"How It's Gotta Be"
The Walking Dead episode
Episode no. Season 8
Episode 8
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by David Leslie Johnson
Angela Kang
Original air date December 10, 2017
Running time 65 minutes
Guest actors
  • Callan McAuliffe as Alden
  • Deborah May as Natania
  • Jayson Warner Smith as Gavin
  • Cooper Andrews as Jerry
  • Sydney Park as Cyndie
  • Jason Douglas as Tobin
  • Kenric Green as Scott
  • Avi Nash as Siddiq
  • Thomas Francis Murphy as Brion
  • Sabrina Gennarino as Tamiel
  • Kerry Cahill as Dianne
  • Lindsley Register as Laura
  • R. Keith Harris as Dr. Harlan Carson
  • Joshua Mikel as Jared
  • Briana Venskus as Beatrice
  • Nicole Barré as Kathy
  • James Chen as Kal
  • Peter Zimmerman as Eduardo
  • Mike Seal as Gary
  • Nadine Marissa as Nabila
  • Adam Fristoe as Dean
  • Mandi Christine Kerr as Barbara
  • Ted Huckabee as Bruce
  • Aaron Farb as Norris
  • Matt Mangum as D.J.
  • Alan Heckner as Savior
  • Karl Funk as Neil
Episode chronology
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"Time for After"
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"How It's Gotta Be" is the eighth episode and mid-season finale of the eighth season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead, which aired on AMC on December 10, 2017. The episode was written by David Leslie Johnson and Angela Kang, and directed by Michael E. Satrazemis.


In the wake of Daryl's (Norman Reedus) attack on the Sanctuary, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) again appeals to Eugene (Josh McDermitt) to help; Eugene suggests using their remaining ammunition to clear the walkers, promising to make more afterwards. The walkers are cleared and Negan begins to plot revenge towards Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) allies at Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom.

Rick is abandoned by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and her Scavengers when they discover the aftermath of Daryl's attack and are fired on by Savior soldiers. Rick is rescued by Carol (Melissa McBride) and Jerry (Cooper Andrews). The three decide to split up to warn the allied communities. Meanwhile, Eugene helps the ill Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Dr. Harlan Carson (R. Keith Harris) escape towards the Hilltop, though Eugene fears Gabriel may not make it.

Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) decide to try to make up to the Oceanside community, whose guns they took to fight the Saviors, by bringing them a truck full of alcohol from a nearby brewery. Waiting outside the community at night, Aaron is attacked and Enid shoots his attacker, which turns out to be Natania (Deborah May), the leader of Oceanside. The two are surrounded by other Oceanside members, and Natania's granddaughter Cyndie (Sydney Park) mourns her loss.

Simon (Steven Ogg) and one group of Saviors capture Jerry en route to the Hilltop, and use him as a hostage to coerce Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Jesus (Tom Payne) to turn a convoy of Hilltop soldiers around and return to Hilltop. Simon kills Neil (Karl Funk) as punishment after Maggie agrees. On return to the Hilltop, Maggie executes one of the Savior prisoners, Dean (Adam Fristoe), in retribution, and orders the Hilltop to be fortified. Elsewhere, Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith) leads the Saviors to round up all the residents of the Kingdom, informing them they will be helping to rebuild Sanctuary while the Saviors will be living in the Kingdom until that is completed. Ezekiel (Khary Payton), who had sneaked away, creates a distraction that allows the Kingdom residents to escape into the nearby woods. Carol encounters them, and tries to help Ezekiel, but he locks her out of the Kingdom to face the Saviors alone. Morgan (Lennie James) observes this from a distance.

Inside Alexandria, Carl (Chandler Riggs) writes a note to his father. He later prepares to take more food to Siddiq (Avi Nash) when suddenly Negan and many other Saviors seize Alexandria's front gate and assert Alexandria is now theirs. Carl talks to Negan over Alexandria's walls, offering his own life in exchange; however, this is a distraction to allow all the Alexandria residents to escape into the sewers, and to give time for Daryl, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Tara (Alanna Masterson) to form a small convoy to burst out of the community's back gates and through a roadblock of Savior vehicles, purposely arranged ineffectively by Dwight (Austin Amelio). The Saviors give chase, but this leads into an ambush set by Daryl. Dwight kills several Saviors in front of Laura (Lindsley Register), and she escapes to warn Negan of his treachery. Dwight joins Daryl and the others as they head to the sewers, though Michonne stays on the surface to look for Carl.

Meanwhile, Negan and his Saviors launch fire bombs into community, destroying several buildings, and break open the front gate and pour into the community, while Carl provides cover through smoke bombs before he escapes to the sewer. Rick eventually arrives, and rushes to his house to look for Michonne, Carl, and Judith, only to find Negan waiting there. They get into a fight, but Rick, severely injured, manages to escape and meets with Michonne. She takes him to the sewer to find all the others waiting there. They find Carl there, who reveals an apparent walker bite on his abdomen. Stunned, Rick and Michonne break down in tears, and comfort Carl, as they reel in the horror as reality sets in.


"How It's Gotta Be" features the revelation that the character of Carl Grimes was apparently bitten by a walker in the sixth episode, "The King, the Widow, and Rick". Showrunner Scott M. Gimple said that of Carl's bite, it is "a one-way ticket". He alluded to the show's next episode, following the mid-season break, that the bite is "very important to Carl’s story and the entire story what happens in the next episode".[1] Carl's pending death deviates significantly from the comic book series, as, at the time of airing, both Carl and Rick were still alive in the comic's published arc, with Carl having a critical role in the Whisperers arc that follows the "All Out War" narrative. Carl's pending death is considered the largest deviation that the television series has made from the comics to date.[2][3] Chandler Riggs, who portrays Carl, explained that the decision to kill Carl off was not due his own personal life (at the time, he was taking a year off before entering college) but a choice made by the showrunners to account for a gap in the comic's story. In the comic's "All Out War" story arc, the war ends with Rick slashing Negan's throat, but then time jumps two years forward to show that Rick had kept Negan alive, although in prison. Riggs said that Gimple felt they needed to make Carl appear as a humanitarian figure in death as to give something for Rick to aspire towards, as to overcome this characterization gap in the comics.[3] Riggs himself only learned of the character's death during the filming of the sixth episode of the season.[3][4]


Critical reception

"How It's Gotta Be" received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 63% with an average rating of 6.07 out of 10, based on 24 reviews.[5]


The mid-season finale drew a total viewership of 7.89 million with a 3.4 rating in adults aged 18–49.[6] Compared to previous seasons, this was the lowest viewership for a mid-season finale since the season two episode "Pretty Much Dead Already", which drew a total audience of 6.62 million viewers.[7][8]


  1. Ross, Dalton (December 10, 2017). "The Walking Dead showrunner on that devastating twist". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 10, 2017. 
  2. Bradley, Laura (December 10, 2017). "Why The Walking Dead’s Next Big Death Might Be a Game-Changer". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 10, 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Goldberg, Leslie (December 10, 2017). "'Walking Dead' Star Explains the Show's Biggest Exit Yet". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 10, 2017. 
  4. Ross, Dalton (December 11, 2017). "The Walking Dead: Chandler Riggs on what's next for Carl". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 11, 2017. 
  5. "How It's Gotta Be". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 15, 2018. 
  6. Porter, Rick (December 12, 2017). "Sunday cable ratings: ‘Walking Dead’ fall finale ticks up, Season 8 still way down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved December 12, 2017. 
  7. Patten, Dominic (December 12, 2017). "‘The Walking Dead’ Ratings Bitten With Fall Finale Low Despite Shocker". Retrieved December 12, 2017. 
  8. McLevy, Alex (December 12, 2017). "The Walking Dead stumbled into its worst mid-season finale ratings since 2011". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 12, 2017. 

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