In our house we have a rule governing the settings on our DVR. When choosing to start a new series, said series has 3 episodes to hook us. If, by the end of the 3rd episode viewed, none of us are emotionally invested in at least one character, that program is removed from our DVR permanently. If I were a new viewer to TWD, just jumping in this season, I would be having a long talk with my DVR right about now. Seasoned viewers and long-time fans of the comics will–most likely–stick with the show until the bitter end simply because we are, by nature, completionists. That being said, my undying love and adoration for TWD is waning. If this were a real relationship, I’d be in that self-doubt phase of “I’m not in love with you. I’m in love with the idea of you.” What can TWD do to bewitch me body and soul?
Go ahead a CLICK HERE for a spoiler-filled recap of the latest episode, “Monsters“, and once you are all caught up, we can rant and ramble for a bit.
I rarely review these things in order. I just look at the pages of notes that I jotted down during viewing and go where my mind takes me. So, before I dive into the deep end, let’s take a look at some of the simpler thoughts I had.
First off, can we all just agree that Gregory is a douchenozzle? Enid should have shot him through the gate as he stood there, groveling to Maggie. Carl would have. Letting him back into the Hilltop will prove to be a deadly mistake. Second, and I am not the only one who feels this way, but Ezekiel’s speeches are wearing thin. It’s as though this theater buff had never seen a movie prior to the apocalypse. Every great movie that features an epic battle scene has that one speech; the speech that makes you want to pump your fist in the air in the movie theater and join the fight. Sometimes, you get a movie that’s over 3 hours long, which requires more than one motivational speech, but generally it will be given by a different character. Ezekiel prattles on to his troops before, during, after, and on the way to the next battle. I have to wonder, is Carol smiling because for the first time in a long while she feels hopeful, or does she smile because it’s more polite than laughing out loud?
Sadly, Carol won’t be smiling for much longer. The 50 cal. gun Rick and Daryl were looking for had been moved to Gavin’s Savior post, which is about to be swept by Carol, Ezekiel, and their troops. Talk about an ambush! We see Carol run into trouble in the previews, but we also see Daryl racing on his bike to get there. Will my heart be able to handle all the pookie-ness? The fighting is far from done!
And, man. Daryl just doesn’t give a damn anymore, does he? He has lost so much since the Saviors first entered their lives. He isn’t running his mouth anymore (something he stopped doing in season 3, and something I miss terribly). But, Daryl is returning to a shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality. It was twice witnessed by Rick, and twice Rick looked bothered by it. And yet, Officer Hypocrisy spends all of his time trying to convince others to kill. I have a lot of problems with Rick.
Remember when we all griped about how hard ammunition was to come by in the apocalypse? Why in the hell would they think refills for a Polaroid are any easier to come by? And what in the world is Rick hoping to accomplish stopping to take all of these photos and writing notes? His current behavior must resemble Negan’s at the start of his rise to power. Unless the writers have an incredible reason for doing this, Rick’s use of the Polaroid is just ridiculous.
What wasn’t ridiculous was the superb acting by Ross Marquand and Jordan Woods-Robinson. We knew Eric’s death was imminent this season, but it was handled beautifully. And I find it tragic that Aaron was not allowed to put him down. Michonne went back and put Hershel down. Maggie and Jesus went and found Sasha and put her down. I get that Scott wouldn’t let Aaron go off after Eric in such an emotional state (and in the middle of a war), but I would like to think that he would have at least done it himself, or sent someone else to do it, out of respect. Maybe they felt Eric was already in such close proximity to the passing herd it would be too dangerous. Who knows? Regardless, theirs was a touching story that came to a heartbreaking end. I will miss seeing my dancing partner on the show.
My other two main gripes with this episode were A) Morales said he and his family never made it to Birmingham (which is in Alabama, far south of Atlanta, Georgia). Then he claims the Saviors found him and took him in. Our group of survivors never encounter anything to do with the Saviors until reaching Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C., way far north of Atlanta. Did Morales head north on his own? Or else, how far south have the Saviors scouted? The way their system of protections and trade works, venturing beyond Virginia, or possibly Maryland, would be a logistical nightmare, waste of resources, and irresponsible. No. I needed to know this story before Daryl shot a hole in it. And, B) When the Hilltop crew were walking their prisoners back home, why didn’t the lead vehicle (the truck Tara was hanging out on) notice the large number of undead people rolling down the embankment until it was too late? Like one second they weren’t there, and the next second they were overcome with walkers. How is that possible??
Okay, now let’s get to what I really want to talk about: Morgan and Jesus.
The growing conflict of morality, particularly between these two characters, brought a lot of thumbs to keyboards last night. Between complaints of the show’s story moving at a “glacial pace” and how each season’s plot has become “wash-rinse-repeat”, there was a lot of hatred being spewed towards both Jesus and Morgan. Personally, I thought their scenes were the highlight of the entire episode. It played right into some things that I’ve observed about Morgan in recent posts.
First, the core of their disagreement is examined in two ways–the title of the episode, “Monsters“, and in the conversation between Morales and Rick. As Rick struggles to find common ground with this virtual stranger, Morales points out that neither of them is the same. They’d both gotten “from there to here” and had probably done horrific things to stay alive. And, “…somewhere along the way, Officer Friendly died…” TRUE DAT. For a moment, Rick looks as though he wants to argue this point, but Daryl drove it home, noting that it didn’t matter who Morales was, because he is a Savior. Morales caught a glimpse of Rick looking at himself in the mirror and recognized him for what he had become.
Now, go back to Season 6 episode “The Same Boat” where Carol and Maggie are held hostage by Paula and friends. A conversation was had between Maggie and one of their captors, Michelle, who noted, “You’re not the good guys. You should know that.” Everyone is a good guy, from a certain point of view. Our point of view has always been with our original group of survivors. The Saviors have survived the apocalypse and are living comfortably, if not questionably. Naturally, they think that they are the good guys. The Kingdom thinks it’s them. So does the Hilltop. Hell, even the people in Woodbury thought they were the good guys. We’d like to believe the people of Alexandria are the good guys, and that may have been true for a time. But look at some of the things they have done under Rick’s leadership. Even going up against the Governor, Rick and the gang killed humans sparingly and defensively. (the Socrates Test of Three, remember?) Somewhere along the way, our group began killing for the purpose of killing. Indiscriminately, and with no concern for the collateral damage to other living humans. Rick didn’t recognize this about himself when he ransacked Oceanside, but he did take pause when finding baby Gracie. By killing everyone in that building, he was rendering an innocent baby completely helpless. Thankfully, he had enough sense to hand off the baby to Aaron (oh my ovaries!)
Which brings us back to Morgan and Jesus. Morgan has been struggling with morality since the death of his son by his undead wife. The ‘Cheesemaker’ helped him find a path and a purpose. Those values were questioned in the initial moment he saw Rick again (having just killed Pete in cold blood). Morgan started out this ‘new self’ as a pacifist refusing to kill and wanting to rehabilitate. This would fail him-and others-thanks to the Wolves he twice let live. Morgan eventually accepted (while saving Carol from being shot a 4th time) that he would have to kill the living from time to time, but remained somewhat of a pacfist akin to Jesus’ current way of thinking, “I kill. You kill. We don’t execute.”
The problem with this way of thinking is that because of what happened with the Wolves (Mad Hatter, in particular) and the lives lost as a result. And, because of the deaths of the ‘Cheesemaker’ and young Benjamin, Morgan is no longer in that same frame of mind he was in when he built that prison cell. Think about it. Morgan’s initial intentions of using that prison in Alexandria were no different than Jesus attempting to honor a long dead Geneva Convention during war time. You don’t kill someone who has surrendered. Even Rick looked taken aback when Daryl shot that young man who surrendered to Rick on ‘his word’. I believe that had Rick been there to witness the fight between Jesus and Morgan, Rick would have sided with Morgan. Especially after finding Gracie.
Fans everywhere are hating on Jesus right now. And I’m over here hating on Tara. Of all people, she should at least be willing to hear Jesus out. After all, she started out as a minion of the Governor. She showed her true colors and came around. What’s to say at least some of their current prisoners aren’t capable of the same? But I ask other fans to hear me out on this one.
By not gunning down a bunch of tied up, unarmed prisoners, Jesus is attempting to hold on to what little humanity they have left. For whatever it is worth, as he said to Maggie, we can’t let them go and we can’t kill them. So, for now, they need to just figure something out. Blinded by rage, Morgan shouts at Jesus, “We do the same thing they do, but we go on, everybody turns.” Boom. Full circle. The last 2 weeks I’ve talked about Morgan’s need to ‘clear’ and this is it. But, what began for him as the living-turned-undead-monsters, from which there is no coming back, Morgan is struggling to accept that there are living-turned-human-monsters, and he believes once more that there is no coming back. His failed attempt to redeem the Mad Hatter is proof enough for him. That jackass Savior who shot Benjamin and who continually taunted Morgan with no conscience, was proof enough for him. His recent flashbacks of Rick talking to everyone in the Alexandria church about how we need to ‘get them before they get us’ was proof enough. “You kill or you die. Or you die and you kill.” We learned that in Season 3. And now, Morgan is losing his mind over it. With every fiber in his body, he still wants to believe in the goodness, but life just keeps pushing back on him, forcing him to accept the badness as reigning supreme.
Jesus, whose fighting moves were all defensive and not offensive, was doing all he could to try and ground Morgan, to center him. He spoke calmly and concise. He didn’t make any moves to try to harm or kill Morgan, but made sure that Morgan knew he wasn’t going to stand there and take it forever. Morgan, on the other hand, when given back his staff immediately spun it around and stopped short of running it through Jesus’ throat like a shiv, letting Jesus know that he could do it, if he wanted to. However, Morgan didn’t want to. In fact, the moment he realized what he had done and that he’d had an audience, he quickly began to unravel. “I’m not right, but that doesn’t make me wrong.” Morgan is right back where he was some time ago, not wanting any part of this, not wanting any part in the killing.
They are all in the same boat. They are all the bad guys. They are all the monsters.
Will there be consequences to Jesus’ actions? Of course. That’s plot writing 101. But just as Morgan was referring to his mental state, his words about right and wrong also apply to Jesus. There will be just as many consequences to indiscriminate killing as there will be to not killing. Oh…wait for it…Wrath Vs. Mercy. Our season in a nutshell. Props to both actors for their performances in this episode, by the way.
Which of our lead characters will bite the dust by the time we reach mid-season break and why? Let me know what you think!