Warning: Major spoilers for those who have not seen episode 8.02
One thing I’ve learned over the past few weeks is AMC Publicity really knows how to generate the buzz and has a keen ability to divert attention. Less than 3 weeks ago at New York Comic-Con, it was announced there is a planned crossover between Fear The Walking Dead and its mothership, The Walking Dead, with one character to make the jump from one series to the other. Ever since then, the speculation within the fandom has been non-stop, with Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Morales (Juan Gabriel Pareja) emerging as the top 2 fan theories. Because of this, fans began shifting focus on Morales to the likely crossover character and really stopped wondering if/when he’d return to the original series. Well, those sadistic writers of The Walking Dead I’m sure were counting on that, because in a very surprising twist in tonight’s episode, the “familiar face” that was teased in the synopsis does, indeed, turn out to be the long-lost — and presumed-dead — Morales. Yes, all you Walking Dead fans, you were played and fell for the ruse hook, line and sinker!
Tonight’s episode is what I would call “Operation Take Out The Outposts,” in the sense that a good 90% of the entire hour is devoted to big battles at various Savior outposts. Scott Gimple had said prior to the premiere that they had heard the fans loud-and-clear and that this season would be intense and very fast-paced. Well, if that’s what the fans wanted, I’m sure they won’t be disappointed because there’s barely enough time to come up for air between action sequences. One of the targeted outposts is a church that according to the intel from Dwight (Austin Amelio), is well-stocked with guns. The next step in Rick’s elaborate plan is cutting through all those walkers at the Sanctuary to make their way inside, and whether that is successful or not is dependent on their locating those guns. As a result, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) lead the team to ambush this outpost and search it top to bottom for the gun stash.
Daryl doesn’t have much luck with either finding the guns or running into any Saviors — at all. The only thing he stumbles on is a cell very similar to the one he was held in at the Sanctuary by Dwight minus the annoying “Easy Street” tune, which I’m sure brought back some pretty bad memories. Rick fairs a little bit better. He makes it to the top level of the church, and after finding a room that obviously has a woman’s touch, it seems that a Savior and his family may be living there. Rick is then attacked from behind, and after a struggle and big fight, Rick finally prevails after impaling the Savior on a rod protruding from the wall. Still no guns, but Rick does find a set of keys in the dead man’s pocket, which makes him believe they may be to some sort of gun storeroom. Also, note there is a tattoo “Grace Be God” on the dead Savior’s chest, which will turn out to be important momentarily and answer a pretty big question.
Recalling that the previous room Rick entered had the pink and other pastel colors like that of a woman, the next room Rick finds stops him completely in his tracks. It’s a nursery with a baby sleeping in a crib and the letters “Gracie” on the wall. Putting this together with the tattoo “Grace Be God,” it’s obvious the dead Savior was this little girl’s father. Rick just took away this baby’s father, and with Rick being a father himself, this really messes with his head. There’s a mirror on the wall and when Rick sees his own reflection and realizes what he has just done, he’s disgusted with himself and just turns away.
Moving on, Rick then finds one more room, and this is where things get interesting. Rick looks on the wall and appears to see something that he recognizes. It’s a photograph, and as he removes the picture from the wall to take a closer look, someone emerges from the shadows.
Keep your hands down. Turn around slow. Hi Rick — Morales
Your name is Morales. You were in Atlanta — Rick
That was a long time ago. It’s over, Rick. I called the Saviors back, and they’re coming — Morales
Damn. Damn. DAMN!! The last time we saw Morales was in season 1 when he and his family decided not to follow Rick and the rest of the group to Fort Benning and instead, travel to Birmingham, Alabama as they supposedly had family there. Back then, Morales was a good man, but obviously they never made it to Alabama, and somewhere along the line. his heart hardened and he joined the Saviors. What in the hell happened?! I’m sure we’ll find soon enough, but one big hint was definitely dropped tonight — that very old picture on the wall that Rick found. It appeared to be a picture of Morales and his wife, and it was yellow and obviously very old. To me, that’s a strong indicator that Morales’ family is dead. After all, why keep such an old photo around? We know the Saviors have Polaroid cameras, and he could have easily taken a more recent picture — unless, of course, his wife is dead.
If that turns out to be the case, that would most certainly explain Morales going to the dark side. After all, we witnessed the same thing happen to Morgan after he lost his son, Duane, and when you lose everything important to you, it’s very easy to grow angry and just say, “What the hell!” There’s only so much a person can take, and Morgan had reached his breaking point. The good news is with Eastman’s help, he was able to pull Morgan back, and he’s now fighting alongside Rick against the Saviors. My hope is Rick will be able to do the same thing with Morales.
As for Morales cocking his gun like he’s about to shoot Rick, don’t starting freaking just yet. Remember, Daryl F*ckin’ Dixon is in that building, and my guess is he’ll show up next week and save the day. Then, we’ll have one big Season 1 reunion. Remember, Morales knew Daryl a lot more than he did Rick, and in fact, he had met Rick only a couple of days before they decided to part ways. So, it’ll be very interesting to see his reaction to seeing Daryl again, and it’ll be even more interesting to see Morales’ reaction to learning that his boss Lucilled his friend from Atlanta, Glenn Rhee. Yeah, don’t forget about that one. Morales’ heart may have hardened, but I can’t imagine him condoning something like that let alone participating in it — which could very well end up being the deal-breaker for Morales when it comes to Negan and the Saviors.
What does everyone else think? Are you happy Morales is finally back? Do you think there’s hope of him redeeming himself?
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
Critic Grade — A
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com