TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 8, Episode 3

Season 8, Episode 3: Monsters

PLOT: Heroes disagree over how to treat their enemies while the battle between communities continues.

REVIEW: AMC's The Walking Dead tied off a loose end that has been left dangling for almost seven years with the episode Monsters, and I found the way in which it was handled to be quite amusing. In the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode, a character who had only been featured in four episodes of the show's six episode first season made his return in season eight... and even though he was gone for a long time, I can't say his return was a long-awaited one. I don't think many, if any, viewers really cared if we would see Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja) again, but here he was, a different man than when we last saw him. In his final moments on the show back in season one, Morales was given a gun by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) before he and his family left Atlanta, Georgia for Birmingham, Alabama. The next time we meet Morales, he's holding a gun on Rick somewhere near Alexandria, Virgina, now a member of the Saviors - the community led by the villainous Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The community most of the other groups on the show are now waging war against.

The fact that Morales was brought back in the midst of such a situation might have made you imagine that he was going to have some kind of substantial role in the rest of the season. We needed to find out what happened to him on the way to Birmingham, Rick needed to catch him up on what he has missed over the years. There could have been some interesting character stuff done with Morales. Or, you know, the show could just resolve the cliffhanger by unceremoniously killing him off fifteen minutes after he pulls a gun on Rick.

As it turns out, the return of Morales was something of a joke. The cliffhanger was the set-up, his quick death the punchline. I expected so much more out of his return, I had to laugh when he was killed so soon. As Daryl (Norman Reedus) says after firing an arrow into Morales's head, that guy "Don't matter. Not one little bit."

Sure, there is a non-humorous element to the moment of Morales's death. Rick does seem to be disturbed by how trigger happy Daryl is being in this scenario. But aside from that, it was pretty funny. At least Pareja was given some emotional dialogue to chew on in an intense situation before being removed from The Walking Dead for good. Within the first 15 minutes of Monsters, we were given enough of Morales's back story and Rick did manage to catch him up on what he missed. I guess they checked off all the necessary boxes.

The Morales stuff is but a small part in an episode that was packed, as were the previous two this season, with fights and gunfire. While King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and a group that includes Carol (Melissa McBride) have great luck in their battles with the Saviors... up to a point... another group that includes Morgan (Lennie James), Jesus (Tom Payne), and Tara (Alanna Masterson) are fighting amongst themselves over whether or not they should be taking Saviors prisoner or just executing them. One thing's for sure, there is at least one Savior they have captured who should be executed immediately, and that's Jared (Joshua Mikel).

Jesus wants to lock up their prisoners, Morgan wants to kill them, and the two feel so strongly about their positions that they waste some time using martial arts on each other. As a friend pointed out to me, lately there always seems to have to be a character on the show who will push the "I/we can't kill" stance to a maddening degree. Morgan has been the pacifist before, Carol chose a very frustrating time to give up on killing, and just when these two have come around to the idea that they need to wipe out some Saviors, Jesus has to step up and be the "no more killing" character. If Jared wasn't one of the people he was sparing, it would be a lot easier to take. Just let Morgan have that one, Jesus.

Things also aren't going so well for a group that includes Aaron (Ross Marquand) and his boyfriend Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson). Morales isn't the only notable character who makes his exit with this episode. This is also the end of the line for Eric. While his death is sad, I don't feel much of a loss as I watch him go. During his time on the show, Eric barely registered as a character to me. He was just "Aaron's boyfriend". I didn't really know him, so I won't miss him. Sorry, Eric.

Monsters featured some good action, some emotional beats, and made me laugh at the death of a character I expected more from. All in all, it was a good way to spend 41 minutes.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: The danger of other humans is getting a heavy focus at this time, but Monsters did still find a way to fit in some zombies, having a herd come tumbling down a hill to disrupt Jesus's prisoner transfer.

GORY GLORY: Some of the zombies in this episode were awesomely gruesome, and blood was spilled as they chewed into tied up Saviors.

FAVORITE SCENE: The death of Morales.


Extra Tidbit: What did you think of Monsters?



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