The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12 Review: The Key

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Rick, you are one crazy SOB!

We all knew that a rematch between Negan and Rick was inevitable, I just didn't expect it to happen on The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12. After trudging along since its midseason return and with only four episodes remaining in the season, The Walking Dead desperately needed to kick things into high gear.

And thankfully, that's exactly what "The Key" accomplished.

In Memoriam

The confrontation between these two may not have come as much of a surprise to those who saw the preview following last week's episode, but I personally try to avoid episode previews at all costs, as they have the tendency to mislead or give away too much.

I prefer to watch everything unfold naturally without having a tainted viewing experience.

So seeing Rick and Negan square off once again made for one hell of an entertaining episode.

Related: AMC launches ad-free streaming service

We did get a brief tease of these two trading blows on The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 8, but that's all that it was – just a tease. Now, I definitely felt that I got my money's worth. 

Seeing these two come face to face made for some memorable Walking Dead moments, and kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the hour. If you Google "Michael Jackson Popcorn Meme," you will have an exact depiction of my expression throughout the entire Rick and Negan encounter.

Before we delve any further into round two of this epic bout, let's back up just a bit, as there was plenty that preceded Rick's assault on Negan. 

Sticking To The Plan - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12

After Daryl decided to go rogue on The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 7, I had been wondering when his antics at the Sanctuary would be touched upon again. Thankfully, this episode finally addressed Daryl's regret for jeopardizing everything and Rick's understanding of what Daryl was trying to accomplish.

Rick himself admitted that he should have put more focus on looking out for his own people, rather than worrying about the supposed innocent workers at the Sanctuary. They both had the same goal, just different views on how to obtain it.

I look around and ... I think about the people that are gone. And the people that are still here. It ain't right, and it ain't fair.


I'm just glad to see that these two were able to patch things up. I hate it when Rick and Daryl are at odds.

Back On The Hog - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12

Simon has been really voicing his displeasure with how Negan's been running the show as of late. These two really haven't seen eye to eye in quite a while, and there's definitely some history and bad blood that we don't know about.

Simon easily could have interfered with Rick's plan, but the man didn't even bat an eye. The way Simon sees it, if he can get Negan out of the picture without getting his hands dirty, then why not capitalize on that opportunity?

Related: Watch The Walking Dead Online: Season 8 Episode 11

My only quibble with that whole situation, is why wasn't there an escort protecting Negan from behind? Why leave your leader wide open to such an attack?

Lucille Gets A Bath - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12

I'm also not quite sure why Negan didn't have the Saviors operating on a different frequency, or just go radio silent altogether during their trek to the Hilltop. It's not like Negan didn't know that Rick had one of their radios.

When Rick went against his own plan and going after Negan head on, I nearly threw my hands up in the air. Once again, Rick was letting his emotions interfere with logic.

But for once, I was glad that Rick discarded reason and channeled his inner Dukes of Hazard.

Seeing Rick's look of determination during the car chase coupled with Negan desperately trying to get away was awesome. Although I found it odd that we never saw Negan's car actually flip – only the aftermath.

Let me save you, Rick.


I don't know if the effects department got lazy here or if the editing team left a scene on the cutting room floor, but it just felt slightly off.

Rick stalking Negan through the building was so much fun, right down to the whistling. And when Rick picked up Lucille and threw it over his shoulder, it was a badass moment.

It's amazing how vulnerable and powerless Negan is without his precious Louisville Slugger. It was actually quite pathetic, to be honest.

You Can't Kill Them All - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12

Having Negan on the defensive for most of the encounter was a nice change of pace, especially for a character that is typically one step ahead. Negan's learning the hard way exactly how insane Rick actually is.

Rick let the cat out of the bag about Simon taking out Jadis' group. I can't wait to see how Negan decides to handle that situation – if and when he returns.

Somebody get the iron fired up!

So, why don't you just slug a beer, put on your best vest and get your ass downstairs, because like I said . . . we got work.


When Negan escaped Rick's wrath, I had a feeling he would turn up behind Simon during his speech to the Saviors and have a few choice words with him, but finding out that he was abducted by Jadis, really surprised me. I'm very interested to see what Jadis' plans are with Negan.

Perhaps she just needs a muse for her next sculpture.

Related: The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 11 Review: Dead or Alive Or

Another moment that surprised me, albeit in a far less positive way, was the introduction of Georgie, Hilda, and Mitch. Where in the world did these people come from? Georgie looked like she had just come from a board of directors meeting, while the other two could have been on a safari for all I know.

My guess would be that this group has something to do with the helicopter that we've been seeing off and on this season. 

Georgie: Build this place up. I want those other crates filled when I get back. Cheeses for Hilda, pickles for Mitch.
Maggie: We'll see what we can do.
Georgie: You will.

The whole situation just felt completely odd and out of place. In the end, the supposed "key" to the future that Georgie offered was blueprints for numerous facilities to help their community prosper.

Will anyone there even be able to make heads or tails out of those documents? At least Georgie's generous food donation will be a big help with their depleting resources.

Looking Out For Your Own - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12

Related: The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 10 Review: The Lost and the Plunderers

"The Key" was definitely one of the better episodes of the season. It wasn't perfect by any means – largely due to the whole subplot revolving around  Georgie's group seemingly coming out of left field. But the confrontation between Negan and Rick more than made up for it.

Now with Simon running the show and with Negan not around to keep him in his place, the Hilltop is in serious danger of ending up like Jadis' people.

If there was ever a time for Dwight to get the word out to Maggie, it's now.

The floor is yours, TV Fanatics!

What did you think of "The Key"? Where on the edge of your seat as I was during Rick and Negan's scuffle? Will Simon's defiance backfire on him? What does Jadis have planned for Negan?

The Walking Dead returns with a new episode on Sunday, March 25th at 9/8c.

If you want to see Rick and Negan's epic encounter again, you can watch The Walking Dead online right here at TV Fanatic.

The Key Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (22 Votes)

Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12 Quotes

Let me save you, Rick.


So, why don't you just slug a beer, put on your best vest and get your ass downstairs, because like I said . . . we got work.