This week on The Walking Dead, the battle is on. The Alexandrians, Hilltoppers, and Kingdommers unite to attack the Sanctuary and there is an unexpected encounter for Rick.

Last week’s episode was a lot of table setting. But in “The Damned” we get a full serving of action. Our heroes are engaged in a full-blown assault on the Sanctuary, though the Saviors don’t seem nearly as alarmed as they should be. A Savior named Mara notices that Aaron and the Alexandrians who have showed up with their tricked-out Road Warrior cars are simply firing on them but not advancing. She incorrectly assumes that this means they are “chicken shit.” WRONG! All Aaron and company have to do is kill a bunch of Saviors and then let them turn on the remaining ones.

Tara vs. Jesus

Tara and Jesus are assigned the task of taking out the satellite station. The Alexandrians have done this before. Tara is focused on getting the job done, and if that means killing every Savior they run across, then fine. They surprise the Saviors in their quarters, killing them before they can react. However, later Jesus, is determined to help the group maintain their humanity. If they just indiscriminately start wasting humans, even enemy ones, there’s no coming back from that. When he and Tara find a lone Savior hiding in a closet, he argues that they should let him live. Tara thinks it’s a huge mistake, but the guy has his hands up and has apparently peed himself, and Jesus says he’s not going to let Tara shoot him. I mean, Jesus, Jesus! Is now the time for ethical debates?

The Walking Dead TWD s8e2 The Damned Tara

It turns out the Savior was faking (and it’s really hard to pee yourself on purpose, but he managed). He gets Jesus in a headlock and holds a gun on him. Tara doesn’t scream, “I TOLD YOU SO” but she might as well. Jesus tells Dean, the Savior, that Tara is totally going to shoot him, and Tara is just about to, but instead Jesus uses his ninja skills to overpower Dean and then ties him up.

Later, when the Alexandrians have rounded up all the Saviors at the satellite station, Tara wants to kill ‘em all. Jesus is opposed. “Maggie might listen to you,” she tells him, “but Rick will listen to me.” It’s like when Mommy has a favorite and Daddy has a favorite. Let’s remember, though, that Tara once fought on the Governor’s side. She’s been wrong before.

Morgan is losing it (or finding it)

As they prepare to attack the satellite station, the group notices that the Saviors have basically created a “zombie moat” and that it’s not going to be easy getting past that. Morgan volunteers, and when one of the men protests saying, “We’re here to help, it shouldn’t just be you.” Morgan replies, “I don’t die.”

Morgan seems to have abandoned his pacifist ways and is now all about murder. Or self-defense. Whatever. The point is, he’s really good at killing and while he’s not necessarily enjoying it, he is definitely committed. During the raid, three of the men he’s with get shot – you know, the ones who wanted to help him. Morgan falls to the floor with them, faking dead. He gazes at the man next to him, who is still breathing. When the Saviors move off, Morgan gets up and follows, leaving behind his wounded comrade. Maybe he knew that man was fatally wounded, but old Morgan would not have done that. Old Morgan is gone, though.

When Morgan joins Jesus and Tara and the hostages, he’s ready to start executing Saviors. Jesus stops him, saying, “That’s not what we do.” “Yeah?” Morgan asks. “What do we do then?”

The Walking Dead TWD s8e2 The Damned Morgan Jesus

In retrospect, Morgan’s “I don’t die” statement is less a brag and more an existential crisis. You get the feeling he’s not happy about it.

Ezekiel is still in showbiz

Carol, Ezekiel, and the Kingdommers track a fugitive Savior through the woods. Ezekiel is still in full Medieval Times mode, full of bluster and bragging. They will not fail. Carol rolls her eyes. This is not a cake-walk, but Ezekiel is acting like it is.

The Walking Dead TWD s8e2 The Damned Ezekiel Carol

Eventually, he explains, lowering his voice, “Fake it ‘til you make it, baby.” He’s rallying his troops. That, Carol can understand. You do whatever you have to in war, even lie. They continue following the blood trail – the Savior has clearly been shot and is moving slowly. When they find him, Carol is about to shoot, but suddenly Shiva appears out of nowhere and pounces on him like he’s a Fancy Feast.

Rick & Daryl confront their old selves

Rick and Daryl sneak into the Saviors’ building. Rick has a map that Dwight drew and he’s looking for a stash of guns. He and Daryl split up. Daryl opens a door and sees a pair of handcuffs and some food in a little cell. He pauses, remembering his captivity.

Rick enters someone’s living quarters – nicely furnished with throw pillows on the bed and everything. Suddenly, a Savior attacks him. They fight. Rick viciously impales the man on a bracket protruding from the wall and then resumes his search for the guns. Instead, in a back room, he finds a baby in a crib. He is shocked and taken aback. He sees himself in the mirror, sweaty, streaked with blood. It’s like this constant battle between civilized Rick and savage Rick. He wanders the apartment and finds a photograph of a smiling family. The baby’s name is Gracie. The Savior he killed was obviously her father.

While he’s reflecting, a Savior holding a gun creeps up on him. Rick recognizes him – his name is Morales. Rick knew him in Atlanta. He was part of the original band of survivors Rick found in Season 1. If you remember (I didn’t – had to look it up) Morales and his family decided not to travel with Rick’s group to the CDC. Instead, they opted to head for Birmingham to find family. Rick gave them some ammo and a walkie talkie in case they changed their minds. Now, here’s Morales, without his family, telling Rick it’s all over, he’s called the Saviors back.

The Walking Dead TWD s8e2 The Damned Rick Morales

RUH-ROH. That is not going to bode well for our friends. Will it turn out to be a huge mistake, sparing the Saviors from the satellite station? Who did Shiva eat? Is Morgan having a nervous breakdown? Will Ezekiel stay in character? How did Morales end up with the Saviors? Hopefully, we get some answers next week.

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