Synopsis of 8×16: As season 8 of The Walking Dead comes to a close, so does All Out War… rather quickly, all things considered, and with less bloodshed than expected.
The Kingdom is also preparing for war at the Hilltop as the camera gives face time to Carol, Henry, Jerry, and Ezekiel during their preparations. A panicky Morgan confuses Al and the other Saviors coming in from clearing the walls for threats and ends up knocking down Henry in front of everyone.
While Daryl tells everyone about the plans that were delivered by Dwight through Gregory, Maggie informs Al and the Saviors that they’re staying behind. Rick also tries to talk Morgan into sitting out the ambush, but he refuses because he wants to protect people after having lost everything good already.
At the Sanctuary, the Saviors are also preparing. Negan left Dwight alive, though looking worse for wear, and informs him that he’s coming along for the ride. Eugene has already been briefed on the plans and allows Negan to test fire some of his bullets. They work perfectly and both he and Gabriel are also along for the ride to visit their own friends.
Of course, Negan just wants to “confess” to Gabriel on the drive over — aka monologue. He admits to purposefully sending a dumb, decoy scouting group ahead to set up one of the blockades from Dwight’s map that he knows will be massacred by Rick’s group. He correctly assumes that they’re going to kill everyone and find a fake map that supposedly gives away Negan’s location. Morgan does manage to kill the sole surviving Savior before he can say anything and then hallucinates Jared taunting him.
Gabriel seems confused by this plan because Negan seemed reluctant to kill everyone the last time they spoke. Before he can get any answers though, he takes advantage of the car swerving to bail out into the woods. The caravan has to stop to collect him, with a livid Eugene in pursuit and a weary Negan ordering him back to the vehicle when he’s caught.
On the way to their new rendezvous spot after Negan, Jesus tries to talk to Morgan about allowing people to survive and keeping them safe. As they make their way to the new spot, they see a massive horde in the distance. Unfortunately, once they get to the open field, they hear whistling and Negan reveals that they’ve fallen right into the ambush they thought they were orchestrating.
Saviors are also headed for the people left at the Hilltop, including Tara, Al, and the good Saviors, and they’re forced to evacuate the compound — except Gregory, whom they leave in the house. Tara opts to stay behind and reluctantly allows the good Saviors to help her with keeping the rest of them away from the group. However, she needn’t have worried so much because Aaron and the Oceanside women show up at the last moment to throw a few Molotov cocktails at them.
Negan lets Rick know that Eugene made this day possible and Dwight helped out of his spinelessness. At the end of his countdown to shooting Gabriel and the rest of Rick’s group, all of the Saviors’ guns malfunction and injure them unexpectedly. Negan, in particular, hurts his hand, gets punched by Gabriel, tussles with Dwight, and eventually manages to run off from the skirmish.
Rosita saves Eugene from one of the Saviors who realized his betrayal and Morgan manages to save Jesus from one of the Saviors without killing him. Relatively quickly, Laura and the rest of the Saviors give up and kneel to Rick’s group.
When he runs out of bullets, it becomes a rather lackluster fight between Rick and Negan compared to their other fights this season. Negan admits his game of picking who would die was bullshit because he just didn’t want to kill a kid’s dad, but he really should have because then maybe Carl would still be alive. Using his affinity for Carl, Rick talks to Negan about working together, but when it seems he might consider it, Rick slashes his throat open.
Everyone else has gathered around to watch as Rick commands Siddiq to save Negan, much to Maggie’s displeasure. She screams about Glenn and Michonne holds her back from killing Negan herself. Rick gives a speech about everyone going home with the expectation that they live in peace and fairness — it’s a turning point for society. After everyone leaves him, he sits under the tree where he fought with Negan, thinks about Carl, and cries.
Rosita gets a moment to learn that Eugene did indeed plan his betrayal on purpose before punching him in the jaw for vomiting on her. Morgan takes off his armor and gives it to Carol to pass on to Henry. Gabriel is thankful to get back to his burned-out church in Alexandria. Back at the Hilltop, Maggie allows an eager Al to stay and help rebuild. The communities are building themselves back up slowly.
But not everyone is satisfied, Daryl drives Dwight out into the woods, gives him transportation, and banishes him from these communities. Morgan heads to tell Jadis (who introduces herself as Ann) that she’s welcome to join them, per Rick’s message, but that he’s staying behind at the dump because he can’t be there.
In a closed-door meeting, Maggie tells Jesus and Daryl that they have to show Rick and Michonne that the right thing to do is kill Negan. Injured, but alive, Negan learns from Rick and Michonne that they’re going to let him live as a monument to their moving forward as a society. He’ll get to watch it all happen from his cell.
Rick’s final voiceover of the season has him responding to Carl’s letter, letting him know that Carl made him remember who he was and what this new world could be.