Rick’s first offensive against Negan and the Saviors is certainly an eventful one. The war for supremacy continued as unintended consequences took shape in Season 8, Episode 3, “Monsters.”
The episode opens right where last week’s left off. King Ezekiel is giving a rousing speech to the members of The Kingdom explaining that, despite the fact that the Saviors are sending a team to their position and are aware of their impending attack, they’re not going to lose a single person in the fray. Say what one will about his propensity for speaking like a Shakespearean actor, the dialect really gets one amped up for a fight. Through some trickery, they dispatch the team that was coming to kill them with ease and move forward.
Meanwhile, we find Rick at the end of Morales’ gun barrel. Fans will remember the Season 1 character, who didn’t tag along with Rick and company to the CDC, was revealed last week to be a Savior. Rick tries to get him to understand what’s going on, but from Morales’ perspective, Rick is a straight up monster who just killed a father. He explains that Negan killed Glenn, the man who, presumably, helped save Morales’ life in the beginning of the apocalypse. Morales counters by explaining that he lost his family too, and was willing to die. That’s when the Saviors found him and gave him a purpose.
That purpose appears to be pretty high up in the ranks, as he not only orders reinforcements, but orders the Saviors that are fighting Aaron and the Alexandrians outside to retreat and come take care of Rick and anyone else inside. Also inside is Daryl, who stumbles upon Rick and Morales and takes the latter out without giving it a second thought. Unfortunately, it’s way too late and the men are inside.
Meanwhile, Jesus and Morgan are dealing with the fallout of taking a whole lot of unexpected prisoners. They’re walking them, caravan-style, back to the Hilltop where they expect Maggie to figure out what to do with them. Morgan, however, is being taunted by Jared, the savior who killed his young friend. Just when he’s about to snap and make the call to execute him on his own, walkers descend upon them. In the confusion, Jared leads a group away. Fortunately, they don’t get far as they’re all tied together. Morgan arrives and executes one. He’s about to pull the trigger on Jared when Jesus stops him.
They argue, with Morgan doing a hairpin morality turn and demanding that they end the Saviors and treat the war as a purge. Jesus insists that after war will be peace, and tells Morgan he’ll have to learn to live with these people when it’s all over.
That doesn’t sit well with Morgan, who is in full berserker mode at this point. The two martial arts experts find themselves in a fist fight in front of an audience of prisoners. Luckily, Morgan’s sharpened staff isn’t as pointy as it used to be. In an impressive demonstration of combat and discipline, Jesus bests his opponent. When it’s over, Morgan snaps back to reality, apparently having little memory of what just happened.
“I’m not right,” he acknowledges. “But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
He says that he can’t be a part of Jesus’ prisoner march, and goes off in search of Jared and the others, who seized the opportunity to scamper off into the woods. Although their bad guys, it’s hard to blame them for taking off.
Back at the compound, Aaron has returned to the battle at the behest of his wounded husband, Eric. The two said bye to each other so that Aaron could be where he’s needed, leading the Alexandrians in an effort to rescue Rick and Daryl. His moment comes just in time as the duo found themselves battling with just their fists by the time their team arrived. They manage to clean things up at the compound, securing yet another victory for the good guys. Although the weapons cache they were after wasn’t there.
When things are clear, Aaron returns to the tree he left Eric to find him gone. He looks in the distance and sees a walker joining a herd. He breaks down and is pulled away by an ally.
Meanwhile, back at the Hilltop, Gregory arrives looking for safe haven. Maggie greets him at the gate with every intention of banishing him from his own community. He tries to make a case that he’s actually done the right thing, but Maggie is no one’s fool. It’s not until he actually begs for his life and reminds Maggie that she’s not a killer that she breaks and lets him in. It’s not a moment too soon as Jesus then arrives with a cadre of prisoners and a gigantic problem. Gregory and Tara protest, but Jesus suggests sticking them in two trailers with around-the-clock guards until the war is over.
He really puts Maggie in a tough place as she either has to become a bloodthirsty ogre, or jeopardize the lives of the people in The Hilltop. It’s unclear what she decides, but the episode does not end with the “Walking Dead” version of a firing squad, so it seems like she accepted the prisoners.
The episode, instead, ends with Rick rescuing the baby whose father he killed. He says he has a stop to make, presumably having to do with the polaroids and letter he was writing, when Aaron asks to take on the task of caring for the baby. He lost Eric, and he tells Rick that he really has to take care of the baby, for reasons he doesn’t understand.
Just when it looks like everything is on the rise, Daryl and Rick are shot at by a rogue survivor of the Saviors. Rick tells him that they don’t have time to fight and that a herd is coming. He gives the shooter his word that he’ll let him go if he tells them where the guns are. He says they’re at the outpost being hit by the Kingdom. Daryl makes a liar out of Rick and executes the shooter before they make haste to help Carol and the gang.
As Ezekiel is declaring victory, his people are mowed down by the guns in question. The episode ends before any real casulty count can be had, but Ezekiel seems safe as about five of his loyal subjects sacrifice themselves for him.