It’s over. The Walking Dead brought a two-season arc to a close with season eight’s grand finale, finally revealing which of Rick or Negan would emerge the victor in ‘All-Out War’.
No surprises, it was Rick who eventually won out – though only thanks to a little crafty sabotage from Eugene, whose tinkering with the Saviours’ bullets caused every single one of their guns to backfire.
With the timely arrival of back-up in the form of Aaron and the heavily-armed Oceansiders, the Saviours were forced to surrender, leaving only one last brutal brawl between Negan and Rick to decide the ultimate winner.
Though the clash ended with Rick slashing open his opponent’s throat, he then demands that Negan be saved: a gesture to help usher in a new age of “peace and fairness”.
Rick promises his supporters and the Saviours alike a “new world” in which they’re all united, while outgoing showrunner Scott Gimple has likewise hinted that The Walking Dead will be “very much a new show next year”.
So what can we glean from season eight closer ‘Wrath’ – and the original comic books – about what’s going to happen next? Glad you asked.
1. Pacifist Rick
“I turned myself into a pacifist, Carl… I’m Pacifist Rick!”
Let’s face it, Rick is pretty awful throughout this episode. He even plays on Negan’s sympathy for his dead son to earn a stay of execution and trick his foe into coming close enough so that Rick can lash out. (And this after Morgan had called him out for giving his word to the Saviours before slaughtering them all in cold blood, back in episode 14.)
After all the blood he’s spilt, Rick then does an about-turn and decides he does want to abide by Carl’s wishes after all, and not just use them as a cruel lure to fool Negan.
His mercy prevails over his wrath and Rick announces plans to lead a new united party, with the Saviours and the women of Oceanside all joining his ranks.
The Walking Dead, Season 8, Negan kills Simon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Steven Ogg
© AMC GENE PAGE
Surely, though, Negan wasn’t the only bad apple: will all of the Saviours fall in line, just like that? And is Rick really strong / stable enough to resist shedding blood the next time thing’s get difficult?
He might vow that Negan’s “way of doing things is over”, but he follows it up by insisting that “anyone who can’t live with that will pay the price”. He might insist that Negan is worse than him because he was a dictator who enslaved people, but then announces his intention to “lock [him] in a cell to rot”.
So how exactly have things changed? We suspect that Rick won’t find it as easy as he thinks to unite all of the survivors, or to change his own ways.
2. The Whisperers
Post-Negan, the next big threat in the Walking Dead comic series is the Whisperers: a band of survivors who use the skin of the undead as a disguise for survival.
Their leader Alpha is able to weaponise a massive zombie herd… just like the one that Rick and company spot on the horizon in ‘Wrath’. “They’re coming for us!” Rick tells the assembled survivors in his post-war monologue. Oh buddy, you have no idea.
The battlefield where Rick and Negan have their final face-off is also, interestingly, lined with a number of fence posts: something similar served as a barrier between Rick’s party and the Whisperers in the comics.
3. Maggie vs. Rick
Maggie is seen to be furious with Rick for sparing Negan. Even though most everyone else seems willing to move on, she remands convinced in the aftermath of the war that Rick made the wrong choice.
In private, she tells her lieutenant Jesus: “We’re gonna bide our time, wait for our moment… and then we’re gonna show him.”
Daryl, for some reason, decides to join in on the coup. We guess he’s still pissed at Negan for having tortured him with endless hours of ‘Easy Street’.
‘The Walking Dead’ season 8: Daryl and Rick
Is season nine going to be The Walking Dead: Civil War? One potential wrinkle is that Maggie actress Lauren Cohan still hasn’t signed a deal to return as a regular and is on board a new pilot, ABC sitcom Whiskey Cavalier.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, if Whiskey Cavalier is picked up to series, Cohan could still return to The Walking Dead “in a limited capacity to potentially close out Maggie’s storyline”.
All of which doesn’t bode well for Maggie taking on Rick. Will she be cast out of Rick’s new utopia? Will she die?
4. Negan the prisoner
As if Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s spectacular facial hair wasn’t enough of a tip-off, ‘Wrath’ confirmed that Rick plans to hold Negan hostage for the foreseeable future.
In the comic book, we next see a long-haired, bearded Negan after a long spell as prisoner: trapped in a cell, he plays mind games with both Rick and Carl (still alive, in a detour from the TV series).
It appears as though the TV show will be heading down a modified version of this path. But will Negan emerge as hero or villain?
He shows a little more compassion in ‘Wrath’ when he explains how, on the night he murdered Glenn and Abraham, he chose not to kill Rick because he “didn’t want to kill a kid’s dad in front of him”.
But Negan also offers Rick a warning, one that holds a double meaning now he’s held captive. “I’ll get out of it. I always do.”
5. Eugene the hero
After spending 22 episodes(!) as Negan’s stooge, Eugene decides to betray his new master by allowing exploiting his role as bullet-maker and allowing his quality control to slip. (It was Rosita who got through to him, apparently, during the brief period she held Eugene hostage in episode 15.)
Rosita saves him from reprisals from the Saviours and it appears as of the end of ‘Wrath’ that Eugene is back on the side of ‘good’. Again, though, will his betrayal – which was 100% genuine – be as easy to forgive as all that?
The character does end up playing a pivotal role in the Whisperer War in the comic books, so maybe Eugene will be on a difficult path to redemption in season nine?
6. Dwight the outcast
Freed from his role as prisoner once Negan is defeated, Dwight is later driven into the woods by Daryl, where he expects to be executed for his past crimes.
Dwight himself acknowledges that “there’s no going back to how things were” but Daryl takes mercy on him, giving Dwight a set of car keys and telling him to find his wife Sherry, who fled the Sanctuary after freeing Daryl.
Daryl threatens to kill Daryl if he returns. So what next? Dwight found a note from Sherry at her old hide-out, but given that Sherry actress Christine Evangelista is now a regular on E! series The Arrangement, we’re not anticipating a happy reunion for the couple.
And, since Dwight is bound to return at some point, what exactly will stop Daryl from killing him? (Unless Dwight joins up with Rick, against Daryl, Maggie and Jesus?)
7. Meet Ann
On his way to join Fear the Walking Dead, Morgan arrives at the Scavengers’ junkyard and tells Jadis that, as part of Rick’s new touchy-feely regime, all is forgiven and she’s free to join the new community.
Jadis reveals her real name – Anne – and decides to take Rick up on his offer. But even though she’s left her Scavenger past behind, there’s no telling what the future holds for Jadis – “Anne” isn’t a character from the original comics.
Simon might be six feet under, but it’s possible that some of the other Saviours who slaughtered all of Jadis’s friends are still breathing… and we can’t anticipate her being happy about that, no matter what name she’s going by these days.
(After all this, we doubt that fan theory about her being an early version of the Whisperers’ leader Alpha will come to pass, though.)
8. Henry as Carl no. 2
Though the plotline involved his brother’s killer has been resolved, Henry appears briefly in ‘Wrath’ – after a run-in with the troubled Morgan, he ends up back at the Kingdom with Carol, Ezekiel and Jerry at the close of the episode.
It appears he’ll continue to play a significant part on The Walking Dead and, given that the late, lamented Carl plays a major role in the Whisperer War, it seems as though Henry is now perfectly placed to inherit some of his storylines.
Carl might’ve become an advocate for peace before he died, but in the comic book, he was much more of an angry young man: a role that Henry fits to a tee. He even inherits Morgan’s body armour and weapons. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if Macsen Lintz is promoted to series regular status next season.
9. The Commonwealth
As spotted by Reddit user serebec, one of the cans that Jadis pulls out is marked with a symbol: three interlinked circles, the same emblem that appears on the tail of that mysterious helicopter.
Back in episode 15, Jadis tried to signal to the vehicle’s pilot with a flare, but the helicopter turned away and disappeared: either because whoever was onboard didn’t see her, or because they chose to leave her behind.
So it appears that Jadis / Anne is definitely linked to whoever’s at the controls… and given that they also appear to be producing canned food, this suggests that the pilot is part of an advanced community, possibly even a military outfit.
Could this be the Commonwealth, a settlement that appears later in the comics? (Some fans also think that the mysterious Georgie who we saw in episode 12 ‘The Key’ is a version of the source material’s Pamela, leader of the Commonwealth.)
Or is Rick and his new utopia about to face a new and different threat? Can Jadis / Anne be trusted? Only seven months to wait till we find out.