A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 8, Episode 9: “Honor”

Welcome back to The Walking Dead as it’s time to say farewell to Carl. This is “Honor.”

The episode begins with another close-up of Rick’s eyes as we flash to a dream sequence. In this one, Rick and Judith greet Jerry, who is working with Siddiq on some masonry.

We then get more glimpses: Rick and Michonne digging, followed by a flash back to the point where Carl was bitten as he helped Siddiq. After the bite, Carl manages to shoot the walker. He tells Siddiq that he’s fine, but of course, we know better than that. He then brings Siddiq to Alexandria and helps him underground. After examining his walker bite, Carl gets dressed and prepares for the next assignment.

He later joins Tobin atop the wall as the two wait for others to return.  Tobin then gives Carl a note from Michonne, saying that she had to see something for herself.  Following this, we cut to Carl writing individual notes not just to his father, but others as well.

Underground in the tunnels, Carl and Siddiq set up, and Carl later has some play time with Judith, including painting and taking photos.  Carl later works in the garden and takes in some sun when Michonne returns.

At the Sanctuary, Morgan continues to watch from a distance through the scope of his sniper rifle.  He then spots several Saviors opening fire on the walker herd outside.  In no time at all, the walkers are eliminated in an attempt to make a path.  Soon enough, other Saviors file out and even open fire in Morgan’s direction.

He’s forced to rush downstairs and out through another door.  As he makes noise to attract some walkers, he retreats just as the walkers head for the approaching Saviors. He continues to the road, where he spots and pursues a caravan of Saviors, led by Gavin.

In the present, Carol puts down a walker that fell into her trap and tells both Nabila and Henry that she’s heading back to confront the Saviors still at the Kingdom.  Henry wants to go with her, but she shuts him down.

Underground in Alexandria, the others wait out the explosions from above.  Rick is still shocked about seeing his son bitten and wants to know how this happened, but Carl just wasn’t sure if his father would make it back.  He presents his letters and tells Rick how he ran into Siddiq.  The bite came from helping him, not because of something that the Saviors did.

At the Kingdom, Gavin tries to get under Ezekiel’s skin, even though he’d love to keep Negan from killing him.  Ezekiel isn’t worried about what matters to him, but Gavin disagrees, as he liked Ezekiel.  He never got any big ideas in his head until Rick came along.

Morgan arrives at the Kingdom and spots Henry from across the way, but then Carol surprises him from behind.  He tells her that Henry has also entered the Kingdom.

Rick and Michonne help Carl to a cot where he can rest easier.  Siddiq presents some medicines that can help with Carl’s fever, as they did for Siddiq’s parents.  He tells Rick that he was once a doctor, and Carl brought him back because he wasn’t going to make it alone, not because he was a doctor.  In Carl’s mind, Siddiq needed the others.

An explosion causes debris to rain down from above.  Michonne rushes over to Dwight and demands that he make it stop, saying that the Saviors will listen to him.  Dwight confirms to Rosita that the Hilltop is safe, so everyone needs to get there.  However, the Saviors will be looking for them.  Their best bet is to stay underground instead of going west.  After all, the Saviors don’t have the ammo to destroy the community.

Once the Saviors leave, that’s when everyone should make their escape.  And yes, everyone in the same place together will be the Saviors’ worst nightmare, Daryl says.

Back at the Kingdom, Carol and Morgan watch from a distance as some Saviors put out a fire.  If they can’t go through them, they will have to go through the courtyard and be exposed.  They take out every Savior in their path, though Morgan is quick to deliver the finishing blows.

Not too far, the other Saviors are packing up while Gavin asks Ezekiel if this will turn into something else.  However, Ezekiel tells Gavin that he’s the author of this, so the ending will be determined by him.

Underground, Carl tells Michonne that it wasn’t supposed to be like this, as he could’ve done better.  The explosions finally stop as everyone hears vehicles leaving, so it sounds like the Saviors are done.  So a couple of the survivors decide to go up and check.

While Carol and Morgan make quick work of more Saviors, Gavin wants to make Ezekiel’s last ride comfortable.  He laments how things could’ve settled, but no, it always come down to dark, ugly, inhuman situations like this.  Even though Gavin doesn’t like this, he can’t turn back now.

Gavin radios to the other Saviors, but gets no response.  Again, Ezekiel tells Gavin that it’s not too late to turn back.  But at the sound of gunfire, everyone rushes Ezekiel inside.

Another dream sequence as older Rick and Judith speaking with Eugene, who presents Judith with an apple.

At another point in time, Rick and Michonne continue to dig, while in the present, Michonne tells Rick that with the Saviors gone, everyone can get to the Hilltop.  However, Rick knows that Carl won’t make it, so he has to stay with him.  Michonne decides to stay, but Rick wants her to take Judith to the Hilltop.  However, Daryl volunteers to take her instead.

Carl wants to say his goodbyes, so he tells Judith that sometimes, kids have to show their parents the way.  He then gives over his hat, which of course once belonged to his father, saying that it made him stronger.  Before his mother died, she said that Carl would beat this world.  But now, he didn’t.  However, Judith will.

Siddiq thanks Carl for bringing him to Alexandria and giving him a chance.  Even though Siddiq can’t repay him, he can at least honor him by showing that what he did wasn’t for nothing- that it meant something.

You know, if Siddiq really wanted to honor Carl, he’d just change his own name to Carl.  But that’s just me.

At the Kingdom again, the Saviors bring Ezekiel into the auditorium.  Gavin hits Ezekiel, telling that it is too late to turn back, as that’s how this has to be.  This is who he is, and he won’t end under Negan.  Even though Ezekiel says that’s just a petty compromise, though he realizes that he was saving Gavin’s life.  Then an explosion blows open a door.

Gavin orders whoever is there to surrender or Ezekiel dies, but then Morgan and Carol attack from behind, opening fire on the Saviors.  One bullet manages to get Gavin in the leg, causing him to drop his gun, which Ezekiel uses to kill another Savior.

Morgan, though, rips out one Savior’s guts and opens fire on Gavin, but he still manages to escape.  As for leaving, well, there’s no need for that since all of the other Saviors are dead.

Carl tells Michonne that he doesn’t want her to be sad after this.  She has to be strong for Rick, Judith, and herself.  After all, Michonne is still Carl’s best friend.  Then another candle goes out. Rick then tells Michonne that she’ll need his help getting him out of the tunnels.

As Morgan slowly follows Gavin, we return to Alexandria as Rick and Michonne carry Carl above ground.  They take him inside the church as Carl thanks Rick for getting him this far.  He remembers when they were attacked at the prison and how one kid older than Carl had a gun who was starting to surrender, but Carl shot him anyway.  Carl’s thought about what he did since then and how easy it was to kill.

Gavin, meanwhile, comes face to face with Morgan, calling him a sick man and saying that he never wanted any of this.  He’s adamant that he kept his word to Ezekiel and says that Morgan can go back to the Hilltop.  He then taunts Morgan, saying that he can’t ever hope to take down Negan.

Back at Alexandria, Rick tells Carl that what he’s lost- all the things he had to do- was a result of him being a boy.  However, Rick still saw what it did and how easy it got.

Carl tells Rick that what he did has helped him become who he is.  For Rick to stop fighting when he did- it was right, and it still is.  Carl believes that Rick can be like that again.  Rick disagrees, saying he can’t be like that again, but Carl still believes that there is more to life after all of this.

Gavin wonders if Morgan and Carol killed the Saviors because of Benjamin, even though Gavin’s death won’t change anything.  In the end, Morgan decides to spare Gavin’s life.  Ezekiel tells Morgan that killing Gavin is the coward’s way, saying that Gavin doesn’t have to die.  Instead, Gavin can just live with what he’s done.  Even Carol tells Morgan that he doesn’t have to do this.

However, it’s not Morgan that kills Gavin, but Henry instead.

Carl then tells Rick that he imagined a new world with Alexandria rebuilt, new houses, and everyone living peacefully.  In his mind, that world can exist.  But Rick tells his son that all of that was for him, going back as far as Atlanta- everything he did was for him.  However, Carl wants this future to be for his father, so Rick promises to make it real.

More jarring cuts, as Carol admonishes Henry for what he’s done, while Ezekiel tells him that all will be resolved.

Rick apologizes to Carl for not being protect him, per his responsibility as a father.  Carl goes for his gun, though Michonne believes someone that Carl loves should do it.  That’s not going to happen tonight.  A teary eyed Rick promises to make Carl’s vision a reality.

The next day, when Carl puts himself down, Rick and Michonne dig a grave to lay Carl to rest.

We see another vision of that future Carl dreamed of…but in this sequence, Judith goes up to greet Negan of all people.

Following this, we then cut to a bleeding, red-eyed Rick resting against a tree as the episode comes to a close.

Well, here we are. Carl’s goodbye in The Walking Dead has been a big point of contention ever since the reveal at the end of the midseason finale last year that he’d been bitten. There’s been a lot of controversy about this, be it from Scott Gimple’s decision or how Chandler Riggs’ father reacted to learning his son’s fate on the show. I’m sure better spoken folks have a lot to say about this, and I’m not one of them.

As is, “Honor” is a solid…well, honor to Carl and strong emotional sendoff to one of the show’s core characters going all the way back to Atlanta. Luckily, instead of filling in the blanks with flashbacks like most shows would do, we see Carl reflect on his decisions and everything that’s brought him to this final point. For the most part, it’s all handled very well and it’s a great farewell to Carl’s character.

Carl’s moments with Rick and Michonne as his condition worsened were no doubt the strongest moments, with him calling Michonne his best friend, spending time with Judith after he’d been bitten, making most of the time he had left, and passing his hat onto his sister, just like his father before. And while Carl might not have made it through this world like Lori hoped, that legacy will live on in Judith.

In addition, would put good money on there being a payoff to both the letters that Carl wrote and the photo he took of himself and Judith, if just as a way to allow him to live on through the lives of other characters. While it’s unfortunate that someone like Daryl doesn’t get a longer goodbye to Carl, I get that if anyone were to be there for a prolonged period of time, it would be Rick and Michonne.

It’s also nice to learn that those glimpses we got of a time-skip world weren’t Rick’s dreams, but Carl’s dream of a new world- a world that he now won’t live to see. It’s a very optimistic outlook of a world where everyone will finally work together. And now it’s a reality that Rick hopes to make a reality as a way to, again, honor his son.

I was one of those who thought that this was what Rick envisioned the world after the war would look like, so to learn that this was Carl’s vision all along is a great reveal made even sadder by the fact that he won’t see his dreams come to fruition.

Like Lori, what made this great was how crushing a death like this is for Rick and now Michonne as well. They’re losing a member of their family who has grown up in this world from childhood to becoming a young man. We hear of Carl’s regrets, but also how he’s still holding onto hope that there’s more to life than killing. A bit too optimistic for this world, but hey, we have seen Carl be more optimistic than Rick, so it’s consistent.

The final scenes between Carl, Rick, and Michonne showcased some strong acting from Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, and Andrew Lincoln as Carl going for his gun was the real indication that this was all over. Though Carl put down his mother, and while Michonne felt that Carl should be put down by someone that he loves, Carl’s final decision was to end this on his terms.

That scene of Rick and Michonne waiting outside the church and the sudden shot from the silencer was perfect. I do wish it had gone on a bit longer before we go the shot, and then maybe just linger for a bit as Rick and Michonne break down, but that’s very minor. It was executed very well and served as a worthy send-off for Carl Grimes.

That said, if Lori’s death was any indication, the first thing Rick needs to do if he wants to talk to his son again is find a phone. Just a thought.

As for the Kingdom, it’s nice to see Carol and Morgan working together to rescue Ezekiel and I did enjoy how conflicted Gavin was. Since the beginning, he’s been a very lax Savior who has wanted to avoid conflict as much as possible. But as the war escalated, and with him being a top lieutenant, he has no choice but to get more involved.

So there could’ve been room for Gavin, like Dwight, to redeem himself and maybe even become an ally, but then Henry puts him down. I’m conflicted on this, as I also am with rapidly cutting back between this plot and back to Rick, Carl, and Michonne. I get the point of it, Carl talking about not having to kill juxtaposed against Morgan embracing his killer side as he contemplated killing Gavin.

It made sense thematically and there’s nothing wrong with that, but to go back and forth so quickly was jarring at times.

But back to Henry. I get why he did it and why if anyone should’ve killed Gavin, it’d feel more justified were it him, but I’m not entirely feeling it. For one, Gavin isn’t the one who shot and killed Benjamin. He even felt regret and even anger over what Jared did, and now Jared has outlived him.

Second, Henry must be as quiet as a ninja if he could get the drop on Gavin without Carol and Ezekiel, both of whom were looking in his direction, noticing that he had approached. That and since it felt like there was room for Gavin to redeem himself, it feels unfortunate that we’ll never see him come around. Well, if anything, Henry has Carol or Morgan to steer him right.

Or maybe just Carol, since we know that Morgan is hitting the road, Jack, and heading off to Fear the Walking Dead sometime soon.

“Honor” is a strong, emotional episode showcasing strong acting, good emotional beats, and a final farewell to another member of the original Atlanta crew. There are minor hiccups, but not enough to take away from a solid return for The Walking Dead. Carl is dead, but the war continues.


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