With The Walking Dead season 9 nearly here, what better way to re-immerse yourself into the sticky, humid air of dystopian Atlanta than with our episode-by-episode Walking Dead season 8 recap? I mean, sure, you could just watch the show itself but, as anyone who's read our The Walking Dead season 8 review will know... it's not exactly a slice of must-watch TV gold. Instead, you can catch up on every season 8 episode just by reading the no-nonsense plot recaps below, before the season 9 premiere airs later this week.
Indeed, we've already caught a sneak preview of The Walking Dead season 9, and reckon it's worth watching purely on the basis of its fresh coat of paint alone. Once you have caught up on the latest developments in Alexandria, Sanctuary, Hilltop, and The Kingdom, have a read of our The Walking Dead season 8 ending analysis to see what season 9 might hold in story for Rick, Maggie, and the rest of our intrepid survivors. Oh, and it should go without saying, but there's major story spoilers for The Walking Dead season 8 beyond this point.
The Walking Dead S8.01 - Mercy
Season 7’s premiere with Negan’s bloodthirsty game of ‘eenie, miney, mo’ was always going to temper the impact of the start of season 8. Nothing could quite compete with that. But what The Walking Dead’s season 8 premiere did do was attempt to prove that this new season would be a change in tides for the show, with promises of major action and drama from the outset. That may not have quite translated throughout the rest of the season, but it certainly was a good opener.
Carl meets a man in a gas station whilst he and Rick are looking for fuel. Carl wants to give him food, but Rick scares him off by firing a gun above his head. Meanwhile, at the Sanctuary, Gregory decides to try and get everyone to rally behind him, but predictably they think his weak-ass plan isn’t quite as good as having Maggie as a leader. Instead, the group attack the Sanctuary, taking down its defences to allow the Walkers to flood in. All of Rick’s crew manage to escape except Father Gabriel, who foolishly stays behind in an attempt to save Gregory, who steals his car and leaves him to the Walkers. Gabriel manages to hide in a trailer, only to discover he’s trapped in there with Negan.
The Walking Dead S8.02 - The Damned
By episode 2, the season is already getting a bit… muddled, and that’s partly down to the fact that Rick’s crew fragments into distinct groups in their attempt to take down the Saviours’ outposts. Somehow Aaron’s in charge of a strike team and uses Negan-worthy tactics to take down some Saviours, while elsewhere Ekeziel, Carol, and others are on the hunt for a lookout. Jesus stops Tara and Mogan from killing a group of Saviours, instead taking them as hostages, causing Morgan to have a bit of a breakdown. He’s still a bit weird from that whole thing with the melon back in season 7, and now he’s having another moral quandary on the ethics of killing. Elsewhere, Daryl and Rick are clearing an outpost when Rock is confronted and held at gunpoint by a chap called Morales, who he knew from way back in Atlanta. But now Morales is a Saviour… Queue the credits.
The Walking Dead S8.03 - Monsters
Despite the fact they’ve got some history, Daryl doesn’t think twice about taking down Morales, who’s still holding Rick at gunpoint. The problem is, he’s got a baby, and now she’s another screaming kid Rick’s crew has in their midst. It’s not just Morales who kicks the bucket in this episode, as we actually lose a few along the way here, including Eric - Aaron’s partner - who was critically wounded in episode ,2 but decided to wait until now to wander off and become a Walker. Understandably, Aaron’s quite upset, but he takes it upon himself to become the keeper of Morales’ kid. Gregory finally makes his way back to the Hilltop in Father Gabriel’s car, and after a long heated chat with Maggie, she eventually decides to let him back into the community, despite everything he’s already done. But it turns out it’s a busy day at the Hilltop, because next Maggie has Jesus knocking on her door with the group of Saviour captives - much to the irritation of Tara and Morgan. Carol and Ezekiel’s group, meanwhile, attack another Saviour compound, but get ambushed so you’re left wondering if literally everyone dies at the end of the episode.
The Walking Dead S8.04 - Some Guy
Don’t worry, episode 3 didn’t manage to kill the entirety of Carol and Ezekiel’s crew. Well, nearly, actually. As Ezekiel rises from the mountain of corpses just waiting to turn, it’s clear that he and Carol are the only survivors of the ambush. Oh and Jerry, who rushes in to save Ezekiel from death. The trio attempt to carry the wounded Ezekiel back to the Kingdom, but en route get surrounded by extra toxic Walkers. In a moment of utter sadness for the series, Ezekiel’s pet tiger Shiva appears and sacrifices herself to save the trio. Sob. They all managed to get back to the Kingdom safely, but Ezekiel is overcome with self-doubt and anguish. The two Saviours who manage to escape from the earlier shootout with Carol and co, eventually get caught by Rick and Daryl, who are on the hunt for Negan’s hidden stock of .50-caliber rifles. There’s an awesome car chase that makes you wonder whether this is how The Walking Dead action should really be, but it’s all over far too fast.
The Walking Dead S8.05 - The Big Scary U
Finally, the show actually tells you what goes down in that trailer where Gabriel’s been stuck with Negan since the first episode. But, in true Walking Dead style, it resolves the whole matter in the slowest possible manner. There’s lots of chat about redemption, past sins and forgiveness, but ultimately Gabriel and Negan manage to escape - despite being surrounded by Walkers - without any explanation as to how they survive. Cheers AMC. Instead, far more time is spent showcasing what’s been going down on the Saviours’ side of things. They’ve figured out there’s a mole in their midst, with Negan’s lieutenant all growing very suspicious of one another. The workers at the Sanctuary begin to revolt, but are stopped before a riot ensues by the reappearance of Negan. He locks the now very ill Gabriel in a cell (that happens when you cover yourself in Walker guts), where Eugene discovers him. Elsewhere, the Rick/Daryl bromance is shattered as they fight and Daryl abandons Rick and leaves him to walk off into the distance.
The Walking Dead S8.06 - The King, the Widow, and Rick
In one of the series’ most controversial moves, Rick decides to try and enlist help from Jadis and the Junkyard gang. You know, the folks that totally double-crossed him in the last fight against Negan. And surprise, surprise, it doesn’t quite go to plan and Rick ends up locked in a shipping container in his underwear by the end of the episode. Elsewhere, Tara and Daryl plot to work against Rick’s plans and want to drive a truck full of explosives into the Sanctuary. Carl meets up with the chap from back at the gas station, and after the pair fight off some Walkers, Carl manages to recruit him to help protect Alexandria. Ezekiel continues to lose faith in his ability to lead people, despite Carol’s best efforts to change his mind. Maggie tries to deal with her new captured Saviours and then chucks Gregory in the cage with them when he tries to defy her authority (again!). It was a week of power plays and half-naked Rick.
The Walking Dead S8.07 - Time for After
In episode 7, there’s even more semi-naked Rick - there’s life drawing and everything! - but of course, there are also Walkers… and Negan. Inside the walls of the Sanctuary, Eugene realises Dwight is helping Rick and co, and stupidly pledges his allegiances to Negan’s crew. Half-naked Rick manages to convince Jadis to help them (you can see how this will go), but not before he has to fight another suped-up Walker filled with blades and wearing a helmet. And yes, he’s still in his boxers. While all that’s going down, Tara and Morgan help Daryl facilitate driving the explosive truck through the Walls of the Sanctuary, causing the whole facility to fill with Walkers, killing a load of the Saviours’ fighters. Rick arrives only to see the gaping hole in the side of the Sanctuary and not a Walker in sight.
The Walking Dead S8.08 - How It’s Gotta Be
After all the kerfuffle with Daryl’s sudden change of plan, the Saviours actually manage to escape the Sanctuary. They split up so they can take on the groups from the Hilltop and the Kingdom, before going straight to Alexandria to see Rick. Ezekiel gets the Kingdom residents to safety, but locks himself inside with the Saviours. At Alexandria, Carl puts together a plan to get the community into the sewers to hide. Dwight is exposed to the Saviours in the process though, and when Rick makes it back to Alexandria it’s revealed that Carl’s been bitten… DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!!!
The Walking Dead S8.09 - Honor
After a much needed winter hiatus, The Walking Dead season 8 returns with an episode that went a long way in redeeming the horrors of the past eight episodes. And most of that redemption came in the form of young master Carl Grimes. It’s his episode, without a doubt, as he dies in a mist of raw emotional intensity from all around him. After a lot of talking and hugging, Carl takes himself out with a silenced shot to the head while Michonne and Rick sob quietly on the porch - can’t alert those Walkers after all. Elsewhere, Carol and Morgan work to save Ezekiel from the Saviours he’s barricaded himself in with in the Kingdom, showing that Morgan definitely isn’t a pacifist anymore. There’s even a gory climax to the battle where young Henry - Carol’s latest ward - horrifically kills Negan’s goon, Gavin. It’s a twist most of us have seen coming since episode 6. Really, AMC? Another annoying kid turned killer? Yeah... no thanks.
The Walking Dead S8.10 - The Lost and the Plunderers
The Lost and the Plunderers ties up some of the mid-season premiere's threads with some interesting developments. Simon begins a mini coup against Negan by mowing down every last Heapster except Jadis. Aaron and Enid’s mad adventures to Oceanside remain more filler, than killer, as the latter heads back to Hilltop while the former figures out a way to get Cyndie on board. Rick returns to the Junkyard to discover Simon's crimes, but leaves Jadis abandoned amongst her zombified friends after he realises she's lost her usefulness. Jadis herself has dropped the cult act, too, and makes mince meat of her former crew with an industrial compacter. There might be a few lazy and unsubtle elements for episode 10 - like when Simon just casually drops into the conversation that there’s solar panels and a helipad hidden somewhere in the Junkyard - but the character plots are more than enough to propel season 8 forward with a momentum its never had before.
The Walking Dead S8.11 - Dead or Alive or
Daryl, Rosita, and a rather angry Tara lead what's left of Alexandrian to Hilltop through the swamps in an attempt to avoid the Saviours. Tara's desperate to kill Dwight and after a short chase, Dwight goes back to the Saviours, who still don't know he's been batting for Rick's team. Thanks to him, the Alexandrians get to where they're going safely. Nice one, Dwight. Tara get in the naughty corner.
Gabriel and Dr. Carson have escaped the Sanctuary, although the priest is still sick and having major issues with his sight. After a lot of God's guidance talk and a couple of close shaves, the pair are re-captured by the Saviours and Dr. Carson dies in the scuffle. Gabriel loses the plot, and ends up sorting bullets at Eugene's new outpost, where he's already getting too big for his boots. Meanwhile Negan decides to dip his bullets in Walker blood before heading off to fight Hilltop. Ahh, hence the episode's title...
The Walking Dead S8.12 - The Key
The Saviours are en route to the Hilltop, armed with weapons and bullets all coated with Walker blood. But Rick spots the convey from a lookout spot, and decides to try and take down Negan himself. There’s a car chase, a crash, and then Negan and Rick are fighting in a basement filled with flaming zombies. Neither are hurt, but Negan goes missing. With Negan gone, Simon takes this moment to try and convince Dwight to join his uprising. Of course, he doesn’t know that Dwight’s already defected, so Dwight pretends to reluctantly agree to overthrow Negan. Simon immediately rallies the troops to turn the plan to injure the Hilltop residents to an all out murderous rampage, which they agree to.
Meanwhile at the Hilltop, a set of crates have appeared outside their walls with a note offering to swap food or records for knowledge. The note’s from a new group led by Georgie, who’s accompanied by two guards known as Hilda and Midge. Maggie, Michonne, and Enid decide to do the exchange, and Georgie gives them a book of instructions for how to make structures like mills and other food making, future life-changing buildings. The episode ends showing Negan as Jadis’ prisoner. Intrigue ahoy!
The Walking Dead S8.13 - Do Not Send us Astray
The Saviours, led by Simon and a reluctant Dwight, assault the Hilltop with their Walker blood-tipped bullets and weapons. Members of both sides are killed, but the Hilltop crew have no idea that their injured are ticking Walker time bombs. Predictably everyone who was injured turns in the night, and Rick and co have to take a lot of survivors out. Elsewhere, Henry decides to steal a machine gun, goes into the cage with all the Saviour hostages, and demands to know who killed his brother. Of course, everything goes wrong, the hostages take his gun and escape, and then little darling Henry goes missing. This episode also spends a lot of time exploring Morgan’s morality and mental state, after he starts hallucinating the bloodied Gavin who continuously says: “You know what it is.”
The Walking Dead S8.14 - Still Gotta Mean Something
Remember when Jadis managed to take Negan captive? Well, she also managed to leave him next to a big bag of guns, and then let him go after both of them watched the mysterious helicopter arrive at the junkyard and then leave again. Nice one Jadis. Elsewhere, Rick goes a little bit mad. He and Morgan decide to brutality murder every single one of the Saviours that once were the Hilltop hostages, despite the fact that all of them (bar that annoying long-haired one) wants to go back to the Hilltop and beg for forgiveness. The blood and guts comes very much in contrast to the rest of the episode though, where Morgan, Michonne, and Carol all get a bit emotional about everything, especially the missing boy, Henry. Thankfully, Carol manages to find him and get him back to the Hilltop unscathed. But not before we see Negan let a mysterious stranger into his car en route back to the Sanctuary...
The Walking Dead S8.15 - Worth
The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead season 8 was a deliberate shift of focus to the Saviours' camp, resolving the issues around Simon and Dwight's various backstabbing and foul play. Negan ends up killing Simon in a fist fight in front of the entire Saviour clan, after Dwight sets up a scenario where he gets caught out betraying Negan. Dwight thinks he's gotten away with being a mole, gives a map with Negan's (actually fake) plan on it to Gregory to deliver to Maggie, but is caught out when it turns out Negan's passenger in episode 14 was actually Laura who tells Negan the truth about Dwight, whose fate is left hanging by the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Rosita and Daryl take Eugene hostage, but he manages to escape by vomiting on Rosita. Gross. And a lot of time is spent watching Aaron trying to survive on the outskirts of the Oceanside clan as he attempts to gain their trust.
The Walking Dead S8.16 - Wrath
Finally we've reached the finale of The Walking Dead season 8, and as expected it's more of a setup for The Walking Dead season 9 than a fitting close for the storylines that have plagued us since the end of season 6. The "all out war" finally happens, with Eugene actually playing bat for the Alexandrians again by rigging the Saviours' bullets to explode when fired. Rick and Negan finally have their major fight, and although Rick cuts Negan's throat, he survives after Rick decides he needs to be saved, so he can watch them build a new future through the bars of his forever cell. Jesus, Maggie, and Daryl really aren't happy about that though and plot to make Rick and Michonne pay for their mistakes. Morgan decides to take himself off somewhere to be alone (*cough* Fear the Walking Dead *cough*), and invites Jadis (actually called Ann) to go live at the Hilltop. She accepts. Later, Daryl takes Dwight out into the forest and rather than killing him, actually lets him go, tasked with finding his missing wife, Sherry. He finds a note from her that says "Honeymoon Infinity". There's also a giant Walker horde gathering near the Hilltop, larger than anything the group has ever seen before, but nonetheless all the ex-Saviours, Oceanside, Hilltop, and Kingdom residents begin building a new life.