What holds us together as individuals and what happens when those things are taken away? These are the overwhelming questions for episode fourteen, "Still Gotta Mean Something." Each featured character simultaneously loses and gains something, and this is for better or worse. Carol lets go of the fear associated with the loss of her daughter, and she then gains hope and -- finally -- a positive connection with another child, Henry (the real life brother of Carol's on-screen daughter). This is a long awaited reawakening for her, but some of our more mysterious characters grapple with loss as well. We find out what has bound them to life in this world, but when the smallest of threads by which they are still attached to humanity are cut, what can they possibly be left with?

The Same Boat

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Since he is usually surrounded by his fiefdom of workers and wives, it's easy to miss how absolutely lonely Negan must be. The more we have gotten know about Negan this season, the more apparent this becomes. Not only are all of his connections in this world based on violence and control, but even his more intimate relationships with his associates and wives are contentious to say the least. Everybody plays nice with Negan, but nobody cares about him. And, for a man like Negan this must actually hurt. Through his relationship with Carl in particular, I think we can see Negan actually does care about people, and he reiterates it constantly when explaining the mission of the Saviors. Now that the backstory about Lucille's origin is T.V. confirmed, Negan seems like even more of a softie -- for a psychopath anyway. Why, though, have this vulnerable Negan moment with Jadis?

Jadis and Negan have more in common that it first appears, and now, they kind of have to, right? First though, let's compare Jadis as a leader to Negan. They both built a unique, well organized system of survival, which each in their own ways, were irreverent to the systems the rest of the living world has been building. The imposing and grandiose appearance and gestures of these two is probably key to their isolationism. Similar to Oceanside's, this isolationism seems to be the precursor to a community's collapse in this world. They now share a deep desperation in losing everything. Negan not only lost his wife long ago (and almost her sacred talisman, Lucille), but he also has lost the allegiance of his top Saviors. Jadis has lost her entire community as well. And now, they have a common enemy: Simon. Will their fundamental similarities, losses, and their instinct for survival bring them together in action? Have these two not only become allies but have they also personally bonded?

Why Did You Save Me?

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James) Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Every week, Morgan makes fans increasingly nervous with his spiraling mental state, and with Rick adding in his stunned emotional confusion, it makes for a particularly reckless and frightening pair. While the scene with Rick, Morgan, and the savior POWs (behind the scenes footage below) might be one of my personal favorite action scenes in a while, it is utterly devastating. They both are on a rampage. Rick is ignoring his son's wishes, even putting off reading his last letter to him, and Morgan is still on the downward slide of his mental health. Constantly moving, as Michonne describes it, is the only way these two can cope with what is going on in their minds right now. Bonded not just by history, but now by father's grief, they viciously and effortlessly take out all the escaped prisoners. It is as if their coordination is telepathic. What are they left with once the attack is over?

While Morgan remains emotionless, Rick cries as he puts the final Savior out of his misery. Their double crossing of them still bothers Rick, especially since he knows it goes directly against Carl's wishes for everyone to find a way to stop fighting. As they stand in the wake of the bloodbath that has just occurred, Rick almost has the look of a child who immediately regrets a temper tantrum he's just pulled. Clearly unsatisfied and still lost, he asks Morgan why he saved him all the way back in Atlanta. Rick is realizing the hell Morgan has been navigating as a grieving father, and begs him for some kind of answer, an answer about how to keep going and stop fighting and -- how to remain on the right path. Morgan's answer as to why he chose to save Rick: Precisely because his son was there. Without Carl, is there hope for Rick?

Come on, Richonne!

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Is it possible that this is the first time Rick has learned that Michonne had a son whom died? There are only two characters who we have witnessed find this information out, and those characters were Beth and Carl. With as inseparable as Michonne and Rick have become, it would seem like the issue might have come up. The look on his face when she tells him though suggests this is his first time hearing it. Rick surely reacts with sadness to this news, but in a way, it might be a relief -- and I think Michonne knows this.

Though Morgan probably won't be hosting any apocalypse support groups, Michonne possesses the wisdom and strength that she as well as Rick needs to stay alive -- and maintaining their bond is what she needs in her time of grieving as well. There is a much needed tender moment between the two, and it is a crucial reminder to Rick not to physically or emotionally isolate himself in the ways that Jadis, Negan, and Morgan have done. Knowing now that Michonne has also lost her son but has become a leader and built love in the wake of her loss must be an encouragement to Rick. Can she show Rick the way and help bind himself back to this world?

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James) Photo by Gene Page/AMC

With so many secrets and emotions finally coming to the surface, audiences are eager to see what the truth will bring about by the end of this season. What will happen when characters like Dwight and Simon face the reckoning for their double dealings and lies? How will characters like Rick and Carol change when they face their own inner truths about their emotional identities? It is going to be a packed last few episodes.

Other Lingering Questions

  • So, the mystery helicopter is another symbol relating to isolation, but will we finally find out who is piloting it?
  • Is Daryl right about Dwight, and will he finally kill him? What will this resolution mean for his character?
  • How will finding Henry affect Carol and Ezekiel's relationship?
  • What is happening with Aaron at Oceanside?

P.S. The season eight finale is screening in theaters!

Ciara Cerrato was a projectionist and curator at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and she currently is a poet and freelance writer in New York.

WTWD? Bonus Clip

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