The Walking Dead S08E03: Monsters
Last week, we were left with several of our groups in various predicaments in their fight against Negan and the Saviors. We pick up where we left off, with everyone experiencing some sort of consequences as a result of the battle. This resulted in the emotional and intense episode of The Walking Dead of the season thus far.
When we left Rick, he had made the connection that this was the same Morales that he sent off with his family to Birmingham back in Season 1. There was a lot of dialogue between the two, discussing how the events of the current state of the world changed them into the man – or the monster – that they are today. Blah blah… boom! This ended exactly how I expected it would. Daryl sneaking in from behind and shooting Morales in the head with an arrow with no mercy. Rick, still in shock, starts to tell Daryl who that was. “I know who he was,” Daryl says. “Don’t matter. Not one little bit.” Daryl is straight to the point. He has a mission and no one is getting in his way of getting it done.
We catch up with Jesus, Tara, and Morgan on the road, leading the Savior prisoners back to the Hilltop to let Maggie decide what to do with them. There is still a conflict of morality between the sides within this group that has carried over from the previous episode.Which I don’t fully understand Jesus’ stance on this. He was part of the group that went into the compound and killed the Saviors in their sleep at the end of season 6. What is the difference in morality between not killing someone that surrenders vs killing someone in their sleep that has no chance to surrender?
With the taunting from that creepy Savior, Jared, Morgan is teetering on a breakdown. When they encounter a horde on the roadway, a small group of Savior prisoners that are tied together escapes into the woods. Morgan follows them and does what he thinks should have been done all along, and that is stopping them from putting a bullet in them. Jesus follows him and stops him, but not without repercussions. After another heated exchange, we are treated to a full-on ninja battle between the best melee fighters on the show. The fighting acrobatics were fun to watch, but what was not fun was watching Morgan crack and walk away, leaving us with his fate unknown yet again for who knows how long. We had to wait seasons to see Morgan again last time he left us.
After Erik was shot last week, things were not looking good for my favorite TWD couple. Aaron asks Erik to remove his jacket so he can examine the wound, finding a clean exit which gave us a glimmer of hope. After the long exchange between the two, which clearly seemed like a goodbye, Erik encouraged a begrudging Aaron to return to the battle because they needed him.
This scene, combined with the hero edit that Erik had been receiving in the first couple episodes were an obvious tell by the writers of Erik’s fate. They don’t do a good job with subtlety when preparing to kill off a character. And it’s a shame – I think that Aaron and Erik had an interesting backstory to tell. There may have been more than this power couple had to offer as far a storyline. But, Erik also dies pretty abruptly in the comics. At least the writers gave the character (and Jordan Woods-Robinson, who happens to be a pretty great guy) a proper send off.
Aaron has had quite the struggle since dropping that backpack at the cannery. He has an incredible amount of guilt built up after the Wolves attack Alexandria as a result. And now he will feel remorse after losing Erik in a battle that he originally didn’t want to fight. But Aaron also has hope. This can be seen at the end of the episode when he offers to take Gracie back to the Hilltop. I’ll be interested to see how these events impact his storyline for the rest of the season.
Of course, in typical Gregory fashion, we see the former Hilltop leader return to the gate and beg to be let back in. He claims that his intent was to save people’s lives. “Some people with opinions not colored by a preoccupation with vengeance might even call that heroic,” he tells Maggie. She finally relents and lets him in, telling Enid that he’s not worth killing — yet.He makes an interesting comment on the way in, saying that he didn’t tell Negan anything he didn’t already know about Rick’s plans to go to war. Is this true, or is Negan getting his information from another source? A source within the Hilltop, Alexandria, or the Kingdom? Or a source within the Saviors? (I’m looking at you, Dwight.)
The last episode, when we were following Carol, King Ezekiel, and soldiers from the Hilltop, we heard several speeches from the King about his outlook on life and during battle. This week his words were put to the test. Along their route, they used battle techniques to overcome groups of Saviors without any sacrifice of their own. At the final location, there was another successful sweep. Or so we thought. Nothing is ever this easy in The Walking Dead. As soon as they notice movement in a nearby building, shots are fired. We see several Kingdom soldiers mowed down, and a few of them throw themselves on the King to protect him. As the episode ends, we are left to wonder the fate of this group (and in particular, one big, expensive CGI character).
We also learn from the wounded Savior that Rick and Daryl encounter after the battle that the guns they were looking for were moved to Gavin’s outpost, which is the outpost that the Kingdom soldiers went to. Rick and Daryl immediate head to that location, after Daryl cold-bloodily, kills the Savior, of course. What they discover when they get there will unfold in next week’s episode.
When I read that Greg Nicotero was the director for this episode, I put on my seat belt and expected something big. While the action wasn’t over the top, I felt that the amount of time spent on each group progressed the story forward considerably, even though it was all packed into a one-hour episode. The individual story arcs that were started in the first episode were finally starting to make sense because we jumped right into battle and Rick’s plan without any explanation in episode 1. As this phase of the battle is slowing down, I have a feeling that the next few episodes will ramp us back up to an intense mid-season finale in a few weeks.