Previously on The Walking Dead: After the Walker Apocalypse was finally brought to an end thanks to the introduction of Wakandan medicine and technology, Michonne decided to leave the country once and for all and move to Wakanda so she could devote her life and her skills to becoming the fierce protector of one King T’Challa a.k.a. the Black Panther, ruler of Wakanda and—
Dustin: Excuse me, Brian?
Brian: Yes, Dustin, what is it?
Dustin: What are you doing?
Me: What does it look like I’m doing? I’m recapping the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead.
Dustin: Uh-huh. I’m looking at everything you just described and I shouldn’t have to tell you that none of this, cool as it may be, has actually happened on the show. So just recap what has actually happened on the show and not whatever Black Panther fanfic you’re reading or writing, please.
Me (sotto voce): Oh, I can’t wait to set all of your baseball caps on fire.
Me: I said I’ll get right on to recapping this episode and doing it right. (smiles in a comforting manner and just the fact that I’m actually smiling is enough to freak Dustin out and make him leave)
THE STORY SO FAR: Carl is slowly succumbing to the Walker bite that he revealed to Rick and Michonne in the midseason finale, a bite he received when coming to the aid of Siddiq, a former medical resident left alone on the side of the road near a gas station. Gavin expresses much anger and regret over the fact that he’s going to have to kill Ezekiel, all while Ezekiel tells him that he does not have to continue being loyal to Negan. Morgan and Carol go up against The Saviors in the abandoned streets of Alexandria and Morgan ends one close-quarters fight against a Savior by reaching into his stomach wound and pulling out his entire small intestine. (Yes, you read that correctly) And we finally learn that the ‘Old Man Rick’ visions we’ve been seeing since the season premiere are not actual flash-forwards, but a hopeful vision of how Carl wants everyone (Rick and his people, the Hilltop, Alexandria, even The Saviors) to rebuild and form a community so that they can and will live happily and peacefully with one another. It’s Carl’s dying wish and Rick promises him that he will do everything he can to make his dream a reality. After Carl shoots himself to prevent himself from transforming into a Walker, Rick and Michonne tearfully bury him together, and the episode ends with another vision of Rick sitting by himself against a tree, but instead of talking to the spirit of Jack Pearson, he’s bleeding profusely from the ribs.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, and especially Chandler Riggs give terrific-as-always performances as we see Rick struggle with the unimaginable pain of having to outlive and bury his own child, Michonne conveys how horrible it is for her to not only lose her best friend but to bury yet another child, and Carl takes us through his final day of writing letters to loved ones, spending one last day with Judith, and telling Rick, Michonne, and Judith how much they mean to him and what he hopes they’re able to accomplish in the days, months, and years to come.
WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT THIS EPISODE: Henry, continuing the show’s proud tradition of young boys who refuse to stay put and listen to what adults are telling them to do, by snaking into Alexandria to follow Morgan and Carol. Which is both a curse and a blessing, as Henry ends up preventing Morgan from killing Gavin…by killing Gavin himself with a really sharp spear through the back of the neck, just like how Morgan would do it.
IS NEGAN IN THIS EPISODE?: Yes, he is, though not in the way that you think.
CARL?: Well, yeah, considering that this episode is all about him and his last remaining hours.
JUDITH?: Yes, Judith a.k.a. “What Renesmee from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn would look like if she were actually human and not…whatever the hell it was that appeared in the actual film” is in this episode as well.
MORGAN?: He is, and he’s clearly having trouble putting his kill-switch back in the ‘Off’ position when it comes to dealing with The Saviors.
IS DARYL STILL ALIVE? BECAUSE IF HE’S NOT, THEN WE RIOT: Daryl is still alive, and being as supportive as he can of Rick in his time of sorrow.
SO…HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU SEEN BLACK PANTHER SO FAR?: Two, and there’s a very good chance I’ll end up going back to see it a third time. And I also just found out that my grandmother and her church group are planning to go see it as well.
YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S CHURCH GROUP? SERIOUSLY?: Yes, seriously. Eightysomething Jamaican women living in the Sunshine State have as much right to thirst over Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Winston Duke as the rest of us.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: As hollow and manipulative as this plot twist has been treated (so much so that Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, actually tried to convince viewers that Carl could possibly survive his Walker bite and continue living long enough to remain on the series, so that they would return for the rest of the season) and as much as The Walking Dead has lost its ability to make me care about most of the onscreen deaths that occur, I was impressed with this episode and how it handled the fact that Carl and Chandler Riggs would be gone. We’ve seen both character and actor from the very beginning, and having to accept the fact that he would no longer be a part of this story as it continues (however long that AMC allows it to continue) was both heartbreaking to watch and difficult to accept. After seeing what Danai Gurira had to go through, with her emotions being put through the wringer just with this one episode alone, I don’t blame her at all for being happy and cheerful on the Black Panther press tour as she watches Lupita Nyong’o jokingly force
her secret bae Michael B. Jordan to do push-ups on her command.
It’s unfortunate that Chandler Riggs will no longer be a part of The Walking Dead family, but I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.
my final episode of the walking dead airs tonight.— chandler riggs (@chandlerriggs) February 25, 2018
i’ll be on talking dead afterwards to elaborate on how much the cast, the crew, and the show as a whole meant to me.
i hope i’ll see you there.
lastly-— chandler riggs (@chandlerriggs) February 26, 2018
none of us could have done this without you. it was always for the fans, and it always will be.
so thank you for giving me this chance to let me pursue my dream and continue to make you angry, sad, happy, and everything in between.
i won’t let you down.
On another note, I was just as surprised as most other viewers at the sight of Negan being a part of the united community in Carl’s vision. If this is a hint of an upcoming redemption storyline for Negan once the All-Out War finally ends, well…I’ll let Lisa Simpson tell it:
Which is putting it pretty damn mildly.
And if Morgan is really having this much difficulty keeping his killer instincts in check for his war against the Saviors, enough that he’ll continue butting heads with Carol, Ezekiel, and others, I guess that will explain how and why he’ll end up leaving the mothership to appear on Fear The Walking Dead.
This episode of The Walking Dead has been brought to you by this YouTube video of Andrew Lincoln paying tribute to his longtime castmate Chandler Riggs by singing his own interpretation of “Havana” by Camila Cabello:
And also by this supercut of Andrew Lincoln-as-Rick saying the name “Carl:”