During the midseason finale, fans discovered that Negan’s Saviors were not so easily defeated by Rick’s Militia. Alexandria was burned down, with its survivors fleeing to the sewers. It was there were Rick reunited with Carl, only to learn that his son was bitten by a walker — a death sentence.
Here’s where the major characters stand before the midseason premiere.
Negan has had more lives than a cat. Seemingly pinned down with Gabriel by a walking herd, he survived, rallied the remaining Saviors, and attacked Alexandria. He waited for Rick to return to ambush him, and the two exchanged blows before Rick fled. He is unrelenting in his quest to display the heads of “the king” aka Ezekiel, “the widow” aka Maggie, and Rick.
Over the last eight seasons, Carl has gone from young man to brave leader. But despite becoming hardened after so many losses, including his mother Lori, Carl still learned compassion. He tried to sacrifice himself so that Negan would spare Alexandria. He helped the mysterious Siddiq to safety, getting bitten by a walker in the process. A bite is a death sentence. If Carl asks Michonne to help him end his own life, it will be the second time she’s had to assist a friend’s suicide — the first being Andrea.
Rick has vowed to kill Negan, and will surely be emboldened to do so after the death of his son and destruction of Alexandria. He will also want revenge against Jadis and the Scavengers, who promised to help him but fled.
Michonne, who thinks of Carl as her own son, will also be emboldened after his death. She has served as Rick’s partner and conscience, and the two may embark on a quest of revenge together.
Maggie’s top responsibility is to protect her people. “The Widow” vows that the Hilltop will be the last stand of the all-out war, and previews show the remaining Kingdom and Alexandria survivors taking refuge there. Perhaps her pregnancy will finally begin to show as well.
Like Maggie, Ezekiel’s responsibility is to protect his people. With Shiva dead and the Kingdom defenseless and overrun, Ezekiel surrenders himself to the Saviors.
Dwight finally sided with Rick’s Militia, leading his fellow Saviors into an ambush setup up by Daryl, Tara, Rosita, and Michonne. The continue to question his loyalty but allow him to join them in the sewers. Unfortunately, his betrayal was witnessed by Lauren, who will undoubtedly tell Negan what happened. Negan will be very unhappy to learn of his top lieutenant’s betrayal and will want to take care of him personally.
Eugene made his choice (perhaps out of self-preservation), creating the ingenious iPod plane that led the walkers away from The Sanctuary. Although he helped Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson escape the Savior stronghold, it’s pretty clear where his loyalties lie. Short of killing Negan himself (which he’s had several opportunities to do), it’s unlikely Rick will ever welcome him back.
Morgan is a wildcard. He gave up his pacifistic ways and became a ruthless killer, gunning down many Saviors. He was last seen hiding at the Kingdom. His character will be joining the sister show, Fear the Walking Dead, after this season. The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has said that Season 8B leads directly to Season 4 of Fear, so it’ll be interesting to see how that will play out.
The Walking Dead Season 8 returns on February 25 in the U.S., and the U.K. the following night.