The Walking Dead season 8 finale is over. But has the show just made its biggest mistake yet? If you haven’t watched the last episode of The Walking Dead season 8, then please do not read any further. Here be spoilers for the climax of the war between Rick’s group and the Saviors.
So, the war is over. Or is it? And what have we learned from it? Rick still rules the roost, but he seems to have suddenly developed a surprisingly soft side. Rick decided (after all that fighting) to spare poor old nasty Negan’s life. Give me a break. Is this serious? Did I really just see that?
As readers of the comics will know, in the source material Rick does indeed decide to keep Negan alive and locked up. This is how the war ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimpering Negan. But the TV show has made many changes from the comics before. Perhaps Negan’s death might have been a worthy diversion to make.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been having a ball as Negan, but it seems that many fans are tired of the bat-swinging brute. Keeping him around for another season (or two or three) might not be the best way to win back viewers.
The real mistake here is that saving Negan from bleeding to death feels very out of character for Rick. To be fair, it felt out of character in the comics too. But in he comics it seemed more like Rick saved Negan in order to stop the Saviors from continuing their attack.
At least in the show, they tried to give Rick an extra bit of motivation to keep his nemesis alive. But that meant killing off Carl, and that was still a diversion too far for many comic readers.
In the show, Carl’s letters didn’t seem to be specific about not killing Negan. He just said that they didn’t have to kill everyone. Perhaps he simply meant that Rick should ensure he spares the Saviors.
Also in the show, Negan killed not only Glenn on that first night when they met. He also killed Abraham. That means keeping Negan alive is obviously going to be a huge problem for not only Maggie, but probably Rosita and maybe even Eugene too. Will any of them be able to move on if they don’t get the closure of watching Negan die?
In a show that’s done a pretty good job of exploring the dark side of humanity, this new ‘live and let live attitude’ could have some very worrying consequences. Do we really want to see a new peace-loving hippie Rick? Do we really want to see Negan get some kind of a redemption arc?
Or is the fun of season 9 just going to be watching Negan plan his escape? Maybe, just maybe, keeping Negan alive isn’t such a big mistake after all.