TV Show Review

TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD: Season 8, Episode 9: Honor [AMC]

Chandler Riggs The Walking Dead Honor

The Walking Dead: Honor Review

AMC‘s The Walking Dead, season 8, episodes 9, ‘Honor,’ brought us back from what had been a shaky first half (of a half-assed war, frankly), and seemed to present us with an uncertain second. To kick this off, however, the mid-season premier followed through on the one thing we kinda knew for certain, coming away from the mid-season finale.

Okay, then. Since we’re all here because of one slow, lingering death, already, I’ll just get on with it – Carl (Chandler Riggs) dies at the end.

We good? Doesn’t matter. It was what it was – my job is to figure what to make of it; and I’ve decided that it wasn’t just the passing of a major character (only three originals left – but better not to count), but the passing of The Hat. Maybe hats off, to Toddler Judith, was the way to go; but first, there was the matter of everyone else attending this episode-long eulogy.

So anybody remember that Old Man Rick flash-forward/ hallucination/ alt-timeline… thingy? Well, after an oddly singular first look, we got a bit more of its big picture – important, given that one of its occupants had been rendered unavailable for happy hereafter haze. It also provided hope for Jerry (Cooper Andrews), while foisting Siddiq (Avi Nash) on us (“He’s likable; you’ll like him; we thought you guys hated Hat Boy, anyway – try Siddiq.”)

That just presented it as a possible could-a-been life (complete with redeemed cast strays), flashed before the eyes of a grief-stricken Rick (Andrew Lincoln). I’m not sure how many more breaking points Rick has left, but I was left hoping that this one leads somewhere useful. Even one episode devoted to getting Rick out of Couldabeen County would be a waste of time – this was to be Carl’s here’s-your-Hat-what’s-your-hurry moment (preferably bottled).

With that fact made clear, the rest became a question of how would The Hat, still short of a Beard, make good with the little time he had left. Probably a better question to answer in hind-sight – given how disjointed Carl seemed, during his brief stint as commanding defender of Alexandria.

Of course, hiding your condition has been a Z genre trope since forever; but we already knew that this was the noble I-ain’t-got-time-to-bleed variety, and not the cowardly they’ll-turn-on-me-if-they-knew kind – adding a layer of bearable to the whole exercise.

An exercise that included spending quality time with replacements, Siddiq & Judith, I might add; but I’m trying not to get too far ahead, here (like, with Old Man Rick visions, ‘n stuff).

At some point, I’d likely would’ve had to point out that Riggs’ performance seemed sullen & distant; but that’s what his condition called for, so… bravo, I guess. Lincoln delivered as expected – he’s been in this position enough times – but at least Carl got the last word.

By the time Siddiq took his turn at memorializing to Carl’s face, there had to have been a number of drinking games developed around the word ‘Honor’ being thrown around; but I don’t know what to expect from actor Nash, just yet. Younger Judith… let’s just say that growing up Z left her unfazed by most everything – call it even. TBH, I found myself wishing her not to speak (and ruin what was passing for a moment); but the added audio cry-on-cue just killed it (and not in the Urban Dictionary sense). Then again, she will be forwarded all mail addressed to The Hat, going forward; so be nice.

Since enough of Carl’s little things scenes (like taking time to remember how good the Sun feels) would’ve added up to annoying, the episode also took the time to refill from the Savior siege break – and a part of me kinda wished they hadn’t.

In the time it took Morgan (Lennie James) to figure out what the opening move was, he could’ve moved on stopping it (no shooters, no corridor); but the season has had its plot serving its action, up ’til now, so surewhynot. Maybe it was just time for Morgan to re-certify his solo-tide-turner status.

Ah, but too many solo action saves would defy credibility, wouldn’t it? So, why not add a little gold plate to that plot armor, and re-certify the only other solo-tide-turner with bigger balls than all the others?

That’s right, Carol (Melissa McBride) & Morgan got paired up, for a reunion that was more Tier One Special Forces, than Redemption Road Movie.

I couldn’t be the only one thinking that watching The Corgan kill quick was better than watching The Hat die slow; but however contrived their pairing might’ve been, it was hard not to think of it as making up for their time wasted as peace-seekers, back at the start of the Kingdom thread.

Of course, Releasing The Corgan is entirely too sure-fire a solution, to any problem; so there needed to be a handicap. Mad Morgan was still close to the surface; so there was a built-in liability to the operation. I’d say Mad Morgan was also the winner of the most gruesome kill, this round; but I won’t get into that. No need for martial arts, when you got guts – regardless of whose.

Oddly enough, with the Saviors on the winning side of things, only Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith) was presented – still playing the role of the Good Cop. I suppose that was as good a reason as any for allowing Ezekiel (Khary Payton) more stagecraft time, before his date with Lucille. It also gave Ezekiel the I-know-what’s-coming role; which made for a neat who’s-looking-out-for-who dynamic, with Good Guy Gavin.

It was no surprise, then, how Gavin came out of that thread’s climax (neither was how his men performed – but it was that kind of episode). The resolution, however, took forever (with a threat of more resolution to come, even). Yeah, I get Carol & the King bringing Morgan back with their words; but way to hamstring the episode highlight.

Worse, still, was the supposed twist to it. I had hoped that Carol’s Pied Piper of Doom record would only be hinted at, this time around; but for the sake of The Corgan, protégé regret had to be a shared thing. Sharing was an overrated virtue, in this case. How’d everybody miss that little pisher, anyway? So maybe not a total loss, s’far as double Master mentoring goes….

Naturally, Carl’s send-off took its own sweet time; but at least more come of it. For one thing, there was a more satisfying twist to the Old Man Rick vision (with nobody to pull out of it, later – cheers). With that, the issue of Rick’s latest break might not be an issue, at all – as, ultimately, the whole Honor thing fell on father & son agreeing to a future fit for kids (besides Judith).

The end was about what you’d expect, at this point: everyone got to say everything about pretty much everything, some closure, and an off-screen offing. A question of which of them invited Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to the utopia vision, however, brought a last minute jolt to the send-off, that might’ve been more necessary than I had first realized.

So the big question, going forward (no, not “where were the Walkers” – good one, though), is do we get back to war, or stop to take stock. Some even-odded revenge-seeking, from both sides, would be nice… but unlikely. The characters will have to take stock of things, and we’re likely to be brought back up to speed, again – whether we want to, or not.

The best thing, about this turn of events, is that it means one more break from source history. That amounts to less we can take for granted – both plot & character-wise – and that’s always a good thing. The flip-side, of course, is that this level of creative freedom could easily degrade to Showrunners just making stuff up, as they go along. I’d put that squarely in the don’t-want category.

Even though ‘Honor’ didn’t provide all that much encouragement, going into season eight’s second half, a question of how Rick goes about salvaging Carl’s vision – despite/ with Negan – did at least make for a point of interest. At this point, I’d take that. It could still be a long slog season – I’m going to need something to look forward to.

Okay, then. Here’s your Hat, Judith. There’s no hurry.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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