Here we are, at the end of another season of “The Walking Dead,” and we’ve got more unknowns up in the air since, well, maybe ever in this series’ history. And it’s not hard to see why, if you’re the sort of person who compares the show to the comic books on which they’re based — “The Walking Dead” is in uncharted territory all the way around right now, an unprecedented situation and one that’s caught us off guard considering the show isn’t really close to catching up to the books.
Given the cavalcade of unknowns that we face as we head into another season finale on Sunday, we thought we should organize our thoughts a bit and make a list of the things we hope get dealt with this weekend. This is not a list of demands — we certainly don’t expect all of these things to be explored in the single episode we have left this year. But we can dream. Anyway, here’s what we’ve got.
Can Carl’s peace actually happen?
The April 8 episode of “The Walking Dead” has a pair of scenes bookending it that are likely very important to the future. It starts with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) reading the letter his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) wrote him before dying, in which Carl implores Rick to find a way to seek peace with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Carl was of the mindset before he died that eventually, the war would end, and it was imperative to the future that Rick and the others find a way to move forward; otherwise, the result would be perpetual conflict, a horrible life in an already horrible world. Rick has been resistant to the idea, even murdering the escaped Savior prisoners last week after lying that he would bring them back to the Hilltop. But the scene with Carl’s letter suggests he might be coming around. Meanwhile, the episode ends with Negan receiving Carl’s letter by way of Michonne (Danai Gurira) — and hardening against Carl’s pleas, instead planning to kill everyone on Rick’s side.
The influence of Carl’s ideas and death on Season 8 have been slowly building, but Negan’s answer after finding out Simon (Steven Ogg) and Dwight (Austin Amelio) betrayed him suggests peace might be impossible for now. We saw Carl’s vision of a possible future earlier in the season, it seemed like Carl’s ideas might have been the legitimate way for the “All-Out War” story to resolve itself (as well as for Negan to survive it). We’ll need to know if the loss of Carl really is enough to change the people he left behind, and what his death will amount to for the show going forward beyond Season 8. Right now, it seems like the conflict with Negan might persist, despite Carl’s best efforts.
Is Eugene planning something?
Eugene (Josh McDermitt) may be very key to that peace being possible. While it feels right now that another bloody battle is inevitable, which would make it pretty dang hard to convince the survivors to get along afterward, Eugene is a wild card. He’s in charge of making the bullets the Saviors need to make their last push, and it could very well be that he will prevent the final battle from even happening by giving them a bunch of defective bullets. Could Eugene actually be the true Savior of season 8?
What do Morgan’s hallucinations mean?
Morgan (Lennie James) has battled mental illness for several seasons now, often seeing things that weren’t there. He achieved some measure of peace in dealing with his visions, thanks to training in Aikido with Eastman, a man he met in the post-apocalypse. But since Morgan has fallen back into killing people and dealing with the tragedies of “The Walking Dead,” he’s started to see things again — specifically, as relates to the death of Benjamin, the young man from the Kingdom Morgan taught to fight with a stick like he does.
The visions have been tormenting Morgan by telling him he was “supposed to” do something and “you know what it is,” but we only have tidbits of information about what’s haunting him. We know the death of Morgan’s son was compounded by the loss of Benjamin, and that he took it hard when Benjamin younger brother Henry killed the Savior lieutenant Gavin for revenge. There seems to be some additional piece of the puzzle waiting to be revealed to teach us something more about Morgan’s mindset and psyche. We know he’s going on to “Fear the Walking Dead” at the end of this season, so it’s probable his current arc will be concluded before that happens.
What will Oceanside joining the war mean?
Time spent with Aaron (Ross Marquand) near Oceanside in this week’s episode, in which he again tries to convince the community to join the war against the Saviors, suggests eventually the group will get involved in some way. Rick and the people in the Hilltop have few potential allies left, though, and with Negan attempting to draw them into a trap, the Saviors could easily have the upper hand before long.
So Oceanside is going to matter in the upcoming conflict, but its people have a pretty negative history with both the Saviors and Rick’s people. Much of the current war is about the inability to forgive and the way seeking revenge continues to escalate until it becomes all-consuming. When Oceanside shows up, given what we’ve seen of Season 8’s themes so far, it’s going to be interesting to see how the community fits into the story, and how the choices its people make relate to the conflict between Rick and Negan.
What’s Georgie’s deal, and where is she from?
This is pretty tangential to the war, so I don’t necessarily expect it to be dealt with this year. But “The Walking Dead” has been known to sometimes end seasons with a cliffhanger, and I would expect at least some kind of tease as to what the future of the series looks like. But whether that tease will include any hints about Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) is anyone’s guess.
What’s going on with Jadis and that helicopter?
Likewise, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and the helicopter are a bit of a tangential thread given the main story stuff that absolutely must be dealt with next week. But at the same time it’s clear that that helicopter is going to be extremely important at some point, and could very well be a part of a forward-looking tease at the end of the season. Though I would not be particularly surprised with the last scene was the helicopter landing outside the hilltop, and then a cut to black before we find anything out about it.
Will “The Walking Dead” skip the Whisperer War?
There’s been a lot of speculation over the past few months about whether the show will skip over the next big storyline from the comics, in which a bunch of creepy folks who worship zombies wage a war against our heroes. Given the show’s ratings slide the last couple seasons, it’s been a common thought that AMC might want to change things up instead of bogging down Rick and co. in another depressing war that lasts for multiple seasons.
This season has given us some evidence that they’re going to do exactly that. There’s the helicopter that’s shown up a couple times, and also a mysterious woman named Georgie who looks an awful lot like a certain major comics character who doesn’t show up until after the Whisperer War. So what’s the deal? Will the season 8 finale give us any clues about what’s next?