Bullets fly in The Walking Dead, “The Damned,” as the All Out War arc begins its steady trudge.
The unlimited source of ammunition and mercy in the zombie apocalypse is astounding. The battle between Rick and Negan’s camps is at a stalemate. Team Rick appears to have the advantage until Morales, a Walking Dead blast from Season 1 past, hits the scene.
Before Morales appears out of nowhere, Rick’s team slaughters Savior soldiers. That all changes when Jesus, much to Tara and Morgan’s dismay, accepts a group of Savior’s surrender.
How will the surrendered Saviors factor into the conflict? Will they be the bargaining chip Rick needs when Savior reinforcements arrive on the scene?
While Jesus, Morgan, and Tara round up Saviors at an outpost and Carol and King Ezekiel prepare to square off with Saviors on another front, Rick and Daryl search for guns. Rick, though, finds more than he bargains for- a baby and a conscience, a scene staged in a mirror.
The mirror (a little on the nose) frames the blood and sweat soaked rick along a paper lion. Once again, The Walking Dead emphasizes the singular dimension of vengeful Rick. Wrath isn’t his true nature.
Rick is a man of the law and order. He, like the man he slaughtered this episode, is a father desperate to protect his children. The line between Rick and Negan is intentionally blurred.
At this point in The Walking Dead, Rick’s moral rollercoaster has become more of a merry-go-round. Just as when Rick battled the Governor and slipped into the Rickocracy, he once again exudes the worst qualities of his current adversary, Negan. Perhaps Morales recognizes the similarity between Rick and Negan, so he chooses the devil he already serves.
The introduction of Morales is another reminder that the past does not stay buried. It conjures memories of old Rick, but like Morales says- that was a long time ago.
Morales parted ways with Rick when Rick and his crew made their way to the CDC. Rick gave Morales and his family some ammunition and a walkie-talkie before they parted ways.
As Rick stands at the end of Morales’s gun, he is forced to recognize how much he’s changed. Between Rick’s moment in the mirror and his encounter with Morales, Rick’s internal conflict is reignited.
Will Rick’s vengeance cool? Will he show Negan mercy when the tables inevitably turn in Rick’s favor? There’s a cozy cell waiting in Alexandria.
Morgan, who rolled through Saviors like the Terminator tonight, parallels Rick’s moral journey. Morgan had a strict no-kill code and broke it to bring peace to Alexandria.
Between Rick and Morgan, the message is clear- violence begets violence. So how do you stop someone like Negan? And if you can’t stop him, is it possible to co-exist? The title “The Damned” suggests there is no easy answer.
In the spirit of the cliche, damned if you do, damned if you don’t, nobody wins during the zombie apocalypse. Humanity is a luxury. The Walking Dead constantly poses the question, if humanity is a life-threatening luxury, then what is the point of surviving. The series refuses to move past the single quandary.
The comic book arc of All out War shlepped through too many issues. Reading it became a chore. Hopefully, showrunner Scott Gimple compresses the drawn-out war and brings fans more than hour-long shootouts.
What did you think of “The Damned”? You can leave your prediction, insights, and questions in the comment section below.