Review: The Walking Dead: Ep. 802 – The Damned

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead: Ep. 802 – The Damned

The war continues this week and the opening moments of The Damned sets the tone for an action packed episode light on laughs and heavy on bullets and warfare. It’s an all out assault on all things Negan as the Alexandrian/Hilltop/Kingdom coalition carries out a three-pronged attack to cripple the tyrant’s forces.

Aaron leads a group of fighters against one of Negan’s compounds to engage in a battle that at first seems pointless but ultimately yields interesting results. Meanwhile Rick and Daryl, using Dwight’s intel look for a cache of weapons to aid the cause. Another group led by Morgan, Tara and Jesus returns to the original scene of the crime on a mission to significantly thin out the ranks of Negan’s forces.

The fog of war sets in early and several of our heroes battle their conscience during the shootouts. Killing and the merits of it during war became a central issue particularly between Tara and Jesus in the midst of a tense standoff with one of the Saviors. Jesus is becoming the new Morgan and his stance threatens to drive a wedge into the coalition.

Speaking of Morgan, he experiences an epiphany of sorts that viewers have been waiting a long time for. Morgan’s transformation, hastened by the atrocities of war isn’t unexpected. It does make sense when those involved in the battle cease to see their enemies as human. It’s something Rick has to deal with, as he literally looks himself in the mirror.

For all of the shooting and killing that happens during The Damned, it’s the quiet moments that really resonate. The physical and mental toll war enacts of its participants is a heavy one, sometimes forcing individuals to question their own beliefs and actions. In the case of a familiar face who unexpected reappears, the circumstances surrounding one’s survival can shatter allegiances leaving former allies on opposite side of a conflict.

What appears to be the element that, the writers at least seem to want viewers to come away with in the early stages of the “War on Negan” is that hope and faith conquers all. Carol’s exchanges with Ezekiel exemplify this pretty well. Ever the pragmatist, Carol can’t help but roll her eyes at the king’s eternal optimism. Ezekiel keeps the faith, even when his royal words of encouragement veer towards over the top cheese. The truth is he’s fully aware of how he sounds and his “fake it til you make it” attitude is the fuel that keeps his kingdom running.

The Damned demonstrates that although Negan’s forces are vulnerable the road to defeating him won’t be a smooth one. There are several internal battles that threaten to derail the coalition and it is the group’s ability to overcome those challenges that will ultimately determine its chances of success.