Season 8 episode 3 of The Walking Dead titled, “Monsters” hits all the marks in a season named ‘All Out War’. The first two episodes were good while episode 3 is better. Some blemishes, yes. Yet they’re negligible. The story shines.
You can tell while you’re watching a good film or a good TV episode, when a lot has transpired that you want more. Much to cover. So because of that this review will have major spoilers. If you haven’t seen the episode depart now, for the train’s about to leave the station.
A segment of the follow-up AMC show, Talking Dead, hosted by Chris Hardwick said it best. Which the following words appeared on the screen during the show, “War shows you who you really are. Morales was a broken man. Eric was a brave soul.” All that summarized the episode.
“They’re coming for us,” says King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), king of the Kingdom to his people, before he later adds, “And yet I smile. And yet Carol smiles.” Which she sincerely does. Smiling hadn’t been easy for Carol (Melissa McBride) to do, yet it appears Ezekiel has grown on her. All are aware of the danger, even Ezekiel, while his Kingdom troops feed off his inspired leadership.
“If we follow this plan, if we keep to our training, if the fates continue to shine brightly upon us, allowing us this dream, we will lose not one of our ranks. Not one,” Ezekiel says. Later after his speech, all hear a chorus of whistling. The Saviors arrive from out of the woods as to appear surrounding Ezekiel’s forces. After Ezekiel and his forces raise their guns to surrender, Carol’s team emerge from hiding in the woods to get the drop on the Saviors by also surrounding them, cueing Ezekiel and his team to quickly hit the deck. The firepower vanquishes the Saviors. The plan held. And Ezekiel’s attack force proceeds onward.
Meanwhile, within the Savior’s office building near the gun maintenance station where Aaron’s forces are fighting a group of Saviors, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is held at gunpoint by Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja), also a Savior. For those who don’t know, Rick first met Morales in season 1 episode 2, while all, including Glenn (Steven Yeun) who’d just saved Rick’s life, were trapped inside an Atlanta department store surrounded by walkers. Then in episode 5 of season 1 outside of Atlanta, Morales and his family decide not to join Rick, Lori, Carl, Shane, Daryl, Andrea, Glenn, and the others to go to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) HQ in Atlanta. After he tells all they have family in Birmingham, Rick gives Morales a gun, ammo, and a walkie-talkie.
While the initial dialogue from Morales as he held Rick at gunpoint seemed a little pointless, the scene later gets to the meat. “Is your family here?” Rick asks, about Morales’s wife and their two children. “We never made it to Birmingham. They didn’t,” Morales replies. “Well, I’m sorry,” Rick says sincerely. “Really, Rick?” asks Morales disdainfully. “I am. I lost people too. Lori, Shane, Andrea, Glenn…Negan killed him. Forced him to his knees. Bashed his head in right in front of me. In front of his pregnant wife,” replies Rick firmly, laying it all out. “He had a wife?” asks Morales, with perhaps a touch of concern. “Not before. He met her,” Rick replied softly.
After listening, Morales surmises and says, “She’s the Widow,” for Negan had spread the word that Rick, the King, Ezekiel, and the Widow, Maggie, were to be taken alive once captured as a prize. Then Rick asks, “Are you Negan, too?” After explaining he felt welcomed by the Saviors, Morales answers, “Yeah, I’m Negan,” followed by also adding that he and Rick are no different.
Then Daryl (Norman Reedus) quietly appears behind Morales with crossbow ready. “Wait, no!” Rick pleads. Too late, Morales gets hit. “That, that was,” Rick says, before Daryl cuts him off. “I know who it was. It don’t matter,” Daryl says curtly, before Rick informs the guns aren’t there.
While outside not far from Rick and Daryl, Aaron carries his wounded boyfriend Eric away from battle to safety by a tree. “I’m so sorry,” Aaron (Ross Marquand) says while crying, yet relieved about Eric’s exit wound. “Were you the one who shot me?” Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) says jokingly, for Eric got shot in the previous episode running to help Francine (Dahlia Legault) after she got shot. Seeing Aaron’s remorse, Eric says, “Now stand your ass up, get back to the fight, and you win this thing.” After words of comfort, Aaron gets back to leading his attack force.
Concurrently, after a successful battle at the Savior’s satellite station, Jesus, Tara, Morgan, and Dianne, the four representing Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom battle forces, lead captured Saviors through the woods on the way to Hilltop. Along the way, Savior Jared provokes Morgan after he sees Morgan is wearing Benjamin’s armor, a teenager, whom Jared had killed in season 7 episode 13. Just as Morgan (Lennie James) appeared to gun down Jared, all are alarmed to see a group of walkers tumbling down a grassy hill towards them. Several bound Saviors make use of the commotion to flee to escape in the woods, while other Saviors are attacked by walkers.
Morgan engages in hot pursuit of the escapees in the woods. Once found, Morgan attempts to kill them all when suddenly Jesus (Tom Payne) intervenes. A fight between the two ensues, Morgan skilled with a bo-staff while Jesus skilled in martial arts. Later after Jesus wins, Morgan says, “I can’t be a part of this.” For in the previous episode Jesus also stopped Tara (Alanna Masterson) from killing a Savior appearing to surrender. Though it was a trick, Jesus whup-assed the Savior.
Meanwhile, Ezekiel, Carol, and their attack force continues to successfully win skirmishes while encountering Saviors. With each win, the Kingdom soldiers are emboldened. They press onward.
At Hilltop, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) while at gate watch sees Gregory, former leader of Hilltop, arrive in Father Gabriel’s car after all battled at the Savior’s Sanctuary. The gate partially opens just enough for Gregory (Xander Berkeley) to see Maggie’s visage. “What are you doing with Gabriel’s car? Where is he?” Maggie (Lauren Cohan) asks angrily. For Gregory had abandoned Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) by taking his car after Daryl led a herd of walkers to storm the Sanctuary.
“I don’t know who that is. The, the car was just there,” replied Gregory, lying. After he pleads to enter, Maggie unleashes, “Shut your damn mouth! You’re really gonna stand there and pretend you didn’t try to sell us out, sell this place out to the Saviors?” Gregory pleads hard, not aware of Negan’s ways, and seeks Maggie’s mercy. After a pause, Gregory is let in. And Enid asks why.
“He’s not worth killin. Not yet, anyway,” Maggie replies. Soon after, Jesus and Tara arrive with captured Saviors. After a discussion, Maggie agrees to lock them up with round the clock guard.
Meanwhile, Rick and Daryl both manage to escape the office building. Rick then takes a picture of the battle aftermath, just like he did after all battled at the Sanctuary. Aaron returns to the tree seeing Eric gone. At a distance, he spots walker Eric among a herd of walkers. Grief stricken, Aaron is compelled to go after walker Eric, yet instead he’s comforted by Scott (Kenric Green).
Rick reappears with the baby girl from the previous episode, discovering her after he’d killed the father, a Savior. Aaron offers to take her to Hilltop. Then just as Rick and Daryl were the last two to leave, they’re fired upon by a lone Savior. Hiding behind a jeep, Rick attempts a deal after questioning where the Saviors moved the M2 Browning machine guns. After the Savior tells them the guns were moved west to Savior Gavin’s outpost, he comes out of hiding, taking Rick at his word. Then Daryl shoots him. Though Rick is surprised, the two depart.
Meanwhile, after Ezekiel’s people arrive at a chemical plant, Carol says, “We need to sweep the compound.” Once she’s inside, Ezekiel’s people are fired upon by machine guns. Clueing that perhaps they’re the sought after M2 Brownings. “Cover the king!” a soldier shouts, then black.
Yes, the episode had some blemishes. The reappearance of Morales felt gimmicky. Though not wasted, for it at least revealed Negan’s Charles Manson-like charisma on Morales. Also, Morales was wrong about Rick. Rick is like anyone of us, with good and bad. Yet he’s not like Negan whom Morales identified with. Negan is all about humiliation, subjugation, and dehumanization, all which are not Rick. Negan ordering Daryl to be a slave and subjected him to torture in season 7 episode 3 is a perfect example. Morgan’s on again off again on again conduct about killing may seem overdone, yet it also wasn’t enough to sour an overall gripping episode that also paced well. Can’t wait for the next. The Walking Dead season 8 episode 3 gets five stars, grand slam.