SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen season eight, episode three of The Walking Dead yet, you may want to watch it before you read this.
If the line between right and wrong was blurry for Rick’s group before, last Sunday’s episode, “Monsters”, just about made it invisible for them. There were a lot of heavy decisions for Rick and the other groups, and their morality was constantly being called into question.
One of the things fans love about The Walking Dead– and a lot of other apocalyptic fiction for that matter– is that it allows us to ask ourselves how we would handle certain situations and whether we agree or disagree with the characters’ choices. This episode was an excellent one for this kind of thing. And this is not to mention all the epic action scenes it packed in.
In case you can’t remember what happened, you can read the recap. If you think you got it, feel free to scroll on down to the analysis.
The episode opens with King Ezekiel and his fighters winning several battles over the Saviors, even successfully ambushing one group. Unfortunately, the winning streak does not last very long before the group is caught in sniper fire in front of a compound. Men jump on Ezekiel to protect him and no other details are revealed about the fate of his group yet.
Meanwhile, Rick and Morales are still inside the compound, Morales holding his gun on Rick. Rick lowers his guns when asked to. Morales admits that he and Rick have changed dramatically since Atlanta. He informs Rick that the Saviors were told to keep the three leaders, Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel, alive, if possible. He asks Rick why he is fighting. Rick then asks Morales what happened to his family. It turns out, Morales’s family never made it to Birmingham, which was their destination after Atlanta. Rick then tells him about the people from Atlanta who have died, including Glenn and how Negan killed him. Rick then asks him if he is Negan.
After losing his family, Morales just kind of snapped and lost his direction. He was found by the Saviors, who seemed to care about him. Morales says he is Negan, saying he has to be something to survive, like Rick. Rick reminds him that they are not the same. Morales claims that if Rick had the gun, he would be dead.
Shortly after, Daryl kills him from behind with his crossbow, knowing who he once was, but knowing his friend was in immediate danger. Rick appears to be upset about this, but they don’t have time to talk, as the Saviors Morales called arrive and begin firing on the compound.
There is a shootout that follows, with Daryl running out of ammo and Rick shooting a fire extinguisher to create smoke, allowing them to escape and take out all of the Saviors.
At the same time, Aaron’s men advance against the Saviors they are battling. The Saviors retreat and Aaron’s men win the battle. However, when Aaron returns to the tree where he left Eric, who was shot and bleeding heavily, Eric is gone. Aaron see him lumbering away, now one of the undead.
Rick and Daryl’s group reunite with Aaron and his group. Rick offers to spare a lone Savior who shoots at them, if he tells him where the guns he was looking for went. The kid tells him, but Daryl ends up shooting him anyway. Rick seems disturbed, but does not say anything.
On another front, Jesus, Morgan, Tara, and other fighters are taking the captured Saviors to Hilltop. One Savior, who killed Morgan’s friend Benjamin a while back, is taunting Morgan relentlessly. Morgan finally snaps and points a gun at him. Just then a hoard of zombies tumble down the hill right on the group. In the chaos, some Saviors escape. Morgan chases after them and shoots at them, killing one man. Jesus and others catch up to him and Jesus tells Morgan that they must take them back to Hilltop. Morgan reverts back into kill mode, this time his anger directed at Jesus. They have an epic fight, Morgan with his stick and Jesus using his ninja skills. Eventually, Morgan comes out on top, holding his stick to Jesus’s throat.
However, Morgan seems to snap out of his frenzy. He backs off, admitting he is not right in the head, but maintains his opinion about the Saviors. Tara tells Morgan he is right (which, for Jesus, is about the worst thing you can say at this point). Morgan says he cannot fight in the war anymore and walks off.
Maggie decides to let Gregory back into the Hilltop. Jesus and his group arrive and Jesus tells Maggie the Saviors need to be held prisoner because they cannot let them go or kill them.
This episode has some significant parallels to the past. First of all, we get to hear Morales’s story and it turns out the choices he made were a lot like Merle’s, when he joined the Governor. The Saviors found him when he was losing all hope and felt worthless. The Saviors seen potential in him and Morales appreciated that. This is basically why Merle joined up with the Governor as well. Like Morales, he had to be something to survive.
I notice how Morales said “something” and not “someone”. This goes along with the title, “Monsters”. To both Morales and Merle, becoming a monster and blocking everything out was the only way they thought they could live. Or perhaps that is what both the Saviors and the Governor’s men convinced them of.
Morales probably sees Rick’s brutal killing of the baby’s father and so he is convinced that Rick would kill him if he had the gun. This is interesting, because a couple of seasons ago, when Rick was losing touch with morals, I would have agreed. However, I think that Officer Friendly, or at least a part of Officer Friendly, is back. Rick always does– or tries to do– what has to be done when someone threatens his family and friends. After he realizes he was going off the deep end there for a while, Rick was able to change and became the courageous man he always was.
We can tell from Rick’s tone of voice and expressions after Morales dies that he does not like what Daryl did. The same goes for Daryl shooting the kid who Rick promised he was going to spare. I’m curious to see where this will lead with Rick and what he will think about the captured Saviors at Hilltop and the decision Jesus made.
Although Morales had a short stay on The Walking Dead, his character revealed a lot about where Rick stands at this point. I would not be at all surprised if Rick agrees with Jesus and he and Daryl have some conflict.
In fact, I think the overall issue of what to do with the captured Saviors (and also letting Gregory, a traitor, back in) is a major parallel to what happened with Randall at the farm back in season two. Interestingly, it is Maggie who is making the decisions now, whereas she was pretty much just a bystander at her farm. Jesus is clearly behaving as Dale would if he were alive, wanting to give the bad guys the benefit of the doubt and remind the group that they should show mercy and remember their morals.
On the other hand, Tara and Morgan have a similar mindset to Shane: if they live, the group is in danger, so they must die. Maggie reluctantly hears Jesus out. If this is anything like season two, there is no doubt this argument has just begun.
As far as Morgan goes, I definitely hope that he backs down from the fight. With the dangerous mental instability he has, he has no business being there. The fight scene between Morgan and Jesus was awesome to watch though, and it was interesting to see on Talking Dead how the actors prepared for it.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts on last Sunday’s episode, “Monsters”, in the comments below or click the “Leave a comment” button at the top left of the post, under the author’s image. I would love to read what you think about this interesting episode. Stay tuned for a review of this Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead!