Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers…
You can often tell that we’re close to a season finale for The Walking Dead when the episode before it spends most of its time moving pieces into place ready for what promises to be a lot of spectacle. Worth still managed to cover some story beats, but frustratingly seemed happy to keep repeating itself. Rick and the Hilltop gang were only briefly seen this week, with the ghost of Carl (okay, Chandler Riggs returning to provide some voice-over as Rick read his letter) hanging around and that late-in-the-story turn as they received what we now know is bad intel.
There was also the somewhat anticlimactic story thread of Daryl and Rosita snatching Eugene from outside of his little bullet-manufacturing kingdom, only for him to break free (in gross, throwing up style) and hide in ashes before returning to the plant. The image of him emerging from the pile was a stylish one, but the whole thread did little to move anything alone other than give both Daryl and Rosita the chance to threaten him.
No, mostly the episode was taken up sorting out the Saviors’ business, with Negan back in power and both Simon and Dwight in dire straits. It didn’t end well for Simon after his brief attempt to seize control; betrayed by Dwight, he ended up in a brawl with his boss, which ended with Negan squeezing the life out of him on the dusty sanctuary floor.
That of course meant more speechifying, because seemingly no one among the Saviors (except possibly Dwight) can say a simple sentence. Instead, we have meandering chunks of pretentious posturing, as though everyone has watched a Deadwood episode and has decided they can mimic the dialogue. And while it was good to see the narrative shoved along in terms of both Simon and Dwight (gold star to everyone who predicted that Negan picked up Laura), it felt awfully repetitive to have the big boss man figure out that both of his lieutenants had sold him out in some way. Dwight at least gets to live… for now.
As for Aaron, he was mostly stumbling around the woods, either killing walkers or just lying in a starved, thirsty daze. It’s tough to see whether the Oceanside plot (which has been among the least interesting strands of the season) will actually pay off, as the residents seemed to have little motivation to get into the fight with the Saviors. Still, perhaps they’ll be a deus ex machina.
Worth wasn’t completely worth it. There was catharsis on the Sanctuary front, but everyone else was, for the most part, put on pause preparing for next week’s big fight. Expect a long running time and some potential deaths when it does finally start…
Highlight: Simon’s comeuppance.
Lowlight: Simon’s less-than-impressive big speech.
Kill of the week: The guard shot by Daryl’s crossbow bolt.
Quote of the week: “No more talk!” – Negan, setting up next week’s finale and then stomping his point home on the poor, defenseless walkie.
Zombie of the week: Simon!
MVP: Eugene, who can throw up vomit almost as efficiently as he spits out words.
The big question: Despite the “All Out War” arc story title, could Carl’s words actually have an effect on either Rick or Negan? The team purposefully leaned hard on both letters.
Read this season’s previous reviews below…
[The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 2: The Damned
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.