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

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