Even with a few legacy issues, Honor was a strong return to form for The Walking Dead. With the death of one of the final Day 1 characters, it would have been more surprising if this was a crappy episode. Despite knowing this episode was going to mark the farewell for a pivotal character over eight seasons, it had the intended emotional impact and kicked off some major developments.
Lemme get the lousy stuff out of the way first. The Walking Dead isn’t a show that needs to keep experimenting with montages. If so they really need to, they need more appropriate songs that are much shorter.
Morgan casually watched The Saviors from his perch only to not do anything as they broke out was silly. Inaction was a common thread this season that’s resulted in a lot of deaths. At least Morgan made up for this mistake in a big way.
And last time (for a while) that I’m going to mention the idiotic way Carl gets written out of the show. There was no reason Carl would have just let walkers get that close to him and letting one crawl and take a bite out of him ranks his death pretty high. It’s not Andrea level of stupidity, but it’s up there.
Ok, with the silliness out of the way, let’s break down the good stuff as there was a lot here.
I’ll start with the easiest. Carol and Morgan went 80s action heroes on the Saviors who had Ezekiel. Morgan was on ultra level of death kill mode. Pulling the intensities out of old boy is a Rick level savage kill and rightfully had Gavin shook. Morgan didn’t stop there and turned into a horror movie villain as he slowly stalked Gavin. But Ezekiel and Carol started tapping back in to Morgan’s peaceful persona. So basically we’re just gonna go with the notion that Morgan is the Split character on TWD?
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The writers have done a great job of making The Saviors, including 20% decent ones like Gavin, unsympathetic so I was glad Carol’s would-be padawan Henry killed him. And I also appreciated that Henry didn’t have any remorse about it beyond the shell shock of killing someone.
Most of Honor focused on Carl’s imminent death. I griped about the lack of Michonne so far this season, but it was completely worth it to see Dania Gurira kick so much tail as Okoye in Black Panther. Plus, she was so good throughout this episode as Michonne tried to cope with the loss of her closest friend. I’m excited about what Siddiq will do to honor Carl. It’s helpful that he was in his residency as this gang really needed a doctor in the worst way.
I’ve been enjoying the mini Red Machete featurette and this week featured the return of The Claimers. That was the crew Daryl ran with until Rick got a little too close with the leader’s throat.
Carl’s death seemed to shake some sense in the Alexandria crew. With The Saviors bombing up above, Rosita wanted to get to The Hilltop pronto. She wisely listened to Dwight’s advice to wait until they stopped the assault on Alexandria and left. Rick also didn’t get stupid and want to drag Carl along for no good reason. He was dying anyway. There was no sense to risk getting someone else hurt so Carl could see The Hilltop and get buried next to Glenn, Abraham and Sasha.
This also worked out better as it allowed Michonne and Rick to have some sort of personal closure with Carl resulting in some excellent work from Chandler Riggs.
Carl’s final conversation with Rick felt like Luke Skywalker talking to Darth Vader if Luke was dying on the Death Star desperately trying to get through to his father. It was, as expected, a great moment, but one that actually instills an agenda beyond All Out War.
I loved the callback to Rick’s pacifist days and how that was the time period Carl most fondly remembered. That was the good old days when the old gang didn’t have their heads bashed in with baseball bats, folk’s legs weren’t being used for dinner, and Herschel’s only missing appendage was his leg.
After what felt like an obnoxious build-up over several episodes, there’s a point to the Old Man Rick scenes with a cool twist. Were those just moments Carl envisioned of a better tomorrow or a glimpse of things to come? Seeing Jerry, Siddiq and even Eugene was interesting, but even old man Negan??? That’s a crazy twist.
And I bet Rick was recalling Carl’s vision he swore to see to reality as he sat under that tree with bloody hands. But whose death would lead to such a reaction? These random disconnected scenes actually started coming together in Honor and finally give them a purpose.
Once it got going, Honor felt like a TWD throwback in a good way. Maybe it’s too early to call it the turnaround episode of the season, but it definitely has me feeling a lot more encouraged about the rest of the season.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC