So many stories, so little time. But in a lot of ways, The Walking Dead fall finale wrapped up many of those stories Sunday night and gave fans a satisfying conclusion for the first half of season 7.
STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN EPISODE 8, SEASON 7 OF THE WALKING DEAD
The 90-minute “Hearts Still Beating” had viewers on the edge of their seats, because we all knew there would be blood. We just didn’t know whose death would bring tears to Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) sad blue eyes.
— Jess. (@JessicaCanTweet) December 12, 2016
For a minute there, it looked like villainous Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan ― who, by the way, won a Critics’ Choice Award for the role on Sunday night) might kill Carl (Chandler Riggs) or Judith (Chloe and Sophia Garcia-Frizzi), because of all the time he spent in Rick’s house casually shaving his beard, making jokes, and cooking up dinner. But ultimately, he seemed to enjoy the awkward tension and the house’s many amenities, and some fans kind of liked Negan’s usurping approach.
Negan is that Uncle who comes over during the Holidays, acts as if he owns the place and overstays but you still love him. #TheWalkingDead
— Will (@DarkSharkRanger) December 12, 2016
Others wanted Carl to remember that he wanted to kill Negan in the first place and try again. And then there are those who fretted over Carl’s health.
— Trevor Michaels (@trevmikewrites) December 12, 2016
— Kamala T'Chaka Khan (@NectarousD) December 12, 2016
But the episode’s stakes ultimately proved higher than Carl’s exposed eye.
Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) fought a horrifyingly convincing lake full of zombies; Richard (Karl Makinen) tried unsuccessfully to convince Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride) to tell Ezekiel (Khary Payton) that the Kingdom needs to proactively attack the Saviors; Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Sasha (Sonequa Martin), and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) made new friends and pissed off Gregory (Xander Berkeley) over at the Hilltop; and Daryl (Norman Reedus) overkilled Fat Joey (Joshua Hoover) before he and Jesus (Tom Payne) escaped the Saviors’ settlement.
Meanwhile, Spencer (Austin Nichols) tried to ingratiate himself with Negan in Alexandria.
— The Walking Dead (@TheWalkingDead) December 12, 2016
And Michonne (Danai Gurira), on a quest to take down Negan on her own, rode shotgun with a free-range Savior.
With all these storylines unfolding at once, fans seemed most grateful and frightened by the zombies in the lake, especially when it seemed like Aaron might die.
— Ry (@ShoghTaNOie) December 12, 2016
But more importantly:
Drowning in a lake full of zombies is my new nightmare, so…thanks for that #TheWalkingDead
— Matt (@TheOnlyMattBuek) December 12, 2016
Rick and Aaron’s watery adventure reaped a lot of goods to give Negan, but it also introduced a shadowy mystery man who watched the pair as they packed up their truck and split. Yikes!
Is this guy with the weird boots a friend or a foe? Guess we’ll find out in February.
— Galvatron Jones (@galvatron_jones) December 12, 2016
More than anything, fans wanted to see what it would take for Rick to be Rick again and fight back. Thankfully, it happened, but it involved a lot of death ― Spencer and Olivia (Ann Mahoney) ― and loss. Negan nabbed Eugene (Josh McDermitt), cut Rosita’s (Christian Serratos) pretty face, and took all of the supplies that Rick, Aaron, and Spencer brought in.
— walking dead scenes (@waIkingscenes) December 12, 2016
TRIPLE OH SHIT!!! #TheWalkingDead
— Josh McDermitt (@JoshMcDermitt) December 12, 2016
To make matters worse, a couple of Negan’s henchmen beat up Aaron really badly. So by the time Michonne came home ready to get that old loving feeling back with her Sheriff boo, Rick had already decided it was time to fight and Twitter rejoiced.
— B E A N Z (@PhotosByBeanz) December 12, 2016
— Daryl Dixon (@ImmortalDixon) December 12, 2016
As for Rosita’s crappy shot, which ended up inside Lucille instead of Negan, and Spencer’s gruesome death ― yeah, fans had thoughts on that scene too.
DAMMIT ROSITA U HAD ONE JOB #TheWalkingDead
— Tani V (@tani_vegas97) December 12, 2016
— jacque reid (@jacquereid) December 12, 2016
RIP Spencer. U died b/c ur dumb. 🙄💀 #TWD
— The Walking Dead (@Amctwdfanpage) December 12, 2016
— Brimstone (@entrancetohell) December 12, 2016
Even Spencer’s foray into zombie life turned out to be sad and short-lived, because Rick killed him as soon as he turned. Rick had bigger fish to fry, and when he reunited with Daryl and the gang at the Hilltop, the reunion fired up fans who are ready for the gang to move onward and upward in the second half of season 7 ― and lay some serious hurt on homicidal Negan and his alt-Dead Savior drones.
Oh God it snuck up on me. Daryl & Rick reuniting has me balling my eyes out. #TheWalkingDead
— Josh McDermitt (@JoshMcDermitt) December 12, 2016
— Amanda (@LynnetteFaye) December 12, 2016
All I want in this world is for someone to hug me the same way Rick just Hugged Daryl… #TheWalkingDead
— Christopher M. Cook (@ChrisMattCook) December 12, 2016
— ~Marietta ♏ (@MDavisbot) December 12, 2016
— Haley Jones (@haleynjones3) December 12, 2016
That Rick and Daryl hug just saved 2016. #TheWalkingDead
— Carl Grimes (@TheCarlGrimes_) December 12, 2016
Oh, and Rick got his gun back too! Yay!
Definitely one of the best episodes of the Walking Dead in a long time. And Rick finally has his python back. #TheWalkingDead
— Brett Wright (@brettjw13) December 12, 2016
— Beth Hannel (@bethhannel) December 12, 2016
— dhe (@fansoftwd) December 12, 2016
— Walking Dead Fans (@EssentialDead) December 12, 2016
Y'ALL IT'S GONNA BE LIT 🔥#TheWalkingDead
— ~ Nia. ~ (@bunnyjiyong) December 12, 2016
— Daryl Dixon (@DarylDixonSwag) December 12, 2016
— Janell Wheeler (@JanellWheeler) December 12, 2016
The Walking Dead season 7 returns Sunday Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC