by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 3.
The outpost attacks continued this week on The Walking Dead, picking up right where we left off last time. I think the theme of this episode was ‘poor choices’. Everyone was making poor choices, from Morgan and Jesus, to Daryl, to Aaron, to Maggie, to King Ezekiel and the Kingdom warriors.
We all knew that Eric was going to die. His injury was just too severe to survive without a doctor right there. Yeah, Carl survived a bullet obliterating his eye, but he’s a main character and he did receive immediate medical attention. Even if you weren’t certain of Eric’s fate, when Aaron left him to go back to the battle, it was clear that Eric was going to pass on in his absence. It was a poignant moment when Aaron came back to find Eric gone, his gun abandoned on the ground, because you knew exactly what had happened without having to see it happen. And then when Aaron looked into the distance to see Eric shuffling away, he knew that he could at least spare his lover that ultimate indignity… except that he didn’t. I still don’t understand why Aaron didn’t just shoot Eric. He had a high-powered rifle. He could have done it, and it wouldn’t have taken long. So now I’m wondering if Eric will show up in a later episode, perhaps as a cameo.
In the meantime, Aaron will have to face more consequences of his actions. He’s the one who brought Team Rick to Alexandria in the first place, he’s the one who brought the Wolves down on Alexandria by leaving his backpack behind, and that was a catalyst that brought Alexandria to the Saviors’ notice. I’m not saying that Aaron is the only one to blame for everything, but he seems like the kind of guy who would blame himself, and if he does, he’s got lots of ammunition. But I’m wondering if he’s going to end up raising Baby Grace. Will she be a ‘saving grace’ for him? (I know… ouch… ) It would give him something upon which to focus, and someone for whom to fight, now that his future with Eric is gone.
Morgan and Jesus were a big focus of this episode. While Jesus is fairly level-headed and consistent, Morgan continues his big emotional swings and over-reactions. In the first episode of the series, he was reluctant to kill, even walkers. He wasn’t able to kill his own undead wife, and ultimately, that led to his son’s death. Then Morgan went all crazy, setting traps and killing everything in sight so he could ‘clear’. And then he ran into Eastman and respected all life again, to the point where he endangered his own life, and the lives of those for whom he cares. And now that he’s realized that he went too far, he’s swung back in the other direction and wants to kill everything that moves who isn’t on his team. Personally, I agree that they should kill these surrendering Saviors (holding them captive isn’t going to lead to anything good) but Morgan’s justification isn’t holding a lot of water. He’s losing it, and even worse, he knows that he’s losing it. He’s shifting again, as evidenced by his, “I’m not right, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” statement. He’s starting to see shades of grey, which never lasts long with him. He’s going to move off on some other wild extreme. I think the only way he’s ever going to be happy is living as a hermit in the woods, just like Eastman (and to some extent, like he was doing in Rick’s hometown after his son died).
In the end, I feel sorry for Morgan. He was taunted by Jared whistling the Nutcracker Suite, which I’m sure made Morgan want to crack some nuts. And then Jared started needling him about Benjamin. No wonder Morgan lost it! His hold on reality has been tenuous for a few seasons now. I’m guessing he’ll be gone for a few episodes at least.
The fight between Jesus and Morgan was mostly fan service, but it was still fun to watch. And it proved that both of them are good fighters, but I suspect that Jesus is better. Morgan was going in for the kill, while Jesus was just trying to keep them both safe. If Jesus had really gone for it, I suspect he would have had Morgan on the ground quickly.
Speaking of those Savior prisoners, was Mr. PeePee Pants among them? I wasn’t able to tell. I hope so, otherwise he’s going to be causing problems for Team Rick later on.
And those prisoners were marched back to the Hilltop, but not before Gregory got there. I loved watching him squirm outside of the gate. After all, he has no friends, and nowhere to go. Maggie should have let him rot out there. Any sympathy I had for Gregory died a long time ago. At least Eugene, who is also a coward, is apologetic and understands when he’s done something wrong, and is filled with remorse and tries to make up for it. Not so with Gregory. He pleaded with Maggie not to leave a ‘human being’ out there to die. Yet isn’t that exactly what Gregory did to Gabriel? This man has no morals and no concerns other than saving his own skin. I’m angry with Maggie for letting him in, yet at the same time, I understand that if she left him outside and he somehow survived, he could make a potentially dangerous enemy. Those of us who have read the comics know the kinds of things Gregory could get up to, and it isn’t pretty.
Rick’s showdown with Morales was disappointing, to say the least. They were having a good conversation, with Morales making all kinds of uncomfortable parallels between Rick and himself: they are both monsters, both assholes who will do whatever has to be done to keep themselves alive. This tied nicely back to Rick seeing himself in the mirror last week, getting a glimpse of how others might view him. I really wanted to see this being played out. It also would have made a nice contrast if they had decided to keep Morales as a prisoner, yet kill the other Savior prisoners. There could have been some great character study and plot growth. Maybe seeing Carol and Carl again might have helped Morales come to envision a better way than just ‘being Negan’. But Daryl had to kill him. I’m guessing that this is supposed to be character development for Daryl, but in my mind, it’s missing out on a lot of good opportunities for everyone else.
Daryl showed himself in this episode to be just as vicious as Morgan. Wow… a season ago, I never would have imagined saying that! But both of them want to kill every Savior in sight. Of course, Daryl has more reason to do so. He’s angry over what he saw happening to Sherry, and he’s still bearing a large burden of guilt for what happened to Glenn. Indirectly, he’s also responsible for Denise’s death too, and therefore Tara’s pain. But more importantly, he highlights the humanity that’s still left in Rick. Rick wanted to spare Morales, and he definitely wanted to let Savior Todd leave with a car. But Daryl never gave him that option, killing both of them before Rick had a chance to follow through on his own impulses. At least Daryl didn’t kill Baby Grace. I guess she reminded him of ‘Lil Asskicker. But it’s clear that Rick and Daryl are going to have this out soon, perhaps even over the matter of Jesus’ prisoners.
And that brings us to King Ezekiel and his warriors. They had it too good. They were accomplishing all of their objectives, overcoming all of their setbacks, and bragging that no one had died. You knew that it was too good to last, and so it was. The people of the Kingdom fell into the same trap that they had previously set for the Saviors: lure them in, thinking they are easy pickings, and then take them out with a larger, more powerful force. Perhaps it’s just current events, but when I saw that tower at the Savior outpost, I was reminded of the recent Las Vegas shooting from the tower of the Mandalay Bay hotel. There’s not a lot the Kingdom people can do to defend from that. They just have to retreat, and hopefully regroup. I’m pretty sure that Ezekiel, Carol and Jerry will survive this, but the rest of them all look like redshirts to me. We’ll have to wait until next week to see.
For those of you who play the Walking Dead: No Man’s Land mobile game, you know that the game is producing special missions for each episode of the season. When watching the show, I was hoping that this week’s mission would be Morgan fighting Jesus. That would have been fun to play! But instead, we got a watered down version of it, with Morgan and Jesus arguing as they fight off the walkers attacking the prisoner Saviors. Still, it is a good tie-in to the episode.
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