The Walking Dead 816 – Wrath
Wrath, the Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead, wraps up a storyline that began two seasons ago and is sure to generate a lot of discussion and not all of it positive. Not only does the episode conclude the All Out War arc but it also serves as a stepping-stone for the highly anticipated crossover with Fear the Walking Dead.
All Out War comes to an end with a flashback to simpler times as a pre apocalypse Rick and a young Carl stroll down a country road. That wistful memory is soon replaced by the stark reality of the present with walkers following exiled Saviors down a road. A heart to heart between Rick and Siddiq reveals the truth behind Carl’s fatal bite and sets the tone for the entire episode. The depth behind Carl’s outlook casts a light of optimism, not just that Negan can be vanquished, but that among all of the death and despair hope and forgiveness can win out.
Morgan’s further descent into madness continues when he almost kills Henry as the Saviors return to the Hilltop after doing a task for Maggie. Morgan is a man who has seen the depth of human depravity and questions Rick’s tactics that allowed them to escape during Still Gotta Mean Something. Even though he’s not mentally fit he disregards Rick’s advice to stay out of the fray and joins everyone in the assault on Negan’s forces.
Speaking of Negan, he’s in full evil genius mode with his plan to ambush Rick after outing Dwight as a traitor. Twisting the knife slowly between his opponent’s proverbial ribs, Negan dangles Gabriel and Dwight as early kills before the planned massacre until his plans misfire. With Negan’s plan and forces in disarray the coalition even gets a helping hand from the Oceanside community. As the tide turns, All Out War soon becomes a mano-a-mano between Rick and Negan that comes to an unsatisfactory, but not surprising conclusion. The end has been hinted at for most of the season through flashbacks and flash forwards. The road to redemption can be a bumpy one and while some characters find some sort of solace in their actions it doesn’t necessarily make everyone happy or for compelling drama.
One of the main weaknesses of the Wrath, is that there isn’t much of it in the season finale. In truth the major battle was waged during Do Not Send Us Astray. With half of the episode’s running time used as set up for the expected battle the actual conflict not only has elements of convenience but also comes across as underwhelming. That’s not to say that where the episode ends up is a bad thing it’s the route it took to get there that falls flat. All Out War never really happened and although Glenn and Abe’s death were never avenged, they couldn’t be without making Carl’s death and impactful final thoughts worthless.
Wrath offers a new beginning with communities coming together but now there’s a vacuum in the big bad department. The heel turn in the final moments is interesting even if it doesn’t seem authentic. Hell hath no fury Iike a woman scorned and the set up for Season 9 is full of possibilities even if some of the fan base doesn’t have the same faith held by Rick or Father Gabriel that things will be alright.