The Walking Dead concluded its eighth season on April 15th.
Eight seasons in, 118 episodes down, and we are finally at the stage the show runners keep dubbing “the end”. It is the end of the “All Out War” that has been in place for the last season, the Negan vs Rick arc which has been at the forefront for the last three years and it will all come down to this one episode – these 70 minutes. So, already on the back of that – this season eight finale has a lot to live up to, it has to juggle our crazy expectations, give each character valuable screen time that adds to their depth and it has to do enough so that in the next season the show has room to grow and develop.
While it definitely is not the best nor near the heights I would associate with The Walking Dead in its prime, it is a finale that the show might not have wanted but the show needed so it can now move on and progress into better territory. It is not bad when we compare it to what had preceded it for the past three years, but to wrap up an entire story that had built up for three years in 70 minutes was always going to you feeling a little underwhelmed. Nevertheless, the season eight finale still shows that the creators have learnt nothing throughout the backlash, as it manages to deliver some really fantastic moments and also manages to seem really stupid, but the fantastic moments remind you why you loved the Walking Dead.
We pick up where Season 8A left of, delivering one of the biggest shocks to TV. Carl dying might have caused a lot of controversy with many people saying it was just for the sake of having a twist. Whilst I felt that this might have been the case, I said at the time, that although the reason Carl was killed off may be cheap, the consequences to his death need not be. And this is what the season followed, it was an integral fight between Rick and his new found idea of justice, after all Rick was a police officer before all this and he has changed how he thinks justice needs to be delivered. It was always going to come down to whether Rick can see the light or not, this is the only narrative that was carried out throughout the season, the creators attempt to give Morgan the same narrative but some of it is lost in the chaos that the zombies bring, and the nature of TWD’s structure, as each episode is focused on different characters – and every character relates to Rick but no-one really does the same for Morgan.
My problem with the season 8 finale was that it feels too convenient, certain loose ends are just tied up, this once again relates to the idea of the producers only giving one episode to tie up all loose ends. As is custom with TWD we do get some sense of completion, there is an end to the drama and a tease for what is to come, the tease itself is quite ambiguous but it does do a good job in creating anticipation for Season 9 when many fans don’t really see the point of watching anymore. The one thing that is guaranteed, is you will either love the resolution or hate it, I personally liked how it was done but don’t see how it can work. The one thing Season 8 does do well is continuity, throughout the entire season there is a message, and the message becomes clearer as the season comes to an end. However, I do love the passages of dialect between Morgan and Rick as it brings it back to the first season and it really is just a delight to see this great performances work together.
They were some truly fantastic performances in the season, with Andrew Lincoln and Jeffrey Dean Morgan showing why they are so important to the show. Lennie James also excels in each of the scenes he is given but he never feels like an important character to the show, it either seems they are teasing something is going to happen to him, or that he is going to do something to someone. Lauren Cohan really steps up and takes the mantle from Andrew Lincoln and shows why TWD must sign her for another season. Melissa McBride and Danai Gurira are all given strong arcs but it seems they are never given their time to shine unless the episode is dedicated to someone around them.
Season 8 as a whole is a radical improvement on Season 7, whilst it does not compare with the earlier seasons; it is a season that needed to happen. The season did not need to be 16 episodes long, and it once again felt as though the producers where just dragging the season on so that it continued to be their cash cow. Nevertheless, the finale does manage to wrap everything up, even if it wasn’t what you were hoping for. Ultimately, A the season 8 finale was a conclusion that couldn’t have come soon enough and will finally allow the show to evolve and move forward – even if that may be untested waters.
I give The Walking Dead Season 8 a B-.