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Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's midseason finale.
Each season, The Walking Dead aims to kick off its winter hiatus in the most exciting ways possible. Sometimes it succeeds, and other times, it fizzles. Tonight's 90-minute capper, titled "How It's Gotta Be," took the All Out War to some explosive quasi-conclusions, and it left us with all kinds of questions about the characters, the communities, and everything else worth asking. Join us in pondering the big questions about where The Walking Dead will go next during the back half of Season 8.
What's Next For Carl?
"How It's Gotta Be" did one of the more unthinkable things in The Walking Dead's transition from comics to TV: it basically killed off Carl, showing fans that he'd been bitten by a walker. But it was revealed by Scott Grimes on Talking Dead that we haven't seen the last of Carl yet, as he's got some things to do before leaving The Walking Dead forever. Sadly, it's going to be extremely hard for him to do some of those things, since Negan and the Saviors are going to make it impossible for anyone to roam freely. Plus, if Carl wanted to give Enid some kind of heartfelt farewell, it's won't come easy. Speaking of...
What Happened To Enid And Aaron?
Early on in the midseason finale, we got to watch Enid and Aaron's side trek to Oceanside. When they arrived, there wasn't exactly a welcome party, and Aaron found himself very close to being a goner after Natania clubbed him. Of course, he never escaped that potentially awful fate, since Enid saved him by shooting Natania in the back and killing her. One assumes that the Oceanside survivors are going to make life hell for the duo, but the episode failed to return to that situation to clear anything up. (Just like with Heath's absence, it appears anyone who messes with Oceanside has to go missing for a while.) So will Oceanside end up joining the fight, or are Enid and Aaron going down?
Is Rick's Flash-Forward Still Important At All?
Even before Season 8 kicked off, The Walking Dead had fans going crazy with confusion over Old Rick's arrival in that bizarre flash-forward, complete with "Weird" Al on the soundtrack. Some viewers were wary about that sequence actually being a prophetic look at the future, and Carl's impending death is as sure a sign as any that it wasn't a legitimate "flash-forward." That makes sense, since there were a lot of little callbacks in that fantasy-esque sequence hinting at its fictional nature, from Would-Be Judith's bunny to owl references. But is there any other information to be gleaned from it, or was Carl's now-unrealistic presence the only relevant element?
Is Dwight Going To Make It?
A crossroad has been building when it comes to Dwight's role within the Saviors, as well as his role within Team Family. It seemed like Eugene might have ratted on him at some point by recording Dwight's frank confession, but he was possibly just getting insurance. In any case, the jig is up, and Dwight's double-crossing was witnessed by another Savior who will likely alert the rest of the Saviors. But even though he helped out Daryl & Co. and did everything that was asked of him, he won't be on Easy Street when it comes to Team Family. Of course, Team Family is currently in deep shit, so it'll be hard to turn down any help in the foreseeable future.
How Will Maggie Save Everything?
Of all the altercations that went down in The Walking Dead's midseason finale, the most effective was a completely verbal one, happening between Maggie and Simon. Even though Maggie was forced to voice her compliance with Negan's new rules, it was later shown that she has very little to offer by way of loyalty to the man responsible for killing her beloved Glenn. Maggie appears determined to jump-start the next round of battles in the All Out War by brutally made it public that she's holding that batch of Saviors hostage (along with Gregory). Negan probably won't mind sacrificing another few dozen soldiers if it means defeating Maggie, but how will Maggie stop that defeat from happening?
Why Didn't Jadis' Group Get Killed Off?
Perhaps this is a more opinion-guided question than others, but this episode could have been a prime place for The Walking Dead to do away with a lot of mostly useless characters at the same time it whittled down its ensemble of main characters and settings. Even though last week's episode ended with Rick and Jadis' junkyard-igans making that big discovery about the Sanctuary, tonight's midseason finale completely left those smelly bastards by the wayside, making us wonder why on Earth the creative team is still keeping them around, despite their lack of forward momentum. Hopefully something horrible is coming for them soon.
Can Alexandria Be Rebuilt?
We can also call this one, "Why Did All Those Alexandria Houses Blow Up From The Inside?" As Negan's attack moved forward, it seemed that everywhere Carl looked, places were exploding. But it was as if every single explosive was aimed specifically for the inside of each house (or church), since they all exploded from the inside, with flames erupting through all the windows and doorways. Moving beyond the logistical issues involved there, will that massive destruction make it impossible for Rick's crew to rebuild Alexandria at whatever point they end up "winning" the All Out War? Will everyone just move to Hilltop? Or will a time jump take care of all that rebuilding?
Why Is Father Gabriel's Plan Still Happening?
In theory, I get that Father Gabriel wants Dr. Carson at Hilltop so that Maggie's pregnancy and eventual labor will be handled in the best way possible, and that he isn't fully on the up and up when it comes to what the other communities are going through. But Eugene knows damned well that Team Negan is gaining the upper hand at that point, so why was he choosing THEN to allow Gabriel's plan to go into action? Especially since Gabriel didn't even look healthy enough to fluff a pillow. Hilltop is being allowed to keep producing, but won't things be a little worse for the good guys when Negan finds out his only doctor has gone back to Hilltop?
Why Wasn't Alexandria Immediately Overrun With Walkers?
Now, I know that a small group of Saviors is leading a giant pack of Saviors away from the Sanctuary and other communities, but it's not like every single walker out there was part of that group. So whenever Negan showed up making big vocal threats, and whenever he started bombing the bejesus out of Alexandria, why weren't there any stray walkers immediately drawn in by all that noise? Also, did Carl just not even briefly consider the fact that walkers might be wandering whenever he came up with his smoke bomb plan? Yeah, they started showing up later on, but Negan's loud mouth should have made the presence happen almost instantaneously.
For the next couple of months, we'll have to keep guessing all of these answers, since The Walking Dead won't be back on AMC until Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. There's lots of other new and returning shows making their way to the small screen soon, though, so hop over to our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.