by Phil Akin
Warning: This review may contain spoilers for this episode and previous episodes of The Walking Dead.
The second episode of The Walking Dead’s Season 8 kind of does the same old stuff we’ve seen already. While it is better paced than last week’s episode and doesn’t have any incoherent dream scenes, it still could’ve been handled better. It keeps in line with the mercy theme from the first episode, but does a slightly better job at delivering this time around. In this episode there are several different subplots all happening at once, with each group in these subplots taking on different outposts that the Saviors have set up.
“The Damned” doesn’t seem to know who or what it wants to focus on. Clearly it struggles with the morality of killing people, but who cares? Certainly not Morgan, who has changed his mind about killing people, what, three times now? Don’t be surprised if he goes back to building jail cells next week. Before Morgan’s group enters the Savior’s outpost, he mentions that he doesn’t die, and for the time being he may be right. But typically, when a character gets too happy or too cocky, death follows shortly. After seemingly being shot (but surprise, not really), Morgan picks himself up and goes on quite the rampage in this outpost. The remaining scenes with Morgan alternate between him channeling his inner John Wick and flashbacks to Rick telling him they need to take out the Saviors. Morgan has never been the most mentally stable character, and has to be physically restrained by Jesus so he doesn’t kill Jared after he and the rest of the Saviors surrender.
Speaking of Jesus, he may be the only truly moral person left. Jesus was in the same group as Morgan, and while he was busy getting headshots, Jesus had his own moral battle with Tara. They encounter a man who has pissed himself and wants to surrender. Tara wants revenge for Denise, Abraham and Glenn and sees killing every single Savior as the way to do that. Jesus isn’t cool with killing a defenseless man and wants to spare him. But big surprise, the guy was faking it the whole time, reluctantly proving that Tara was right to kill him when they had the chance. Tara later makes the comment that even if Maggie sides with Jesus about sparing people, Rick will side with her.
Rick talked about how his mercy will prevail over his wrath in the last episode, then in this one goes on to kill a father who was protecting his daughter. For someone who claims that only Negan must die, he (as well as the rest of the survivors) kills a lot of people. After going into the room and seeing Gracie in her crib, Rick realizes what he’s become. And if the audience couldn’t piece that together, there’s a nice, convenient mirror for Rick to stare at and reflect on what he’s done.
Switching over to Aaron’s group, we see them attacking an outpost while hiding behind cover. We’ve seen that before. In last week’s episode to be exact. Aaron’s little story is the perfect example of material and actions that are being repeated. The only saving grace for this subplot is that Eric is shot. In the comics, Eric is killed next to Aaron in a similar fashion when they’re attacking an outpost. This causes Aaron to rage and kill a bunch of Saviors in largely the same way Morgan does in this episode. Hopefully we’ll get to see something close to that play out next week. That just leaves Carol and Ezekiel’s group, who honestly didn’t do much outside of kill a few Saviors and talk about not retreating.
This episode has a major surprise at the end that honestly would have been better in the 100th episode, not the 101st episode. The surprise comes shortly after Rick finds Gracie. After years of teasing that he was still alive, Morales has finally returned to the show after being absent for nearly seven seasons, and as a Savior no less. Props to you if you didn’t have to look up who he was. Where has he been the last few years? Why is he working for Negan? Is he going to try to kill Rick? Does he even know that Negan killed Glenn? We don’t have the answers right now, but hopefully AMC doesn’t drag their feet in giving them to us. Whether Rick can bring him back to his side or not, only time will tell.
Featured image from AMC
The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 2: "The Damned"
While “The Damned” is better than “Mercy”, it is still largely the same old stuff we’ve seen previously. Morgan being awesome and the return of Morales were big highlights, but AMC needs to stop playing it so safe if they want to get their ratings back up. It’s likely they’re just biding their time until the mid-season finale.