The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.02: “The Damned”


After what felt like an eternity of setup, The Walking Dead finally treated its viewers to the beginning of the big battle against the baddie with back problems. The only problem is they took so long to get there, the general consensus was, “Who cares?” Add to that the disjointed feel of all the individual battles, the “well-0rchestrated” plan we're not privy to, and the lack of some of the more important characters (Negan, Maggie, Carl, Dwight), and this episode just felt like 40 minutes of bullets.

At least we got some action, which at this point is exponentially better than meeting up with Garbage People or spending an hour watching Dwight make a sandwich. I guess beggars can't be choosers in the apocalypse…

Walking Tall

From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week.

Pritpaul Bains: Morgan

Somehow, deciding to kill again turned Morgan into the goddamned Terminator. On one hand, you have to feel for him—the months of work and therapy he spent rebuilding his sanity with Eastman have clearly all completely dissipated. On the other … he's just so fun to watch now. I was half-convinced he was going to murder all the Savior hostages where they stood and then maybe start in on the Hilltop folk while he was at it.

Joe Brosnan: Morales

I’ll hand it to the writers of TWD, I didn’t see this one coming. We last saw Morales during Season 1 when he opted to stick it out with his family rather than head to the CDC with Rick’s group. Unlike Morgan, who had a memorable role in his brief Season 1 stint, Morales left less of an impression than that dad Rick just killed left on his daughter’s life.

So to see Morales hack his way out of the memes and onto the screen was more than enough to cement his status as this week’s riser. Here’s hoping the inevitable Morales Bottle Episode doesn’t suck.

Adam Wagner: 6th-Commandment Jesus

Though Joe most certainly doesn’t agree (see below), Thou-Shalt-Not-Kill Jesus is making his case for his role in the world to follow this epic confusing battle. Firmly sided with Maggie, Compassion-of-the-Christ knows that it’ll be hard to regain humanity and take the moral high ground after slaughtering an entire civilization. But the reason I’m making the Moral Messiah my riser is his strength in his convictions when Tara and Morgan only see red.

Eaten Alive

From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.

JB: Jesus

I. Am. Over. Dumbass. Characters. Refusing. To. Kill. People. During. A. Zombie. Apocalypse.

AW: Aaron

Poor Aaron. He seems like such a solid dude, but he just can’t catch a break. After Glenn died, Aaron and Eric seemed like the only believable couple on the show. While dying ain’t fun, it is permanent (well, in this world … sorta), so I’m making Aaron my faller for having to watch his partner perish. Here’s hoping it’s just a flesh wound, but if it’s not, here’s hoping Aaron doesn’t have to watch Eric die only to have to kill him once he turns.

PB: Rick

Not only does Rick's mental state take a beating after he discovers he murdered a father (really, Rick? Seeing a kid makes this feel that much more real than all the other fathers you've murdered?), he also lets some two-bit jobber from Season 1 who none of us can remember get the drop on him and radio in backup. One has to assume he was just shell-shocked about potentially having to assume responsibility for baby Gracie so soon after finally getting out from under baby Judith. We feel ya, buddy.

Oh yeah. Who the hell is Morales again? Are you seriously expecting us to remember this guy from 8 years ago and care about him being a Savior? Goddammit.

Hershel’s Heroes

A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.

AW: Ezekiel

“Fake it till you make it, baby.” King Ezekiel, fresh from his first-episode audition for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is bringing the optimism again. He knows his people have chosen him to lead, and lead he does. There will be no fantasies of failure because Ezekiel knows how to keep the spirits high, no matter what.

PB: Jesus

For better or worse, Jesus is providing the yin to Morgan's yang right now.  While Morgan is busy murdering everyone in his path, there's Jesus, allowing his good old humanity to make detrimental decisions for everyone. He got away with it this time, but the fatal flaw of compassion just seems to flit from character to character these days. Conscience has officially transformed from character flaw to overused trope on TWD. I suppose thematically it fits in with the recycled nature of everything else in the show.

JB: No One

And unfortunately, I don’t mean Arya. No one acted smartly or bravely or compassionately this week. Carol and Ezekiel forgot that radios exist. Todd and his army of extras forgot how to aim. Rick nearly killed a baby. Tara forgot her orange sunglasses.

Surprisingly, I’m not even saying that this was a terrible episode. There was a lot of action, a well-done CGI tiger mauling, and a solid twist at the end. I’m just saying that this was an episode stripped of character development.

I am starting to miss Carl, though.

Rapid Fire

  • Seriously, who the hell is Morales? (PB)
  • Poor Gabriel has to sit another whole week with shit in his shitting pants. (AW)
  • Remember when everyone was concerned about having limited ammunition? (JB)
  • What was with all the close-ups of faces at the beginning and end? Had me thinking there were just Too Many Cooks in this episode. (AW)
  • Can we stop it with the slow-motion, grainy close-up shots? (JB)
  • Ezekiel was such a badass this week. Not as badass as Morgan, but still pretty badass. It's enjoyable watching him immerse himself in his character, and even more fun seeing him break it around Carol. Trust the king, baby. (PB)
  • I love that Ezekiel stops running just as he happens upon a sign that says “No running.” (AW)
  • Oh, great. Just what will turn TWD's writing woes around. Another baby. (PB)
  • At least we haven’t seen the Garbage People yet. (AW)
  • Tara is fast becoming my favorite character. (JB)
  • I guess Poochie didn’t test well? (AW)
  • I didn’t think we’d be back to visit Pee Pee Pants City so soon. (JB)
  • For such a “well-coordinated” assault from the anti-Savior faction, the direction of this episode left much to be desired. There wasn't much clarity on who was storming which compound, how many compounds were affected, what the overall plan is … it's like the show has just decided to throw viewers into the midst of a bunch of random battles without providing any context for them. It just doesn't work for me. (PB)

Zombie Kill of the Week

All of Jerry's ax killin'.

See also: The Walking Dead Power Rankings 8.01: “Mercy”


Joe BrosnanAdam Wagner, and Pritpaul Bains all write for Criminal Element and love Spaghetti Tuesdays. Follow them on Twitter @joebrosnan_@shagner904, and @pritpaulbains, respectively.


  1. Allison Brennan

    It was better than last week, but I totally agree with the last comment from PB: any high action scene needs CONTEXT and there was none.

    Loved Ezekiel, however.

  2. Pritpaul Bains

    @1 Allison_Brennan — Ezekiel is fast becoming my favorite character this season. I love how gleefully he embraces his role and how he just stays in character all the time, like a post-apocalyptic Daniel Day Lewis.

    And yeah, this episode suffered from a complete lack of narrative cohesion. It ended up just boiling down to a bunch of folks exchanging gunfire randomly for an hour without any real sense of why. I honestly think some poor writer completely forgot they were tasked with organizing the episode and they just filmed through it anyways.

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