The Walking Dead’s third episode of the season tries desperately to keep up with the pacing of the previous two, while juggling it with alleged quality drama – with questionable success.
Once again picking up where the predecessor left off, the episode – titled Monsters – was a direct continuation of the conflict with the Saviours. This time around the action was toned down as the first phase of “All Out War” seems to have come to an end, making way for character contemplation. The result of focusing more on the characters was varied. One scene, between Aaron and Eric, was wonderfully moving and well-acted, but once again, much of Ezekiel’s screen time was overly-theatrical and often hard to watch. Jesus was again involved in a game of moral ping-pong, this time trading Tara for Morgan as a sparring partner. However tedious the forced morality may be, at least this time it concluded with an exciting and well-staged fight. Every cloud, and all that.
“a demonstration of the show’s tiredness”
Monsters served mainly as a demonstration of the show’s tiredness, as the story rings with familiarity: the characters faced with situations and moral conundrums, the likes of which we as an audience have seen them confront time and time again. There was almost nothing to set the episode aside from any other in the series’ eight-year tenure. However, a few moments between the close-knit duo of Rick and Daryl hinted at possible strains in their relationship in the future, which – if explored – could be incredibly entertaining, having never seen the two come to blows thus far. It could be the breath of fresh air that The Walking Dead so desperately needs.
Despite the action slowing down, it feels that there is more on the horizon, as certain events unfold which will likely lead to more conflict. We are also yet to see anything from many of the major characters, leaving another side of the war yet to be explored. As the action loses momentum it leaves space in the episode for well-needed levity, which unfortunately in this episode was handled particularly poorly. A cringe-worthy scene at the Hilltop tried to inject a sense of humour into the episode, but instead fell flat as the “comedy” was forced, poorly acted, and most detrimentally it just was not funny. Feeling more like a bad sketch than an uplifting break from the drama, the scene proved – for the nth time in the show – that creatively speaking, The Walking Dead may well be on its last legs.
While episode two (marginally) raised the bar, this chapter merely rested upon it. Almost half way through the season’s first half, the show is as of yet failing to engage, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope of redemption.