Warning! This post contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 8.
Last night’s second episode of season 8 of The Walking Dead delivered on its promise to continue the all-out war against Negan. We saw (most) of group splitting duties, continuing to take out each of The Savior’s compound. The main goal for this week’s attack was to distract most of The Savior’s so Rick and Daryl could find their enemy’s armory. Meanwhile, Morgan was stationed with Jesus and Tara’s group. Their main goal? Take out any and all Saviors.
In episode 2 “The Damned”, saw Jedi-style metaphors with a battle between dark and light. This premise of good vs evil (which is also the building theme for the season) was set up with Jesus and Tara not agreeing while taking over one of The Savior’s stations. Tara wanted to go through with what Rick instructed: They all must die; take everyone out. On the flip side, Jesus states that Maggie will understand if they spare The Saviors that actually surrender. Even after Jesus is tricked by one of “the bad Saviors” and almost killed by him, he still continues with his belief that their enemies who surrender must be saved. Herein lies the true question of the season—even the series:
In this world, is every life worth saving?
This is the question that Morgan has been fiercely battling since season 1. Morgan lost his wife and son, lost himself, then found solace with a man who sought out a monk-warrior-type lifestyle in order to live within the chaos the world had become. When Morgan came across Alexandria, he tried to make Rick believe that his way of life wasn’t the only way: We don’t have to kill. After encountering The Saviors, Rick swayed Morgan’s way of thinking. He convinced him that in order to create a world where they don’t have to kill, they are going to have to take out every last Savior.
Morgan has turned into a stealth-warrior for Rick, executing every plan to near-perfection. When Morgan sees that Jesus has spared those Saviors that surrendered, he is faced again with this great internal conflict: How do you be good in this world without losing your own life? Morgan sees one of the Savior men who would come collect from The Kingdom and lunges to attack him before Jesus stops him. Was Jesus right in preventing Morgan from killing this man? We’ve all seen how horrible this man has been—can he even be saved when shown mercy; will he really turn a new leaf?
The theme of Mercy
Personally, we are loving the build of this season. The first episode titled “Mercy” introduced the theme of light vs. dark and the question of “what does it mean to be human?” In this new world, has being “good” been wiped from the way of life? Maybe this new zombie-filled world truly is “death”, and becoming the worst version of yourself is the only way to be alive in it.
In the second episode title “The Damned”, we see just that. Morgan is a man who has been damned. The audience can see the pained struggle in his expression. Morgan has become fixated on the mission of killing, because he believes that’s who he needs to be in order to stay alive in this world. When he sees the mercy Jesus has given the Saviors who surrendered, we can see him questioning everything he knows.
This reminds us of Tyreese’s death. Tyreese knew that in order to live in this new world he would have to kill, watch others be killed, and live a life centered around death. He wanted to die, and he was ready for it. The fact that Morgan is still trying to stay alive means that he is still trying to discover if humanity is still worth saving, making him one of our most favorite characters and one of the show’s most important.
Morgan is key to Rick’s development
Morgan has been with Rick since day one of the series, and him resurfacing two season ago is no accident. As discussed in our Talking TV podcast, season 8 is about the internal struggle Rick will have during the war against Negan.
Is this war about revenge for Rick, or is it about being the better man?
Morgan is the metaphorical representation of Rick’s current psych. We see this come to fruition in season 8 episode 2 “The Damned” when Rick barges into a nursery belonging to a baby girl named Gracie. While staring at the sleeping infant and realizing he had just killed her father, what he has become hits him like a ton of bricks. He can’t process what’s happening, and it’s like a barrier has come down. Rick has believed that he needed to somewhat become Negan in order to defeat him, and seeing Gracie is one of the first times he’s truly questioned that.
Is Rick now starting to realize what Morgan meant a few seasons ago that “every life is worth saving”? We’ll continue to see that unfold in season 8. We are loving this season so far and hope the build up throughout the season continues to deliver.
Recap and discuss the show with us all season on our Talking TV With Liz & Lindi podcast!
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