It's Pew-Pew-Pew Time For 'The Damned' On The Walking Dead
In S08.E02, Rick's crew executes his bullet-heavy plan against Negan on several fronts. Guess how well that turns out?
Well, hello there! Thanks to the generosity of some backers of old-school recaps, this Walking Dead Season 8 train continues! Can I promise that the show's going to be a fun ride and not feel like a pointless slog about four episodes in? I cannot! But we'll get through it together like we always do: with a fuckton of wordage to explain why and how this is happening to us.
This moody-ass episode begins with a super close-up of slow-motion Rick staring at something off camera while the Instagram Tilt Shift filter makes the edges all blurry.
As the sound of orcas farting blares, we dissolve to Daryl in the same tight shot, squinting like he has to read some lines that contain more than three or four words of dialogue at a time. We dissolve again and now it's to Ezekiel, who is surrounded by smoke and waking up. More majestic orcas blare and by now, we've all had quite enough of this, thanks. But it's not over. Now Carol is waking up, touching her head. And then we cut to Jesus. The fact that these shots don't all really line up perfectly suggests this was an editing-room idea and not how this episode was originally conceived to open. It feels really self-important and something you'd hope to see in a promo for the show, not the show itself. Then it's Tara, and Morgan, and Aaron, and more orcas and can we fucking get on with this, please? And that was the first minute of The Walking Dead: a bunch of sweaty faces in close-up. Great work, everybody.
We cut to inside The Sanctuary, where it's gun-maintenance craft club. Mara, holding a bottle of water, gets after some guy named Todd who isn't properly respecting the meticulous care that must go into keeping a dozen assault rifles clean. She sends Todd inside and relieves him of his gun while the guy is all apologetic and fumbling. This whole bit feels like it's just to underscore that even when Negan's not around, The Saviors can be real dicks to each other. Mara then tries to reach out to Little Roy and Jay Top -- who sound like a terrible Blue Collar Comedy duo, on her walkie-talkie -- but gets no response. She tries again, starting to look worried. No answer. She tries Todd, who just went inside, and warns him to start locking every door of the stairwell. "Why?" he asks.
THAT'S WHY, MOTHERFUCKER! We're right back at the moment when Rick and his band of sheet-metal bandits showed up and started shooting the place up. Everybody goes down dying or hiding behind the non-existent shelter that these shitty little worktables offer. Why couldn't we have gotten all-steel desks, you guys? Why not!? Rick's minor friends, like Eric and Tobin, get to fire their guns, and it's very pew-pew-pew for entirely too long, especially if you have surround sound. Aaron fires with a scoped rifle and appears to be looking through the scope with one eye, but keeping his other eye wide open, too.
Now, I'm no weapons expert, but I'm pretty sure that's not how you use a scope. And on that stupid note, we go right to the opening credits.
We're on the outside looking in on the big satellite outpost facility -- the one with two gigantic satellite dishes pointed at the sky. Along the building, two chain-link fences are keeping a line of walkers trapped within to defend the area. Dianne from the Kingdom and Morgan look defeated as Jesus tells them that the Saviors built themselves a little moat. Tara says they did this before and can do it again. "I wasn't here before," Morgan says helpfully. "We just need a clear shot, right, Dianne?" Dianne says she just needs a few seconds. Jesus is doubtful, saying that if they're spotted or a gun goes off, they're not getting in. O, ye of little faith, Jesus! Dianne goes off to make the magic happen. Morgan is asked by two randos if he needs covering or any help, because it shouldn't just be him handling things. "I don't die," Morgan tells them, and they just accept it and walk away. Yeah, maybe a little explanation may be in order next time, Morgan. Keep working on those people skills.
We go to Boomtown, where Carol and Ezekiel were exploded in the last episode. There's lots of smoke, and we hear echoing voices and then snarls as walkers approach in slow motion. Ezekiel wearily pulls out his sword as Carol draws a pistol and begins firing. The other Kingdom fighters are rousing too and starting to defend themselves against the dead.
Jerry uses his axe to split one right in half at the head. (Whether he's saying something funny or splitting heads, Jerry is always doing something extremely satisfying for the viewers.) Carol uses a knife. Ezekiel fires a gun. It doesn't seem like there's any rhyme or reason as to which weapon anyone is favoring: this is just about collecting lots of quick zombie-carnage takes. As things finally are won, Carol asks if anybody saw where "He" went. She says that if "He" tells anyone, it's all over before it starts. Maybe "You" could tell me who "He" is and "I" could help. Striding over like he's got Lime Jell-O in his pants, Ezekiel's all, "It is not! And he won't!" He speechifies that they'll find him and end this. "Trust the king!" he says cockily as Carol is trying not to be super-annoyed by his shenanigans. Ezekiel gives a bunch of commands, including releasing Shiva the tiger if it comes to that. "To our foe!" says Ezekiel. "Then to his compound! Then to certain victory!" Carol is like, okay, dude, you're like at 11 right now and I'm gonna need you at like 6, 6.5, tops. But, Carol also seems a little bit turned on, if that makes any sense.
Back at Aaron's Rifle Misfiring For Dummies class: pew-pew-pew-pew-pew! I have to say, my least favorite thing about Season 8 so far is all the pointless, stupid firing of guns where nobody gets shot and so much ammo is wasted. The amped-up soundtrack and pushing-in-and-out camera shots just make it seem even dumber and needlessly jacked.
From inside a building, we see two men standing guard outside a set of front-door windows. We hear Mara yelling at them not to move or say another word. And then, suddenly, we see that they've both been sniped in the head, each leaving a bloodstain on the door windows. That's where Rick, Daryl, and three random dudes enter. It's a very nice building inside with clean hallways and pretty light fixtures. Rick orders the group to split up in search of some guns.
Back at Pew-Pew-Pew-Pew-Pew land: more pew-pew-pew-pew-pew. It's as boring as it sounds.
At the Satellite Outpost, Morgan approaches the fence and starts rattling it, attracting walkers to him. That was your big plan not to attract attention? The walkers start clumping up toward the noise and some very lazy-looking guards kind of seem like they might want to see what's happening, but not really, so they approach super-slowly. "The hell?" one of them says. "Hey!" the other one says, but it's way too late: they both get arrows in the head thanks to Dianne.
We cut back to Morgan, who just stands there and stares through the fence at the faces of the walkers in front of him. It goes on way too long. Wanna let go of the fence, there, buddy?
We cut ahead to Morgan, Tara, Jesus, and Dianne entering the building itself and having no problem just silencer-shooting everyone around like the worst, easiest game of Metal Gear Solid ever. Bodies just drop, and even these four can't seem to believe their luck. Morgan signals to Dianne, and Dianne makes a whistle to draw in the roughly 20,000 other people on this mission to come through the door. Tara stops to stare at some graffiti that reads, "Tommy says, kill the bitches" with arrows pointing down a wall. She seems to be trying to figure out what it means. They get ready to storm the next room, but we cut away just as it happens with everybody looking nervous.
Then we're back with Rick, who is looking through some handwritten notes, including the location of some 50-caliber guns at a Shephard Office Plaza. Rick and Daryl decide that the guns are probably upstairs.
Pew-pew! People are being hit by bullets at The Sanctuary, so things must be winding down. Mara yells that they're too chickenshit to move in, so they need to push the enemies back. So more firing of guns for another eternity.
More tense signaling with Morgan, Tara, and Jesus. Oh, the suspense is killing me! Or maybe it's just sitting here watching this. Yes, that's what will eventually kill me.
Would you believe more pew-pew-pew? As everyone is firing, Eric decides to advance ahead even after he's told to wait for Tobin. Guess how that will turn out?
Jesus gives the signal to move in, in case you care about that storyline anymore. So, now we're cross-cutting between the Sanctuary battle and the battle at the Satellite Outpost, and honestly it's just a mishmash of people shooting each other and doors being busted open and it's so fucking boring, you guys. The music is amped up, everyone is sweating and shaking, but it just feels like a whole lot of nothing. A guy opens a door and Morgan and two other guys open fire on him. But the random guy had a whole bunch of friends and they come right behind and fire on Morgan and his randos. Everybody goes down, including Morgan. And that takes us to a commercial break.
And it also takes us to a special interview I was able to wrangle from the set of The Walking Dead! This took a lot of coordinating, but I was able to have a short chat with one of the bullets from this episode, a young bullet actor by the name of Pew P. Pew. Please welcome him to the recap!
Thanks for agreeing to speak with me.
Oh, no problem at all, you gotta keep your profile out there for more gigs, ya know?
Have you done this type of work before? I tried to look you up on IMDB, but you weren't listed.
You know, we're working on that. There's an inherent bias at certain websites against non-human actors, which I think is complete bullshit. But things evolve; I hope that changes in my lifetime.
What is your lifetime, exactly?
Oh, you know, maybe a few weeks if I pop the wrong way.
I was wondering about your middle initial. It's also P for "Pew" right? Why not just go by "Pew Pew Pew?"
My middle name is Preston.
Ah, cool, cool. So tell me about working on this episode, it seems like you saw a lot of action!
Oh, man, seriously. When my agent told me I was up for this role with like ten other primary bullet actors, I was excited, but I remembered that this is like a post-apocalyptic show. Resources are scarce, bullets are carefully rationed. I figured I'd be sitting out most of the scenes.
Then what happened?
They completely forgot and just had us firing out of guns thousands and thousands of times. It was insane. I thought I'd get shot like three or four times, but by my twentieth firing, I was ready to quit. It was like a Rambo movie.
Are there any union rules against that?
See, that's just it, the rules are set up to protect human actors, not non-humans who might also be considered props. Which I frankly find offensive. I'm nobody's fucking prop.
Got it. How did you get through that exhaustion?
Well, one bullet on the set who's made it years in this business told me that he survived a Tarantino shoot by sticking some cayenne pepper on the underside of his butt.
By butt, you mean the flat end of a bullet?
What are you, stupid? Yes. The butt. My ass. I put pepper on it. And I am never doing that again, I was burning for weeks.
Wow. Well, you must have other stories about working on The Walking Dead.
Nope, that's pretty much it. Lots of shooting. Pepper up my butt.
Okay -- thanks, Pew Preston Pew, it's been a pleasure.
Bang bang, buddy.
We return to Daryl and Rick climbing out of a dark elevator shaft. Sweaty Rick says, "Last floor. Gun's gotta be up here." Daryl has some doubts about the information, but Rick assures him that all the information that Dwight has given them has checked out. "That guy's a piece of shit," Daryl mutters. Rick lays out why the gun is so strategic: if Negan gets it, they can cut through the walkers at The Sanctuary and find an exit. If Rick and his crew get the gun, they can use it themselves. Rick and Daryl split up to make the search go faster (but not the episode, unfortunately.)
We switch over to Jesus and Tara. They kick open a door and find a guy on his knees pleading not to be killed. He's also pissed his pants in an upside-down U of shame. Jesus lowers his gun. Tara does not. The guy says his name is Dean and that he's not one of them. "Why are you still talking?" Tara says threateningly. Jesus stands in the way and says the guy's hands are up. So maybe don't shoot his face off. "We have a job to do!" Tara tells him. They hear gunfire from down the hall, and Jesus asks if she wants to go check that out, which is what you say to a coworker when you really want them to get the fuck out of your face, pronto. Tara scoffs, but she goes off to do just that. When Tara opens the gun-blasted door, she finds Dianne and some of the others, pinned down by gunfire. One of them says they're missing people from their team. "Morgan?" Tara asks. Jesus tries to coax Dean out of the little closet while Dianne tells Tara to stay put in the room with them for now. Tara returns with her gun drawn and pointed at Dean. "I got it, Jesus, step aside," she says, which is basically my mantra every time I start drinking heavily. Dean pleads for his life while Tara insists that he's here, he has a gun, therefore Dean is one of them. Jesus asks what he's doing there. Really, what are any of us doing here, Jesus? Maybe you could tell us. Dean says he was just a worker, cooking and cleaning and doing whatever the Saviors asked. He was taken from his wife and kids. He asks if they did this at The Sanctuary too and if the families are safe. "We don't want to hurt the workers," Jesus says. I'm digging Marxist Jesus. Tara is not convinced even when Jesus insists that they aren't going to shoot someone with his hands up, defenseless. Tara sees that there are medical supplies in the room taken from The Hilltop, including Maggie's prenatal vitamins. Pretty handy to just have that within arm's reach to make an argument. Tara asks why they should give a shit when The Saviors clearly don't. Jesus says he knows they killed her girlfriend, but this isn't who Tara is: "It can't be about revenge." "It can," says Tara, which is a vengeful counter-argument. Dean takes the opportunity to shove Jesus and knock over some shelves. He manages to grab Jesus and get a gun to his head.
Tara doesn't have a clear shot. Instead of just escaping, Dean decides to tell them that he pissed himself on purpose and that he figured Tara would be the softie, not the "pretty-boy." He also crushes the prenatals under his shoe for no reason other than to be a dick we won't mind getting killed in a bit. It goes on for an eternity as Dean acts tough and then quickly backs off when it's clear Tara is just going to shoot him. But before that happens, Jesus finds an opportunity to elbow the guy and then knock him on his back. Jesus aims a gun at him but doesn't fire. "It's not about revenge, it's about getting it done," Tara says. Jesus fails to get it done: he smacks the guy with the pistol instead of shooting him. Then he starts tying the guy up, to Tara's surprise. "You're not Rick. You're not Maggie," she reminds him. But Jesus thinks Maggie will hear him out. Just then, they get called out on the walkie-talkie. The enemies are falling back, Dianne tells them. They go looking for another exit, following Jesus's lead.
Morgan wakes up suddenly, lying next to a dead person. The dead person's open eyes are staring at him. Morgan sits up, grunting. His body armor apparently took the hit instead of his body, because -- as he will no doubt remind you -- he does not die. Morgan reloads his gun, gets up, and starts running down the hallway. Alive. Not dead. Fucking Morgan. We go to commercials while Morgan continues to draw breath.
Pew-Pew Alley. Mara, pinned down behind a car, pivots around and shoots and is lucky enough to hit Tobin in the arm. No! Not Tobin! Wait, which one's Tobin? Tobin yells that he's all right and to go on fighting. Yes. That's what we were going to do whether or not you got shot, Tobin. But thanks for the support.
Mara notices that one of the dead Saviors nearby is returning to life. "Shit," she figures out, "they didn't have to move in on us." Just then, a walker comes right up to her and chomps her on the neck as if she doesn't have a gun on her and has never seen one of them before. What a dumb way to go. Aaron notices that the walkers are starting to attack and backs off, knowing that the plan is working.
Ezekiel's group. They're setting markers in the woods and moving ahead carefully. They spot a walker for Jerry to axe in the head.
This walker in particular looks grosser than most -- something Ezekiel notices. "What befell this creature?" he asks. Jerry gives him a look. "I mean before you," Ezekiel adds. Carol says they don't have time to figure it out and reiterates that if the guy they're following makes it, they'll be expected. Ezekiel says they'll be ready either way. Carol tries to warn him that this could be more serious than he expects. But he's still smiling, with what he calls "supreme confidence." "Fake it till you make it, baby," he finally explains after Carol rolls her eyes several thousand times. Carol, the confidence booster, says that a lot of people could get killed, and they might not even win. "And yet I smile!" says Ezekiel. One of Ezekiel's men, Daniel, finds some blood, and it's not from a walker. They wounded the guy who escaped, and he's moving slowly. Ezekiel is pleased.
Daryl, holding up his crossbow, enters a dark office. He opens a small room, and on the floor is an old triangle of a sandwich, some empty cans of dog food, and a bloody set of handcuffs attached to a pipe. It reminds Daryl of his old home when he was a prisoner. He grimaces.
Rick slowly makes his way down a long hallway in what can only be described as an artistically time-killing shot. As many seconds of valuable screen time are turned through, Rick comes toward us and then through a door. He ends up in a sunny bedroom with nice furnishings. He quietly goes toward the next room over, and before he can reach the door, he's tackled by an angry man. The two roll around on the floor exchanging punches. Rick draws his gun, but the man knocks it away as it fires. Rick finally gets behind the guy and gets him in a chokehold. "Where are they?!" he asks. "No. Guns!" the man manages to say. Rick tries to lead him back to the door and asks if they're in there. The man screams, "NOOO!" and pushes Rick back against the wall.
Rick chokes and chokes and chokes the guy until he weakens, and then throws him against a jutting hanger on the wall. It impales the guy. Rick falls on his knees and breathes heavily.
Back to Morgan, Avenger of Not Dying. He's dual-wielding pistols and shooting anyone who comes near him. Meanwhile, he flashes back to a conversation he had with Rick at the church in Alexandria about whether Rick was sure they could win. Rick was pretty sure. Morgan is feeling pretty damaged right now.
Jesus, Tara, Dianne, and their whole crew approach a garage-door opening. Jesus tells the group that they're not going to fire unless fired upon. Dianne is skeptical, since that means one of them could get killed, but Jesus is willing to take that risk. The garage door opens and a single guy is standing there holding a gun. He's facing more than twenty people, all armed. Jesus tells him to surrender. The young guy puts his weapon on the ground. "That sounds good to me," he says. He warns other people inside who are emerging that they should do the same. They surrender. This makes Tara angry. She says that even if Maggie listens to Jesus, Rick will listen to her. Jesus ends up with about fifteen prisoners.
Morgan is still shooting the crap out of every living thing around him. He even shoots a guy who is clearly just trying to run away.
He finally makes it out into some sunlight and comes across the same scene of Jesus and the prisoners. Just then, Morgan flashes back to Rick telling him that they can't leave any of these people alive. Morgan blinks, confused. He remembers arguing back to Rick that where there's life, there's possibility. "Shit," someone says, recognizing Morgan. It's the long-haired jerk from The Sanctuary who caused all those problems with the watermelons. "You get transferred, too?" he asks Morgan, smiling. Morgan is not in the mood. He raises his gun and is about to shoot this guy. Jesus tries to stop him. "We came here to kill 'em. We're supposed to!" Morgan insists. Jesus says they surrendered and that it's not what they do. Yeah, that's not Rick's plan. "They what do we do, huh?" Morgan asks. After eight seasons, I really don't know anymore. Commercials give us time to chew on that.
We’re back with Rick. He's pulled the dead guy off the wall hook and has found some keys in his pocket. The guy has a tattoo that reads "Grace Be God" on his chest. Rick goes over to the locked room and opens it. It's a quite lovely nursery-in-progress with animals painted on the wall and the name "Gracie" next to a crib. There's a stuffed bunny and a baby in blankets in the crib, sleeping.
There's a mobile over the bed made up of paper animals and wire hangers. The commotion apparently did not wake up the baby. There's a big oval mirror next to the crib which seems placed there only to allow Rick to look at himself in dawning horror. He just killed that baby's father. Rick shakes his head, looks at his own reflection, and goes all shaky.
Blood on a leaf. Carol and Ezekiel are still tracking. Ezekiel rushes ahead to a clearing. As Carol points her gun, he tells her to save her ammo. "Our friends have arrived," he says. Just then, Shiva the tiger mauls the guy they were after right in front of them.
More bang-bang, pew-pew. Eric is with a group that's slowly getting picked off and ends up being the last one left. Aaron sees that Eric is trapped, and tries to fire some shots in his direction to cover him, and then hops into a car to try to get closer to him and run over some people in the way. That lasts for all of three seconds; then Aaron hops back out of the car.
Aaron finally reaches Eric, who seems fine at first, but turns out to be bleeding from a gut wound. Aaron helps him off the battlefield as we go to the last set of commercials.
Ezekiel and his group have surrounded the dead man they were tracking. He says this assures their victory, even though he's not glad for the man's death. "I know," Carol assures him. However, Jerry, holding a walkie-talkie, has bad news. The place they were about to attack is on alert, so the message got to them after all. "The jig is up," Jerry says. Ezekiel refuses to back down. But doesn't that mean they know you're coming? He smiles. "Indeed they do," he says. He raises a sword and laughs. Carol can't help smiling. Worst. Idea. Ever.
Back to Rick's stupid ass. He's looking at a photo of a happy couple. "Dammit," he says. That's enough for someone to get the jump on him. A man is holding a gun up and tells Rick to turn around slowly. The man knows him. It takes him a second, but Rick remembers him. "Your name...is Morales. You were in Atlanta." Morales says that was a long time ago. He says he called The Saviors and they're coming. Yep, another great, perfectly executed Rick Grimes plan, folks!
We're back to the orca sounds and the extreme close-ups. First Daryl, haunted by memories of imprisonment. Then Aaron, trying to save his boyfriend. Morgan, all fucking freaked out about killing. Jesus, smug as fuck. Tara figuring out that nobody's listening to her. And Ezekiel just bursting with joy over his impending victory. And Carol finally looking relaxed.
We come back to bloodied, screwed Rick. Morales cocks his gun and we go to blackout.
Thanks for joining me! We'll be back with more Walking Dead because we've come this far, right?