In this episode of “The Walking Dead,” some of the problems of the previous episode persist, but we will discuss new things instead.
1. Ezekiel’s Behavior
Continued from previous episode, Ezekiel’s behavior is hopeful to the point of delusional. Though he isn’t speaking complete nonsense as he was before, the king still seems to not understand what a war is, despite the fact that he wanted to stay out of conflict for sake of his own people. With lines like “We will lose not one of our ranks,” and “Our first victory will allow our second. Our second will deliver our third,” he ignores the fact that in war, victory is not assured.
The story seems to cater specifically to showing how “awesome” he is until the final scene, without any casualties on his side and with him saying lines like the above. Furthermore, the Saviors adhere to the frankly ridiculous thing that Carol Peletier says: “They have the numbers, we have the strategy.” Why would they have no sense of strategy, even with superior numbers? Their behavior is so bizarre that they don’t even get a single shot off when they have the upper hand, always losing every single person. It stretches credibility to the breaking point and beyond.
2. Aaron and Eric
While Eric’s death was probably meant to be very sad, his minimal usage in the series seemed to relegate him to nothing more than a satellite character, his life revolving around Aaron. As such, until he was explicitly called by his name, it was hard to even realize he was anything more than a redshirt.
The only real effects his death seems to have had were entirely focused on Aaron, on his reactions and grief. Admittedly, those were very sad, with the latter bawling his eyes out, but as it is, Eric barely seemed to be a character, more of a prop than anything.
3. Survivors are Not so Different
One of the few bright points in this episode was the idea that Rick Grimes’ group is, on some level, no different than any other group of survivors.
Morgan Jones states it best. “We’re the same. The only difference is we go on.”
Furthermore, as Morales explains, his family never made their whole trip to Birmingham. His whole trip seems to be parallel to Rick’s, down to the fact that he lost his mind when he lost his family. As he himself notes, the only real difference between the two of them (aside from who leads or who follows) is that Morales has a gun aimed at Rick, but Rick has no means of defending himself. This is of course an entirely self-serving perspective, considering that Rick leads groups while Morales just follows them, but considering Rick somehow manages to blame Negan for the deaths of Shane, Lori, and Andrea despite him showing up after all of them had died, he’s not exactly in a position to talk about thinking clearly or appropriately assessing a situation.
That said, the scene led to the random execution Daryl gave Morales on sight, with the note that he knew exactly who he had killed, but it didn’t matter at all, making the entire re-introduction seem relatively pointless, but we can take it for what it was in terms of people being no different from one another.
4. He Who Fights Monsters
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Another major component of this episode was the idea of the human monster, hence the episode title. Morales calls Rick a “monster,” but the real examples seem to lie with Morgan and Daryl.Continued below
Morgan’s reasoning for his murderous tendencies seems to have been finally revealed, showing his reasons as being very different from those of the bloodthirsty, vengeful Tara. Rather than fighting for revenge, he simply has given up on the idea of humanity being able to work things out peacefully. Since he believes that the war will never be able to come to peace, he decided on executing people attempting escape, and other amoral, even immoral actions. He even got into a crazed fight with Paul “Jesus” Rovia over his desire to kill the captive Saviors. Still, when he has Jesus at his mercy (a position Jesus willingly put himself in), he decides to just abandon the entire war effort, walking away. Perhaps killing was just his coping mechanism, and he realizes how warped that is for him? Maybe not, but it’s at least a better run than the previous episode.
On the other hand, we have Daryl Dixon. Rick’s right-hand man seems to be getting increasingly trigger-happy. First he kills Morales without even an attempt to negotiate (somewhat reasonable), but then he does the same to a random Savior who was promised a trip away. Has he gone into full on “kill anything that could possibly be a remote threat at some point in the future”? Is he becoming a villain? Given the amount of attention this kind of thing tends to get on the show, only to mean nothing, it could go either way.
5. Changing of the Guard
Gregory is finally officially not the leader of the Hilltop Colony! Hooray! He wasn’t killed, but of course that scene has its own issues (like the fact that the entire captive Savior group could come up to the gates of Hilltop in zero time flat), but at least we can just move on and not have it be another case of “Maggie is the leader…because we said so and there’s no reasoning behind it otherwise.”
I question the logic of keeping Gregory alive and inside, especially since the whole “he’s not worth killing” doesn’t really mean anything in a world where leaving someone out to die to the hordes of the undead isn’t necessarily “killing” him much less does it give any effort, but perhaps things will move forward better on his plot line and end up finishing him off relatively soon.