March 3, 2018 The Walking Dead – Honor (Season 8/ Episode 9 Review)
When a character is a part of a story for a while, most of the time the audience cannot help but become attached. You watch their growth along with their good moments and bad ones as well. You celebrate their triumphs and yell at the screen when you feel they have done something stupid. You deal with them, whether you like the character or not. The longer they are on the show, the more difficult it can be when they are suddenly gone.
All this in mind, The mid-season return of AMC’s eighth season of The Walking Dead brought all these feelings to the surface on Sunday, February 25, 2018. Premiering at 9:00 pm EST, Honor highlighted Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), a character The Walking Dead fans have watched grow from an adolescent boy, to a man who protects his family to the very end. Over the course of eight years, fans have seen Carl kill a zombified Shane (Jon Bernthal), shoot his own mother so she wouldn’t turn, take out a ton of walkers, and attempt to single-handedly face Negan. He survived getting shot twice, and refused to allow anyone to prevent him from eventually turning into a walker. He was the ultimate badass who always had his whole life ahead of him, until he didn’t.
Picking up directly following the events of How It’s Gotta Be, an episode that left fans hanging by a needle of angst after premiering December 10, 2017, over at The Kingdom, King Ezekiel is locked inside with Gavin and his crew. Once getting his people to safety, Carol decides to go back to him, protesting against Henry (Macsen Lintz) to come along and help. Forced to leave his post near The Sanctuary, Morgan follows Gavin and finds Carol right outside The Kingdom gates. Little by little, they chisel their way through The Saviors in their stealthiest fashion. Although it does not end the way they expected, they win the night, at least for now.
Opening the episode with Bright Eyes’ song “At the Bottom of Everything,” the mood immediately set for the impending scene to come, going through the emotions of appreciating the little things. For a few moments, it even looked like a normal life, not one filled with a monstrous epidemic that changed the world. In between the tears and goodbyes, there are scenes at The Kingdom showing there was still work that needed to be done, balancing the overly emotional scenes.
Although the characters pulling off stealth missions is exciting in itself, they particularly focus on Morgan, clearly slipping back into his traumatic state. That said, it is interesting that he would witness Henry’s first kill, who was intent on his own revenge. It is also worth noting he is the first boy to get a human kill since Carl, ironically mirroring Carl’s demise. It raises the question on how they will move forward from this moment on. Can they stay strong enough to help win this war once and for all?
Drama and sadness aside, of course there cannot be a The Walking Dead episode without a little gore. This comes most explicitly during a fight scene when Lennie James’ Morgan gets to rip out a Saviors guts by actually reaching into a prosthetic piece and pulling out the gooey substances inside. The makeup effects of this are natural-looking, a Horror lover’s dream, and no one loves it more than the master himself, Greg Nicotero, putting his all into such effects.
Truth be told, this episode was really meant to be about Carl and everyone knows he was always an essential part to the group. He protected his friends and family at all costs, but always had the heart to help out strangers in need. With all the trauma he faced, he never seemed to let it get to him and take him over, he simply did what he had to do to survive another day. For a character like Negan, who ultimately respects Carl, certainly says a lot, and it will be interesting to see how Negan reacts to the news. He most likely won’t turn around and pick tomatoes from the garden for Rick, but maybe they can come to some understanding eventually, for Carl.
Simply put, Chandler Riggs has always been a talented actor from the start. He has always put his all into every scene, and his fellow cast had the utmost respect for him. It is a hard goodbye, but the mid-season return of The Walking Dead truly honored the character millions of viewers have grown to love. It should be exciting to see where this pivotal moment takes the surviving characters, and especially, where this will take Chandler Riggs as an actor. More exciting things are sure to come as the war continues on The Walking Dead and the stakes are raised higher than ever. Until the next episode, CrypticRock gives Honor 4 out of 5 stars.