The Walking Dead Review: The Damned

The Walking Dead Season Eight
Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

After seven seasons, it is a good thing that The Walking Dead Season Eight is trying to take a different path. This kind of show has to deal with a lot of similar stuff so it is good for them to make this move. However, the thing is that the change they have made in the eighth season doesn’t have to do with the story or theme; it is basically a change in structure. Viewers now have to process things in a new way as they have stretched out the assault over a number of episodes and it is still ongoing, but the fact is that we are still going over old territory. The story still has an inertness and stillness to it, which won’t go away by fixing the visuals or the format.

On a more positive note, the show did an excellent job with the Morales twist at the end of the episode. As a matter of fact, some of the best elements of ‘The Damned’ had to do with the fact that they chose to stray away from the comics. The Sasha twist from the finale of the last season as well as the opening shot last week had been quite similar to the ‘All Out War’ arc shown in the comics, but Morales return is completely different. It has everything to do with the show and fits in quite well with the first few episodes of the season.

Also, Morales and his family, who are probably done, were quite fun. Back in season one, they went off their own way and decided not to follow Rick. His fate has been a mystery since then. Yes, it wouldn’t be difficult to assume that they all died in the zombie wasteland, but it was strange that no closure had been offered for them, even though they were original cast members. This show has a very accurate memory, considering the fact they brought back Sam (Robin Lord Taylor) for one brief moment to get him murdered in Terminus.

It was a cool way to end the episode by showing Rick that not only was Morales alive, but was also a member of the Saviors. It left us with plenty of questions like whether he knew that the ‘Rick’ who was fighting against his boss was the same Rick he had known years ago and did he join Negan’s dark side because he lost his wife and kids and was in despair? Whatever the answers are, the story arc is undeniably interesting because back in the first season, Morales used to be a ‘hero’ type of character.

As far as other characters are concerned, Daryl and Rick were searching a mansion to locate guns. Aaron led a squad to a Savior station in hopes of shooting and pinning them down until their own undead ate them. Morgan, Tara and Jesus headed a huge attack that started quietly, but became bloody and loud eventually and Ezekiel and Carol were busy hunting down the runaway lookout. The most complicated assault was the Jesus/Tara assault. First and foremost, borderline crazy Morgan is just amazing.

He is acting like a child who is being taught different things that are causing him to malfunction like he should kill only when necessary, he shouldn’t kill anyone or he should kill everyone. The conflicting words of his parents are echoing inside his head and are driving him crazy. He seems incapable of making a decision on how to lead his own life. Therefore, we got to see Terminator Morgan who was blowing through the Savior ranks while Jesus was trying to spare the lives of a dozen people. It would have been really fun to see Morgan gun down everyone right in front of Jesus, but as another conflicting voice for Morgan, Jesus said it is not the way.

But, all this mercy and charity from Jesus doesn’t seem practical at this stage. In fact, it seems downright risky and dangerous amidst all the careful planning and plotting. It doesn’t seem as if everyone has the order to spare lives and the conflict between Jesus and Tara was the worst part. Given the premiere’s name, the half-season would probably lead up to a critical and huge choice for Rick, but it doesn’t make sense to go back and forth over the issue right now.

Plus, the guy Jesus saved wasn’t worth saving at all because he was nothing but a liar. Jesus’s mercy almost got him and Tara killed, but he still insisted on following upon it, even though he knew it was wrong. Doesn’t he understand that he has just teamed up with people whose aim is to kill everything in sight, including Tara and Morgan? This mini-story was not just clumsy, but also wrongly conceived. Yes, Jesus is wrong here, but it can also be argued that dropping this tired conflict right now is also wrong due to the larger circumstances i.e. in the middle of a war.

As compared to ‘Mercy’, this episode seemed more fully-formed, but the segments or partial takes on the big assault are not turning out to be so good. As a matter of fact, they give the entire thing an unfinished and empty quality. The Morales twist at the end was a good one and it ended the chapter on a good note. Nonetheless, Jesus’s issues with killing people in the midst of an attack has given us a reminder that there is still one drum that The Walking Dead continues to beat. The problem is that they continue pounding on the drum too much, which means it is not enough to carry the show’s weight.

The Damned was a much better episode than the premiere as it had some cool music, lots of action as well as a deep and nice twist at the end. However, the drama has become diluted with this division in chapters or segments and the mercy cycle that happened two seasons back with Morgan and the wolves is repeating itself with Jesus.

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