This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 15
Things have been relatively quiet these last two weeks on The Walking Dead. You almost wouldn’t know that next week’s finale is the culmination of two seasons’ worth of storytelling. This episode should have been the big lead up to the final battle between Rick’s forces and the Saviors, but instead, it opts for telling three smaller stories. For the most part, “Worth” is about doing a bit of housecleaning before the finale.
Most of the action takes place at the Sanctuary. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is at his best as Negan when showcasing the complexity of the villain’s emotions and motivations – something that he’s been much better at this season than the last – and this episode certainly has hints of that, especially as Negan strangles Simon (R.I.P. Steven Ogg, I’ll miss you). Negan seems legitimately pissed that Simon’s mistakes have forced his hand: now he has to kill all of his resources at the Hilltop.
Something never really introduced in season seven was the idea that Negan felt that he was actually saving people and creating a “better” world. Last year’s Negan seemed like he was just a piece of shit for the sake of being one. That’s not the case at the end of this conflict. Sure, he’s batshit, but he at least thinks his way is noble, even if it doesn’t benefit everyone.
I didn’t really buy Negan’s words to Michonne at the end of the episode. It seemed more like a puffing of the chest and not true to the development of the character this season. Negan switches back to very evil villain and tells Michonne that he’s going to kill every last one of them. It seems like bravado, but maybe there’s something more to that final scene?
Perhaps there’s a second there when Negan feels vulnerable. The two men he trusted most with his operation have turned out to be traitors – a sign that he’s not been a good leader – and the kid he had an emotional connection to (as poorly handled as it was in season seven) is dead. Does Negan feel that he’s failed his people? He’d never show it on the outside, of course – he outsmarts both Simon and Dwight in very public ways for a reason – but I’m not so sure Negan still thinks his approach to the new world is the right one.
It’s been much more fun to write about Negan this year than Rick, who went full villain last week for no reason other than as an attempt to show the depth of the character’s feelings towards the death of his son. But really, what an uneven year for the Sheriff. Last week, he slaughtered a bunch of Saviors who were willing to defect to the Hilltop and even SAVED HIS LIFE during a walker attack. This week, he’s just reading a letter. I should mention that Carl’s words didn’t quite pull at my heartstrings. Maybe it’s because Rick is an asshole and doesn’t really deserve to win, either.
Nothing annoys me more than Rick getting a pass for being a bad leader and a liar. Michonne has been his emotional support through the death of his son and even before when it seemed like the hero had been indoctrinated into the Savior way of doing things last year. Oh, and she was beside him during the attack on the outpost that started it all. It’s frustrating to watch Rick get a pass for being a bad leader time and time again. If his victory is all but certain next week, it’s only for the sake of characters like Maggie and Michonne and Ezekiel and Jesus and Jerry – genuinely good people who actually deserve the next world. I’m not convinced Rick does.
The road to the final confrontation between these two men has been a long one, but we’re finally just an episode away to seeing how it all plays out. From the looks of Negan’s plan to wipe out the remaining militia at the Hilltop, it seems that things might end the way they started: the Saviors spring a trap the good guys can’t escape. Luckily, we’ve not been watching boring scenes back at Oceanside for nothing. Sure, there will be a moment when all looks hopeless for Rick and the gang but then Aaron will come riding in with the cavalry. Maybe Jadis and that helicopter, too…
Just a quick note from me: Sorry to report this will be my last Walking Dead review of the season, as I’ll be off on assignment elsewhere. The good news is that I’m leaving you in the very capable hands of Alec Bojalad for the season finale. He’s written some great Walking Dead features and will undoubtedly have a killer write-up for you guys next week. See you in October, zombie lovers!