The Walking Dead: 8.02 The Damned, 8.03 Monsters
The second and third episodes of season eight of The Walking Dead continued with the co-ordinated group attacks on different Saviour outposts. While season seven of the show was mostly nothing but dragged out dialogue, it seems eight is doing almost the exact opposite, with three for three episodes so far being basically non-stop action. Over these two episodes, we followed roughly four different groups: Rick and Daryl scouring a post for guns, Aaron and Eric leading a contained shootout to take out some Saviours at a new outpost, Morgan, Jesus, and Tara leading a group into the same outpost they originally cleared out, sparking their whole conflict with the Saviours, and Ezekiel and Carol walking with the Kingdommers on their way to carry out their attack plan.
Rick and Daryl were acting upon information given by Dwight (who has yet to do anything this season other than relay a couple of pieces of information), telling them that this particular outpost they were combing through was home to a store of weapons. This search didn’t go particularly smoothly, one particularly heart-wrenching moment being when Rick fought with and killed a man, believing him to be protecting the gun stash, when in fact it turned out the room the man was guarding so fiercely held only his baby daughter. Rick’s realisation of what had happened was really verging on upsetting. You could see the regret and sadness on his face as I’m sure it wasn’t lost on him how he’d fight just the same to protect Judith.
This wasn’t the only thing that didn’t go according to plan for Rick. He then found himself held at gunpoint by none other than Morales, a character we said goodbye to way back in season one. Morales’ return was short, lasting only from the end of the second episode to mid way through the third, and it felt not only pointless but completely anticlimactic. Morales told Rick it was over and that he’d called the Saviours back, the two solemnly admitted recognising each other and discussed how things had gone for them the last few years, Rick going so far as to name drop Lori, Andrea, Shane, and Glenn in order to try and get an emotional response.
It might not have worked on Morales, but talking about Glenn definitely upset me all over again, especially Rick talking about the circumstances of his death and Morales asking “he had a wife?”, not realising she was “the Widow” Negan had told his people to try and keep alive if possible. Anyway, in the midst of lamenting how hardened they’d become as people, Daryl shot Morales, telling Rick that he knew who he was, and it didn’t matter.
Daryl is becoming particularly ruthless, later point blank executing a man they encountered when just about to leave. Rick gave this man his word that they’d let him leave alive, but the minute he revealed the guns has been sent to a different outpost, Daryl shot him in the head, much to Rick’s dismay. Despite his being the leader during this whole war on the Saviours, it seems Rick is finally becoming more and more reluctant to kill the living again.
This leads me to believe that he may not be so sympathetic to Tara and Morgan’s position as they might like. Having taken several Saviours hostage after they surrendered, Jesus insisted on not killing them and instead taking them to Maggie at the Hilltop, whereas Tara and Morgan would both have preferred to simply kill them all. Tara’s revenge mission is understandable but Morgan’s position feels more angsty, and more than an a little frustrating given that having a crisis of conscience is becoming a defining character trait for him at this point.
The first semi-big death of the season came about when Aaron’s partner, Eric, got shot in the stomach when they led a co-ordinated shootout targeting another outpost. In an emotional parting, Aaron left Eric sat against a tree while he returned to the fighting, then when he returned later, Eric’s gun was on the ground and there was only a bloodstain left against the tree. Eric was always only a minor character at best, but his death was still somewhat brutal thanks to the incredible acting of Ross Marquand (Aaron). At the sight of a stumbling walker in the distance that we could assume to be a passed on and turned Eric, Aaron broke down in tears, having to be torn away from the scene while yelling that he couldn’t leave him. Incredibly sad as this was, it DID seem a little awful to leave him wandering around as a walker, assuming that was actually him.
Finally, Ezekiel, Carol, and the Kingdommers spent the majority of these two episodes strolling along and killing Saviours with relentless optimism. It was actually really pleasant and uplifting, despite how obvious it was that it would end in tears. Ezekiel was convinced that they could take out groups of Saviours without losing a single comrade, and then he was thrilled when they did it. Even Carol was smiling and on board, until they arrived at the next outpost only for the majority of the Kingdommers to be suddenly shot down by Saviours wielding the guns that Rick and Daryl had been looking for at the wrong place; quite the dramatic ending to a decent couple of episodes.