The Walking Dead Season 8 Midseason Finale: What Critics Thought About That Major Cliffhanger

Critics' have mixed thoughts about the midseason finale of AMC's zombie series and its possible impact on the rest of season 8.

by | December 11, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by AMC)

The first seven episodes of The Walking Dead‘s season 8 were a critical mixed bag, but the midseason finale, titled “How It’s Gotta Be,” concluded with a major (and heartbreaking) character development that will undoubtedly affect the series moving forward.


Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the rest of the AHK crew were once again on the defensive when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors escaped the Sanctuary and sought revenge, but the real twist occurred at the very end of the episode. As Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) saw that most of the Alexandrians were safe in the sewers underneath the town, they came across a weakened Carl (Chandler Riggs), who revealed a nasty zombie bite to the torso (which he probably got when he was saving new recruit Saddiq in the woods).

Although people are devastated by the Carl twist, he isn’t actually dead yet, as star Riggs and showrunner Scott M. Gimple (on the post-finale episode of Talking Dead) were quick to remind us in post-show interviews. The writing is on the wall, though — meaning there probably isn’t going to be a bait-and-switch à la Glenn and the dumpster.

With a Tomatometer score of 64 percent (updated), season 8’s mid-season finale isn’t quite as Fresh as season 7 (78 percent), but a whole lot better than season 6 (35 percent). Here’s what the critics had to say.


The finale delivered the requisite dropped-jaw response.

“It turns out, as usual, that a big heart is a relatively fast track to death in this post-apocalyptic, rotting world.” – Laura Bradley, Vanity Fair

“Subtlety is a long forgotten and extinct practice on TWD. That means eight seasons in, it’s hard for the writers to find ways to surprise us. They did with this fall finale.” – Jeffrey Lyles, Lyles’ Movie Files

The Walking Dead always tries to hold a big reveal for the end of their mid-season finale, and I think it’s safe to say that this one delivered fairly well.” – Jim Vorel, Paste Magazine

“Director Michael E. Satrazemis’ use of close-ups is visually striking, and shifts the emphasis to individual reactions to a crisis, which has always been the show’s strong suit.” – Noel Murray, Rolling Stone


This turn of events with Carl should finally shake things up.

“The mid-season finale is as long and tedious as so much of season 8, but a game-changing cliffhanger is a terrifying reminder that no one is ever safe.” – Sarah Moran, Screenrant

“While this has been one the more energetic episodes this year, it’s the small preview of the back half of season 8 that looks far more exciting and enticing than what we’ve seen so far this season.” – Nick Romano, Entertainment Weekly

“It was a pretty shocking twist to an otherwise-frustrating episode… Without Carl, anything might be possible. That might just be exactly what The Walking Dead needs.”  – Kelly Lawler, USA Today


“Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.” – Miracle Max, The Princess Bride

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 8 (Gene Page/AMC)

Plenty of critics thought the slow burn and nonsensical action were still too tedious.

“This is all just characters acting dumb for no reason, and it’s all too much for this episode to bear, especially when it plays out so slowly over 90 minutes.” – Jeff Stone, IndieWire

“Man, does this feel empty. Despite all the big events, so much of ‘How It’s Gotta Be’ is boring, and so little of it makes sense.” – Zack Handlen, AV Club

“The stakes in the finale didn’t feel nearly as high as they needed to (sorry Carl). It’s hard to invest emotionally in characters when they seem to be running around toting assault rifles / bin lorries etc. to no clear purpose.” – Ed Power, The Daily Telegraph

“By the end of the episode’s ‘shocking’ reveal, I could only shake my head in disgust. What a joke this show has become. A bad joke.” – Erik Kain, Forbes

The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 25 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Tag Cloud

psycho Trivia SDCC independent TCA Winter 2020 20th Century Fox Esquire Acorn TV Music game show rotten movies we love Spike TCA Awards festivals Amazon Prime natural history Tubi social media children's TV VH1 blaxploitation Lucasfilm boxoffice Awards Tour FOX discovery CBS television nature Women's History Month WarnerMedia indie MCU quibi 24 frames movie harry potter Winners news Tarantino witnail archives police drama Pixar Warner Bros. stop motion Election science fiction Mudbound Bravo Film Disney Plus Netflix Christmas movies Heroines Calendar political drama golden globe awards ratings period drama Elton John Summer Amazon Pride Month name the review what to watch medical drama Pop Chilling Adventures of Sabrina richard e. Grant stand-up comedy CMT Shudder A24 Paramount Network Universal ABC Family cults breaking bad 2020 unscripted cars remakes Comedy Captain marvel Teen Fall TV free movies stoner APB Cannes anime kids San Diego Comic-Con hispanic Logo Family vampires revenge Tumblr crime thriller YouTube Red NBC reviews 71st Emmy Awards DirecTV Polls and Games The CW criterion superhero Superheroe talk show Masterpiece Comedy Central dramedy Vudu all-time Crackle OWN scary movies movies LGBT Drama YA nfl robots Britbox festival Sundance TV Grammys crime IFC diversity Marvel Television Rom-Com President Marvel Lifetime Dark Horse Comics Cosplay Certified Fresh DC streaming service Musicals spinoff Mary Poppins Returns Mary poppins serial killer cooking football Amazon Studios hist YouTube TV renewals cinemax thriller CBS All Access Martial Arts The Walking Dead satire child's play TCA adventure mission: impossible spain cancelled television french golden globes GLAAD joker Peacock miniseries aliens Comics on TV PlayStation Schedule Reality facebook PBS Disney Tomatazos TV Valentine's Day rt archives 4/20 Sundance sitcom elevated horror jurassic park documentary historical drama ID series christmas movies New York Comic Con die hard X-Men adaptation Mindy Kaling Nickelodeon Freeform blockbuster Ovation Kids & Family Spring TV crime drama slashers 21st Century Fox award winner zero dark thirty RT History binge BET Awards Quiz Red Carpet james bond Disney+ Disney Plus south america cancelled TV shows SundanceTV 2016 spanish Animation Star Wars comiccon obituary politics boxing Sony Pictures 45 book cancelled screen actors guild foreign trailers docudrama Comic Book RT21 comic Rocky BBC America Trailer deadpool Sundance Now based on movie canceled CNN Black History Month best VOD Christmas travel ABC Box Office Marathons true crime CW Seed Baby Yoda hollywood cops Showtime singing competition Rocketman Hear Us Out BET Spectrum Originals Television Academy Best and Worst Turner Horror classics mutant dogs Year in Review Lionsgate Pirates USA Network Apple TV Plus Academy Awards Infographic GIFs japanese Biopics 2017 Country Mary Tyler Moore a nightmare on elm street chucky Hulu australia GoT TruTV cancelled TV series Fantasy jamie lee curtis Television Critics Association Writers Guild of America Ghostbusters Walt Disney Pictures ghosts BBC One sports A&E doctor who nbcuniversal Pet Sematary Epix tv talk Crunchyroll HBO Max E! Watching Series BBC spanish language 2019 halloween halloween tv venice critics dceu franchise Thanksgiving LGBTQ dc batman latino TIFF black Premiere Dates 2018 Action Character Guide Stephen King sequels Turner Classic Movies toronto spy thriller Nominations Song of Ice and Fire Super Bowl comic books war fresh Oscars Shondaland The Purge First Reviews directors MTV cats Fox News AMC canceled TV shows The Witch Black Mirror Musical Funimation Ellie Kemper reboot Hallmark ABC Signature OneApp Adult Swim TV Land casting Extras IFC Films NYCC Mystery Podcast Western teaser rotten Superheroes Fox Searchlight Interview First Look Video Games Pop TV game of thrones comics MSNBC zombies video USA Syfy Marvel Studios romance versus cartoon Toys worst scorecard biography parents Arrowverse DGA 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Trophy Talk dragons 72 Emmy Awards video on demand HBO transformers spider-man TBS American Society of Cinematographers strong female leads Chernobyl Sci-Fi finale films Rock 007 Countdown theme song See It Skip It comedies renewed TV shows ITV psychological thriller TCA 2017 pirates of the caribbean Film Festival Sneak Peek Columbia Pictures PaleyFest mockumentary Holidays Netflix Endgame dark 2015 rom-coms WGN Emmys FX on Hulu Disney streaming service YouTube Premium Starz Discovery Channel E3 Nat Geo indiana jones HBO Go werewolf FX Alien composers Apple TV+ worst movies Disney Channel VICE concert universal monsters sequel TLC space screenings animated Apple Winter TV 99% romantic comedy National Geographic BAFTA fast and furious supernatural justice league Avengers Holiday Lifetime Christmas movies Classic Film documentaries Food Network ESPN Anna Paquin asian-american Awards emmy awards Reality Competition green book The Arrangement streaming Set visit italian crossover TCM TNT The Walt Disney Company sag awards Star Trek Creative Arts Emmys Brie Larson Emmy Nominations History DC Universe Cartoon Network Travel Channel Binge Guide laika disaster technology Photos Paramount TV One Hallmark Christmas movies Opinion twilight Amazon Prime Video SXSW El Rey Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt The Academy zombie anthology toy story DC Comics FXX