The Walking Dead Review by John Keegan

The Walking Dead 8.02: The Damned

The Walking Dead 8.02: The Damned

Written By:
Matthew Negrete and Channing Powell
Directed By:
Rosemary Rodriguez

There’s something odd about the notion that the writers would think bringing back Morales would be a huge shocking twist.  Frankly, the entire network of communities in the Alexandria area is in the middle of a massive war, so in the end, what difference does it make?  Does it really make things all that much more personal for anyone at this point?  The show has evolved so much since the first season that I can’t even begin to fathom why Morales and his journey to becoming a Savior would be considered a compelling mystery.

 


 

Generally speaking, the episode gets down to the business of the war, and the smaller stories that exist within that space.  As one might expect, it has a lot to do with the morality that the various factions explore in the midst of enacting the finer details of Rick’s master plan, and whether or not the wholesale slaughter of “the enemy” is a justified act.  Considering that it was precisely the wholesale slaughter of several dozen Saviors in their sleep in the sixth season that started this entire mess, it occasionally seems a bit silly that they would have this debate in the middle of an all-out war.

 

Of course, despite the level of action that hits the screen (and it’s more the level that should have been in the season premiere, honestly!), there’s a distinct lack of context for the audience.  At no time are the various missions given clear objectives and stakes.  For example, what would happen if Carol and the Kingdom army fails to hunt down the Savior they have targeted?  What does it mean to the conflict as a whole?

 


 

On the other hand, how long have we been waiting to see Carol and Morgan back in action to this degree?  At least a season each, if not longer.  That alone is worth the price of admission, along with the endless stream of hilariously weird speeches from King Ezekiel (though, that is an element that will only be endearing for so long, so they need to be careful not to overuse it). 

 

One very cool moment in the episode is when the Saviors that are fighting with Aaron and his squad realize that the seeming inability of the attackers to gain ground is, in fact, part of the plan, as the dead Saviors rise and quickly help dispatch the remaining soldiers.  That’s the kind of tactics that I enjoy seeing Rick and his cohorts employ.  It’s a lot more interesting when the rules of their world actually get used as a weapon.  (Granted, it required the Saviors to be stupid or incompetent to a degree, but I am willing to overlook that.)

 


 

Still, despite the criticisms, this is a much more interesting and dynamic episode than the premiere attempted to be, largely because there is a constant sense of action and tension.  There’s no clear sense that everyone is going to make it out of the conflict intact; it would actually be nice to have a few meaningful losses along the way.  Otherwise, like the idiotic decision to not have Negan taken out immediately, the effect of placing the entire region at war loses any dramatic power.


Our Grade:
B
The Good:
  • Far more action-packed than the season premiere
  • Good use of the reanimation of the dead as a battle tactic
The Bad:
  • Much of the action lacks a sense of context, which would help increase the stakes and drama

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The Walking Dead by - 11/1/2017 1:18 PM129 views

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