The Walking Dead S8.11 review: “A few interesting footnotes to a generally innocuous chapter of filler, no killer”

There's hundreds of reasons why you might have missed out on the first half of The Walking Dead season 8 last year. There's a new episode every week, and hey, you're a busy person. That... or you decided it was no longer worth keeping up with its soap opera shenanigans any longer. 

Frankly, I don't blame you, but we've provided a full recap of every season 8 episode so far in the breakdown below, so that you don't have to watch a single second if you don't want to. In fact, you could just read on from here before diving right back into the mid-season premiere as though you hadn't missed a single thing. Suffice to say, there's major spoilers for The Walking Dead season 8 below, but that's the price you pay for taking our TV short cut. 

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 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 all her use to him. 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 season 8 airs every Sunday at 9pm on AMC in the US, and every Monday at 9pm on Fox in the UK from February 25/26.