Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Walking Dead 8X02 The Damned

Jackson Lee Davis /AMC
The Walking Dead's season premiere was just the start of a long war waged against Negan. Alexandria, The Hilltop Colony and the Kingdom took their trained civilians straight to the Sanctuary to fight, upping their game with an explosive zombie hoard. As Father Gabriel finds himself stranded in a shed with Negan, the community's plans are far from over.

Below includes spoilers of the show and comic book, as well as theories of future character deaths. You've been warned, but hope you enjoy!

If Mercy aimed to ask us what will the future hold, this second episode asked us where did all of the bullets come from, and holy hell how did they think of THAT TWIST. In a mishmash of action sequences, The Damned was determined to make sure we know anywhere the group's venture right now, even in the name of freedom, might be hell on Earth. Even if wasn't exactly...comprehensible.

Once again, bookended with close-up shots of the cast in action, the ones were most affected in this episode, the various groups implemented phase two for takeover, whatever they seemed to be. Split into four different locations and viewpoints, Aaron with the Alexandrians rolled up to the worker's quarters in metal-shielded cars to basically shoot at Saviors until the cast ran out of red shirts and actual supporting characters were fatally wounded. Daryl and Rick took notes from Dwight to secure more weapons, which led to an amazingly bizarre revelation. Tara, Jesus, and Morgan led more soldiers to the reinforced satellite outpost from No Way Out. To slow things down a bit, Carol skeptically followed Ezekiel towards another Sanctuary location.


Wrong Place, Wrong Time Perhaps?

While the immense shoot-out between Aaron vs the Saviors was just one round after another without break, a big portion of the ensuing battle devoted to Tara and Jesus's struggle deciding what to do with the Saviors other than kill them.

In a long tennis match of morality, the two lieutenants for their respective leaders batted back and forth about whether to kill the Saviors or not. Echoing Rick's initial thoughts, they only needed to kill one person to make the difference they wanted. After Negan nor his lieutenants surrendered, the plan seemed pretty simple: if they're a bad guy, they'll be executed. But what happens if they surrender? Could they serve a great purpose to the cause?

Interestingly, everything Rick and all of his comrades are doing right now are in the name of  freedom and justice. But would Glenn be happy with the path they've chosen? all of the bloodshed and suffering? I think he would find a way to fight alongside his wife if he hadn't been killed, but it's certainly ironic that a driving point of this chaos started with the biggest humane heart of all the survivors getting ruthlessly murdered. It's in this next era of the zombie apocalypse that we must remember even Glenn chose to let the Termites go in No Sanctuary, because that's who they still had to be. So it's stunning to see one of his closest friends Tara let herself be consumed by anger and grief.

Using Dwight as evidence, it looks like he's turned over a new leaf and supplied Rick and Daryl with instructions to get in and out of the Sanctuary. However they couldn't find the weapons he promised them. Is this a con or just a series of unfortunate twists? One Savior Dean pulled the sympathy card to gain the upperhand on Tara and Jesus, almost getting one or both of them killed. This is not tactically smart, but sometimes holding onto your beliefs isn't.

Essentially, we have here though is a failure to communicate with some members not wanting to activate their inner Terminator and shoot on sight. While becoming the new moral compass of the show is great for Jesus, it might've been wrong place, wrong time. The truth of the matter is that more of this plan has to be enacted in some forms, as this season promises to be the most explosive on yet. So, tying up at least fifty Saviors who handed over their weapons, and taking them through walker hoards and all the back to different communities for whatever they have planned yet, smells like a predictable disaster miles away.


Ezekiel, Please Don't Tell Me To Smile

While Tara and Jesus were struggling to hold down their own in the satellite outpost, Ezekiel's optimism was growing a little thin. And Carol wasn't having it.

In the midst of the explosion that almost wiped out Ezekiel's chariot of badasses, a Savior managed to get free. Strolling through a forest and coming across walkers, Carol and Ezekiel emotionally dueled over whether or not the freed Savior could warn others about their impending infiltration. As Ezekiel kept up his performance art of unbridled enthusiasm and motivation that they could not be defeated, Carol was less than enthused. Maybe I'm reading these scenes wrong, but smiling out of being uncomfortable and knowing about the future is not having confidence in following the leader.

Last time I checked Carol made it clear that there is going to be more than walkers to kill i.e. people, ones who might be innocent or guilty, and both perhaps not deserving of being killed. She set Terminus on fire and finished off the Wolves. She turned her "meek mouse" routine into a weapon that had a serious psychological impact on her. She knows how this is going to go down. Maybe I read these scenes wrong compared to everyone else, but Carol might've been smiling, but her eyes were filled with skepticism. Perhaps taking on Ezekiel's own confession of faking it til you make it, she's trying to do the same thing.


The Past Comes Back To Haunt You

We never knew what showrunner Scott Gimple has up his sleeve, but would we have expected probably the biggest twist of the series? Far surpassing the two-time 'Did you miss me' return of Morgan, one of our very own Atlanta originals came back to haunt Rick.

In perhaps one of the most bizarre acts of The Damned, Rick and Daryl infiltrated one of the Sanctuary's buildings following directions by Dwight to find more weapons. Going floor by floor proved to be fruitless for the most part, until one floor in particular induced Rick in a brawl against a Savior. Of which, some of the rooms he surveyed reflected not only a cozy bedroom a la Herschel's farm, but also a baby's room with the newborn Gracie sleeping peacefully in her crib.

We can only assume that it was reality, a special bunker that a pair of Saviors made for themselves or Negan allowed them to have. Things only got weirder when Rick's haunted history came back in a stunning twist - Morales, from the original Atlanta camp, appeared by Rick with a gun, is also Negan, a member of the Sanctuary. Back in season one, when Rick and his family decided to take a chance on the CDC, Morales with his family parted ways never to be seen or heard of again. In an instant, it all came back to Sheriff Grimes and us too - nothing is what it seemed.

I have no words. I honestly did not see this coming until the second Rick looked around, and then I started shouting SEASON ONE SEASON ONE THE GUY. AND THEN THE REVEAL HAPPENED. AND *STUNNED*. The past is promised to pop up again and again throughout the season, but none of the smaller easter eggs quite prepared us for this. While I always wondered what happened to Morales, finding out he ended up in Alexandria both exhilarates this season. It does remove some of the curiosity I always had rewatching season one, but it's definitely an unexpected turn of events. What do you guys think?

So what did The Damned accomplish?  A whole lot, while also very little. It's my reaffirmed position that The Walking Dead just manages to overlook tiny issues that aren't a huge deal but also be hard to ignore- why does Alexandria/Kingdomers/Colonists have a limitless supply of weapons? since their deal with the Garbage People turned disastrous and Eugene couldn't make them the bullets they needed? Why is Jesus saving people in the middle of a chaotic walker-hoard massacre?

The Damned continued the action-packed nature of the premiere, and managed not to alienate itself by focusing on different characters in multiple places like season six and seven. However, the overall tone of the episode was a bit haphazard. In making some characters a moral compass or the judge, jury, and executioner, the turn of character's evolutions feels like old hat from past seasons. The groups are clearly attacking from all sides with no end in sight, but in their efforts to level up, it was difficult to discern what their aim actually was; how well-devised this plan actually was as all hell breaks loos. They might be infiltrating the Sanctuary building by building, and weaken its forces on all fronts....meanwhile Negan sits cozily in a shed with Gabriel, and the group's used all of their explosives to purposely direct a zombie hoard into their direct line of fire....*shrugs*


Additional Thoughts

+ Of course, we're back to killing the gay characters. Thanks for everything Eric. Poor Aaron.
+ This theory about Father Gabriel is ****ing me up so hard.
+ Shiva's released at the perfect moment to kill the right Saviors??
+ The one thing this show never fails on is Andrew looking hot doing absolutely anything and everything. And the music. Bear McCreery knocked it out of the park again

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