Worth what, though? Welcome to the penultimate episode of Season Eight.
The episode begins at the Hilltop with Rick still reading over Carl’s letter. Through voiceovers, we hear Carl’s memories. Things happen, he said. And he wanted to help Rick feel safe. He wanted to kill Negan, and he didn’t think that the Saviors would surrender. At the Sanctuary, there are families and Carl believes that Rick doesn’t want them to die. There have to be more places beyond the communities.
Everyone deserves to have a real life, so Rick has to offer them a way out and find peace with Negan.
Meanwhile, Michonne grabs Negan’s letter.
At the Sanctuary, Simon admonishes Gregory for making him look like an ass, even though Gregory wants to make amends. Things have changed at Alexandria. Juice and momentum can change the game. He didn’t know that Maggie had the Hilltop in her hands, and now he wants to make things right with Negan. But Simon is Negan, saying he’s assumed control of the Saviors and Negan is not the one calling the shots.
Gregory found Negan too unconventional, but Simon is the man people can see as a leader. And that’s why Simon can’t be seen as going easy on Gregory. Simon has the juice and momentum, and wants to keep it. Gregory figures that the Saviors won’t have much to offer Simon. And he’s both achieved and suffered too much. He’s always made things happen and it won’t happen with him wandering off into the wilderness.
He rebuilt things before and will do it again, so he isn’t done. But then Simon knocks Gregory on his ass, telling him that he planned to kill him. Also, he asks if Gregory can make coffee.
Well, at least Simon has his priorities straight.
The ladies at Oceanside are aware that Aaron is still out there and make plans to deal with him, but he makes himself known when he kills an approaching walker. He then collapses from exhaustion. Cyndie and the others go on, leaving Aaron by his lonesome.
At Eugene’s outpost, he serves up a macaroni and cheese dinner from his university days and tells Frankie and Tanya that this is all that’s on the menu. He then tells the working Saviors that their lives are not on lock. Simon wants the work hastened. But even that won’t help them reach their quota, so they have to get the bare minimum necessary without Simon realizing how short they are.
He then examines a bullet just as Gabriel starts coughing, but tells him to keep wearing his mask so no one else gets infected. He examines Gabriel, who says that he doesn’t want any of his people to die. But hey, the Saviors are his people now, so he must accept that. He does, though, fear death. He feels that he’s the same, scared animal doing what he must to survive. Eugene suspends Gabriel from the line.
Eugene then decides to test out some of the rounds. He heads out with another Savior, who immediately gets an arrow in the head. In no time at all, Eugene is swiftly taken away by Rosita and Daryl.
Then Dwight gets the surprise of a lifetime when he finds Negan back at the Sanctuary. Negan tells Dwight of his encounter with Rick and then asks what Dwight thought happened. More than that, he wants to know, confidentially, if Dwight is still who he claims to be. Dwight does remember, and that’s just what Negan wants to hear.
Negan then has Dwight put out his cigarette, telling him that when the time comes, he’ll remember this talk and what they can still accomplish together.
Then Negan goes to Simon, who also believed him to be dead. He admits that he lacked discipline, making things personal, which is why he moved from infection to extermination at the Hilltop. Things went bad, but it’s possible that the Saviors have found a good approach. He’ll accept responsibility for what he did and wants Negan to give him a pass.
Negan begins to talk of when Simon first helped him take the Sanctuary. He didn’t know then if he wanted to keep him on board, but what Simon did to those men and boys at that one settlement- many people would find that kind of behavior psychotic. So Negan’s kept his eye on Simon, and everything seemed to work out until this point.
He orders Simon to his knees. And Simon does so without argument, as there’s no move to make. And like that, all is forgiven. Simon promises not to let Negan down, and right now, he can’t. The Saviors then look over a map and talk of taking the fight to the survivors. Tomorrow afternoon, Negan will take some Saviors to a spot to stock up on supplies from Eugene.
Everyone else will do the same at the same time, but different spots. Cache after cache, there will be 24/7 teams sniping at the Hilltop until there is full partition. With that, the plan is in motion. However, when the lieutenants disperse, Negan has Dwight remain.
When it’s just the two of them, Negan admires how Dwight didn’t buckle under pressure, despite all that’s been done to him. Nothing shook him- he kept his eyes on what could keep him alive. So Negan wants Dwight to maintain that demeanor.
Eugene, meanwhile, believes that Rosita and Daryl have kept him alive because there’s still a bit in them that believes in their companionship. While Daryl would prefer to just cut out Eugene’s tongue, Rosita reminds him that they have to keep going. He tells Rosita that making the bullets for Negan was to save her life. He thought he would be tortured, but the Saviors gave him a chance to live.
But Rosita knows who he is, and says that everyone who has died since then is a result of him. That’s kind of a dick move, Rosita. He reminds them that this is partially Rick’s fault, but Rosita shoves her gun in his face and calls him a coward. She’s not going to kill Eugene- she needs his brain. When this is all done, Eugene will be stuck in the darkest hole, but right now, he’ll be forced to do something with his pathetic life.
Back at the Sanctuary, Dwight adds some notes to the map when Simon enters the room, telling him that the status quo has been reinforced. Simon knows that some of the Saviors aren’t happy with the current leadership structure. You either deliver or get shipped, and in Simon’s mind, Negan hasn’t delivered. As such, the time has come. He wants Dwight by his side to do what must be done.
Dwight is hesitant, but Simon reminds Dwight of everything that Negan has done to him. He wants Dwight to meet him in the courtyard so they can proceed with the plan. Though reluctant, Dwight agrees.
Daryl, Eugene, and Rosita approach some incoming roamers, so Daryl makes quick work of them. Eugene then forces himself to vomit onto Rosita, giving him ample opportunity to run. The two give chase, soon spotting some footprints in nearby ash and bones. As the two run in that direction, Eugene emerges from underneath the heap.
It’s suddenly raining only near Oceanside as Aaron takes out more nearby walkers. When he’s without a blade, he makes use of any instrument he can find. He soon passes out.
When he awakens, the women of Oceanside again surround him. He knows that they blame him for Natania’s death, but says that the Saviors have turned them into this, saying that the women hide and don’t live a life they want to live because of the Saviors. That can change if they fight.
This argument doesn’t hold much water, but we’ll get to that later.
When the time has come, Dwight meets with a small band of Saviors outside, as well as Gregory, and they figured that he wanted this before them. Simon tells the Saviors that if they’re here now, they are in with his plan. No take backs. This has to be quick, quiet, and respectful. Even with what Negan’s done for them, Simon knows that Dwight has some issues with Negan. So Dwight can be the one to kill him.
These Saviors will call a meeting and the next step is the Hilltop’s destruction to make this a monument of compliance. After that, the Saviors move on with their lives.
But then in comes Negan, who thanks Dwight and takes over from here. After a countdown, all of the rebelling Saviors save for Simon are killed. He’s restrained and asks why Dwight would still ally with Negan, despite what he’s done to him. Negan knows what Simon did to the heapsters, even though Negan instructed him to not do that.
As Negan bashes Lucille in some blood, he tells Simon that he will still have his shot. If Simon wants to be in charge, he has to best Negan. If he can do that, then he should be in charge.
Inside, Simon tells the Saviors that when this is all done, they get to work. He didn’t want this, but the Sanctuary must stand, and Negan isn’t the one to prosecute this conflict. Simon gets a few shots at Negan, who quickly strikes back and manages to get the upper hand on Simon.
Dwight, meanwhile, tells Gregory to leave and gives him the map, saying to give it to Rick when he returns. He’s left a car for him in the meanwhile.
Negan gains the upper hand on Simon, saying that Simon lost his chance one too many times. Now Negan has to kill all of them, just as he’s about to kill Simon. He slowly chokes Simon to death and when all is said and done, he walks off, calling Simon an asshole.
Gregory returns to the Hilltop in no time and is quickly imprisoned while Maggie gives Rick the map from Dwight.
Negan, meanwhile, tells Dwight that he laments Simon going rogue. But this is good for Dwight, as Negan has always been able to count on him. Thus, Dwight becomes Negan’s new right hand man and he accepts the responsibility. However, Dwight has already helped Negan finish this with Rick.
To Dwight’s surprise, he enters his quarters and finds Laura waiting for him. She tells everyone that he killed the Saviors and when she ran, what kept her alive was the hope of exposing him. Negan knows that Dwight told Rick about the plan and he wonders if Dwight also lied about killing Sherry. But Negan meant it when he said that Dwight would come through him.
He knew that Dwight would turn over his fake plan, using Gregory for this. So Rick really won’t know what hit him thanks to Dwight. Negan thought about killing Dwight, but that would be too dignified for a backstabber light Dwight. Instead, Negan has other plans for Dwight.
A furious Eugene returns to his outpost and learns from Regina that Negan has returned, saying that Rick is walking into a trap. Eugene promises to fulfill Negan’s request in its entirety and on time. The Saviors will blow away the survivors and change the course of history. And Gabriel can either fall in line or die. It’s time to do something with their pathetic lives.
As a reanimated Simon is chained to the Sanctuary fence, Negan receives a radio transmission from Michonne of all people. This isn’t about Rick, but Carl, who wrote him a letter. She plans to deliver it because that’s what he would have wanted, so she begins to read it.
In the letter, Carl tells Negan the he got bitten while helping someone else. He thinks that Negan is working on a way out and might believe that the world is a lost cause. He wonders if this is what Negan wanted and wished that he could’ve asked him. If Negan wins, someone would take his place. The way out is working together and forgiveness. He hoped that Rick offers peace.
But for Negan, there’s no going back and he wouldn’t accept surrender. Winning is about killing every last one of the survivors, and that is how you start over. He didn’t want this, but Rick made this happen. And he wants Michonne to deliver that message to Rick. No more talk. With that, he crushes the radio.
Worth. Now that’s an interesting word right there and meaningful for an episode title. With so many big decisions being made heading into the season finale, you look at some actions and wonder..was it indeed worth it?
For Simon, who meets his end here, was it worth betraying Negan, killing the heapsters and Oceanside men as a show of strength? From his introduction, Simon has never been one to negotiate, unlike Negan, who will twist your arms in order to swing things in his favor, but still offer some kind of terms. But Simon is a hothead and killing the junkyard gang, as well as starting a mutiny, had to be the last straw for Negan.
It’s unfortunate because Simon was one of the more interesting Saviors, helped very much by Steven Ogg’s intense performance, so we’re down one more compelling Savior. The death serves a purpose in showing that there are Saviors in Negan’s ranks who aren’t shy about going rogue- and in more extreme ways than Dwight- and the growing resentment among the Saviors towards their leader.
Dwight, as many have pointed out, has many reasons to hold resentment towards Negan, not the least of which includes getting his face burned and losing his Sherry over to Negan. His approach is a bit more subtle, but Dwight’s problem is that he has no poker face. It’s easy to tell that he’s hiding something from Negan, and giving the fake plans to Gregory was just the icing on the cake in regards to his betrayal.
Not to mention Laura keeping herself alive long enough to make it back to the Sanctuary so she could expose Dwight’s betrayal. And by the way, I guess Laura ran so long and hard out in the woods that she ended up sweating off her neck tattoo.
So right now, it doesn’t feel that Dwight’s double cross was worth it. He’s been caught, he’s delivered a fake plan to Rick, and he may have just unintentionally sent the survivors into a trap. This would make him look less reliable in their eyes and confirm Daryl’s continuing distrust of him. But right now, with Dwight exposed, Negan will most certainly make an example of him.
Though, in the end, perhaps Dwight should have just slipped out and gone back to Rick and Maggie. Even though Simon was a problem, Laura was bound to pop at some point and rat him out to Negan, and that’s exactly what happened.
It was nice to see more of Negan reacting to Carl’s death and letter, but this is where he and Rick once again split. While Rick was dead-set on fighting to the very end without negotiation, he appears to have a change when reading Carl’s letter. Negan, though, with all he’s been through and knowing who has betrayed him, he’s done talking, so I imagine he’ll be on the rampage going into the finale.
Eugene’s an interesting case. It’s a nice change of pace to see him adapting to Savior life, but part of me wonders if the show is trying to leave an opening for him to redeem himself. And if so, is that still possible, given his actions? I do feel there’s room for redemption, particularly if he’s been playing one long ruse, but I get why some would feel it’s too late for him to ask Rick for forgiveness.
Or perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe Carl’s letter has brought about a change of heart in Rick, versus the likes of Daryl and Rosita, who would be more than happy to put Eugene down for good.
And, by the way, I could’ve done without the vomiting onto Rosita. The plan worked in the end, but for all the murder and brutality on The Walking Dead, that was nasty. I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of folks who are looking for ways to get Rosita to take off her shirt, but there has to be a better approach than that. Also, if Rosita didn’t have a good reason before to want to whoop Eugene’s ass, now she has one.
Then there’s Aaron and his misadventures with Oceanside. I get what the show is trying to do here, but the execution is flimsy. For one, I’m surprised that the ladies haven’t just killed Aaron. But also, I don’t get what Aaron is trying to accomplish other than to remind the women that he’s still waiting for them.
What I’m expecting to happen is that when the main fighting starts, just when it seems like Rick and company are on the verge of defeat, the Oceanside women will charge like Gandalf riding into Helm’s Deep on Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers or the Knights of the Vale during the Battle of the Bastards on Game of Thrones.
Furthermore, I don’t buy Aaron’s argument. He says that the Oceanside women are afraid and don’t trust others because of what the Saviors did. However, even when Natania was alive, we saw the women were willing to work alongside Rick. They even gave up some of their weapons to help with the war, even though they’ve yet to play a part.
So Aaron’s not completely right here. The Oceanside women are reluctant to help, but not unwilling to trust. After all, they haven’t killed Aaron yet, despite multiple opportunities. Plus, Aaron, the Saviors weren’t the ones who killed Natania, so slow your roll there.
With the season finale upon us and the war about to come to an end, things are about to become very explosive on The Walking Dead. Negan’s done talking, Eugene’s ready to make more bullets, and Rick is unaware right now that he’s walking right into a trap. We’ll find out how this all concludes next week for the end of the All Out War.