Despite the episode’s title, Rick Grimes shows mercy in the season eight finale of The Walking Dead. Here’s our recap of “Wrath”!
I’ll be up front and honest, it’s taken me two weeks to write this recap. I spent a whole lot of time thinking about the show, its direction, the characters, their individual arcs, but I’m still frustrated. So, let’s talk about what happened.
To start the episode, Rick asks Saddiq how Carl died. Saddiq explains that it was an accident, and that Carl died trying to honor a woman he didn’t even know (his mom). Carl is the personification for that bright future he talked about in his letters. Upon hearing this, Rick thanks Saddiq for telling him that and leaves the room.
It’s decided that they’re going to take the intel given to them by Gregory from Dwight…even though Daryl does express some hesitation that it may all be a trap.
Negan being the chess player he is, gets rid of the rest of the probable Simon supporters by sending them out to the fake locations so that Rick will think they got good information. He even gives those Saviors a map to corroborate Rick’s info so when Rick and company kill them, they’ll believe they’re on the right path.
During the time killing the Saviors, Morgan hallucinates Jared. Granted Morgan did brutally kill this other Savior, but it seems like his losing his hold on reality more and more.
Eventually, they all find themselves surrounded in a field by Negan and the Saviors and they realize it was a trap after all.
At Hilltop, Saviors have attacked and the remaining Hilltop and ASZ survivors, along with the couple of Savior captives that just live their now, hide in the woods right outside the walls. Before the Saviors do too much damage, Aaron and the Knights of the Vale…I mean, Oceanside, run in with homemade explosives and save the day!
Thank God he mansplained the need to kill the Saviors so they’d show up at the right moment.
Back in the field, Negan pops up on top of a hill and he’s got a gun to Gabriel’s head, threatening to kill him. He does a little countdown and pulls the trigger, so do all the other Saviors, and the GUNS BACKFIRE! Eugene, who has been a piece of shit the entire season, did something right! To be honest, I still wanted to see him die.
That’s when all hell breaks loose and Team Family starts killing Saviors! Rick runs after Negan, and they play tag around a tree. Negan hits him in the side with Lucille and they roll around on the ground for a bit. Somehow in all this, they knock the random stained-glass window pane and it breaks, giving slick Rick a badass secret weapon.
Negan does his little Negan talk:
“Just so you know, eenie meenie miney moe, that was bullshit. I made a choice. I just didn’t want to kill a kid’s dad in front of him. Turns out that would’ve been the best thing I could’ve done. Had I done it, that kid might still be alive. You’re beat. Your people are down. I’ll get out of it. I always do. It’s just you and me, Rick, and you You are torn open. I am bigger, I am badder, and I got a bat.”
“We can have a future.”
“I know I will.”
“Just give me…give me ten seconds so I can I can tell you how.”
“Just give me ten seconds for Carl.”
“Carl said it doesn’t have to be…it doesn’t have to be a fight anymore.”
“He was wrong. Eight…”
“No, no. He was right.”
Then Rick SLASHES HIS THROAT WITH A PIECE OF GLASS! He watches Negan bleed out and die and we REJOICE!
Damn, my bad. He actually calls for Saddiq to SAVE HIS LIFE. Yes, after all this, Rick is going to have Saddiq, who Carl saved, save the man who he has been trying to kill for weeks. The man who brutally murdered one of his oldest friends in the apocalypse several weeks prior.
You remember Negan, right?
The guy who takes wives and kills to “save” people? The one who traumatized Carl by having his dad almost hack off his arm? The one who attempted to murder a priest to prove a point just a few minutes ago.
That guy somehow gets “saved” by Saddiq, the medical resident, in a field, in unsanitary conditions, with crap for medical supplies.
Understandably, Maggie freaks out when Rick calls for Saddiq and says:
I mean, this is what we’ve been working toward! We’ve lost tons of lives and Rick’s just going to try and save the most evil dude they’ve come across? I feel Maggie’s rage and I am so here for what happens later because after Michonne pulls Maggie back and hugs her as she cries, Rick says to himself so damn self-righteously:
“My mercy prevails over my wrath.”
And I have never wanted to punch Rick Grimes in the throat so much in all eight seasons.
The episode ends with several characters actually moving into the Sanctuary. Among them are Rosita and Tara. They’re going to try and fix the place back up and make it a part of the community they’re establishing.
Daryl takes Dwight out into the woods, and when it looks like he’s about to kill him, Daryl sends him away to find his wife. I knew Daryl Dixon was a matchmaker, y’all.
Dwight returns to the house he shared with Sherry and finds a note. It instructs him to go to the place they went on their honeymoon. So, hopefully Dwight gets an HEA since he’s had a really hard time of it.
Gabriel is in his church in the ASZ and it seems like he can see again? Or there’s an outline of a figure in the sunlight streaming through the church window. I don’t know what’s happening with him anymore.
Elsewhere, Rick and Michonne stand at the foot of Negan’s hospital bed, telling him that he’s going to be locked up forever, and that’s his punishment.
Sure, Jan, he’ll just sit back and take that.
At Hilltop, Maggie has called a little meeting of her own with Jesus. Daryl shows up, too, and if we’re choosing teams this is now my team.
I want Maggie to bide her time and then knock Rick down a peg or two. What he did was wrong. He made the wrong choice, and finally someone is going to show him that instead of everyone just going along with it because he’s Rick.
Where does that leave us going forward?
Eventually Maggie will try and kill Negan. She’ll have help in Daryl and Jesus, but it probably won’t be for awhile. It would be nice if we focused on character driven arcs over the next season and establishing the new world that Carl envisioned, but chances are, S9 will start with a hella time jump.
Why do I think that?
Well, Fear The Walking Dead just introduced Morgan, and he’s gone through a couple of seasonal changes before he made it to them and Texas. The Walking Dead will use the end of the “All Out War” arc to push us further into the future and into the arms of our next toxic relationship with The Whisperers. I don’t want to think about that yet, though.
We end season eight with the prospect of the future that Carl dreamed of, but at what cost? His lasting legacy, courtesy of his dad, is that Negan is still alive. We know that Negan won’t change or be released. He’s an example. Rick even says this to him as he’s tied to the bed.
Carl pictured something better. All of us working together for something bigger than all of us, and you’ll have a job, too. Yeah. You get to be a part of it. You’ll be an example of what this will be. We’re not gonna kill you. We’re not gonna hurt you. You’re gonna rot in a cell. For the rest of your life, day after day. You’re gonna be evidence that we’re makin’ a civilization, something like what we had, something we’re gonna get back, and you get to watch it happen, and you get to see how wrong you were about what people can be, about what life can be. You, alive, is gonna help show people that things have changed, that keepin’ you breathing earns another way, a better way. That’s the part you’ll play, so after all this maybe you’re good for something.
On a positive note, Carl has made Rick see a future without fighting and the prospect of a future where the communities work together for a common cause. On the negative side, Rick has taken to this new set of ideals with a “pat me on the back” mentality.
I understand Carl’s death more now, though. If we’re to see his vision to fruition, he can’t be there to see it. As Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote in Hamilton:
“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
Rest in peace, Carl. I’m sorry it took your death for your dad to realize that killing everything that moved wasn’t a good idea. I’m also sorry that he applied that lesson to literally the worst guy on the planet.