As The Walking Dead capped off its midseason finale, many fans were heartbroken to learn that Carl Grimes would be following so many other major characters in tragic death. A shocker like that will definitely reverberate across the series' characters and plotlines (and stars) possibly throughout the rest of its run, and its effects will first become evident in the upcoming midseason premiere. I had the pleasure to preview the well-crafted episode, titled "Honor," and despite a few sour moments, fans will hopefully appreciate the ways "Honor" closes one narrative door while nudging another open. Let's dive into the spoiler-free fun.
The Show Has Rarely Been So Emotionally Powerful
It was made clear soon after the midseason finale that The Walking Dead would be giving viewers time to actually mourn Carl when Season 8 returned, as opposed to how the show usually handles its character deaths. Which was probably the best decision that the creative team could have made here, since it not only smooths out lingering reaction issues with Carl getting bitten, but it also allows several main characters to go through some of the traditional stages of grief in effective ways. On top of all that, the Carl-centric section of the story is balanced with other story elements in ways that resonate strongly, both during the scenes and after.
Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira and Chandler Riggs are obviously closest to Carl's story, and they indeed deliver performances that will cause many a fans' eyes to well up with tears. To be sure, sadness isn't the only emotion that "Honor" inspires, as there are only scenes that invoke hope, happiness, compassion and determination, and other characters enter the mix throughout to deliver crazy action moments. But let's not fool ourselves here, however; there won't be any jazz funerals in or around Alexandria.
It Truly Feels Like Major Changes Are Coming
One of the biggest questions that Walking Dead fans have had on their minds is how the show's characters will move on from this surprising tragedy, as well as where the writers have directed the story to go in its wake. "Honor" obviously doesn't outline the next 100 days of Team Family's existence or anything, but seeds are being planted for where Rick and Negan's war is going. While I can't speak to any future episodes, everything here felt like the calm before the earth-shaking storm, especially when it came to Morgan and Carol's quest.
In the trailer and in previous clips, fans learned that the plan is to get everyone to the Hilltop Colony, which is basically the only plan that makes any sense anyway. But plans on The Walking Dead are meant to be taken with a grain of salt, and not everyone is together just yet. And let's not forget that there's now a stranger in the Alexandrians' midst, with Siddiq also taking refuge underground while havoc reigns above, and his influence is certainly felt in the episode. We know that the All Out War will be ending before Season 8 wraps up in one way or another, with Scott Gimple moving up and writer Angela Kang replacing him as showrunner for Season 9, so "Honor" is a good indication that The Walking Dead will be going through its biggest changes yet in the near future.
Not all viewers will agree with me about the midseason premiere, of course, but I found it successfully incorporated many elements that The Walking Dead generally excels at, without much time left over for tangential or less effective scenes. Granted, dedicating part of the story to Carl's farewell means we don't catch up with certain characters we've been wondering about, but in this instance, the wait is worth it.
Definitely make the effort to catch The Walking Dead's midseason premiere on AMC when it airs on Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. And take note that many more shows are debuting and returning before and after that big episode, so check out our midseason premiere schedule to stay current.