The Walking Dead: “Monsters” Review
***WARNING! THE WALKING DEAD IS ABOUT TO BE THOROUGHLY SPOILED***
Season eight of the Walking Dead picks up the pace. A lot of people die, and the bullets continue to rain.
“Monsters” was a striking episode. Not for any single death that may or may not have been hideously upsetting, but for the sheer volume of death that occurred. So many people died in this episode. For the most part it was Saviors, so… good. But the amount of death in this weeks episode was astounding. Dozens of people were systematically mown to the ground. It’s a new angle for The Walking Dead.
Rick struggles with his humanity
Morales’ cameo appearance could have huge repercussions for Rick. His brief return was artfully handled, drawing distinct parallels between himself and our protagonist.
Calls for a full episode of Morales backstory following last week’s reveal were not met, but we did get a heavily edited version. His families trip to Birmingham was as ill-fated as it first appeared way back in season 1 and we learn that none of the family made it.
The diary recital was heart-felt, yet jerkily delivered by Juan Gabriel Pareja. It was a jarring monologue that failed to produce any meaningful impact.
The negativity surrounding this move is a little unfair in my view. It was no fake death, no inter-season cliff hanger. This meeting served to symbolise the line between good and evil, or lack thereof.
Two guys parted ways amicably, risking everything to protect their families. That one decision, to turn left, or to turn right, has led them to where they are today. Two monsters standing on opposing ends of a loaded gun.
Morales’ take on life as we now know it is coldly accurate. It’s just two guys, doing whatever they can to make it. They’ve both lost family, friends and themselves. Rick’s feeble protestations further underline those similarities – we’ve seen him rip a man’s throat out with his teeth. Officer friendly is well and truly gone.
There is a visible shift within Rick as realisation dawns. Is anyone truly human anymore? Daryl’s uncharacteristic execution seals the deal.
The arrow to the head is fit for purpose – both sides are as bad as each other now. A point further underlined by his brutal and frankly needless dispatch of a kid who offered no threat. It’s unfortunate how forcibly this point is made, Morales got rammed into the show for a five-minute cameo while Daryl acts alarmingly out of character. A good point poorly made.
Morgan struggles with his sanity
Morgan is a wonderfully damaged character. We have seen this guy cover the entire psychological spectrum. Consumed by grief, blinded by hate, crushed by guilt and cloaked in denial. At the end of last episode, Morgan cracked again. He returned to cold-hearted killer mode. Putting down Savior after Savior as he stormed through a compound alone.
At the beginning of this episode, we found him deeply embroiled in an internal struggle to maintain his sanity. But Morgan may just be too far gone.
During a brilliantly structure set piece, Morgan’s brain seemed to go into meltdown, as quotes we remembered from season three spewed, uncontrolled out of his mouth. He’s a mess, and it’s played to perfection by Lennie James.
He ends up being disarmed after a fierce brawl with Jesus, and eventually makes his way alone into the forest. We can only guess what kind of state he’ll be in when we see him next. At a time when humanity seems to be high on the agenda, Mr Humanity has just left the building.
Another strong episode that gets deep into the minds of these characters. I’ve always seen the show at it’s strongest when it tackles the psychology of this world. Hopefully this season continues to build on an intriguing start.