Last week’s season premiere of The Walking Dead took an expansive view of the coming conflict between the Grimes gang and the Saviors, leaping around between present, future and far-future (or maybe fantasy) moments from the promised, all-out war. This week, by contrast, the show felt more like an episode of 24 — with multiple perspectives on one pivotal battle that could make or break the whole rebellion. Here’s what happened on “The Damned.”
Operation Gun Grab
Last week, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his cohorts kicked off an elaborate plan to topple the Saviors by penning in their Sanctuary with a thousand-zombie horde. This week was all about step two: disabling the group’s various satellite compounds, killing their leaders and taking their weapons.
While one team led by Aaron (Ross Marquand) goaded the Saviors into a parking lot fire fight, another led by Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) stormed the building like silent angels of death, killing everyone they came across as they searched for the weapons that Dwight (Austin Amelio) promised would be there.
At the same time, a team led by Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) pursued last week’s grenade-throwing Savior through the woods, racing to cut him off before he could warn his friends they were coming. And everything was going pretty well, until it wasn’t.
Jesus Saves, Tara Stews
Let’s face it, it just wouldn’t be The Walking Dead without a poorly timed in-group argument over when it’s appropriate to murder your enemies. This time, it came when Jesus (Tom Payne) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) found a Savior cowering in a closet which — to borrow a phrase from a certain villain — he’d just turned into pee-pee pants city.
Tara wanted to kill him, Jesus wanted to save him, and Pee-Pee Pants wanted to take full advantage of this lapse in unity to put a gun to Jesus’ head. (Rude!) He didn’t even pee his pants for real; he did it on purpose to make them think he was scared. This little hostage situation didn’t last very long but it did expose some nascent fault lines among Rick’s ragtag group of misfits and raised some interesting questions about much mercy they can afford to show the people who’ve shown no mercy to them.
To Kill or Not to Kill
Meanwhile, what seemed like an ordinary standoff in the parking lot turned out to be something much darker, as the corpses of slaughtered Saviors began to reanimate and bite their friends. Desperate to get past the barricade, the remaining Saviors began advancing, leading Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) to charge in like a hero … and get gut-shot for his troubles. (Is Eric going to die so that Aaron can get to know Jesus, y’know, biblically? Discuss.)
And inside the compound, a hail of gunfire took down two of Rick’s people, while Morgan (Lennie James) somehow survived — and dispatched a score of people on his way out the door, only to find Jesus outside and rounding up a bunch of surrendering Saviors. Next week on The Walking Dead: Discussion #933 about whether we are or are not supposed to kill all the Saviors, seriously, for real.
A Familiar Face
Finally, inside the compound, Rick’s search for weapons reached the top floor, where he battled his way past one extremely zealous guard and entered a room to find … a baby, whose father he’d just apparently murdered. Um, oops? Clearly, Dwight’s intel wasn’t entirely up to date — or maybe he intentionally misled them. Either way, it’s much less important than what happened next, as Rick emerged from the baby’s room and was confronted by yet another man with a gun.
“Hi Rick,” the man said. Rick gaped and replied. “Your name is Morales. You were in Atlanta.”
“That was a long time ago,” said Morales.
It was seven seasons ago, to be exact! (Although in the context of the show, that’s only a couple years.) But Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja) is back now, and he’s with the Saviors, which is a total bummer but also makes no sense because he seemed like a pretty good guy back in the day.
Will Rick persuade him to switch sides? Did Dwight give the Grimes gang bad information? Is someone going to go back and get that baby? Hopefully, all will be revealed next week.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.
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