The Walking Dead: Honor

"It's not supposed to be like this. I know it can be better."

This show is often too grim for me. I have been hoping that at some point, we'd turn a corner and start seeing a positive future for these people. Losing Carl is like the death of any hope for the future in this 'verse, and I realize that the writers knew that. They decided that they would make it work by having Carl ask Rick to turn it around.

So they gave us a glimmer of hope in a future four or five years from now, with Carl's vision of a prematurely gray Rick and a six-year-old Judith in a rebuilt Alexandria, with happy Jerry, Siddiq, Eugene and (gasp) Negan all working together for a positive future. I not only gasped, but I almost gagged when future happy good Negan called Judith "Darlin'." I'm sorry, but this is the man who beat Glenn and Abraham to death, the man who burned Dwight's face off. I get that this was just Carl's vision, but come on.

Okay, I should rewind a little.

The Walking Dead powers that be certainly gave Carl a major send-off. We got an opening montage of flashbacks, Carl getting bit, his reaction in private, his decision to conceal the bite. We got Carl writing goodbye notes to everyone in his life in case he didn't have time to say goodbye in person, to a jazzy but ultimately depressing song that I didn't listen to very closely. We got Carl taking a photo with Judith, putting their handprints in blue paint on the porch. Geez, Carl even planted a tree.

But the interminable tunnel scene as Carl was slowly dying and everyone was reacting to Carl dying simply took too long. At first I was crying and it was getting to me, but as we got scene after scene after scene after yet another scene, I started getting angry. Carl saying goodbye to Judith and giving her The Hat was, frankly, just too much. Judith burst into tears, and I knew just how she felt. And then the mournful violin solo as Carl said goodbye to Michonne and the candle blinked out? And then Rick and Michonne actually dragged the dying Carl out of the tunnel and over to the burned out church so that he could shoot himself with Rick's gun as the morning light shone through the shattered stained glass window. Apparently, you really can overdose on symbolism.

So what did I like?

Mostly the surprise reveal that Siddiq was a doctor, a resident. I liked that Carl had no idea that he was saving someone that the community desperately needed. It was enough that Carl had given his life to save another human being and honor his mother, wasn't it? I liked that Siddiq said he couldn't repay Carl, but he could honor him for the rest of his life.

And I liked Carl's confession about how badly he felt about killing that kid who was putting his weapon down, and that Rick did promise Carl to let his "mercy prevail over his wrath." They were certainly trying their best to make Carl's death less bleak. And all this might have worked a bit better if they hadn't ended the episode with a flashforward of Rick sitting under a tree with a gunshot wound.

Meanwhile, back at the Kingdom

I thought the Kingdom section of the episode would be the uplifting part, but no. Okay, partly.

The awesome team of Carol and Morgan took down the Saviors and rescued Ezekiel, which was great, or it could have been. Except that Morgan decided to kill all of the Saviors for the sake of killing, basically as revenge for the death of his acolyte, Benjamin. It ended with Henry taking that lesson to heart, and killing Gavin. Dammit, I actually rather liked Gavin. He was the most sympathetic of Negan lieutenants (after Dwight, that is) and his conversations with Ezekiel throughout the episode told us that Gavin wanted the inhumanity to stop. Gavin wanted the world that Carl was imagining. Gavin was reachable. As Carl told Rick, you can't kill everybody, but then they did. Oh, well.

Would Morgan have killed Gavin? It seemed a bit like they were suggesting he might not, that Morgan's orgy of violence was now over. I hope so. I also hope that they're serious about Rick turning a corner, that we're moving toward something more hopeful.

But you know, I doubt it.


— Michonne was frantic to get out of the tunnel and go to the Hilltop while the Saviors were still actively destroying Alexandria. Dwight talked them out of it, and Rosita backed him up.

— I liked Daryl's goodbye to Carl, telling him that he'd saved everyone. Which Carl indeed did.

— Morgan literally ripped a Savior's guts out. Did they have to do that?

— On Talking Dead, Chandler Riggs appeared with short hair. Interestingly, it made him look a lot younger, more like he did at the start of the series.

— Would you like to take over for me and review The Walking Dead for us? Apply here! I've been doing it for the past couple of seasons, but I'm ready to let it go with love. I'll finish out the season if I can't rope someone else into doing it, though. I promise.


Nabila: "You versus all of them?"
Carol: "Yeah."
Nabila: "They don't stand a chance."

Daryl: (re: them all going to the Hilltop) "All of us together? We'll be their worst damned nightmare."

Siddiq: "I'm gonna honor you, Carl."
Carl: "Congratulations. You're stuck with us."

In my opinion, killing off Carl was a massive mistake, and not because he was a great character. It's because Carl was a huge, honking symbol of the future on this show, and they just killed their future. I didn't think The Walking Dead could survive losing Glenn. Losing Carl was even worse. I still can't believe they did this to us.

No rating from me this time. What did you guys think?

Billie Doux is sad to report that she is falling out of love with The Walking Dead.


Anonymous said...

I think what gets me is how repetitive the writing has become. Morgan is a good example. His arc so far has been good man > suffers loss > becomes killer > gets his faith in humanity restored > becomes good man > suffers loss > becomes killer.

Much like Eugene. Deceitful coward > wrestles with own weakness > member of the team > deceitful coward > wrestles with own weakness. These characters aren't progressing, they're repeating, and therefore we viewers have no hope for them. We cease to care for them, and this is reflected in the show's plot.

How many times can the Rick team suffer a great loss? How many times can they turn into savages for the sake of survival? How many times can they overcome that and become idealists again? How many times can this cycle repeat?

The Walked Dead doesn't dishearten me because it's often brutal and uncompromising. Westworld is a great show, but it's often brutal and uncompromising. The same can be said for Deadwood or The Wire. But The Walking Dead never rewards characters for doing the right thing; when characters do good things, they either wind up dead or they give up and become like villains. Whereas Negan, who should have been killed a hundred different times by now, is essentially immortal.

It's just sad. And it's sad because there's no evolution or progression. I can deal with Carl dying. But I can't deal with the reason why, and the reason is shock value. I completely and entirely believe that once their ratings start to flag again, they will kill off Judith. It's Game of Thrones syndrome: why bother with consistent writing when you can sustain a show on water cooler death talk?

And as a side note, this episode dragged on far, far, far too long. Misery porn.

And a final thing, I agree with you about Gavin. Now it feels like we're going to get another piece of repetition: Henry is the new Mika.

Anonymous said...

If I could quote Paul Tassi of Forbes for a moment:

"Carl is simply not replaceable. You cannot just bring in another teenager and have them pick up where he left off. Few other shows allow fans to invest this much into character we get to see grow up onscreen, and The Walking Dead grew Carl into someone pretty great over the years. But now that’s gone. His future storylines are gone, his potential to “beat the world” is gone and for what? Two sad episodes? AMC and Scott Gimple are trading a few quick hits of “emotion” for eight years of character development and the derailing of the central storyline of the series. It still strikes me as insane."

Billie Doux said...

Yes. What a wonderful comment, Anonymous. And Anonymous the second, too.

I wonder if The Walking Dead is simply suffering from Too-Long-Itis. Shows need to end. If they don't, the failure to grow and achieve change makes the story meaningless.

Danielle said...

In the past, I would be so excited when the new season of TWD started and would make sure to watch live or record and stay up to watch. I haven't watched this episode yet and will probably build up a few. Definitely a case of too longitis. I think it's time to end.