(LOS ANGELES) — (SPOILER ALERT) The final episode of the eighth season of The Walking Dead opens with Rick remembering walking with a young Carl, before we open in the present.
At Hilltop, Rick tends to baby Grace before being interrupted by Sadiq. “How’d it happen?” Rick asks him of Carl’s fatal bite. He tells Rick.
At Hilltop, the resistance gets ready to fight. Daryl still doubts Dwight’s map. Morgan, meanwhile, gets spooked; he hears activity and nearly brains young Henry by accident.
The sounds Morgan heard turns out to be the former Saviors, led by Al. They volunteered to clear off walkers.
Morgan insists he go to fight, despite his mental state.
Back at Sanctuary, Eugene returns to find Dwight is now wearing the yellow “A” of a prisoner. Negan gloats to his turncoat. Eugene tells Negan the bullet order has been filled, and offers to witness the final battle himself.
Negan also takes Father Gabriel along to “take his confession.” He admits he sent a handful of his men into an unwilling feint to be sacrificed by Rick, as his gang undertakes what they think is an assault on Negan’s position.
Negan tells Gabriel the real plan: that new fake plans were planted on one of the sacrificial lambs, and Rick takes the bait. When he gets a second, Gabriel bails out of the moving car. The Saviors stop their caravan to look for him, noting he can’t get far with his compromised eyesight. It doesn’t take long for Saviors to catch him and Eugene puts a gun to his head questioning where his faith has gone.
Negan appears he’s going to tee off on the priest with Lucille, but doesn’t.
Elsewhere, Carol, Rick and the rest walk in a valley up a hill towards what they think is the next map point.
Meanwhile, other Saviors approach the relatively undefended Hilltop.
Just then, Rick’s gang is surrounded by the sound of the Saviors’ trademark whistling — and Negan’s voice over a loudspeaker. “I am everywhere, Rick” he teases.
Negan has Fr. Gabriel and Dwight at gunpoint, and counts down. At “Two,” the ridge comes alive with hundreds of Saviors, guns pointed down at Rick’s people. It will be a slaughter.
“One!” They fire, and each of the firearms blow off, including the one Negan has pointed at Gabriel. The malfunction nearly blows off Negan’s finger, and scores of Saviors are struck down with similarly explosive ammo failures.
“Now!” Rick commands, and his people charge. “EUGENE!” Negan screams, realizing he’s been had. Gabriel socks Negan. He gets to his feet, and Dwight tries getting his licks in. Negan gets free as Rick’s people pursue him.
Meanwhile, the Hilltop has evacuated, leaving it to the Saviors. Tara offers to stay behind to slow the baddies down. Al agrees, as do the former Saviors, who Tara doesn’t trust. She relents, giving them weapons.
Back on the ridge, Saviors charge Eugene, who has saved for himself a functioning pistol. He sloppily shoots a couple before Rosita, of all people, comes to his defense, shooting down others.
Outside Hilltop, Tara et al attempt to shoot down the Savior stragglers, when the enemies erupt in fireballs. The Oceanside ladies have joined the fight, bringing Molotov cocktails.
At the ridge, after taking heavy losses, Saviors surrender to Rick’s people.
Rick pursues Negan alone, and again misses him with his trusty revolver. Once again, they go man-to-man. They trade blows. Negan tees up Lucille, explaining the “Eeny Meeny” that ended Eugene was meant to spare Carl from watching his dad die. Negan said if he hadn’t, Carl could still be alive.
Rick begs for 10 seconds for Negan to hear out Carl’s call for peace. In doing so, it gives Rick a second to slash Negan’s throat.
Rick’s men and the captured Saviors have assembled behind him to see Negan fall. Rick orders Sadiq to save Negan. Maggie, Glenn’s widow flips out.
Rick tells everyone to go to their respective homes. If they live in peace, they all will live. If not, they’ll have to answer to him. He points to the approaching walker horde, explaining THAT is the true enemy. The factions disperse.
Rosita questions Eugene, who confirms he sabotaged all the guns. He explained that puking on her was part of his ruse to sell the deception. She admires the gambit, then socks him in the face. “That was for the puke.” “Fair game,” he muses.
We see a bloodied Rick where we saw him in the episode in which he buried Carl. “Let mercy prevail over my wrath,” he says, crying.
Back at Hilltop, Al makes his peace with Maggie, and promises to use that “Key to the Future” book to help built society back.
Hilltop folk including Tara get to the Sanctuary to trade resources; food for manpower to help rebuild.
Elsewhere, Daryl and Dwight finally face off for his reckoning. “I’m ready. I saw Negan taken down and that’s enough.” He falls to his knees crying in apology and begs for mercy. Daryl tells him to shut up and throws him car keys. “Go and keep going. If I see your face again, I’ll kill you,” he says, telling him to find his lost wife Sherry.
At the Scavenger compound, Morgan shows up to pass along to Jadis that Rick has invited her back. Morgan instead opts to stay alone. Viewers know his adventures continued tonight on Fear the Walking Dead.
Dwight returns to his marital home, and spots a note left for him by the now-drained beers he left for Sherry. Obviously, she’s still alive. The note has the symbol for infinity, and the word “Honeymoon.”
Back at the Hilltop, Maggie tells Jesus that Rick was right about everything…Except keeping Negan alive. “Rick was wrong. Michonne, too..We’re gonna show them.”
“Yeah, we will,” Daryl agrees.
In the infirmary, Rick and Michonne question Negan, whose throat is bandaged. They vow he’ll rot in a cell for his sins, and to show people that things can change.
Back at the burned out church, Fr. Gabriel is in his full priest’s frock. He kneels and thanks God for his life and his returned sight.
The season ends with Rick reading his own message to Carl, thanking him for showing him the way to “the new world.”
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