by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 2.
The Walking Dead continues its All Out War with season 8, episode 2. I had expected that after the action-packed episode 1, we might get a few slower episodes that focused on character development. Instead, we got another action-oriented episode that (Surprise!) focused on character development. And to tie it all up, there was even plot development and a little fan service (in the form of Shiva). I won’t say that this episode had everything, but it made me feel like the show is headed in the right direction, and isn’t just saving ‘the good stuff’ for season openers and finales.
The focus of the episode is Team Rick’s continued attacks on various Savior outposts. We don’t know how many outposts Negan has, but it seems as if there are quite a few. It makes me wonder how many more there are to go. Still, Rick has a good strategy: hit the headquarters, and hit the outposts at roughly the same time, so that there is no one to send help or reinforcements. Of course, it might seem that Team Rick should have hit the outposts first, but given how any word of what had happened could have prepared Negan for the headquarters attack, it’s probably better that they didn’t. As it is, it is clear in this episode that one person getting away can alert others. The Kingdom team was trying to prevent this, yet failed in that mission. It is easy to imagine how things at The Sanctuary might have gone differently had Negan been pre-warned of Team Rick’s coming.
Interestingly, Aaron’s group used the same tactics that they had at The Sanctuary to hit their outpost: the shielded vehicles drove up and they started firing. Of course, there was no ‘negotiation’ as Rick had tried to do with Negan, but this is war. Clearly, these Saviors had had some word to prepare for something, as Mara was trying to get her people to put their weapons in order. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t fast enough, and it was satisfying to see her getting eaten by one of her own (now undead) people, realizing at the wrong moment exactly what strategy Aaron’s group was using.
I do find it interesting that Aaron’s group was just waiting for the early fallen Saviors to turn. How long does it take to turn? In season 1, Andrea’s sister Amy took all night before she turned, while these Saviors at the outpost turned in less than an hour. It could be proposed that some people take longer than others to turn, yet in Fear The Walking Dead (which is the same universe) Troy was able to conduct experiments and make pretty good estimates of how quickly someone would turn, based on their gender and body weight/size. I’m wondering if there’s been an inconsistency over the many seasons of the show, or if there is a consistent formula for how this works.
I’m feeling like Eric is going to die. Last season, he was initially against war because he didn’t want Aaron to die. He was one of those who started out wanting to go along with the Saviors, until he saw what they were capable of doing. But he seemed so out of place during the firefight, and Aaron was clearly so worried for him, that it somehow signaled that Eric was in trouble, long before he actually got shot. Of course, he was shot in the stomach, which might be a survivable wound… if they could get him quickly enough to a surgeon. But I don’t think that’s likely in the zombie apocalypse, especially since The Kingdom is the only Team Rick place with real doctors right now.
The next outpost attack was headed by Jesus and Tara. This was the same outpost they had previously attacked in season 6, when they didn’t know who Negan was and figured that he had to be one of the dead guys there. I guess it was a good outpost, because apparently Negan’s men came back and took it over once more after that.
Everything was going great for Jesus/Tara’s team until they ran into the guy who wanted to surrender after he had peed his pants. It seems like there should have been a big discussion during all of those off-camera strategy meetings on Team Rick’s side. Would they accept surrender? Would they take PoWs? But apparently there wasn’t, as Tara and Jesus couldn’t agree on what to do with the guy. I found it amusing that Jesus was the one being moral and defending the man’s right to live. I’m sure that was done on purpose by the show’s writers. Regardless, he seems to have been taking some lessons from Morgan. Yet Morgan is now a killing machine, shooting anything that moves with deadly accuracy! And he definitely didn’t seem happy when he saw that there was a large number of prisoners.
I still can’t believe that Jesus left the peepee-pants Savior behind. You know that’s going to come back and bite them in the butt. The guy is clearly vicious and enjoys hurting others (he seemed to take extra pleasure out of stomping on Maggie’s prenatal vitamins) and he will see Jesus’ letting him live as a weakness, not a kindness. And the reappearance of Jared as one of the other prisoners brings up a twist for the ‘new’ Morgan. Jared was the Savior who was on Gavin’s team when they were in ‘peaceful’ contact with The Kingdom, and who killed Benjamin and stole Morgan’s staff. He’s always been a hothead, even to the point that Gavin didn’t like him. I just know that it’s bad news that they haven’t killed that guy. My guess is that he’s going to get with Mr. Peepee Pants and they’re going to cause trouble for the Jesus/Tara group. And Tara may say ‘I told you so’ to Jesus, but she won’t be happy to be right.
The third outpost attack was still in its infancy, with The Kingdom people (led by King Ezekiel) chasing after a wounded Savior, to prevent him from warning the others about the coming attack. Ultimately, while they killed the guy, they were unsuccessful, as he got his warning out. But the kill was spectacular, with Shiva jumping in and going for the head. I’m super impressed that this tiger knows that in the zombie apocalypse it’s smart to go for the head.
In the unexpected humor department, I was laughing when Ezekiel ran toward the bridge, pulling up short just as he got to the ‘NO RUNNING’ sign. I was also amused by the brief moment he let his façade slip with Carol. We’ve only seen this once before, when he admitted to her last season that he puts on the ‘King’ persona because it inspires his people. But his little ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ motto seems to be working. There is a lot to be said for good morale, as long as it doesn’t turn into overconfidence. But if being ‘the King’ can get someone like Jerry (who is a boss with that axe) on his side, then it’s a good move.
The last group was only Rick and Daryl, and they weren’t attacking as much as scouting for a Saviors weapons cache. Daryl was itching for Dwight to be wrong about something (clearly he wants any excuse to kill Dwight) and it looks like maybe this intel was it. Rick and Daryl didn’t find a weapons cache, but they found a small apartment and what looked like a makeshift prison in a closet. Strangely, this prison had a fresh, half-eaten sandwich, yet the handcuff attached to the wall was closed, implying that the person who had occupied the place had left with the permission of their captors. I’m wondering who was previously in there. Was it Morales? Is his standoff with Rick designed to put himself in good standing with the Saviors? Morales was actually part of Rick’s group all the way back in season 1, when they were living in tents outside of Atlanta. When the group pulled up stakes to go looking for the CDC, Morales left with his wife and children to seek out relatives in Birmingham, Alabama. The parting was amicable, and I’m wondering how the heck he got all of the way to the Washington DC area to join up with (or possibly be captured by) the Saviors. What happened to his wife and children? Is the baby Grace his daughter?
Ah, baby Grace… that was something to make Rick pause and take a good, long look at himself. Conveniently, there was a mirror in the room, and Rick caught a glimpse of how others would see him: wild, angry, covered in blood. He definitely took pause at that, which shows that there is humanity still left inside of him. He does care about others; he just cares about his own loved ones more. And honestly, who among us can’t admit to the same? I’m guessing that’s what’s going on with Morales. He may be one of those people whose family is kept away from him as insurance for his good behavior.
The episode starts out with attacks and seeming victories in taking out outposts, yet ends with a number of setbacks for Team Rick. Jesus and Tara are clearly still at odds regarding the PoWs, another Savior outpost knows King Ezekiel’s team is coming and they have lost their advantage of surprise, and of course Rick is facing down Morales, who may (or may not) have backup coming to capture Rick. I’m enjoying these plot hooks, and eager to see what happens next week. I’m rooting for a return to The Sanctuary. I want to see how they deal with the herd and what happens to Negan and Father Gabriel.
For those who play the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s season 8 mission is Rick and Daryl going through the ‘armory’, looking for the weapons cache, only to come up empty.
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