SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen Season 8, Episode 3 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Monsters”
“The Walking Dead” took all of the action and momentum that made last week’s episode so enjoyable and allowed it to quickly dissipate this week.
The episode picks up immediately after the events of last week, with King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Carol’s (Melissa McBride) team continuing on their way to the Savior outpost. Ezekiel is once again a highlight, offering an inspiring speech to the troops before they ambush a group of Saviors coming to kill them. Ezekiel assures his people that if they stick to the plan that not one of them will be killed in the fight to come.
Unfortunately, the episode is all downhill from there.
Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is still being held at gunpoint by Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja), whom it was discovered at the conclusion of last week’s episode joined the Saviors sometime after he parted ways with Rick and company in Season 1. Morales says he will not kill Rick, however, as the Saviors have been instructed to capture Rick, Ezekiel, and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) alive if possible.
Outside, Aaron (Ross Marquand) and his team continue to pepper the Saviors with gunfire, but the Saviors begin to make their way inside the compound to assist Morales. Meanwhile, Aaron helps his boyfriend Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) away from the gunfire after he sustained a bullet wound the abdomen. Eric tells Aaron he will be fine and that the other members of their team need Aaron’s help more than he does. Aaron reluctantly agrees and rejoins the fight.
On the road back to Hilltop, the team led by Jesus (Tom Payne), Morgan (Lennie James), and Tara (Alanna Masterson) marches the Saviors they took captive back to the colony. Tara mockingly pretends to pick off the captive Saviors with her pistol. Jesus and Morgan debate the decision to let the Saviors live rather than killing them outright, something they will continue to do as the episode progresses. The argument would carry real weight had it not been had dozens of times on the show in past seasons.
Back with Rick, Morales reveals that his wife and children were killed before they reached their destination in Season 1. The Saviors found him and saved him. Rick tells him he can relate, as he lost people too. He tells Morales of how Negan savagely murdered Glenn in front of his pregnant wife. Rick asks Morales if he too is Negan and Morales says that he is. Suddenly, Daryl (Norman Reedus) appears behind Morales and sinks an arrow into his head with his crossbow. Morales’ death begs the question why the obscure character was brought back at all if he was ultimately going to get 15 or so minutes of screen time.
Rick tells Daryl that the heavy guns they came to find are not at this outpost. As they try to discuss their next move further, the remaining Saviors that Morales called for arrive.
Back on the road to Hilltop, a large number of walkers tumble down a hill toward the team and the Saviors. As the team begins to dispatch them, a group of Saviors led by Jared (Joshua Mikel) make a run for it. Morgan gives chase and shoots one of the group dead. Before he can kill any more, Jesus arrives and stops him. As they continue to argue about letting the Saviors live, Morgan lashes out and attacks Jesus with his bo staff. They continue to battle in the woods until Jesus is able to disarm Morgan.
Ezekiel and his team reach the outpost, and use the same ambush strategy to kill another group of Saviors advancing on them. Rick and Daryl get pinned down inside the other outpost, exchanging gunfire with the remaining Saviors. Running low on ammo, Rick shoots a fire extinguisher to provide Daryl with cover. The Saviors rush into the haze, at which point Rick and Daryl kill them.
At Hilltop, Gregory (Xander Berkeley) arrives at the gates in Gabriel’s car, asking to be let back into the colony. Maggie comes to the gate and tells him that he does not deserve to come back for siding with Negan. Gregory begs, as he is wont to do, and Maggie finally relents and allows him inside, saying that he is “not worth killing.” Just after he steps inside the colony’s gates, Jesus and team arrive with the captives. He convinces her that, while they cannot let the Saviors go, they also cannot kill them, suggesting they imprison them in two empty trailers at the colony.
With the gunfight now over, Aaron goes to retrieve Eric, only to discover he has died and reanimated as a walker, wandering off towards a nearby herd. The sight of his loved one among the undead makes Aaron break down in tears. Rick emerges from the outpost carrying the baby whose father he killed last week. Aaron offers to take the baby to Hilltop with him and Rick agrees. Rick and Daryl discuss their next move when someone takes a pot shot at Rick from behind a tree. Rick yells to the shooter that they will let him live if he surrenders and tells them what they want to know. The man eventually complies and reveals that the guns Rick was looking for were moved to another outpost the day prior. Daryl then promptly shoots and kills him.
With Ezekiel and Carol, they have successfully dispatched every Savior outside the outpost and Ezekiel is near tears as they have not lost a single member of their team. Suddenly, someone opens fire from inside with a machine gun. Several Kingdom citizens throw themselves in front of Ezekiel to shield him as the episode ends.