It's the end of February and that means "The Walking Dead" is back on our screens. Last December the makers of "The Walking Dead" shocked a lot of viewers in the final moments of the midseason finale for season 8. If you know what I am talking about, you can read on. If you don't know what I am talking about.... SPOILERALERT, which means stop reading now!!!
Here are my thoughts about "Honor" (S08E09).
The episode is called "Honor" and most of it is dedicated to Carl Grimes. In the final moments of episode 8 (back in December), "The Walking Dead" shocked a lot of viewers all over the world by revealing that Carl Grimes had been bitten. It happened in episode 8.06, when he decided to help Siddiq. On their way back to Alexandria they ran into some Walkers and during this fight one of them took a bite out of Carl. I remember that at that moment I thought something had happened, but because Carl said he was fine I forgot about it until the midseason finale. During the episode this feeling returned, because of some of the things Carl said and did. When Rick and Michonne reunited they made their way into the sewers, where the rest of the survivors had been hiding out for Negan's all-out attack on Alexandria. Down there Rick found his son not looking very good. In the last shots, we saw Carl revealing his wound to his father and Michonne (his surrogate mother).
Carl (played by Chandler Riggs) is one of the characters that has been there from the start. In the first seasons Carl was just a kid (a kid that could and would not stay in the house) and we saw him growing up in the show. Carl Grimes is the son of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) Grimes.
In the first part of the outbreak, Carl and Lori believe Rick to be dead, so they join Rick's colleague and best friend Shane (John Bernthal) in a refugee camp near Atlanta. What they don't know is that Rick is still alive and he wakes up out of a coma in a hospital infested with Walkers. When Rick realizes what is going on he is set on finding his son and wife. Eventually Rick joins the group of survivors and their fight for survival begins when the camp gets attacked and they have to flee. At first Carl is very shy and fearful of everything that happens around him. Over the years Carl becomes hardened, due the severe circumstances of loss and suffering he is exposed to (like delivering his baby sister while his mother is dying and putting her down when she turns after death). At several points Carl seems to succumb to his negative thoughts and gets depressed. His emotions seem to be suppressed and he becomes more ruthless. But after Rick realizes what is happening to his son, he takes a more active role and spends some more time with Carl. Over the years Carl struggles to deal with everything that happens to him and he seems to be spiraling out of control at some points (becoming very aggressive and ruthless). In the last couple of seasons Carl develops into a caring and responsible adult, that goes out of his way to help and protect the people he cares about.
Episode 9: Honor
Like I already mentioned Episode 9 was mostly all about Carl and his imminent death. In the beginning of the episode we see the moment of the bite from another viewpoint (we actually see Carl get bitten) and the aftermath of this moment. We see a montage of Carl coming to terms with his fate back in Alexandria. He bonds with Judith, writes letters to his oved ones, makes pictures with a polaroid and enjoys the sunshine while he still can. All this is accompanied by the song "At the bottom of everything" by Bright Eyes. Although it seems like quite a happy song, you feel the underlying emotions of it all. The rest of the episode we see Carl slowly slipping away, but not before he shows his dad how mature he really got. Carl tries to explain to Rick (who is blaming Negan's Saviors for Carl's state) that it just happened and it wasn't anyone's fault, but his own. In the past first half of the season we see Rick becoming more aggressive and ruthless every episode, much to Carl's dismay. He wants his father to get some of his humanity back. One of the best scenes to show this difference in opinion was a few episodes ago, where Siddiq makes his entrance at the gas station. While Carl sees someone who needs help, his father sees an enemy and shoots at Siddiq. In the final hours of his life he seems to be hellbent on showing his Dad, that it has to be different and that everyone should live together in peace and work together to survive the zombie apocalypse. It doesn't take long before the "Utopia"-scene from the beginning of the season is finally explained. Where almost everyone (including me) thought it was Rick's dream, it turns out to be Carl's ideal future. In this vision we see an older (and greyer) Rick, being happy with Michonne and Judith. Eugene is back in Alexandria and...no let's get back to this later.
There is another storyline in the episode and that is the one of Carol and Morgan on their quest to save Ezekiel. In the midseason finale we saw the Saviors taking over The Kingdom by burning a lot of it down. We also saw that Ezekiel was taken a prisoner by Gavin, one of Negan's henchmen. In their mission to save Ezekiel from imminent death, we see that Morgan as well as Carol definitely left their pacifistic lifestyle behind them. In a life or death fight with one of the Saviors, Morgan rips out the intestine of his adversary (which was a very cool moment). Earlier on in the season we saw that Morgan seemed on the edge of insanity and was turning into sort of a psychopath. Carol and Morgan kill every Savior they cross paths with, except for Gavin who gets away. When Morgan sees that Ezekiel is going to be alright, he follows Gavin to finish him off. Carol and Ezekiel follow Morgan to try and get him to show some mercy. Just when you think they are getting through to Morgan, Gavin gets killed by Henry (the younger brother of Morgan's apprentice Benjamin, who got killed by the Saviors).
Back to the drama in the sewers. While Carl is talking to Rick and Michonne, the rest of the survivors are planning what to do next. Dwight tells them to wait until the Saviors leave Alexandria. He says the Saviors think they got away and are somewhere in the woods, so they will be searching for them there. Darryl agrees and when the Saviors seem to have left, the group decides to go to the Hilltop. Rick and Michonne want to stay with Carl (who is too weak to travel) and Daryl says he will take Judith and keep her safe. Carl says his last goodbyes to his little sister and gives her the hat he has been wearing since his father gave it to him. He tells his sister to be good and then Daryl leaves.
Carl also speaks to Michonne and tells her that he loves her and that she is his best friend. Rick does not want his son to die in the sewer, so he decides to try and take him into the house. When the threesome is stumbling through the burning Alexandria, Carl says he can't do it anymore, so they take refuge in the church. Here Carl tells Rick about his vision and that he wants Rick do his best to make it happen. Rick promises Carl he will make it happen. Shortly after this the moment comes to put an end to it and Carl seems to want to do it himself. While Rick and Michonne are outside we hear a gunshot. And then we see what Carl meant by EVERYONE living in peace together, when we go back to Carl's vision. Judith runs up to someone harvesting crops and it turns out to be a very friendly Negan. Then we seem to flash forward and see Rick sitting beneath a tree. In the tree we see the windows of the church hanging from the branches. It seems like Rick is very heavily wounded...
Ever since season 6 I have the feeling that the show is in a downward spiral. One of the great aspects of the show was that no one is safe and we seemed to have come to a point where you almost knew that some people were safe. Ok yeah we had the shocking deaths of Glenn and Abraham, but the story slowed down. Normally I would be counting down to the return of "The Walking Dead", but this time I wasn't. Hopefully the death of Carl marks a new beginning for the show. I actually liked this episode, although I did think Carl was a bit to much "Heal the world" at one moment. It's nice to see that Carol and Morgan seem to be back. The last scene of the episode makes me think that something will happen to Rick eventually. Let's see if the writers dare to kill him off...
What did you think of "Honor" and tell us your favorite Carl-moment from "The Walking Dead". Some years ago we met Chandler Riggs (who plays Carl) at Walker Stalker Con in London. He was very nice to us and I hope we willl see him again in another project soon...