The Walking Dead Awards: Mercy prevails (again)

Season 8, Episode 16: The war is over

The Walking Dead 816(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of The Walking Dead, much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Eugene saves Rick, Rick saves Negan, and the Saviors save themselves.

Season 8, Episode 16: “Wrath”

Tearjerker: Unlike many finales, this one came and went without a major character death (although we did have at least two non-fatal departures in Morgan and Dwight). So the emotional pull this time around came in Rick’s memories of Carl. Walking with toddler Carl past a field of cows and placing his sheriff’s hat on his head. Writing a letter to him. Finally listening to his last words about not killing everyone in sight. Excuse us, we have something in our eyes . . .

The Walking Dead 816
We’re not crying; you’re crying.

Photograph by Gene Page/AMC

Biggest waste: Lest we forget that this is the apocalypse and resources are scarce. We haven’t seen anyone making clothes, so why waste a perfectly good white T-shirt just to make a Scare-Rick for Negan to use for target practice? Seriously.

And speaking of a lack of resources . . . How the heck does that one Savior have blue hair? It wasn’t even a washed-out, faded teal like he’d dyed it long ago—it was fresh. The Saviors just happened to have some Manic Panic lying around?

Best 180: We’ve been going back and forth on Eugene’s motives for the longest time, but we’re so glad everything worked out. Yes, technically Eugene was a spineless traitor up until Rosita’s stern talkin’ to, but hey, a win is a win. Not only did we not see his redemption coming, we didn’t even peg Eugene as the saboteur at first. When the Saviors guns exploded, our first thought was the Oceanside crew had actually taken down the foes with some fancy marksmanship.

Eugene-ism of the week (now that we’re allowed to like him again): “One fell swooper”

Best fake-out: When Rick slashed Negan’s throat, it looked like it was game over for the super villain. But that felt immensely unsatisfying. Negan is such a complex character and so many more interesting stories can be told with him, as the comics prove. Thankfully Rick ordered Siddiq to save his life, and Negan lived to see another day.

Most hypocritical: In one scene, Jesus is helping Morgan understand that you don’t have to kill the living, and the next, he’s part of Maggie’s coup, wanting Negan dead. Just seems odd.

The Walking Dead 816
In this moment, Maggie’s storyline takes a hard turn.

Photograph by Gene Page/AMC

Misplaced anger: In fact, almost everything about Maggie’s coup seems off. We can understand her wanting Negan dead, but along with Jesus’s aforementioned humane actions, the third co-conspirator, Daryl, had also just let Dwight go. Furthermore, it’s not like Negan gets a cottage and a day-pass. He’s in jail for life without parole. That’s got to be worse than a swift death.

More to the story: Jadis introduced herself to Morgan as “Anne.” We assume this is her legal name, so how did she come up with Jadis? Was this a pre-apocalypse moniker or did she go by it before? Unfortunately, we could see a small detail like this going unanswered, but here’s hoping.

Fastest runner: Boy, Morgan really booked it to get to Texas and Fear the Walking Dead during the ending credits.

Best line: “I am bigger, I am badder, and I got a bat.” —Negan to Rick

Most disturbing image: Negan’s trap-within-a-trap. Whistling coming from all sides, loudspeakers to project his voice, and lots of heavily armed Saviors took us right back to that night in the woods where Abraham and Glenn met their ends. When the countdown started, and Rick and Co. were completely outgunned, we weren’t sure how they were going to get out of this one. We held our breath, expecting for many of the characters we loved to fall until . . .

Best kill: Every bullet the Saviors tried to fire backfired and exploded, injuring and killing them. And we finally, finally got our Eugene back. So we’re awarding this one to Good Eugene, for his ingenuity, and to Bad Eugene, for dying.

Episode MVP: Rick, for finally opening his eyes. He admits in his letter to Carl that he lost himself, but by sparing Negan and the rest of the Saviors that Eugene’s bullets didn’t kill, he took the steps needed to regain his humanity. How this next conflict between he and Maggie will play out we’re not sure, but hopefully we’ll see the leader we knew before Negan again in season nine.

Things we still don’t know: What’s the connection between Jadis and the helicopter; where is Georgie from and why is she distributing Society for Dummies; and what ever happened to Heath??? AMC, we’re not going to forget about that loose end.

And once again, where exactly does Rick fall this week on the calm/crazy scale?

The Walking Dead 816

Illustration by Matt Walljasper; photographs courtesy of AMC