Longtime viewers will want to tune in to bid farewell to Carl. Gene Page/AMC
Note: This is our spoiler-free review of “The Walking Dead” mid-season premiere for season eight.
After a long winter hiatus, “The Walking Dead” finally returns to AMC February 25, and when it does you’re going to want some tissues on hand. You also may want to yell at your TV. Honestly, it’s probably going to be a bit of both.
INSIDER reviewed an early look at the premiere, titled “Honor,” and the 82-minute episode will answer some major lingering questions from the first half of season eight. What was the deal with all of those flash-forward scenes with Old Man Rick in the season eight premiere? What will happen to Carl after he was bit by one of the undead? How did Negan and his crew escape the Sanctuary?
Some of those answers will be satisfying. Some may be groan-inducing.
One thing’s for sure, if you follow the comics or think you know where the show will be heading for the rest of the season, it looks like anything is possible.
walking dead carl 808
This episode puts Carl front and center — mostly. Gene Page/AMC
This is Carl’s episode. Everything that Chandler Riggs does with his character on his final episode will have you wishing the pudding-eating, cowboy-hat wearing teen had more time in the zombie apocalypse. (That’s not a spoiler — Riggs has been very upfront with his impending departure from the series.) The actor has grown up on this show and his performances have never been better than on these last two episodes.
Carl is going to make you tear up, or maybe even full-on sob, and you will be frustrated the entire time wondering if this is really how the show is going to send him off. Fans have been trying to come up with all sorts of bizarre ways that Carl could possibly survive a walker bite to the gut.
His speeches throughout the mid-season premiere appear to carry a double meaning. They’re equally parting words to his fictional family and a sweet goodbye to the pseudo family he grew up with over the past eight seasons.
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Rick and Michonne will be at some of their lowest points on the series. Gene Page/AMC
The other stars of this episode are Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira as a distraught father and best friend. You rarely see these two as vulnerable and uncertain of how to carry forth as you do on this episode. That emotion is real, because I don’t think anyone wanted Riggs to leave the show. Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly he never saw his death coming, because he thought Carl would be there down the line.
maggie walking dead mid-season 8 premiere
Some absences will be felt on the mid-season premiere and fans may not be happy about that. AMC
You may be frustrated to learn that you will not see every character from the mid-season finale on the premiere. Typically, that’s fine. But since this is Riggs’ final episode on the series, it feels very wrong that he doesn’t get to say goodbye to some of the other original cast members.
Even some of the characters who are on screen with him on the mid-season premiere seem to have their brief one-on-one time wasted. I won’t name names, but you’ll know who I’m talking about when you see it on screen more than halfway through the episode.
This was supposed to be a giant send-off for Carl and a lot of the episode is split between Carl and the Alexandria survivors and Carol’s mission to save Ezekiel from the Saviors. I love that the show is fixing some of its previous mistakes by focusing on more than one small segment of its large cast, but when you’re killing off one of the show’s original cast members you may want to make sure you’re sending that character off right. That’s where you start to lose the fandom.
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Expect to see these three on the mid-season premiere. AMC
The episode also clears up a few other plot holes that fans may have been struggling with. But in the end, fans may find themselves more frustrated. You’ll learn how the Saviors escaped the zombie-ridden Sanctuary, but you may be left rolling your eyes over the answer. It’s not a huge revelation. The episode also gives some more clarity on its Old Man Rick flash-forwards. That answer also may not satisfy.
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This will all make sense on the mid-season premiere. AMC
The show also thinks that it reveals some grand surprise by showing exactly when Carl was bit. But the series undercut itself when Riggs and series showrunner Scott Gimple hinted at the reveal months ago. Anyone with a DVR can go back and find the exact moment it happened. We even broke down the scene back in December here. It would have been better placed in the mid-season finale. It feels stale now.
The bottom line:
rick carl michonne TWD mid season premiere
Rick and Michonne stay with Carl. AMC
If you’ve been invested in “The Walking Dead” at all since Negan came around — or even beforehand — you’ll want to tune in to see Carl’s send-off. You may wish that the entire episode revolved more around Carl.
The scenes between Carl, Rick, and Michonne are top notch and I could have watched an entire episode with those three alone. Those who were looking for some satisfying answers to questions may be left a bit disappointed that any clarity they were looking for didn’t have more depth.
“The Walking Dead” mid-season premiere is neither one of the strongest nor one of the weakest premiere episodes. It’s a fine episode of the series. And that may not be good enough for a show that is eight seasons deep if it plans to keep powering on for years as AMC’s flagship show. It makes this fan a little hesitant of the show’s future direction without Riggs, whose character is still alive and a driving force in the comics.