This week on The Walking Dead, monsters are afoot. The only trouble is, it’s hard to tell which ones are which as Rick’s group continues their assault on the Sanctuary.
Monsters and monstrosity vs. humans and humanity are the running theme of this week’s episode. It’s war now, between the Saviors and Rick’s people, and we all know that atrocities are committed during wartime. Some members of the group wrestle with the problem of how to beat the enemy and not become them, while others are willing to do whatever it takes to survive.
Not One of Our Ranks
Ezekiel obviously doesn’t watch this show or he wouldn’t be so cocky about not losing a single one of their number. I know, I know, he’s trying to inspire his people, but as the fight goes on, you can see him starting to actually believe his own words. Before they begin, Carol points out that the Saviors have the numbers but Ezekiel’s group has strategy. Ezekiel truly believes in the righteousness of their cause, and it’s the kind of optimism that gets your ass kicked because it refuses to recognize reality. “I am binding a hope to my heart, perhaps unwisely,” he says. DUDE YES. DO YOU EVEN REMEMBER SEASON 7? Carol smiles, but not with her eyes. If this were America’sNext Top Model, Tyra Banks would be very cross with her.
You’re a Monster
In the Sanctuary, Rick and Morales are engaged in a game of “I know you are, but what am I?” Rick is trying to understand how Morales became a Savior. He’s trying to play upon his empathy by recalling the past, but Morales doesn’t care. He feels no loyalty to Rick simply because they were together for a little while at the beginning of the end. His family never made it to Birmingham and he almost lost his mind. The Saviors, well, saved him. Now, his only motivation is to survive, and he says Rick is the same. A monster. He has orders not to kill Rick, the widow or the king if it can be helped, but “either way, we’re going to settle your shit, Peaches.” So much for the good ol’ days.
Love in the Time of Zombies
Eric is mortally wounded, but Aaron either doesn’t realize or won’t accept it. He leads Eric from the battle, settling him beside a tree. He begs forgiveness. He’s so sorry for pulling Eric into a fight he didn’t want, but Eric reminds him that he chose this. Then he tells Aaron to stand his ass up and get back to the fight. “They need you. You know I love you. You know I’m right.” Aaron is agonized, but knows he has to rejoin the others. He leaves Eric with a gun.
Many Kinds of Dying
Jesus and Tara’s group are marching the surrendered Saviors over to the Hilltop. Tara does not like it. She pretends to shoot their captives as they slowly make their way. A Hilltopper tells Tara that Maggie will know what to do with them. Tara says, “Yeah. She will. Because she knows what they’ve done.” Tara wants vengeance. Morgan may not want vengeance, but he thinks keeping these folks alive is a mistake. Jesus, however, is emphatic that they CANNOT kill them. “There’s many kinds of danger. Many kinds of dying,” he says. He tells Morgan that though they have all killed, they don’t execute people. Morgan says, “I have.”
It Don’t Matter
Rick tells Morales he’s sorry about his family. That he’s lost people, too. He starts naming them. Lori. Shane. Andrea. Glenn. He tells Morales that Negan bashed Glenn’s head in, in front of his pregnant wife. Morales is slightly taken aback. “He had a wife?” Rick says, “Not before. He met her.” Morales can’t believe it. “In this?” “Yeah,” says Rick. “In this.” It’s a tiny seedling of hope. That you could find someone, even here at the end of the world. But Morales tells Rick that they’re the same. “We’re two assholes who’ll do whatever we have to to keep going.” He knows if Rick had been the one to get the drop on him, he’d be dead already. Rick disagrees, saying he’d find another way. Just then, Daryl appears and shoots Morales dead. Rick tries to tell him who it was, but Daryl says, “I know who he was. It don’t matter. Not one little bit.”
Jared, the long-haired Savior who is among the captured, decides to mess with Morgan as they walk (how is this a good idea?). He’s the one who killed Benjamin (Ezekiel’s “heir”) remember? He notices that Morgan is wearing Ben’s armor. He laughs, saying it won’t do any good. For the kid or for him. Morgan is about to take him apart when suddenly, walkers are rolling down the hills toward them. In the confusion, Jared and a bunch of the Saviors who are tied together like a chain gang escape into the woods. Morgan is like, aw, HELL naw. And he takes off after them, shooting. He catches up to them – you can’t be fast when you’re tied to like six other guys, and he’s about to execute them when Jesus intervenes. Morgan has had enough of Jesus’ shit. They throw down. Morgan, attacking with all his might, and Jesus, defending himself and trying to subdue Morgan. He keeps asking Morgan if he’s done yet, and Morgan keeps not being done. He tells Jesus that it’s not just the Saviors. “Cause we’re here now.” Doing the same things. “Everybody turns.” Jesus says, “There’s war and then there’s peace. We’re going to have to live with this people after. We’re going to have to find a way to peace.” They continue fighting, but Jesus can clearly see that Morgan is not himself. Finally, Morgan says, “I know that I’m not right. But that doesn’t make me wrong.” Tara, who has caught up to them, says, “Morgan, you are right.” Morgan takes no notice. He leaves.
Have You No Mercy?
Gregory shows up at the Hilltop. Maggie wants to know why he’s driving Gabriel’s car and where is Gabriel? Gregory lies, as he is wont to do, and says he found the car. (You know, while Gabriel was saving his ass.) Maggie accuses him of squealing to the Saviors about their plans and Gregory says he was just trying to save lives. He says he didn’t betray them – Negan already knew. Maggie thinks this is bullshit. Gregory says – and this part seems true – that he didn’t think the Hilltop could win, before. But now he knows the Saviors can’t be reasoned with and that fighting them is the only way. It’s very Gregory-like to throw in with the side he thinks is going to succeed. Maggie decides to let him in. “He’s not worth killing. Not yet, anyway.” Just then, Jesus shows up with his captives and Gregory, who has just begged Maggie for mercy, imploring her not to let another human being die outside the walls, immediately reverts to form and says no way are they letting the Saviors in. Maggie reminds Jesus that there are families at the Hilltop. Children. She reminds him of what they’ve done. But Jesus suggests imprisoning them in some empty trailers until the battle is over. “We can’t let them go, and we can’t kill them. We CAN’T.” Jesus is determined to preserve what is left of their humanity.
That’s Not Him
Aaron returns to the tree where he left Eric and sees the gun lying in the grass. In the distance, he spots Eric, who is now a walker, shuffling off to join the herd. His grief is utterly heart-crushing. He sobs, fumbling with his gun, intending to put him out of his misery, but another Alexandrian stops him. “That’s not him,” he says. Eric has become a monster.
Aaron, hollow-eyed and desolate, sees Rick emerge from a building holding a baby. He volunteers to take her to the Hilltop. It’s where he and Eric were going afterwards. Rick isn’t sure, but Aaron pleads with him. “Please. I have to.” Rick hands over the baby, saying, “Her name is Gracie.”
A Man’s Word
Rick and Daryl are tidying up after the attack on the Sanctuary, dispatching walkers. Rick is taking Polaroids and making notes. Is this a visual history? He’s not planning on decorating Negan-style, surely, and putting them up on the wall? As they discuss splitting up so Rick can go talk to the Saviors, a shot rings out. Rick and Daryl take cover. Rick convinces the lone shooter to surrender and give them intelligence about the weapons stash that is conspicuously not at the Sanctuary. He tells the Savior he will allow him to leave in a car if he gives them the info. These days, the only real thing of worth is a man’s word, and he’s giving it. The man emerges and tells them that guns have been sent to Gavin’s outpost. Daryl promptly shoots him. Rick is aghast, but there’s no time to talk it out.
Ezekiel, meanwhile, seems both astounded and triumphant at their successful attack on the satellite station. But his elation is short-lived. He spots a sniper in the tower and before he can cry out a warning, the group is ambushed, taking heavy casualties. Dammit, Ezekiel! Of course it was too good to be true.
Who lives and who dies? We’ll find out next week.