AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 8, Episode 2: “The Damned”
Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez
Written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell
* For a recap & review of the Season 8 premiere, “Mercy” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Monsters” – click here
Jesus (Tom Payne) and Morgan (Lennie James), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and the others all stand in the trees close one of the Saviors’ compounds. They begin heading into the building, as Morgan goes off on his own to do the zen warrior shit.
Morgan: “I don‘t die”
In the meantime, Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Carol (Melissa McBride), they’re caught in the road and the wreckage. They fight by sword and pistol alongside others from the Kingdom as “the damned” come down upon them. They manage to get out alive, heading onto the next step of their insurrection. Although Carol doesn’t seem like she’s too happy, always getting her cynic on, especially when everybody else is too confident.
Our friends keep moving further. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and a few others lay siege to one of the main buildings, searching for weaponry, ammo. Outside, gunfire continues erupting. Seemingly the place is surrounded, everybody from Rick’s group, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom are at the exterior, as well as the interior. Saviors fall at the end of more bullets, and soon enough they’re within the inner sanctum.
Bullets fly. Aaron (Ross Marquand), Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson), and others push hard on the outside, tightening their grip on the Saviors. Jesus and Morgan lead an assault deeper into the building. Except Morgan and a couple other men are met with a hail of bullets themselves behind one door. Could the zen warrior have jinxed himself with earlier, near superheroic statement? I hope not.
Tara and Jesus find a guy named Dean (Adam Fristoe) in a closet, hiding, hangs in the air. She wants to kill him, but Jesus disagrees. He lets Dean out, as the rest keep fighting. Dean insists he isn’t a Savior, just a guy working for them, cleaning, the grunt work. Jesus doesn’t want it to be “about revenge.” And he near pays the price when the guy grabs a gun, puts it to Jesus’ head, stomping on prenatal vitamins just in case we weren’t sure Tara’s right. They disarm him, but it’s clear that our long haired buddy has a ways to go before he’s come to grips with how the world is now, in post-zombie apocalypse life. He still won’t kill the guy, choosing to tie him up. Another fucking mistake, guaranteed.
And rejoice! Morgan is alive. He doesn’t die; not yet, anyway. Lying next to dead bodies isn’t exactly a novelty in this new world. But at least now he’s got more motivation to drop the zen nonsense, and get back to killing when killing’s needed.
Things are getting dicey outside, after people are dying and reanimating. This helps with the Saviors a bit, though it makes for a messy situation for anybody out in the surrounding areas of the compound. Then there’s Ezekiel and Carol and the crew, moving through the woods. “Fake it ‘till you make it, baby,” the King gives his fierce friend advice while they push towards a perhaps impossible goal that she keeps questioning every step of the way. “There‘ll be no fantasies of failure this day,” he tells her.
Ezekiel: “We move forward, as we move the very world forward.”
Rick stumbles onto a Savior, they fight viciously, neither able to grab a weapon quick enough, it’s fist to fist. They slam one another around the room. Our man wants to know where the guns are kept, but the guy won’t give him an answer. So the former sheriff chokes him near lifeless before impaling him at the wall. Meanwhile, Morgan’s having more troubles with killing. He gets it done, but it’s having an adverse effect on his psyche.
We’re getting further divide between Jesus and Tara, as he still insists on going against the group mandate, letting Saviors keep living rather than putting them down. This is where there’s another level of cognitive dissonance for Morgan, who comes upon Jesus letting all those guys stay alive. So, where does the line get drawn? Is Morgan going to keep killing? Does he slip back into his wannabe zen living? And what about Jesus, how does he fit into the overarching plan Rick and the others are going through with if he isn’t willing to do what must be done?
A brutal reckoning comes for Rick. In the room next to where he violently killed a Savior is a crib, little baby Gracie lying in it left alone. A mirror on the wall juxtaposes a child’s mobile with a bloody Rick; two starkly different images, of life and death.
Unfortunately, outside Eric is hit with a bullet, and Aaron tries getting him to safety. Whereas inside Rick further sees the cost of human life in what they’re doing. But he also finds himself confronted with someone he hasn’t seen in a long time: Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja), from back in Atlanta. He’s called the Saviors back to take Rick. Everybody’s in a bad way, even those safe are only safe for this moment. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors won’t take any of this lying down, you can be sure.
Big, bad things are coming.
“Monsters” is next week. Should be interesting!