Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 3: "Monsters."
This week's episode opens with more artsy-pretentious stuff: intercutting between Ezekiel giving his smiley, poetic speech to his squad and the group marching on to victory through several of his group's battles. This might feel less out of place if similar tactics were used with other storylines. Anyway, since I started out with Ezekiel's clan, I may as well continue here. Basically, they clear out their strongholds without a single loss. Ezekiel is proud, confident that his word is truth, while Carol decides she still wants to sweep the compound to make sure there are no stragglers. No sooner has she left than Ezekiel spots a sniper from one of the top floors. His warning comes too late, and a number of his crew are shot dead, blood rocketing from bullet wounds.
Morales spends much of his time with Rick pontificating on how Rick is a monster. Morales lost his family and never made it to Birmingham. He was hiding in a trailer, basically waiting for death, when the Saviors found him and decided he was worth saving. This is why he is so loyal to the Saviors. But what doesn't make sense is why he is so bitter toward Rick. From what I remember, Morales made the decision to leave Rick's group; he wasn't forced out. It wasn't like Rick abandoned him. I suppose the Saviors have spent the last few years indoctrinating him into their "cult," and Negan made sure that everyone knew "Rick, the widow, and the king" were the prizes in this war. Morales' demeanor softens slightly when he finds out that "the widow" was Glenn's wife, and describes how he died. Rick thinks he is getting through to Morales, but it is moot -- Daryl comes up silently and shoots Morales dead. He knew it was Morales; he doesn't care. More Saviors are on the way, and they need to get out.
Too late. The guys have a shootout with more Saviors, but Daryl runs out of ammo, so Rick shoots a fire extinguisher to offer them some cover as they escape. I'm not really sure what happens to these Saviors, as we next see Daryl and Rick with a few others, snapping photos of the dead and double-killing the zombies. Rick writes a note and leaves it near a tree, but we don't get to see what is on that note. Rick goes back inside and retrieves the baby. Aaron offers to take it back to the Hilltop. Eric officially died in this episode, and Aaron is having a hard time dealing with it. (Personally, I didn't feel anything about Eric's death. We have barely seen him in the last two seasons. I actually forgot that Eric was Aaron's boyfriend until they started declaring their love for one another.)
It's down to Rick and Daryl. Rick has somewhere else to go but promises Daryl he will meet him at home. Suddenly they are peppered with gunshots, and they take cover. Figuring that only one person could take cover in the area, Rick calls out to him. If the guy puts down his gun and comes out with his hands up, and gives him the information he wants, he can leave -- Rick will even give him a car. The young man does just that, and tells Rick that when he last saw it, the guns they were looking for had been moved to Gavin's outpost, to the west. "Can I go now?" the young man asks. Daryl answers with a bullet straight to his head. Rick is stunned at the callousness with which Daryl shoots the man surrendering.
Jesus' group is leading their prisoners on a death march back to the Hilltop. They are tied into a makeshift chain gang. Morgan is on edge and doesn't believe Maggie will just accept the Saviors. One asshole on the gang whistles and generally antagonizes Morgan. Before Morgan gets out of control, walkers tumble down a hill and start to attack. In the flurry of activity, Antagonizer and his "chain" flee. Another "chain" tries to run, but one guy stops them. He wants to live. So Morgan gives chase, and when he finally catches up with the chain gang, he shoots one of them. Jesus catches up with him and stops him from killing more. The two men fight, with Jesus acting purely in self-defense. Morgan eventually stops. He knows he's not right, but he doesn't think he is wrong, either. I thought when he referred to himself as "not right," he meant "not right in the head." After all, Morgan has had a very uneven story -- he has lost himself more than once. He decides he can't be part of this anymore, collects his staff and his gun, and walks off into the forest.
Gregory returns to the Hilltop, but Maggie won't let him in. He says whatever he needs to to win her sympathy. I love Gregory. He is just such a schmuck. I don't know what it is about him that always makes me smile. Anyway, he begs and pleads and says all the wrong things before finally saying the right thing. Maggie finally agrees to let him back into the Hilltop. She tells Enid that he isn't worth killing -- not yet, at least. But then, in perfect Gregory fashion, when Jesus brings his prisoners to the Hilltop, Gregory thinks he is back in charge and tries negotiating with Jesus. Maggie puts a stop to this, but we never see her make a decision about whether to let the POWs join the Hilltop. She seems to be leaning toward no.
If you were Maggie, would you let the Savior POWs into the Hilltop? Are people able to change?