After an action packed episode last week, “The Walking Dead” Season 8 turned inward and quieter in Episode 14. The survivors of this “All Out War” struggle to cope with their losses and find peace with their emotions. Even so, “Still Gotta Mean Something” found time to include a zombie herd, a major moment with the mysterious helicopter, and a cryptic cliffhanger.
Sole Survivor – In a flashback to the junkyard massacre, we discover how Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) survived. Saviors hunt her down through stacks of garbage, and she quickly moves a body of a fallen comrade, laying down in his pool of blood and playing dead. She listens to the screams of her people as she lays motionless, waiting for the horror to be over. We later see Jadis in a secret bedroom. The space is immaculate and minimalist, fresh off the pages of an IKEA catalogue. She packs a suitcase, grabs the baseball bat Lucille, and marches out to the trash heaps where she has Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tied up in a shipping container. She brandishes his weapon at him and drags him out into the open.
Double Agent – If you were worried about Tara (Alanna Masterson) being infected, fear not! A day after the Savior attack and she is completely healthy, which she owes to Dwight purposefully shooting her with a “clean arrow.” Daryl (Norman Reedus) is still furious that their supposed ally didn’t warn them of the tainted weapons and wants Dwight dead. Tara admits she won’t get in Daryl’s way, but suggests that he wants revenge for selfish reasons.
Carl’s Letter – Finally having a moment to breathe, Michonne (Danai Gurira) sobs as she reads the letter Carl wrote for her. When she offers it to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to read, he can’t bring himself to go near it. Turns out Rick hasn’t even read his own letter yet. Having lost a child of her own, Michonne tries to keep Rick close: “you keep moving to move away from it. Andrea stopped me, and now I’m going to stop you.” But Rick isn’t ready to stop moving yet and is intent on hunting down the escaped Savior prisoners. Alden (Callan McAullife) suggests that the men could have stopped at a nearby dive bar to tend to their wounded. He asks Rick not to kill more of them than he has to, as some might be willing to return. But Rick doesn’t look too keen on leaving survivors.
Search For Henry – Morgan (Lennie James) is also out for Savior blood, and Carol (Melissa McBride) joins him to keep an eye on his disturbing behavior. The two quickly begin to track Henry however, finding dropped turnips and then a walker impaled with the boy’s staff. But Morgan refuses to help look for the child any further after seeing a hallucination of Henry with his throat ripped open. Carol implores him to help her search instead of running away: “I tried to run and you found me. You knew I could come back and you can too.” But Morgan is convinced the boy is already dead, and sets off towards a zombie herd to get some killing out of his system.
Helicopter Escape – Negan apologizes to Jadis for the loss of her people, noting that he had nothing to do with it. She shuts him up with a swing of Lucille towards his face and runs off to fetch something with which ti kill him: a zombie, burned alive and strung to cart. But when her back was turned, Negan was able to drag himself to Jadis’ bag and steal her gun. He’s also holding a flare from the bag over a set of pictures, which holds Jadis back from attacking him. The polaroids are her only reminder of the friends she lost. The villain makes another attempt to connect with Jadis, but a timer sounds and Jadis looks to the sky as a helicopter approaches. She charges towards Negan, wrestling with him over the flare which ends up extinguished in a puddle during the struggle. As the helicopter rounds the corner she races to find another flare, screaming “I’m over here!” But her efforts are in vain as the chopper flies off before she flags it down. Viewers will have to wait to find out who was piloting the aircraft, but it’s clear Jadis knows more than she has let on.
Broken Men – Morgan stumbles across Rick and the two unite their efforts to hunt the Saviors. No sooner do they discover signs of the escapees in an abandoned garage are they knocked unconscious by an assailant. They awake tied up inside, listening to the Saviors arguing as to whether they should return to the Sanctuary or unite with Hilltop. Jared (Joshua Mikel), the long haired Savior who killed Benjamin last season, is leading the show. He suggests offing those who are injured and delivering Rick to Simon. But Rick notes that Hilltop will welcome the men if Rick and Morgan are untied. They don’t have much time to decide because the zombie herd is headed straight toward the building. The men are divided over what to do.
An unhinged Morgan starts shouting “everybody turns” to alert the walkers to their presence. “We already killed you” notes Rick, as the undead horde pours inside. One Savior unties the men so they can help dispatching zombies. After a melee that leaves many Saviors devoured, Rick and Morgan viciously execute the remaining men. Morgan traps Jared in a hallway by locking him behind gate. As walkers close in on Jared, Morgan reaches his arms through the bars to hold him in place. He keeps a firm grip as the dead rip Jared apart, refusing his pleas for mercy. When Rick later asks why Morgan saved him all those years ago in Atlanta, Morgan replies “because my son was there.” When they lost their sons, their hearts were lost as well.
“You Can Survive” – Carol eventually discovers Henry trapped in a thicket, fending off walkers. She downs the creatures and holds Henry close. “I’m sorry” she says through tears, “you can survive. I was wrong.” When she returns the boy home, she confesses to Ezekiel (Khary Payton) that after the loss of her daughter she was nothing. But thanks to Rick’s group “I found myself. A better version of myself.” After suffering on her own for so long, it is a relief to see Carol finally able to save a child. Though she joined the war a while back, this feels like the true beginning of her rejoining society.
The Bullet Maker – Maggie (Lauren Cohan) takes stock of resources after the battle only to discover Hilltop doesn’t have enough ammunition to defend against another large scale attack. But Daryl wonders if the Saviors are out of bullets as well, considering the amount used to break out of The Sanctuary. Rosita (Christian Serratos) realizes that the enemy “has our bullet maker” since Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is on their side. She and Daryl head to Eugene’s outpost and see the massive amounts of bullets being crafted. Daryl is ready to wreck the place, but Rosita has a better plan. “We don’t take out their machines, we take out the man.”
Surprises – Though she considers burning Lucille to hurt him, Jadis ultimately lets Negan go. He appears truly remorseful of her fate and offers her a place by his side, which she refuses. On his drive back to The Sanctuary, Negan spots a familiar face on the road. The audience can’t see who he is talking to, but Negan notes that they look “like shit” and invites them inside for a ride. When he pulls up to The Sanctuary, he makes the guard promise to keep his presence a secret. “I have all sorts of surprises to roll out.”