Where’s my Episode 2 recap? Turns out Polygon will not be running weekly Walking Dead recaps this year. This news came a bit late, which meant my recap for episode 2 had been submitted and even contracted, but probably won’t be published. I’ll be resuming weekly recaps here on my website, but alas episode 2’s recap will remain in limbo.
The Walking Dead continues with its all out war storyline, much to its benefit. We’re on the third episode and we’ve covered maybe only an hour, as we continue to see Rick’s offensive strategy play out in three different fronts.
Well, two fronts anyway. Once again the Kingdom group with Carol and King Ezekiel have little to show but stirring speeches from Ezekiel, along with a montage of mowing down saviors using obvious ambush tactics. They get there comeuppance at the end of the episode, and we’ll get to that in a bit.
Last week we saw Tara, Jesus, Diane, and Morgan infiltrate a Savior outpost, leading to some heavy drama between Tara and Jesus regarding taking prisoners, and Morgan starting to go bat-shit crazy, turning into an Angel of Death against the Saviors.
These themes continued to even more extremes this week. Our team marches about two or three dozen captured Saviors back to the Hilltop, as Jesus insists Maggie will know what to do with them.
The DM rolls for a random encounter and our group is faced with a small group of zombies. Like many zombie attacks in the later seasons they arrive with an added environmental complication. In this case, a literal avalanche of zombies rolling down a hill. I am definitely taking D&D notes here.
The tied-up chain-gang Saviors are sitting ducks, and understandably begin freaking out as the zombies start chowing down. One group manages to escape, including that tall asshole who has been berating Morgan. Mock the unhinged, newly violence-embracing warrior – great idea!
Morgan chases after them, even shooting one of them to slow them down. Jesus and the others catch up and have it out with him. Morgan is even crazier than we realized, devolving almost fully back into ‘Clear’ mode, and there’s no Zen monk around to fix him. There’s just Jesus.
Morgan and Jesus then get into an awkward comic book style fight over the disagreement, because that’s what you do. Jesus actually kicks Morgan’s ass and he seems to pull back from the void at least a little. I’m torn between making Morgan more interesting and less whiney about human life, and retreading his violent craziness which we’ve already seen and dealt with.
The group continues on to the Hilltop, but Gregory shows up first.
Ah Gregory. This whole scene with Gregory pleading his case and trying to get back in was played for big laughs, which is very rare on our bleak show. I’ll be damned if I wasn’t giggling right along with it, from Kal’s surprise indignation to Gregory shouting, “I did not eat those pancakes!”
Maggie can read him like a book, calling him out for arriving in Gabriel’s car and siding with Negan. Ultimately she lets him inside because “he’s not worth killing.” Maggie is awesome; the rare voice of both compassion and reason among our group.
Maggie also lets the captured Saviors inside, at least under house arrest. It does seem very dangerous but Jesus makes some good points, namely that they’ll all have to live together once this war is over. Can the Saviors be rehabilitated?
Maggie and Jesus can consider the future after the war, while Rick is very much living in the present, though currently embroiled with a blast from the past in Morales.
Morales was the big tease at the end of the last episode, a minor character from season one who simply left the group instead of being killed. He wasn’t exactly a Game of Thrones spinning plate.
It’s a dramatic moment that allows Rick to reflect on those he’s lost and the changes he’s gone through. Morales mostly whines. I didn’t like this scene, from that actor’s hyperbolic portrayal to the retread of “I’ve lost everything so I’m super fucked up,” which has been the backstory of every other character.
How big of a role would Morales ultimately play? Turns out diddly squat as Daryl turns a corner and shoots his ass dead, which caused me to literally bust out laughing. So much for that stupidly-hyped character reveal!
It was fun seeing Daryl and Rick in action together, as the Saviors come pouring back in and trap them in a hallway. It’s briefly dangerous but the Saviors also had to put their backs to the Alexandria group they were just fighting, including Aaron and Eric, who’s fatally shot.
On the battlefield outside nobody seems to have any ammunition issues and everyone has become a seasoned soldier, which, fine, you’re only going to bring along the ones who can shoot and fight.
They arrive to help bail out Rick and Daryl. The outpost is cleared but no guns were found. A single surviving Savior takes a weird potshot at Rick and Daryl, right as they leave. Rick coaxes him out, and gets some useful intel about where the gun shipment ended up. Rick gives him his word he’ll let him go. Then Daryl shoots him dead.
Daryl is a useful, powerful ally, but like Morgan he seems to be losing his humanity through this war, embracing the I Don’t Give a Fuck About Anyone Else attitude that’s worked well for Rick so far.
In this episode Daryl acts like the devil on Rick’s shoulder, making the tough but morally questionable decisions before Rick has to. They may be heading towards a Jesus-Morgan style showdown between mercy and wrath.
The end teases a focus on Team Kingdom for next week’s episode. In a scene that feels ripped out of Saving Private Ryan, Ezekiel’s forces are gunned down from a machine gun embedded in an upstairs window. It looks like Ezekiel has survived but remains in a very dangerous situation. I’m just glad we’ll finally get to see them (and Carol!) in some real action.
Rick & Daryl – The two biggest badasses on the show survive a harrowing firefight and watch each other’s backs. We haven’t seen a lot of quality Rick & Daryl action in a while. Daryl insta-killing Morales was just perfect: “I knew who it was. Don’t matter.”
“The Widow” – The Saviors refer to Maggie simply as, “The Widow.” How badass is that?
Gregory at the Gates – It was initially jarring that this scene was played for pure comedy but I honestly loved it. There’s not a lot of laughs in The Walking Dead, and levity is even more important in the middle of war.
Kingdommers – It looks like we’re finally going to see some real action for Team Kingdom. It’s about time, as the first three episodes feature lots of action and drama for the other groups, not so much for Ezekiel and Carol.
Eric’s death – This was an another example of the show focusing on a relatively minor character in order to make you care when they die. We’ve barely seen Aaron this season (or last) and even less of his boyfriend Eric. His death was a little over done for how little we care. On a side note, while it’s nice seeing a positive gay relationship on TV, The Walking Dead follows the depressing cliché that gay romances always end in tragedy (hell TWD even covered that before with Tara).
Michonne – Talk about being completely forgotten this season. In the comics Rick’s love, Andrea (who’s way better portrayed in the comics than ever was in the show) was with him every step in the way during the war. Why not Michonne?