Thoughts with summary mixed together.
I give this a 40 on Robin's scale.
I echo a few of your thoughts Aaronic.
This was pure action (for the most part) and with the flashback montages between Rick and Morgan, and the moral platform being swooped up by Jesus (from no apparent origin within him), I think we are treated to another round of humanity through the sparing of Saviors versus the blood thirsty vengeance seeking pragmatism of an 'eye for an eye' murder mindset. This has been done in many past episodes.
A sleeping baby is thrown into the mix to throw Rick off his bloodthirsty way of thinking. He wants Negan dead and humiliated and if Saviors are all claiming 'They are Negan' then that includes them. However, if you think about it, Judith is a constant reminder of humanity and how the innocents have been thrown into a world of not only zombies but a constant war amongst the survivors. So how is this story-line any different? It isn't; it's more of the same. Are the innocents supposed to be the Damned? Or is it Rick and his group being damned for continuing to go back to this mind set of murder for control and survival?
When you add in the high lack of story-line, dialog and the murdering of many small story-line contributing characters with no major character deaths suffering consequences to affect the story, it makes for very uneventful story telling and television viewing. Rick and Daryl's dialog are quick conversations referencing an off camera conversation with a Savior about a gun location and how they couldn't really trust the character. They don't even mention who that character is.
You were spot on Aaronic about there being no context for the wars. I attribute this and the lack of context about Tara, Jesus, Morgan, Rick and Ezekiel's mind set about dealing with the Saviors to a missing speech that Rick gave to everyone that established:
1. What the overall plan was,
2. How to treat the Saviors (Rules of Engagement: like Fire when fired upon or Fire at Will, etc...)
3. What are the objectives of each team and the location of their targets and the importance of these targets to the Saviors and what effect taken over these targets will have on the Saviors.
4. How each character is dealing with their marching orders. Do they object to these marching orders (Jesus?), Are they taking these orders to an extreme (Morgan?), Did these characters lose personal friends or significant others and are using this situation to implement revenge? (Tara?)
We got slivers of Rick's speech flashing back when we were given how Morgan was dealing with what he was doing with reference to Rick's speech.
Even with the reentry of Morales into the story (talk about an arc jump! S1E5 (Wildfire) was the last episode I remember seeing him) this episode doesn't hold muster. Morales dismisses himself; not even that could save this episode.
Supposedly there are three more heavy action episodes likes this which makes any character development and interplay almost impossible and possibly more boring episodes to come.
That being said, by having four satellite outposts being overrun in this episode alone; it does put some expanse on Negan and the Savior's empire. Was that necessarily needed though?
* Montages of Rick/Daryl; Ezekiel/Carol; Jesus/Tara/Morgan; Aaron/Eric/Tobin.
* Cut to Saviors Outpost #1: Mara in charge; checking on lookouts not calling back. Aaron's group turns up in their corrugated protected cars.
* Cut to mission heading to Saviors Outpost #2: Jesus/Morgan/Tara/Diane and Morgan claiming 'I don't die'
* Cut to mission heading to Saviors Outpost #3: Carol & Ezekiel getting into a gun battle with Saviors and Walkers. One of the saviors escapes. Ezekiel releases Shiva to find him while they make their way to the Outpost #3.
* Cut back to the gun battle at Outpost #1.
* Cut to Saviors Outpost #4 (Shepherd Office Plaza). Rick and Daryl are looking for guns mentioned by a Savior.
* Cust back to Outpost Mission #2. Morgan bangs a fence to get walker attention and apply a distraction while Jesus, Tara, Diance and crew make an assault on the compound. They use silencers to infiltrate with Morgan bringing up the rear.t
* Back to Rick and Shepherd's Office Plaza.
* Back to attack at Outpost #2. (Inner outpost simultaneous setup and take down).
* Morgan and his group get sprayed with gunfire and he goes down.
* Back to Rick and Shepherd's Office Plaza.
* Back to attack at Outpost #2. This was the most fully formed story-line in the episode. Tara and Jesus find a man named Dean who has wet himself and claims he's only a hired hand. Jesus believes him which leads to a stand off where Dean grabs Jesus gun and holds it to his head against Tara. Jesus manages to subdue him and Tara wants to kill Dean, however Jesus doesn't because his hands were up. (See the Bad)
* Back to Morgan who somehow never got shot at all (although he went down in a hail of gunfire.) He gets up and starts killing Saviors while montage to Rick in the past stating they have to do that.
* Cut back to the gun battle at Outpost #1. Tobin is shot and Mara is bitten by Saviors that are turning after being killed by gunfire.
* Cut back to mission to Outpost #3. We hear again from Ezekiel how he likes to fake it until he makes it; Carol reiterating that they may not all make it.
* Cut back to mission at Outpost #4. Daryl finds food and handcuffs. This is like when Meryl was cuffed to the roof pipe in the first season. Rick is in the hallway and finds a bedroom and is attacked and has to impale a man through the heart on a bookshelf rail.
* Cut back to mission to Outpost #2 and Morgan goes on a killing spree.
* Cut back to mission at Outpost #1 and Eric has been wounded in the abdomen.
* Cut back to mission at Outpost #4. Rick stumbles into the nursery of an innocent sleeping baby and then runs into Morales. A character who left Rick and Shane's camp with his family back in early episodes of Season One. Rick introduces this and Morales quickly makes it clear that now he is one of the Saviors.
* There's not much here that's really good except showing the expanse of Negan's network although that could be done another way that's more cost effective and less consuming of time that could have been used for character development like telling Negan's back story for instance. That would have been way more entertaining then this. That being said, this is a war and we do need war scenes in a war.
* Morales survived which is a departure from the situation that most of the folks Rick and Company encounter end up being dead either from interactions with other humans or the zombies. That within itself was refreshing. (See: The Bad though because they had an opportunity they could have used that they didn't. )
* Why did Morgan go down in a hail of gunfire if he has not a scratch on him? That made no sense. That was bad. I never felt he was in danger.
* I never felt Jesus was endanger or any of the major characters. Should I in a war situation?
* Morale is introduced and quickly he dismisses himself as one of the Saviors. A lost opportunity to talk about what happened to his family and build is story-line for a more impactful outcome of his character.
*Jesus saves (in this episode; pun intended). Why? What has occurred to compel Jesus to act in this manner? Not only was he wrong about the person he wanted to save, he still saved him. That was puzzling.
* Where is Morales' family?
* Who's baby (Gracie) is that? What will happen to the baby?
* Who are the Damned?
* What was the red thing Jerry was using on the ground to figure out direction?
* Will Morales kill Rick? Doubt it...