The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12 Review: The Key

New strangers and old enemies battle it out in The Walking Dead.

Simon twd
Image Source: AMC

We are happy to say that this week’s The Walking Dead steps it up a gear following two weeks of filler episodes so let’s get straight into it and take a look at Season 8, Episode 12: The Key.

Spoilers ahead so turn back now if you don’t want to know what happens.

The Best Laid Plans…

This episode’s main plot see’s The Saviours heading to The Hilltop to deliver their new form of terror on the unsuspecting citizens. If you don’t recall what they are up to then here’s a brief recap. In last week’s episode, Eugene gives Negan the idea of bombarding The Hilltop with bits of walker as a psychological attack. Negan takes this one step further, deciding to coat all their knives, arrows, bullets and Lucille in walker blood with the sole purpose being to infect as many people as possible. Negan gives strict instructions not to kill anyone and to let them all turn.

This doesn’t go to plan however as Rick sees them coming and crashes into Negan’s car leading to a chase scene and finally a game of cat & mouse between the two in a dark building full of walkers. Rick seems to be on top as he attacks Negan with a Lucille, now on fire no less, but Negan is slippery and they fight amongst the walkers until Rick is forced to leave the building as Negan is swamped with Walkers, many of which are now also on fire.

All Change

The Saviours that are with Negan all gear up to help him but are stopped by Simon & Dwight who will go and help him themselves. There has been a lot of tension between Simon and Negan recently and he knows that Dwight sold them out too. With this in mind he speaks out against Negan and they choose not to go any further once they discover his crashed car, instead, they just tell the saviours he’s dead, leading to Simon taking charge.

All of this will have massive implications on the rest of the season, Simon has been angling to take over for a couple of episodes and something tells us he’ll be a step up on the brutality factor for the Saviours which is bad news for Rick and co. Quite how this leaves Dwight, who we still think will be the key character come the end, is anyone’s guess at this point. Will he join Simon? His beef was with Negan after all so a new leader could benefit him greatly. How will The Saviours react when they discover that Negan isn’t actually dead? (More on that later). With so many of them having been tortured and abused by Negan will they really welcome their glorious leader with open arms?

Good or Bad?

The fight sequences between Rick and Negan are perfectly played with neither man really seeming like a hero or villain anymore, just two guys who are out for blood. If anything, Negan seems like the rational one at the moment, he makes a good point that none of the settlers at The Hilltop, Alexandria, The Kingdom or The Sanctuary had been killed since he took charge and only since Rick started turning them all against him, sometimes perspective is a dangerous thing and it seems Rick could well have caused all of this after all, and no we haven’t forgotten about Glenn or Abraham but maybe if Rick had simply joined the community they would still be alive too, just a thought.


Elsewhere Maggie spots a strange “thing” outside the walls of The Hilltop. She takes a small team consisting of Michonne, Rosita and Enid to check it out and they find a note from a mysterious stranger who would like to help them. Now we’ve all been watching long enough to know that this can’t end well and Maggie agrees, the others, however, convince her to check it out. They go fully armed and discover a slightly odd woman named Midge and her two comedy sidekicks Georgia and Hilda, who appear to be rejects from a New Kids on the Block casting. Now we don’t have a clue what is going on with her sidekicks or if they are supposed to be funny but the way they kept repeating random words that Midge would say was bizarre. They’re clearly inbred or a bit simple, or both, that said it could all be an act.

Midge proposes a trade, food and goods from the Hilltop for knowledge. After some debate, they agree and are given blueprints to build a windmill among other things. Sorry, what? Maggie seems overjoyed and we are all watching and thinking “couldn’t you have just worked these things out between you all”? Anyway, it seems we’ll be seeing more of these strange bedfellows and, to be honest, it was refreshing to have some new characters who aren’t psychopaths, yet.

Full Circle

Finally, we got to see Negan once again, he’s been rescued from the building and is unconscious in the passenger seat of a car. He wakes up to find a gun pointed at his head but who is driving? Well, it’s Jadis and she looks very pleased with her catch. That’s all we get to see of his capture but considering Negan only found out through Rick earlier this episode that Simon had disobeyed his orders and slaughtered all of Jadis’ people he must be thinking his luck is running out.


There are a couple of things that need to be addressed from this episode and they are minor things that make a big impact on the show. Firstly did we miss an episode where they stumbled across a fully stocked Boots, or whatever the American equivalent would be? We only ask because Rosita was sporting some flawless makeup complete with some serious contouring, so much so that she stood out from the whole cast as she looked so clean. It was actually quite jarring when she was stood on the wall with Maggie, sorry, maybe we’re wrong but surely you’d be pretty grubby during a Zombie apocalypse let alone in the middle of a war zone as well. She just looked really out of place, enough for us to notice anyway.

Secondly how convenient was Ricks timing when he drove into the side of Negan? Driving down a blind alley after having spotted them from a distance and driving to the streets as well, farcically convenient, almost like it was written that way. Now we know we’re over analysing but sometimes these sort of events in shows feel like an insult to our intelligence and just feel lazy. On top of that Rick yet again proved he’s no leader anymore when he decided to chase after Negan rather than raising the alarm and protecting The Hilltop.

Other than that this was a great episode and real return to form, so we are very happy about that, let’s hope for more of the same in the next episode.

Boxsetter Score


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