Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, Wrath, was the finale of the show’s middling eighth season. The “All-Out War” storyline concluded with a pathetic whimper and we got a glimpse of the nonsensical drama we’ll be treated to next year. I, once again, wondered what I’m doing with my life.
Moments before Wrath, the conclusion to season eight of The Walking Dead, I tweeted that I just knew it was going to be some bullshit. What can I say? I had a feeling. And lo and behold, I was right. Again. Even after last week’s shenanigans set up a cast-culling blowout about as adeptly as this show is able to do anything at this point, I never for a moment suspected they would actually stick the landing. They didn’t. But Wrath was somehow worse than I envisioned, which if nothing else is an extraordinary achievement.
I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. But I bought the hype, partly because it didn’t seem reasonable to me that the show’s writers would exert so much effort in making me despise these characters if they weren’t going to give me the catharsis of them butchering one another by the end of the season. Yet here we are. Nobody even died! Negan lived. That insufferable little gimp Henry lived. Even Eugene and Gabriel lived.
This is unacceptable.
What’s worse is that not only did Eugene survive the “war” between Rick and the Saviours, he managed to save the day by sabotaging Negan’s last-minute double order of bullets. Rick and crew walked right into the ambush, because of course they did, but thanks to that selfless act of sabotage, the Saviours all blew their hands off when they attempted to open fire. And… that was it, basically. No big battle. No showdown. No climax. Prick just took his buddies over the hill, mowed down a bit of resistance, and slashed Negan’s throat.
If you’re wondering how a slashed throat is survivable in a post-apocalyptic world without modern medical technology, don’t worry – so am I. So is everyone. Nonetheless, Rick ordered Siddiq to save Negan, and save Negan he did, much to the annoyance of Maggie, who wanted revenge for Glenn’s death.
But Rick? He wants something different. He wants to continue making elaborate, overwritten speeches as the de facto leader of a new community that incorporates everyone still living on planet earth, and where all the citizens hold hands and sing songs and share misty-eyed sepia-filtered flashbacks. What’s that? That idea runs completely contrary to Rick’s on-going characterisation throughout this entire season and before? Don’t worry about that. The writers didn’t.
Luckily Maggie, and for some reason Jesus and Daryl, realise that this is bonkers and openly scheme to murder Rick next season. Which should be the fun kind of character-driven conflict that this show has been lacking for a while. Again, maybe don’t worry about why Maggie is sat like Don Corleone, conspiring to kill people while openly admitting that she agrees with their reasoning in theory but wants them dead anyway just because. That’ll make your head hurt.
Daryl, by the way, had the opportunity to kill Dwight in Wrath, but he didn’t. How noble of him. I mean, Dwight has consistently proved himself trustworthy and repeatedly risked his own wellbeing to ensure Negan’s downfall, so it says a lot about Daryl that he found it in his leathery hick heart to forgive such transgressions. What a guy.
Did I mention that even Gregory survived? Well, Gregory survived.
As for Morgan, he had the right idea. I haven’t watched the season four premiere of Fear the Walking Dead yet, but when I do, I sincerely hope that his tenure there isn’t fraught with dopey hallucinations of dead people talking to him. The one in Wrath was admittedly quite funny. But still – I’m sick of that **** now. Let the guy mosey on over to greener pastures in peace. Here’s to hoping that the spinoff show is still significantly better than this one, although with Scott Gimple taking the reins over there now I imagine it’s only a matter of time before it becomes The Walking Dead Lite and pisses me off just as much as the main show does.
All in all, season eight of The Walking Dead has been varying degrees of terrible, and Wrath, rather than pointing the show in an interesting new direction, instead reinforced my belief that this whole enterprise is too necrotic to continue. It should be taken round the back of the barn and put down like Old Yeller. In the meantime, like Rick at the end of Wrath, I’ll be writing my own letter to Carl Grimes, which will read thusly: “Carl, you and your dad are both ******.”
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.