Although only a few hours have passed in Season 8 of “The Walking Dead,” they’ve been eventful, but the climax was even more so. As is usually the case with "The Walking Dead," not everyone is going to make it out of this alive.
The episode opens right where last week’s left off. Rick has discovered that the Saviors have escaped the walker perimeter that he, Maggie and Ezekiel have so tediously set up. Not only are the Saviors out and looking to retaliate for the attack, but he’s got to convince the reluctant Scavengers he brought to not kill him. Fortunately the last part is done for him as they’re hit with fire from the Sanctuary, allowing the Scavengers to run away to smell up the place another day.
With Rick pinned down and alone, Carol arrives to help, but it’s unclear how she knew he was in danger. They escape and make haste to their respective homes, not knowing where Negan will hit.
Meanwhile, the episode catches up with Aaron and Enid, who went on a mysterious mission at the end of last week’s episode. It turns out, they’re heading to the Oceanside community to ask for help. This is a tall order given that the last time they were there, they took all of their guns. However, their plan quickly goes south when Aaron is caught by the leader of Oceanside in the dark, forcing Enid to shoot her. Just like that, they’re not only captured, but look an awful lot like an assassination team rather than a peace envoy.
Back in Alexandria, the unsuspecting survivors are planning to return to the Sanctuary where they’ll accept Negan and the Savior’s surrender. The picturesque survival life is cut drastically short when Negan bangs on the gate and shouts at them through a loudspeaker. He makes it clear that the way he sees the night going is for the Alexandrians to accept their loss, line up in front of their homes to apologize and watch him kill Rick in front of everyone. Also, he plans to kill the person with the lamest apology.
Alexandria isn’t alone. The Kingdom is easily invaded now that their able-bodied soldiers are all dead. When King Ezekiel hears them coming, he manages to go into hiding as his people are told they’ll no longer be allowed to just give the Saviors a fraction of their earnings. They’ll only get just enough to stay alive, and those well-enough to travel will have to help rebuild the Sanctuary.
Meanwhile, Maggie and Jesus are leading the Hilltop’s people to go collect Negan’s surrender, only to be halted on the road by the Saviors, who reveal they’ve captured everyone’s favorite axe-wielding nobleman, Jerry. He doesn’t look good. Simon emerges to inform them that they’ll kill Jerry unless they surrender. Backed into a corner, Maggie and Jesus comply as Simon makes it clear that their status as farmers is the only thing keeping the Hilltop alive. The alternative was to kill Jerry now, Maggie in front of everyone at the Hilltop and then lead the walker herd to its walls to starve them out.
Their compliance, while able to avoid Simon’s plan A, doesn’t save Neil, a Hilltop member that Simon executes to teach them a lesson. Maggie asks for the coffin that was meant to intimidate them as a way to bury Neil, and their altercation is over. She returns to the Hilltop and executes a prisoner. She leaves the box with a message for Negan, revealing she'll kill the hostages if he tries anything.
Back at Alexandria, Carl is calling the shots and hatches a plan for him to distract Negan at the front gate while the Alexandrians burst out the back. He approaches Negan and offers his own life as punishment for what his father did to the Saviors. Negan is surprised by the offer, everyone seems to be. He’s always had a soft spot for Carl, so he asks him if he actually wants to die. However, when he notices the Alexandrians escaping, he flips.
“Was that just a play? I thought we were having a moment you little a------,” he yells. “BOMBS AWAY!”
With that, the Saviors start bombing Alexandria from outside the gates.
Carl gets knocked prone for a minute and isn’t able to make his otherwise daring escape before the Saviors get in. Negan gets inside and orders his men to find Carl but not kill him, to blow up the rest of the houses and send Rick to him once he returns.
Meanwhile, the second part of Carl’s plan goes into effect. Dwight, their man on the inside of the Saviors, didn’t fortify the back exit as well as he could have. He also leads the pursuing Saviors into a trap where Daryl, Tara, Rosita and more ambush them. Realizing he can’t return fire against the Alexandrians, he makes himself known as the traitor and guns down his own people. However, one of them escapes, free to tell the tale of Dwight’s betrayal. On the plus side, Daryl finally got his vest back.
Back at the Kingdom, the Saviors are searching for Ezekiel because they want him alive. The King uses this opportunity to create a distraction that allows the others to escape. However, it meant submitting himself for capture. If he tries to escape again, he’ll lose his arms. Just like that, the Kingdom has fallen.
The episode ends on some high drama, as Rick stealthily returns to Alexandria to search for Carl, Judith and Michonne. Instead, he finds Negan, and the two of them finally have a one-on-one showdown. Negan’s Lucille gives him a small advantage, but Rick manages to knock him down. However, when Rick picks up Lucille to do some damage, it enrages Negan who pushes him out a window. Cutting his losses, Rick escapes into the night to find Michonne and make his way underground where the rest of the Alexandrians are hiding in the sewers. He assesses the situation finally finding his son.
Carl looks pale and admits that the reason he was so willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good was because his attempts to save a stranger last week led to him getting bitten by a walker. The bite is on his side, so there’s no going back. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until the show returns in February to find out what happens, if the Alexandrians can rebuild and how the war with Negan will end.