The mid-season finale for The Walking Dead season 8 boasts many pairings. The episode has confrontations, teamwork, and even some hand to hand combat. What was the most powerful pairing?
For your consideration
Aaron and Enid team up to visit the ladies of Oceanside. Maggie and Jesus talk strategy before being surrounded by Simon and his minions. Rick’s pairing with the Scavengers at the Sanctuary is very short-lived. There is an intense exchange between Laura and Dwight when she learns he is the turncoat. We even have a physical brawl between Rick and Negan.
When Jadis “dumps” Rick we are not all that surprised given her history of letting Rick down. Aaron and Enid’s road trip goes off the rails with an earlier than expected confrontation with Natania, Cyndie, Beatrice and Kathy. Laura’s current whereabouts are unknown and Dwight is in the sewer with team Alexandria. Jesus and Maggie have an interesting exchange until Simon’s arrival shuts that down. The fist fight between Rick and Negan stops short when Rick goes through the window.
All of these pairings were cut a little too short in the episode to earn the distinction of being this week’s power pair on The Walking Dead.
Carl and . . .
Carl and Michonne made an interesting team this week with Michonne initially resisting Carl’s plan of escape. But Carl stands his ground and reminds her that she said this was his show now. She relents and follows the plan that helps bring the Alexandrians to safety in the sewer.
Finally, when Michonne learns of Carl’s bite, her heartbreak is immediately visible in her countenance.
These two have a special relationship indeed. There interactions in the mid-season finale were palpable but not quite as impactful as another exchange.
Carl and Negan
The power pair for ‘How It’s Gotta Be’ goes to Carl and Negan.
The exchange between Carl and Negan is very powerful on many levels. Carl continues to surprise and impress Negan. Negan clearly has a fondness or appreciation for Carl’s boldness.
When the Saviors first ascend upon Alexandria for their first offering in season 7, Carl holds a Savior at gunpoint. Carl boldly claims it is not fair that they are taking more than the half originally designated. Perhaps this is Negan’s first glimpse of Carl’s fortitude.
Then Carl sneaks into the Sanctuary armed and ready to confront Negan. Negan proceeds to take Carl on a tour of the Sanctuary before escorting him back to Alexandria.
When Carl boldly appears at the gate in ‘How It’s Gotta Be’, Negan calls him a “big boy”. Negan is impressed. Carl has a unique ability to throw Negan off his game.
When Carl offers to sacrifice himself in exchange for a truce, Negan appears both surprised and a little disappointed. We often get the feeling that Negan would like Carl to be his own offspring.
The prospect of Carly dying willingly is not pleasing to Negan. It seems that Negan’s only reason to threaten Carl is to hurt Rick. Otherwise, I think he would like to keep Carl around.
However, the most powerful aspect of the conversation between Negan and Carl is the hard truth behind the following exchange.
"Negan: “You want to die?”Carl: “No, I don’t. But I will. It’s gonna happen.”"
The fact that Carl knows he has been bitten allows him to bravely, boldly, and assuredly speak these words. Negan, of course, is not privy to the bite. Negan cannot wrap his head around Carl’s willingness to sacrifice himself.
Power Pair for S8E8: Carl and Negan
The Walking Dead returns for the second half of season 8 on February 25th on AMC. With Carl revealing a bite at the end of episode 8, I predict we will have some powerfully emotional exchanges indeed in episode 9.