AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 8, Episode 3: “Monsters”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Damned” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Some Guy” – click here
Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Carol (Melissa McBride), and their trusty friends move through the forest. They eventually hear the whistles of the Saviors who surround them at all angles, guns drawn. But it isn’t all of them. Ezekiel and the others put their hands up, as Carol and the others gun down the threat.
“We will lose not one of our ranks”
Back to Rick (Andrew Lincoln), at the end of a gun Morales (Juan Pareja) is holding. He’s surprised to see the man he once knew in Atlanta. They’ve both been through some shit. We discover Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) orders are to leave several of them alive, including our former sheriff, the widow Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and the king. Meanwhile, outside the guns are still raging, as people from Hilltop and the Kingdom continue laying down fire. Poor Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) has been shot, he isn’t doing well, and Aaron (Ross Marquand) doesn’t want to leave his boyfriend alone, bleeding. Yet in the post-zombie apocalypse, everybody’s gotta do what they gotta do.
On the road, Tara (Alanna Masterson) is helping Morgan (Lennie James) and the gang march their Saviors prisoners towards Hilltop. Jesus (Tom Payne) is continually determined on not killing these men, whereas Morgan isn’t conflicted; he’s just towing the line, for now. They’re waiting to get back to Maggie, to see what she intends on doing.
Jesus: “There‘s many kinds of dangers, many kinds of dying. I kill, I‘ve killed. You do, you have. But we don‘t execute.”
Morgan: “I have”
Alone in that room together, Rick tells Morales about his own journey, the deaths of Lori, Shane, and Glenn – the last surprises his old buddy, especially considering he’s the death that made Lauren become a widow. We hear about Morales waiting to die, he believes they saved him, thought him worthy of something. He “is Negan.” Just like everyone else around that place. So, what matters ultimately to people in the wasteland: morality, or necessity? Morales, he chose necessity. Before he can do anything worse, Daryl (Norman Reedus) saves him. Of course Rick isn’t sure how he feels about it, but his close friend knows it was the right decision. And just as back-up is coming for them, too.
More on the road, when a ton of walkers scramble over a nearby hill and roll into the road. The tied Saviors are terrified, some of them are eaten alive. Morgan and friends do their best gunning down and stabbing whatever zombies they can manage. This also gives some of the Saviors time to try making a getaway, so Morgan gives chase. He kills one before Jesus stops him, convinced they’ve got to keep these people alive. For what reason? Why would Maggie want to keep these men alive after what Negan and his pals allowed to happen to their people?
This argument between the men turns into a violent confrontation when Morgan pulls his staff from its sheath to fight Jesus. Simultaneously, Carol, Ezekiel, and their crew move deeper into Saviors territory. One victory to the next. Just as Rick and Daryl are laid siege upon by Negan’s lads. We cut back and forth between the various fights. Nobody’s backing down, either. Not Jesus or Morgan. Not the Saviors bearing down on Rick and Daryl, both of whom are getting low on ammo; they’re able to get the upper hand until Aaron shows up. When things calm down between Morgan and Jesus, the former’s clearly having mental troubles, even he knows that: “I‘m not right, I know that, but that doesn‘t make me wrong.” At least Tara’s got his back.
Back at Hilltop, Gregory (Xander Berkeley) shows up at the gates, asking for help. Not sure anybody’s inclined to be too helpful. They may let him in, eventually, though I’m not sure Maggie’s happy to see him. She wonders why Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) isn’t along for the ride while his car’s arrived with Gregory. Doesn’t look too good for the ole lad. He gives Maggie a bunch of horse shit talk about trying to save lives. Although she soon agrees to let him inside: “He‘s not worth killing. Not yet, anyway.”
Right behind is Jesus and all those Saviors hostages. Maggie doesn’t see any safe option for keeping those people there. Jesus still insists they don’t execute them. But you just know there’s only a bad situation that can come from keeping them alive. Undeniable.
In the wreckage left behind at the battle, Daryl and the rest clean up, gather ammo, and Rick takes a few Polaroids of the dead for good measure; eerily similar to how Negan took pictures of those he bashed. Wonder exactly what these photos are for, Sheriff Grimes. Saddest is Aaron, who can’t find Eric’s body where he left him at the tree; and he sees it, reanimated, heading towards a horde of the undead in the distance. A nice moment? Rick saves the baby Gracie he found in that building, and Aaron agrees to take her to safety at Hilltop.
When Daryl and Rick are about to leave, a shot rings close. The latter asks the person to surrender and they can have a vehicle, just go their separate ways. It’s a young man who tells Rick about where all their weapons went, recently sent to another outpost. Instead of letting him live Daryl puts a bullet in his head. We keep seeing Rick give him that look, but what he needs to realise is everyone’s fed up, they’re not going to be killed, not anymore. Not if they can help it, and certainly not Daryl!
And just when Ezekiel thinks they’ve completed their mission, no one dead, guns begin shooting at them from a nearby building. Several men jump on him to protect the king; will they die, or will he?
Enjoyed this episode, especially some of the quieter moments. Great little cliffhanger; saw it coming, but still loved it. There’s also an interesting dynamic happening between Rick and Daryl that I hope we see play out, because it’d help switch things up to have a couple close friends sort of warring over morality, et cetera. Can’t wait for more.
“Some Guy” comes next Sunday.