The Walking Dead said goodbye to Carl on Sunday’s midseason premiere and said hello to “CLEAR” Morgan. Where do we go from here? This is our recap/review for “Honor”!
There are so many little things that are important about this episode of The Walking Dead. The throwbacks to previous seasons and things that mattered in the “before” that have been forgotten now. We were given a stunning juxtaposition between Carl and Morgan this episode that was unexpected but important.
The idea that the youth are the future and that future should be paved with mercy was a prevailing theme.
It was in Carl’s speech to his father. It was in Ezekiel’s words to Gavin as he waited to be taken to Negan. Basically, the ghost of Hershel Greene moved in the episode, “Honor”, and I’m still trying to work out my feelings about this.
I feel like I’ve gone through the stages of grieving with this show since Carl revealed his bite in December. At first I was in denial. Surely they wouldn’t kill off one of their original characters this way. He deserves more than this death. I understand he saved Saddiq and in return they now have a doctor (or resident), but Carl was supposed to lead after his father.
Then I got angry. This storytelling and the characters arcs are just too spaced out. Since the episodes jump all over the place, you can’t feel like they’ve developed one particular arc well enough to see a major character die.
Next, I bargained. Well, maybe Carl’s death will bring back a more feral Rick. One that will end this. After that was the deep sadness over a show that I once adored that had jumped the shark in a way. Finally, I just accepted Carl’s death. I knew it would be sad, but hey, no one is safe in this world, and no one said they had to stay wholly true to the source material.
Then I watched “Honor”, and I jumped right back to furious. I stewed and ranted after it was over and then I had a feeling of complete peace. The writers had sufficiently alienated me enough that I could take a step back and stop being so invested in the world they have created.
Do I enjoy the show? Yes.
Am I tripping over myself for next week? No.
It appears that maintaining a distance will allow me better clarity in seeing the show for what the writers are doing instead of me looking deeper than intended. Maybe that’s where I should have been all along. Maybe that’s where they want us to be?
As this episode highlighted, that path forward will be hard, and we’ll continue to lose people we care about. Hopefully, we’ll get to say proper goodbyes like with Carl, but that won’t always be the case, and we won’t always get answers where we want them.
Carl called for peace and finding a way forward that didn’t have Rick leading with his gun, but that doesn’t seem possible anymore. We see that in Morgan. He’s actively stalking Negan’s men, killing every single one. Clearing the enemy, if you will.
Morgan has always been Rick’s foil, but this episode showed Morgan doing everything that Rick wishes he could do to Negan and his people. Going so far as to rip out of the guts of one Savior after he and Carol ambush them in the auditorium to try and free Ezekiel.
At one point, Morgan draws a literal line in the sand before confronting Gavin for the final time. This is something he can’t come back from if he does kill Gavin. It will be that tipping point. As Carol and Ezekiel plead with him not to kill Gavin, telling him that this doesn’t have to be this way, Morgan hesitates.
From behind, Henry stabs Gavin through the throat with another staff. It’s a stark moment where we see what the world could look like if we continue on this path of death and destruction. Soon, it will be the next generations turn at the reins and if they learn only to kill, there will never be any peace.
It also stood out to me that this episode had Carl confessing to Rick about the first person he ever killed, way back in S3, and we see Henry’s first kill in “Honor”. He’s a bit younger than Carl was when he killed the boy trying to lower his gun, though, and it illustrates that since that moment the world has gotten harder and children are forced to grow up even faster. It also showed that even with Gavin surrendering, this child took his life anyway. There’s no mercy there.
Then the adults, Carol, Morgan, and Ezekiel, all have different approaches to Henry. It’s obvious that we’re not entirely sure how to handle a child killer (for the good guys). Carol is mad he left the cabin, Morgan is shocked, and Ezekiel pulls him in for a hug and tells him that everything will be alright.
Will it, though? There’s never going to be a world like before, so how do you maintain humanity in a world seemingly devoid of it?
It could be this is what Carl’s death is meant to symbolize. The death of that light. As it turns out, the vision of “old man Rick” was actually Carl’s dream all along. It was his perfect future.
Rick did promise to make Carl’s vision real, but how he goes about finding that peace is one thing. Also, he can’t commit to peace if there are always others coming in with malicious intent. All Rick can truly come through on is that he’ll create the vision that Carl had imagined, but how he protects that space is something else entirely.
We spend a majority of the episode with Carl as he’s dying. A destraught Michonne attacks Dwight, telling him to go outside and stop this bombing of the ASZ so they can get Carl to safety, but there’s no way that Dwight can do that. Negan knows that he’s turned on him now. He’d be killed on sight or taken and tortured to death.
They come to an agreement that they’ll wait until the bombing stops, and then they’ll make a run for it. Only, when the attack ends, Rick and Michonne know they can’t move Carl. He’s too far gone and will die before they reach Hilltop. In a heartbreaking decision, they decide to stay with Carl in the sewer while the others make their way to Hilltop.
In an emotional moment, Carl says he wants to say goodbye to Judith before Daryl takes her away.
“Let me say goodbye. You be good, okay? For Michonne. For Dad. You gotta honor him. Listen when he tells you stuff. You don’t have to always. Sometimes, kids got to show their parents the way.”
*Then he takes off the iconic sheriff’s hat.*
“This was Dad’s before it was mine. Now it’s yours. I don’t know. Just…just having it. It always kept Dad with me. It made me feel as strong as him. It helped me. Maybe it’ll help you, too. Before Mom died she told me that I was gonna beat this world. I didn’t. But you will. I know you will.”
Judith begins to cry and they hand her off to Daryl. Before he leaves, there’s a moment between Carl and Daryl, where Daryl tells him that he saved every person in that sewer. He’s a hero. Then he sort of nods and carries Judith away. Tara follows after him.
Deciding that Carl can’t die in a sewer, Rick and Michonne try to get him out and carry him to their house to die. They only make it to the blown out church before they have to stop. They lay him on the altar with the window broken behind them.
Carl makes the decision that it should be him that ends it. Rick and Michonne cry and are beyond broken, but they allow Carl to shoot himself. I have a huge problem with this. It feels like Carl has always been the adult, and even in his death, he has to carry this burden. He doesn’t want them to hurt because they pulled the trigger.
He’s still a child no matter how quickly he grew up. He shouldn’t have to feel like he needs to protect the adults in his life even when he’s dying.
You can watch the emotional scene below.
Rick and Michonne wait on the porch of the church, and we see their reactions as they hear the shot from Carl’s gun ending his life. It’s tragic, and another reason this episode failed me. I don’t believe that the characterization of Rick or Michonne would have them leave Carl alone in his final moments.
Later, they dig a grave for Carl for in the ASZ cemetery before leaving.
At the end of the episode, though, we realize that we haven’t actually seen the timeline that includes “red-eye Rick”. Now, we see him fully, he’s leaned against a tree, his side is bleeding terribly and his right hand is extremely bloody.
This will be explained later in the season, probably after the major, final battle with Negan. Hopefully the timeline becomes more linear after this, and since everyone is officially living at Hilltop now, our characters will be interacting more with fewer episode minutes dedicated to characters in the same day, doing different things.
I’d love to see the type of life they had at the prison again, much like Carl would, but it will have to be after they get rid of Negan. In this world, though, there’s always someone after him, so life will never be easy.
What did you think of “Honor”? Do you agree with the decision that Carl should have been the one to take his own life? Where will we go from here?
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