“They’re all dead. And, somewhere along the way, Officer Friendly died right along with them.”
Last week’s episode ended on what was either an excellent callback for longtime fans, or a bizarre appearance from a character many had forgotten about. This episode jumps right back into it, and deals with Morales a whole lot quicker than you might expect. We also get more Ezekiel and Carol, which is always welcome, and a heartbreaking standout scene with Aaron.
Firstly, people will be split on the way the show handles Morales. After a lot of verbal sparring with Rick, with Morales more or less reminding the audience of the show’s themes around morality and survival, he is dispatched quickly by a shaggy Daryl. Now, this is important. The show had brought back a character, one the fans have been crying out (or meme-ing) to return, and it almost looked like Rick had convinced him over to the good side (almost). I love this subversion, I love the way his death was handled like it was nothing. I expected a least two more monologues from Morales. For what it was worth, it was super seeing him back, even if he’s a lot hammier than other actors on the show. Plus the “Officer Friendly” callback was amazing.
Continuing on from Morales’ grisly demise – guys, we might have a Daryl problem. The split in the show at the moment is between killing everyone, or having mercy. It’s clear what side Daryl, Morgan, and Tara are on. Rick, Jesus, and Maggie are the other side. It seems that the show is specifically mirroring Rick/Shane with Rick/Daryl and I’m worried. I don’t want either of the characters to die, but Daryl could be getting out of hand. He has a valid reason for revenge, but there’s no place for that in the world to come. Like Jesus said, they will all eventually have to live together.
It’s Skylar in Breaking Bad all over again. A character or group of characters who are technically right, but they get in the way of the other characters doing something “cool”. Be that making meth or executing unarmed prisoners. It’s fun to read the debate online afterwards, with people angry that Morgan didn’t murder a load of people. Sure gore and blood and violence can be exciting, but it’s not right in every situation. There are relevant parallels to the world of today, with debates raging at the moment about ineffectual half measures. It makes for exciting TV regardless. But whatever side you align yourself with, we can all agree that pancake-stealing Gregory is a scumbag.
The other key scene this week was poor Eric’s death. Things weren’t looking too great for him last week, and he looked a bit peaky as Aaron helped him hobble to the tree. This was one of the most affecting deaths the show has done in a long time, mainly because Aaron got the time to actually talk to Eric before he died. Also because these two were a really believable couple. Even in the end Eric was joking around with Aaron and it was actually really touching. Not to mention beautifully shot. Ross Marquand has been a great supporting player for a long time but he can legitimately act. Aaron breaking down as zombie Eric limped away was a quiet sort of heartbreaking. It wasn’t Glenn getting his head smashed in, it was just a normal guy watching the love of his life disappear.
I am very confused at the fact that some people (boring people I can only assume) don’t like Ezekiel. Some people find him far too bizarre. Well bizarre or not, I think he’s one of the best! His whole character, his shtick of speaking in ye olde English, it’s a great way of motivating his people and keeping them alive. And I love his outlook! What a change from season 7, we have a guy running around with a tiger killing people and he’s smiling. Although admittedly it does seem that Ezekiel’s outlook is about to be dramatically changed. After not losing one person, Ezekiel and his people are fired upon by a huge .50 cal Browing machine gun. Even the king will struggle against that.
One downside to all the action in this episode is that it was the second in a row without even a glimpse of Negan. I realise that it feels like a while when we’re watching one episode a week, and in fact not a lot of time has actually passed. But I still want to see what him and Gabriel are up to! And sadly, it looks like that won’t be happening next week either.
Whatever you think of the season so far, you have to agree that the show has delivered on the action – even if you hate it. The Rick and Daryl shootout was great, and played out like a co-op shooter. The fight between Morgan and Jesus was well choreographed and we got to see more of that cool Jesus kung-fu. If it goes full action, a big chunk of people complain. If an episode goes by without someone getting shot, people complain.
Overall, I loved this episode. Lots of action as well as some important character moments made for an enjoyable hour. The most important thing to take away from ‘Monsters’ is Daryl. Rick seemed genuinely shocked when Daryl gunned down the Saviors. They’ll come to blows by the mid-season, I’m sure of it.
Reviewed by Jack