The midseason premiere of The Walking Dead is upon us, and, boy, does it have some expectation riding on it. The Season 8 winter finale, “How It’s Gotta Be,” ended with if not most divisive, then at least most shocking death sentences since its inception. In the final moments of the episode, Rick survives Negan’s attack on Alexandria only to discover Carl was bitten by a walker.
While producers and star Chandler Riggs confirmed that Carl will die (you can’t exactly amputate a waist), they didn’t confirm when it would actually occur. Therefore, we don’t know precisely what to expect on Sunday with Episode 9. A lot happened in “How It’s Gotta Be,” so there are lot narrative possibilities.
The Hilltop is the only community still intact after the Savior counterattack, but its survival came at a price. While Maggie and Jesus were on their way back to the stronghold, they were intercepted by a group of Saviors led by Simon, who informed them of their own defeat. Because the Hilltop is so necessary in terms of supplies, it's permitted to survive. However, Simon killed Neal to make his point, then escorted Maggie and Jesus the rest of the way home. At which point, Maggie was all, “Nah,” killed that Savior prisoner who’d been sassing her all season, and told everyone the Hilltop will make a last stand.
Ezekiel sank into a deep despair after the massacre of his
tiger entire team, and looked to be on the verge of abandoning both the war and his position as leader of the Kingdom. He holed up in the auditorium holding Shiva’s collar, and refused to come out. Carol couldn’t snap him out of it, and even Jerry finally leaving his side wasn’t enough to move Ezekiel to act. But when Gavin and a team of Saviors invaded the Kingdom and rounded up its residents, Ezekiel heard his former handler announce that no one had to die if they give up the king. Of course, no one did.
Finally roused to action, Ezekiel drove a bus into a pile of gasoline barrels and the subsequent explosion created a diversion that allowed the Kingdommers to escape. But in true Shakespearean fashion, Ezekiel remained behind and sacrificed himself to ensure the Saviors wouldn’t pursue his people. Whether he’ll actually end up on the chopping block a tragic hero remains to be seen, however. Carol’s still in play, and she’s not about to let a valuable asset like Ezekiel die because he’s too mopey to live.