Why will Rick choose mercy? Well, it’s not a real choice and I’m going to tell you why! Let’s take a look at The Walking Dead Season 8 finale, “Wrath”.
This season seemed to stretch on forever, and I wasn’t sure why until I looked back at the episodes. We’ve been teased red-eye, crying/dying Rick since last July and the timelines have been off since 8.1. Now, we’re finally reaching a point where the timeline will catch up to what we’ve been teased with for nine months, and I don’t know if it will reach the hype.
On one hand, I’m happy because I want a linear show again. The Walking Dead’s use separation, time jumps, and different timelines has gotten exhausting. Then again, they’ve had these images in our head for so long that they’re not as impactful as they might have been otherwise.
The Walking Dead writers seem so proud of their big moments and want to tease them, but it falls flat in the reveal because the emotional resonance has been taken away. One recent example: Carl’s death.
If we add in the fact that they’ve “Lucille’d” us when it comes to Rick needing to be merciful since 8.1, we can see the ending of season eight from a mile away even if we’ve never read the comics.
By now, you’ve seen Rick propped up against a tree, bleeding out and crying. He looks bad off, and that’s to be expected. We need him to have a near death experience to realize how precious life is and that it’s meant to be more than just fighting.
If you pay attention, you’ll see a stained glass window pane hanging up near him. This is a call back to Carl’s death. There was a reason that church was blown to hell and that stained glass miraculously survived, and it wasn’t just for the stellar shot.
We also have Carl’s letter to Rick, which we know he carries in his pocket, to remind him of all the outdoorsy things he used to do with his son. This final battle takes places in a freaking beautiful field, surrounded by woods.
Carl Grimes is everywhere in this episode, and if there’s not a voice over by him at some point, I’ll be shocked.
So, why in the world would Rick save Negan’s life? I mean, this guy has brutally murdered his friends, terrorized the community he was “leader” of and destroyed it, and had a good-ish relationship with his son.
Forget all the questionable things Rick has done in the past or to the Saviors. We’re not here to question him. He’s Rick Grimes, and he’ll do as he pleases and still remain the leader no matter what.
Besides Negan’s hella strong plot armor, Rick will save his life because of Carl… well, Saddiq.
Saddiq seems like a good guy, but his connection to Carl and Carl’s ideas about giving people a chance will win out over Rick’s wrath in this episode. As he’s dying, I imagine Saddiq will show up and use his doctoring skills to save his life, thus proving that Carl was right, and they need to believe in people again.
Believing people can change is part of that deal, and Rick will think he can rehabilitate Negan. This will bring peace and fulfill Carl’s vision of a peaceful future.
That being said, had the writers actually cared about the structural integrity of the show, they’d have kept Carl alive instead of having him get bit by a walker because he couldn’t stay in the house and needed to save another guy with mommy issues. That’s a conversation for another time, though.
Long story short, crying Rick will be thinking about Carl and his legacy as he’s dying, but he’ll be saved by Saddiq. Chances are Rick will even have Saddiq help Negan if he’s hurt to show that he means business.
I don’t think Maggie, Daryl, Carol, or Michonne will be too thrilled with this idea, but they’ll go along with it because he’s Rick.
Morgan, however, is about to jump this ship (because he was told to). I can see Morgan viewing this as the ultimate WTF and taking off. He’s not in the best mental shape right now anyway, so seeing how everyone has done a 180 when it comes to Negan will likely shake him up.
Since FTWD needs a big boost, they’ll gladly show him what the apocalypse is like over there. I haven’t watched that show since the midseason finale of season two, so I have no idea what’s happening, but I’ll gladly watch the first episode if Morgan hits Nick with his staff a few times.
Back to “Wrath”, when it comes to character death, there won’t be any main characters that bite the bullet this week.
Plot armor will be as thick as Negan’s for almost everyone, but be wary for Eugene, Gabriel, and Dwight. Gregory may die, too, but who really cares about him?
Both Eugene and Gabriel have expressed fears of dying recently, and let’s be real, either they’re going to have Eugene die a giant asshole or he’s going to die protecting someone else in order to redeem his character’s arc or he made bad bullets which would redeem him, too.
Gabriel is the ultimate “walk by faith” right now, and I understand his character has gone through an intense journey, but it’s been so sporadic and spaced out of several seasons that I’d have to watch from 5B until now to piece it together, and I don’t have time for that.
As for Dwight, someone will need to be the leader of the Saviors once Negan is gone. Looks like he’ll get a promotion after all!
The other secondary characters are canon fodder. It feels like some of them have been forgotten about over the years and the writer’s aren’t too sure what to do about them anymore or how to give them purpose.
Which leads us to Oceanside…
The storyline featuring them this season was way too long. It could have taken fifteen minutes, but Aaron was gone the back half of season eight, dramatically hanging out in their woods and mansplaining why they needed to fight the Saviors.
When things look darkest for Team Family in the big battle, expect the ladies of Oceanside to ride in like the Knights of the Vale.
Once everything settles and Negan is put away, we’ll definitely be seeing the helicopter again. That’s going to be a huge plot element in the future, as well as who is flying it. Since Jadis seems to have a relationship with these people, we may see her at some point if she’s not in her hipster storage home.
I want to think it’s Georgie, who we met briefly when she gave Maggie tons of plans. Some fans seem to think she’s a connection the Commonwealth that was recently introduced in the comics, but we’ll have to wait and see how they play it on the show.
If things continue to follow Robert Kirkman’s comics, expect the next big bad to be The Whisperers. They take blending into with walkers very seriously, and they could pop up in season nine or even hinted at in this finale.
As you get ready for Sunday’s finale, let us know what you think will happen! Who do you think will die? How will Morgan get so far away from Virginia?