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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

'Walking Dead' recap ('Still Gotta Mean Something'): season 8, episode 14

Posted Sunday, April 1, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

This was the best episode of the season. There was bracing dialogue (for a change), some surprising twists and even bits of good news.

The thematic was lost kids and the grief those lost kids create... for Rick, for Michonne, for Carol, for Morgan. And even Jadis and Negan grapple with losses of their own. It was effective drama and pathos, something the show has struggled with consistently since Negan showed up.

It was also a relief to hear both Jadis and Negan talk like normal human beings.

And there are two moments that tease to next week. How will Negan take on Simon? And will Rosita and Daryl succeed in taking down Eugene?

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And the debate goes on and on...: Daryl has been Team Kill Dwight and Tara has become Team Save Dwight since he saved her two episodes ago. Her change confounded Daryl. He is even more surprised that she isn't angry that Dwight shot her with an arrow. But she is grateful that he appeared to use a clean arrow, not one dipped in zombie blood, sparing her life. As a result, she was the only injured Hilltop person who didn't turn. Daryl: "So you're giving him a pass?" Tara: "We might need him now more than ever. Do what you gotta do. But I'm out."

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Read the darn letter, Rick! Rick has been avoiding reading Carl's letter to him since episode eight. Michonne knows why. "You keep moving to move away from it," said Michonne, noting the death of her child and comparing it to Rick's loss of Carl. She credited Andrea for saving her. Eventually, Rick finally opens the letter at the end of the episode for closure, but we don't get to see the contents.

Not my fault! Negan tries to convince Jadis that he wasn't responsible for her group's demise, that it was Simon going rogue. "People are a resource," he explains yet again. "I don't throw resources like that away." He said he'll take responsibility, though, because she had him tied up. He didn't have a lot of leverage. "All I did was punch myself in the d***," he said. (Yep. He had to use a penis reference. That's Negan's go-to.) As he blabs on, Jadis almost kills him with Lucille. But she stop short. She then ignores his pleas and is ready to torture him, Bond villain style. He manages to find a gun and a flare and threatens to destroy valuable photos of hers. We learn that Negan's wife was named Lucille and she got him through regular life. The bat got him through... this. "It's the last little piece of her I got left," he says. So he gets why Jadis cares about the photos.

There's that helicopter again! It suddenly hovers overhead. Who's is it? Who can operate a copter in the apocalypse? And where's the jet fuel coming from? She wants to use the flare he has to give them a signal that she's there, but it lands in a puddle as she struggles to grab it from Negan. She has a backup, but by the time she lights it, the copter is gone. (Rick saw a helicopter episode eight, too.) This is clearly laying seeds down for season 9.

Anyway, Jadis is about to set precious Lucille on fire. He begs her that he can square things. And since his penis is never far from his thought process, he doesn't swear to God or swear to his mother. Nope. "I swear on my sack." For Negan, that's a big deal. She collapses crying. It's super weird but refreshing seeing them both stripped of their artifice. She isn't talking like she created a new language and he isn't grandstanding like a peacock.

And he's free... Jadis ultimately lets him go, leather jacket and Lucille intact. But she chooses to stay behind. He returns to the Sanctuary but he has a surprise for Simon after picking someone or something up that we don't see.

Hallucination station: Morgan is now a sad nihilist again after coming to Alexandria a staunch pacifist. He and Carol were at odds for a time but have become tight since going to the Kingdom. Morgan and Carol leave to hunt for missing Henry. Morgan keeps on seeing hallucinations. First, it was Gavin. Now it's Henry, who he presumes is dead. "I don't die," he tells Carol. "I just see it again and again. Even when I look away, I still see it." They keep on going. Carol sees a walker with Henry's stick through him. Morgan takes the stick. Carol wants to find him, dead or alive. Morgan doesn't. "You save people," he says. "I watch them die." Carol tries to reason with him: "When I tried to run, you found me. You saved me." No luck.

Concussions R Us: Rick meets up with Morgan. They are ready to "finish this," as Rick likes to say. But instead, Rick gets whacked on the head and is knocked out by surviving Saviors from the Hilltop. Question: how many times has Rick been knocked out on this show? He is a leading candidate for CTE if he makes it a few years down the road.

Back in Negan's good graces? Jared considers capturing Rick and Morgan a coup, a way to get back into the fold after Simon froze them out for "getting captured." Rick tries to convince them to go back to the Hilltop and be "incorporated" into their community. He also says a herd is coming their way. As we know, Rick's diplomatic skills are frequently less than convincing. He's more John Bolton than Jimmy Carter. Jared smells it like it is: "a steaming pile of bull****." Yep. Morgan is a bit more Clint Eastwood as Jared sticks a rifle in his face: yes, he came to kill them but repeated that there is a herd coming and they need to save their bullets. In that case, they'll end up dead and he won't be able to kill them himself.

Guess what? The herd exists! Moments later, the herd indeed arrives. Amazingly, some of the Saviors decide to help out Rick and Morgan, cutting them loose, hoping they can help them escape. As they shoot at walkers, one of the Saviors even saves Rick (not Jared!) by shooting one that was about to attack Rick. But then Rick and Morgan mow down the Saviors who were trying to help them. That's serious coldness. Jared is the last to survive. He's cornered. But then Morgan sees a hallucination of Henry, giving Jared a chance to knock over Morgan. He is about to stab Morgan in the neck but as Morgan says, he does not die. He muscles Jared away and pushes him into a hallway with a couple of walkers. Morgan closes a gate. "Let go!" Jared yells as Morgan holds him in place as the walkers devour him. It's gruesome but the man who killed Benjamin gets his proper comeuppance.

Echoes to season one, episode one: After the chaos, Rick has a question for Morgan that evokes what Carol and Morgan had talked about earlier: "Why did you save me?" He is referencing the time when Rick went back to his home episode one and Morgan chose to take him in instead of killing him. "Because my son was there," Morgan said. Of course, that makes Rick think of Carl.

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Lennie James as Morgan Jones - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Echoes to season two, episode one: Remember Rick told Sophia to hide in a little alcove in the river at the start of season two? Sophia didn't heed his call and ended up dying. Well, we have Carol, Sophia's mom, six seasons later, finding Henry in an alcove in the river trying to fend off three walkers. She saves him! It's an obvious echo moment and a rare success in the apocalypse. At Hilltop, she apologizes to Ezekiel for being afraid earlier and saying no to finding Henry. "I had a daughter," she said. "After I lost her, I was nothing. But the people I was with, being with them, I found myself. Some version of myself, a better self. Still, it always feels like it slips away again. But that doesn't mean it will. And it doesn't mean I couldn't find myself again." (Okay, those lines sound super cheesy in print but Melissa McBride made it work.)

Lennie James as Morgan Jones - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Revenge is sweet: Morgan gets to tell Henry that he killed Jared, the man who killed Benjamin. Finally. Morgan is... happy!

Going after the bullets: Rosita figured out that Eugene may be making bullets. She and Daryl sneak over and we know this is going to be a bloodbath next Sunday.

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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