He has a vision for how society should be run, and whether he is wrong or is right, he does bring people together, even if it is by fear. The fact that he may see a successful group of survivors in the future without him may at first appear to be a punishment, but what if in some way it makes him happy in the long run?

This is where the hopes of Carl are actually being born out. Rick finally opens up his eyes as to what he actually has to do, even if some of his allies don’t agree with it. I’m sure in season nine we’ll be seeing conflicts between him and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) who still hasn’t let go of her need for vengeance against Negan.

When it comes to Maggie, it is understandable that she still has the need to kill Negan, that is her closure. What is confusing though is the change in character that appears to have been chosen. This can also be said of Jesus (Tom Payne) who has spent the season (and this episode) preaching about the need to end the violence against other people, but when it comes to Negan? The rules appear to be different.

What the scene with Maggie, Jesus, and Daryl (Norman Reedus) shows is that there is still conflict, even if for the most part everybody appears to be getting along. With Maggie looking to fortify the Hilltop, will this put her in contention with Alexandria? That will no doubt be answered in season nine.

This finale works well because it manages to show that all the annoyances we may have had with characters like Eugene (Josh McDermitt) at least were worth it. We may have hated him, but at least we get to see just why he acted how he did, and what his actions have led to. It also allows characters like Dwight (Austin Amelio) to get a fitting end to his story (for now).

Looking back at season eight, there was a focus more on action, and this may not have been exactly what fans of The Walking Dead wanted. I for one enjoyed it, but saw the shortcomings, and the potential problems that were appearing in the story. Thankfully for the most part these were remedied and this was a successful finale to the season. Now hopefully season nine will bring the promised changes to bring back the confidence that the fans seem to be lacking in The Walking Dead right now.

***** 5/5

The Walking Dead will return later this year.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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