It turns out that The Walking Dead season 8’s promise of “all out war” is actually shorthand for “very long war”, as episode 3 continues to plod along at a snail’s pace, flitting all over the place between different stories and characters within the conflict. As well as undermining the dramatic impact of season 8 as a whole, the uneven structure and pacing has already made this run of The Walking Dead one of the most needlessly confusing in the process.
That naturally means each episode leaves a lot of questions after the credits roll, but not all of them are the kind of intriguing, deliberately ambiguous ones you would hope for. Still, there a a couple that are worth asking all the same, just in case season 8 decides to answer them over the course of the next few episodes.
1. Just how many Saviour compounds are there?
Since the season 8 premiere, I’ve been trying to keep count of the number of Saviour outposts and buildings that have been attacked or mentioned. By the end of this episode, I gave up. Yes, it’s always been clear that Negan has spread his influence far and wide across this particular region of Atlanta, but do the Saviours really need to be populating this many dilapidated buildings scattered around the area?
If anything, as proven by the events of the season so far, it's left them more vulnerable to attack, as Negan’s army is randomly dispersed across a variety of locations, rather than concentrated in a smaller number of heavily defended bases. Towards the end of Monsters, the young man that Daryl kills mentions yet another Saviour HQ called “Gavin’s”, so it looks like that outpost count is only going to continue to rise moving forward.
2. Where is Morgan going?
“I can’t be a part of this.” These were Morgan’s last words before moping off into the woods following his bizarre tussle with Jesus, once again plagued by his own mental and moral instability. It’s difficult to ascertain what he means by “this”, though. Is he referring to the specific task of escorting the Saviour prisoners to Hilltop, or does he mean the conflict against Negan as a whole?
Perhaps he’s going back to his hermit ways, devolving into the crazed loner that Rick encountered in season 3. Hopefully that’s not the case, as Rick could use every armed fighter he can get in the ongoing battle, but that final shot of Morgan aimlessly wandering past a corpse he shouldn’t have killed doesn’t inspire too much hope about his loyalty to the cause.
3. Has Gregory really changed his ways?
After being absent for the entirety of episode 2, Gregory finally turns up at the front doors of Hilltop, begging Maggie to let him in after escaping Negan’s clutches at Sanctuary. His whole spiel about becoming a “believer” and finally understanding why the war is necessary was an interesting scene, and perhaps one of the episode’s most intriguing moments overall. Has he genuinely hopped the fence to team Maggie, or is it all just a ploy to get on the safer side of Hilltop’s walls?
We know that Gregory’s main goal is self survival, so perhaps he really does support Hilltop’s new mission, but only because it’s now far less risky than siding with Negan. On the other hand, he did just leave Gabriel to die back at Sanctuary, so he’s clearly still just as amoral and cowardly as he’s always been. It remains to be seen whether that will become a liability for Hilltop in future.
4. Why is Rick taking all these photos?
In the season 8 premiere, Rick was seen snapping a picture of Negan on his knees, as if to humiliate the enemy with some unflattering propaganda. But, two episodes later, and Monsters shows Rick whipping out that very same Polaroid to document the aftermath of a firefight, taking pictures of the dead as though he were an Arts major trying to capture the horrors of war. What’s the real aim of his newfound hobby as Alexandria’s cameraman? It can’t be purely to indulge his creative side, that’s for sure.
Interestingly, there’s also a brief shot of Rick writing something down on a piece of paper, but we don’t get to read what it says. Clearly, the leader of Alexandria is playing some sort of long game here, but we’ve yet to find out what exactly that looks like.
5. Should we be worried about Daryl?
Twice in Monsters, Daryl shoots and kills a Saviour at point blank range without Rick’s approval. The first victim is Morales, who Daryl fires an arrow into even though he knew it was an old friend from the season 1 days. “It doesn’t matter one bit”, he tells Rick, who's left shell shocked by Daryl’s cold, ruthless behaviour. The second time is right at the end, when Rick promises to offer an unarmed Saviour a vehicle after he gives them some info on the whereabouts of a weapons stockpile. After telling them everything, though, Daryl doesn’t hesitate to take the shot, ignoring Rick’s promise to let him go.
There’s two things to worry about here. The first regards Daryl’s relationship to Rick, as you can sense the rumblings of tension between them already. Second, this whole season is focused on whether the two sides of the conflict are really any different to one another, and this episode in particular suggests that certain individuals are becoming the monsters of the title. Is Daryl beyond redemption? Has he become such a tortured and paranoid soul that he lacks any compassion or humanity? If so, what can Rick do about it? If Daryl dies, we riot, but what if he becomes the bad guy?...
6. What's going to happen to Ezekiel?
So far, season 8 has very much enjoyed ending its episodes on not so subtle cliffhangers, some of which have felt more earned than others. Episode 3’s final scene was at least quite dramatic in its suddenness, as a Saviour opens fire on Ezekiel’s gang to devastating effect.The King’s subjects tackle him to the ground in order to protect their leaders from the bullets, and the litres of blood that fly across the screen doesn’t bode well for their fate, but what about Ezekiel himself?
Is Carol going to take out the shooter before it's too late? And where’s Shiva in all of this? It’s almost inevitable that episode 4 will shed some light on what follows from this particularly troubling scene, but I reckon everyone’s favourite fraud won’t be smiling by the end of it.