'The Walking Dead' Recap: 'Monsters'

The war continues…Following last week’s episode long battle we drop right back into the thick of it starting with Ezekiel and Carol’s group. A quick look at just how cold blooded this war has become. The scene opens with a kingly speech where the dreadlocked one says that though they are outnumbered, still he smiles…or something Shakespearean in that vein. The shot cuts between the speech and the group walking though the woods, apparently becoming surrounded. Cutting back to his speech you hear him say that though, they are fewer in numbers they are greater in strategy, it’s around here that you sense all isn’t as it seems. Just as the Saviors get ready to move forward dozens of Kingdom fighters pop out of the bush and massacre the advancing saviors. This is where you start to realize that this war isn’t being fought in black and white. I mean, the Saviors had them surrounded but didn’t start shooting, yet the "good guys" from the Kingdom didn’t hesitate, you can’t help but to feel that it was, well, a cheap shot. It just hammers home what they’ve been saying all season and what Carol’s been saying all along, you have to do whatever it takes to win.

Checking back in with Aaron’s crew, the tide has turned completely at the armory with the Saviors falling back and having to focus their fire on the internal zombie threat as their battle dead are turning in force. Aaron, however, is dragging away a gut-shot Eric.  Honestly, I didn’t think he was hit that bad but as Aaron says a tearful goodbye before returning to the fight you can’t help but to think the next time they see each other it will be with a different kind of hunger in Eric’s eyes. Popping over to Jesus and Tara’s group we find a slightly psychotic seeming and definitely cold Tara leading a caravan of prisoners. This is where it gets interesting. As I mentioned earlier the Kingdom was ruthless in their massacre in the woods but here we have Jesus choosing to spare the lives of the captured, against the wishes of Tara and Morgan, but he spares them just the same. It’s obvious that there are different ideas of what’s acceptable between the leaders of the good guys (sorry but I don’t have a better name for the combined forces of the Kingdom, Hilltop, and Alexandria….so I’m just going to call them the good guys). Next we jump the map again to find Rick, still held at gun point from the dude from season 1….yeah I should look up his name but you know what, you bring back a nobody from seven seasons ago for no outright reason and I’m going to call him the dude. Not that we needed to remember his name, by the time he finishes reciting his sob story to Rick and pledging his allegiance to Negan he’s already gone thanks to a bolt in the neck courtesy of Daryl’s crossbow. Seriously, what was the point in that? Did this dude have an episode left on his contract they had to fulfill or something?

In the “stuff we should have seen coming” category we join up with last week’s MVP, Morgan, who is just about to put lead to the savior that killed Ben last year when they are attacked by walkers. We get some actual Zombie kills! I’m not sure if maybe they didn’t think they’d run into any walkers or not but with a large slow moving group or tied up prisoners the dead get some easy meals. In the melee a small group of tied together Saviors break for the woods and are pursued by Morgan who quickly and easily catches up and headshots a random. Just as he’s about to take out the guy that killed Ben Jesus shows up, the tension here has been building for sometime and I really like them both but damn was I glad when it finally hit the wall. We’ve only seen quick glimpses of what Jesus can do but we’ve seen enough to know that homeboy is a hairy little ninja. Add Morgan and his bo staff and you have a sick martial arts zombie fight waiting to happen. It’s going to have to wait a bit longer though, they throw 3-4 blows before Jesus remembers his name and turns the other cheek. This is going to be the big conflict in the coming episodes, and probably for the rest of the season…those who think there should be mercy and compassion to save their civility and those of the eye for an eye variety. I have a feeling that by the end of this it’s going to be hard to tell who has more of a regard for life, the good guys or the bad.

I could have really done with an Indiana Jones style map in between all of these cuts…it gets damn hard to tell where everyone is in relation to each other. We come back from commercial to see the Kingdom folks ambushing another pack of saviors which is immediately intercut with Rick and Daryl fighting their way down a hallway. It feels like they’re all in the same place but for all we know they could be miles apart. Thankfully we do get more of that Jesus and Morgan fight, I can’t tell if they sped the camera up or if Tom Payne, the actor who portrays Jesus,  is really that fast whichever it is the fight was better for it, impressive isn’t even the word. He handily contains Morgan who’s obviously lost what’s left of his humanity, knocking him back and asking “Is it over Morgan, is it over?”, I really hope that Jesus finally gets his front row seat at the table instead of having to play in the background…the character is one of the most interesting the show has to offer and Tom Payne is perfect casting. Their fight is finally broken up when Tara and some others arrive, prompting Morgan to do what he does best and go off as a lone wolf.  I’m cool with that. I think I’d actually like to see Morgan in a role where he just pops up now and then to whoop some ass and then sink back into the darkness.

What’s that you ask? Why haven’t we seen more Gregory? Well, no, of course you didn’t ask that….who the hell would? Even still, he is a plot line that we have to see through. Gregory, who we last saw leaving Father Gabriel stuck surrounded by walkers after the good Father saved his ass, shows back up at Hilltop in the slimmest most pathetic of ways trying to spin sad lies so that they let him back in. It even slips out that he once stole a little girls pancakes. If that’s not reason enough for execution I don’t know what is. Either from pity or sheer annoyance Maggie lets Gregory in, he’s not there 5 minutes before Jesus shows up with the prisoners. It looks like the bearded one is the last vestige of morality in this decaying wasteland, even Maggie doesn’t want to keep the prisoners, really why would you? I mean I get it, they surrendered but are you really going to sleep easy in your bed if they’re on the other side of the fence with nothing more then a likely empty promise of surrender.

Back on the road Rick and Daryl walk through a battle site, with Rick taking Polaroids of the carnage. They haven’t spelled it out yet but I’m assuming this is a mirror of how the Saviors would take pictures of those unlucky fools that got to spend time with Lucille, just one more way of showing that none of these folks have heard the phrase “Don’t sink to their level”. Lastly, just because TWD likes to leave you with that warm and fuzzy feeling, Aaron heads back to the tree he left Eric resting against only to find his wounded husband missing. They show a walker in the distance, the site of which causes Aaron to break down crying, but I don’t think it was really Eric….I mean he was on deaths door but why wouldn’t they show a closeup? As a rule of thumb, if you don’t see a face it’s not really who you think it is. Then again they could be saving that reveal for later, ala Merle. Aaron’s not left totally alone however, the baby they found last episode is entrusted to his care as he heads back to Hilltop. Just as you think the credits are about to roll shots ring out on Daryl and Rick, Rick ever the bad ass, doesn’t even break a sweat as he calls out to the shooter offering a deal. The random Savior is able to confirm that the guns they were after were moved, keeping Dwight’s intel as valid. Getting back to that whole humanity debate we find out what side of the fence Daryl sits as he drills a tunnel through the guys head with a single shot. One final cut to the Kingdom group who are lazily coming upon a building, and who definitely should have seen this coming, are cut apart by machine gun fire. Of course, we’ll have to wait until next week to see who got hit. C’MON JERRY! YOU GOTTA MAKE IT!!! Until next week deadites!