REVIEW: The Walking Dead S8 E9 ‘Honour’ is needlessly long and miserable
The Walking Dead is finally back from the winter after that cliffhanger – and ‘Honour’ is about as joyful as one might expect.
Those hoping for a Jon Snow-style resurrection twist will be disappointed, as this episode does seem to confirm we’ve seen the last of Carl. His departure was every bit as depressing as actors and showrunners hinted it would be, fully fleshed out for maximum emotional impact in a feature-length opening episode.
‘Honour’ starts by going back in time and showing us Carl’s final days, from the fatal bite to his last letters to his burgeoning friendship with Siddiq. This extended sequence, which, like the episode, is longer than necessary, is set to the inspired choice of song ‘At the Bottom of Everything’ by the Bright Eyes. With a jovial tune and lyrics such as ‘We must rip out all the epilogues / From the books that we have read’, it’s oddly fitting.
There are two very satisfying reveals in this episode. Firstly, that Carl did not sacrifice himself for anyone – Siddiq seems an all round good guy, who also happens to be a doctor. Secondly, the ‘Old Man Rick’ timeline is finally explained. It’s not Rick’s fantasy for the future, it’s Carl’s. It a painful and beautiful resolution, one of The Walking Dead‘s more poignant plot twists.
Elsewhere, we learn how the Saviours escaped and how Morgan and Carol were able to rescue Ezekiel. Morgan’s transformation is beautifully contrasted with Carl’s. As Carl relays how easy it is to lose humanity in the new world, Morgan relapses into killing machine mode. This is surely the beginning of whatever it is that will cause Lennie James to leave the show and join spin-off Fear The Walking Dead.
For a goodbye episode, ‘Honour’ is about as drawn out as it gets. There’s plentiful misery, crying, and wise last words from Carl. It’s not necessary – this episode, including both Carl’s death and Morgan’s relapse, could have easily been handled in a normal-lengthed episode. It would have still been painful. The appeal of the end result thus depends on how much you like relentless misery.