It’s a whole new world. The Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead saw the war between Rick and Negan finally come to an end. While the battle itself was a bit anticlimactic, the explosive firefight was the culmination of a nightmare that began exactly two years ago when Negan first stepped out of that Winnebago for the first time.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 finale ahead.
In “Wrath,” Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the leaders of their respective sides, finally met on the battlefield. No empty buildings, no fiery baseball bats, no bullshit. On a sprawling field with a wide view of an incoming horde of walkers, Rick and Negan trade blows. The winner: Rick.
Although Negan believed he had the upper hand thanks to his own leaked “intel,” an unexpected save by the turncoat Eugene — who loaded every Savior rifle with bad ammo, killing nearly half the Saviors and rendering their weapons useless — gives Rick the upper hand he needed. Finally, when it’s down to just Rick and Negan, Rick reminds Negan of the late Carl. A moment’s hesitation on Negan’s part allows Rick to slice Negan’s throat… which wasn’t fatal, as it turns out. It was just enough to get Negan down, allowing Siddiq to patch him up to the dismay of Maggie (Lauren Cohan). The season isn’t quite over yet, but Rick may have a new enemy in a really pissed-off pregnant widow.
There’s also a nice helping hand from Oceanside, the all women’s group Walking Dead fans haven’t seen for quite a while. As half the Saviors were losing to Rick, the rest came looking for trouble at the Hilltop. Though Tara armed a few Savior prisoners, Oceanside came in with a clutch save, throwing grenades and lighting up Saviors like the fourth of July.
As for Morgan (Lennie James), well, he’s a strange one. After the battle, Morgan handed in his Kingdom armor, and came to join Jadis (Pollyanna Macintosh), who totally sat out of the big fight, in her lovely trash heap. Though Jadis left on her own, Morgan decided to stay back. Somehow, this leads directly into Morgan’s spin-off adventure in Fear the Walking Dead.
Though Rick doesn’t kill Negan, he will keep him as a prisoner, who will “rot in a cell” to prove that Negan is wrong about people. Unfortunately, under Rick’s nose, Maggie, Jesus (Tom Payne), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) have their own plans for Negan. But that’s later. For now, the war is over. In his own “letter” to his late son, Rick thanks his son for bringing him to “the new world.” Let’s hope it’s a brave, noble one, too.
The Walking Dead Season 9 does not yet have a premiere date.