Review: The Walking Dead: Ep. 803 – Monsters

Lennie James as Morgan Jones – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead: Ep. 803 – Monsters

War is unpredictable. That’s a lesson learned the hard way by members of the Hilltop, the Kingdom and Alexandria during Monsters, the latest episode of The Walking Dead. Loss, anger and the psychological toll the conflict inflicts on those involved is exposed and the results are anything but pretty.

Reunited but it doesn’t feel so good for Rick as he comes face to face with former ally Morales who is now a member of Negan’s crew. Morales has Rick at gunpoint and spills some of Negan’s strategy when he reveals that the Saviors are under orders to keep Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel alive unless it can’t be avoided. It seems like Negan is loath to create martyrs if at all possible.

Meanwhile, Aaron has his hands full dealing with his husband’s wounds. They share some tender moments and reflect on the reasons they decided to fight Negan as time slips away between them. Tara, still seething from the fact that they’re bringing prisoners back to the Hilltop isn’t the only one who disagrees with this line of thinking. Morgan is just as angry and is ready to lock horns with Jesus who argues that killing them in cold blood is unconscionable. Morgan, like Tara is more interested in blood lust and vengeance, after the losses they’ve both had to endure. Things get really complicated when Morgan’s moral 180-degree turn is truly unleashed after a group of walkers make like cheese logs disrupting the transfer of prisoners back to the Hilltop.

Rick’s back and forth with Morales is an interesting look at how loss, desperation and the fight for survival can determine one’s path. Two sides of the same coin, it’s easy to imagine Rick and Morales on opposite sides if the trajectory of their pasts were switched.

It can be argued that Negan is fighting for the same thing Rick and the coalition are going to war for: survival. Negan has obviously stepped over the line in his bid for dominance in the apocalypse. The intriguing part is how did he get there? The rifts forming between Morgan, Tara and Jesus and even Rick’s momentary shock when Daryl intervenes in the standoff are stark reminders that even the ‘good guys’ aren’t in full agreement when it comes to how bloody they’re willing to make the war they’re waging.

There is some comic relief when Gregory returns to the Hilltop trying to squirm his way back into the community. His pleas to Maggie are pathetic but do offer some foreshadowing of how Maggie will deal with the captured Saviors about to show up on her doorstep.

Monsters, like last week’s episode is light on Negan and heavy on bullets. Tonight’s episode delves deeper into the battle and casts a hazy spotlight on murky morality, mental fragility, the pain associated with loss and the unpredictability of war. While the decision to guide the narrative in this direction has its merits it is time to bring Negan back into the center of the action.