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

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