If the eighth season of The Walking Dead were a Star Wars trilogy, this week’s episode “Time for After,” would be in the Empire Strikes Back arc of the season. Obviously, there was no way Rick’s plan would unspool without a hitch. Save for the slaughter of The Kingdom, everything else has been going fairly well according to plan. In fact, if Kirkman and Gimple had wanted to, they could have skipped the almost obligatory setback arc and ended the All Out War next week: The zombies overrun the Sanctuary, Negan escapes only long enough for Rick to kill him, the end. Bring on The Whisperer War!
But there are nine episodes left to fill in season eight, and a victory as easy as the one it seemed Rick and Daryl were about to execute in this week’s episode would have been completely anti-climactic. A setback is necessary. A fairly big death will also be necessary for next week’s midseason finale, too, if only so that Rick and Co., will have someone to rally around. My money is on Tara, although let’s be honest: It’s Daryl that deserves to die. He’s the one that screwed everything up. How? We’ll get to that below.
First, however, a brief overview of the episode. The central focus this week is on Eugene who really is the least loyal character on The Walking Dead. His only priority is himself, and he admits as much several times over the course of the episode. “Staying safe means staying alive,” he tells Father Gabriel. “I am A-OK for doing whatever it takes to lock that down.” Gotta hand it to Eugene: He won’t stand up for his friends; he won’t stand up for the right thing, but he sure as hell will stand up for his right to care only about himself. “I will survive. It’s in my biological imperative. It’s all I know how to do.” As Walter Sobchak would say, “Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”