By Transmute Jun:
Previously, on The Walking Dead…Daryl met Carol on the outskirts of The Kingdom but he lied to her, not revealing that Glenn and Abraham had been killed. Morgan agreed with this approach, given her state of mind. Ezekiel decided not to fight against the Saviors, since The Kingdom had an uneasy peace with them.
The episode opens with a scene of people from The Kingdom glumly loading a single cantaloupe into the back of a truck. With no context for the scene, it seems to be some kind of ‘flash forward’.
Next, we see Carol waking up from a nightmare with tears in her eyes. She lights a cigarette. The cynic in me is amazed at how she wastes two separate matches to do this. Aren’t matches a scare resource in the zombie apocalypse?
In the early morning at The Kingdom, Morgan is training Benjamin’s younger brother Henry in the art of the staff, while Benjamin looks on. Meanwhile, Carol leaves her home at the graveyard. She walks down an abandoned street, casually taking out a walker as she approaches the main gates of The Kingdom. However, she must be in a hurry; rather than killing it, she only cuts it at the waist, leaving it alive but unable to move.
When Carol arrives at The Kingdom’s gates, she sees four walkers standing outside. She grabs a One Way sign, still attached to its metal pole, then makes noise to get the walkers’ attention. Sitting in a tree, she holds out the sharp end of the pole, allowing the walkers to plow right into it, impaling their foreheads and taking themselves out with minimal effort on her part. Carol’s efficient killing is a thing of beauty.
One last walker remains as Carol hops out of the tree and The Kingdom’s gates open. Carol casually takes it out with her knife, strolling by the guards (including an amazed Benjamin) and through the gates.
Recovering his wits, Benjamin runs after her, saying that they were just about to come out to clear the walkers, but Carol interrupts.
“Where’s Morgan?” she asks. Her voice is soft-spoken, but this is definitely a demand.
Benjamin asks if she is okay, but Carol only repeats her question, more insistently.
And sure enough, Carol finds Morgan in his quarters. She asks him outright why Jesus brought everyone from Team Rick to The Kingdom. She asks if what Daryl said about Alexandria making a deal with the Saviors, similar to what happened at The Kingdom, is true. Morgan reminds Carol that she asked him to lie for her about her whereabouts. He responds that whatever Daryl said, it is not for him to confirm or deny. Whatever Carol and Daryl spoke of, it is between them. However, if Carol wants to know the truth, then Morgan will travel with her to Alexandria, but he won’t tell her himself.
“You found what you wanted. You got away from everyone. Is it what you wanted?” Morgan asks, reminding her that sometimes desires are only temporary. Carol turns and runs, clearly not wanting to go back to Alexandria.
As Carol is hurriedly leaving the kingdom, Benjamin approaches her. He asks to learn from her. She killed five walkers outside their gates and he wants to learn how she does what she does. He is supposed to go to the drop with the Saviors, but he can miss it for this. Carol refuses his request, telling him to go to the drop for the Saviors instead.
As Carol returns to her home, she sees the walker she struck down in the road, but it is now dead, with a knife cut in its head. She looks around, suspicious, but does not see Richard watching her from the shadows. After she passes by, Richard goes around the back of the building, where a backpack with the name ‘Katy’ on it lies in a hole. This backpack looks familiar, because it was hanging in the closet at Richard’s ‘hideaway’ (where he stored his extra weapons and supplies) in episode 710. Grimly, Richard shovels dirt onto the backpack.
At The Kingdom, people are happy and life is peaceful. A woman named a Nabila is nervous to approach Ezekiel, since Shiva is nearby. She brings bad news. There are weevils in the crops. They have to tear out and burn all of the crops to prevent them from spreading. The royal garden will have to go. Ezekiel is sad, but he understands. Sometimes you have to destroy everything to make things grow again. And while they’re talking about crops, it’s clear that this also refers to the Saviors and how they need to be destroyed so civilization can grow again.
“Okay, I think I just pissed myself,” Nabila confesses as Shiva growls. You’d think that living in the zombie apocalypse, there would be other things to frighten her!
Back at Morgan’s apartment, Benjamin returns the book The Art of Peace, which Morgan had previously lent to him. Recall that Morgan got the book from Eastman, when he went through his crisis. Benjamin quotes from the book:
“To injure one’s opponent is to injure oneself.”
Morgan agrees. No matter what, you are hurt either way.
Benjamin gives Morgan a picture for his wall. It is a bullfighter on velvet, with a green ‘no’ symbol drawn over it. A strange gift, but Morgan seems to like it well enough. Apparently Benjamin knows a girl who helped him fix it up.
“Who’s the girl?” asks Morgan, but Benjamin only smiles.
Later, Richard and Morgan are watching Benjamin and Henry together.
“He’s too young to be a father,” Richard observes. He admits that he was a father once, and asks if Morgan ever was. Morgan is silent, clearly remembering Duane.
Richard apologizes for their confrontations in the past. He knows Morgan is a good man. But the day is coming where he can’t be a good man. And when that day comes, Morgan can’t beat himself up about it. I can practically taste the foreshadowing.
The truck is loaded up with cantaloupes, and Benjamin says goodbye to Henry as everyone loads up. Ezekiel sees Jerry stuffing his face with cobbler.
“Leave the cobbler,” the King orders.
“Really?” Jerry mumbles, his mouth full.
“Fine,” Ezekiel huffs. I love Jerry! He can bring a smile to my face with a small lighthearted moment like this, even though the trajectory of the episode makes it clear that bad things are coming.
“Who’s the girl?” Morgan asks Benjamin again on the truck, but Benjamin just smirks.
As the truck comes down the road, they see that it is blocked by a line of shopping carts. It’s not a good sign. Richard directs everyone out of the truck, telling them to keep a tight line around Ezekiel, guns at the ready. Richard stays at the back, checking things out.
The line of shopping carts is actually in the shape of an arrow, pointing behind a nearby building. Wait, this place looks familiar! Isn’t it where Richard buried the backpack? Sure enough, behind the building is a small mound in the earth, but next to that is a new hole, human-sized, with a cardboard sign that says ‘Bury Me Here’.
Ezekiel ruminates on how this world can drive people crazy. It is mere luck that they aren’t all insane. This has more meaning than he knows, given what Morgan has been through. But Benjamin says that it isn’t luck; Ezekiel made them another world, and that’s why they are all sane. This is the truth: Ezekiel has protected his people as much as he can, making a relative paradise for The Kingdom, where they aren’t bothered by outside threats. It is clear once again why he doesn’t want to break the fragile peace with the Saviors.
The group clears the carts and makes their way to the meeting with the Saviors, but they are late because of the delay. As Ezekiel begins to explain to Gavin, he brushes him off.
“Don’t interrupt the King,” Jerry warns, but Jared rewards him by belting him with Morgan’s staff (which he had taken from him at a previous encounter). Okay, now I’m pissed off. Who hits Jerry? Really! Jerry’s one of the best things about the post-apocalyptic world!
Benjamin called Jared a ‘rat-faced prick’. You just know that he’s going to be sorry for that later, but at the moment it feels justified.
“We appreciate that you have been delivering, but things have been unnecessarily tense,” Gavin notes. It needs to end. He’s not going to put up with any of this ‘King’ nonsense, and they need to see the way things work.
“I want your guns too,” Gavin says, as he heads over toward the truck. Of course, this causes everyone (both Saviors and people from The Kingdom) to draw their guns and point them at each other. Gavin lays the situation out plainly, saying that they can either give up their guns, or use them. The choice is clear.
“Give Morgan his stick back and you can have the guns,” Ezekiel suggests. But the Saviors aren’t having any of it. Morgan tells Ezekiel that it’s fine. Ezekiel orders everyone to hand over their guns, and they do.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of their troubles. It seems that The Kingdom is short on their delivery; there are only 11 cantaloupes instead of 12. Hold the presses! Since when are 12 cantaloupes an entire delivery? Previously, The Kingdom has delivered an entire trunk full of food, a truck full of butchered hogs, etc. And now 12 cantaloupes? Something seems fishy to me. Regardless, the delivery is short.
Ezekiel doesn’t know how this happened, swearing that the delivery was right when they left, and offers to get double for them in an hour. But Gavin isn’t having it. The Saviors want to be satisfied. Jared holds a gun to Richard’s forehead. Remember, Gavin had previously decided that if any of The Kingdom’s people were ever to die, it would be Richard. Richard looks as if he understands this.
“Just do it,” he growls. And Jared does. He pulls the gun to the right and shoots…. Benjamin.
Benjamin is shot in the stomach. Morgan tries to help him, but he is bleeding out onto the ground. Gavin actually appears shocked and loses his cool. He orders Jared to give back ‘the stick’ and tells everyone to get back in the trucks and not to say anything. Ezekiel says that they have to get back to get Benjamin medical attention, but Gavin refuses. He insists that Ezekiel listen to him.
There are no Is, only As or Fs. The Kingdom has to deliver everything. They will deliver one cantaloupe tomorrow, no more, no less. Ezekiel says that he understands, and Gavin permits them to leave with Benjamin. When they leave, they take him to Carol’s, since it is closer and Benjamin won’t make it all the way back to The Kingdom.
At Carol’s, they do their best for Benjamin, but he is dying. Carol looks on in horror as Benjamin whispers to Morgan.
“To injure an opponent is to injure yourself.” Clearly this line will haunt Morgan, as he witnesses Benjamin die while holding his hand. I liked Benjamin, but his death was obviously coming. All of the focus earlier in the episode, as well as the emotional damage this does to Morgan (and to Carol, since she could have prevented Benjamin from going on the delivery mission at all by agreeing to teach him), clearly foretold his demise. Still, it’s an emotional moment.
Morgan storms out, even though Carol calls to him. He runs down the road to the place where the shopping carts had blocked everything, breaking down, remembering when he was not in his right mind back in Rick’s hometown. He relives the times he was removing walkers, marking everything as ‘clear’. He recalls his wife Jenny and son Duane. He screams to get the images out of his head. It is evident that Morgan was beginning to look upon Benjamin as a son, as his grief over Benjamin’s death is wrapped up in the death of his natural son.
As he comes back to reality, Morgan looks around him, realizing that when the truck stopped at the roadblock, Richard was behind the others. Did Richard take the cantaloupe out of the truck, to force a confrontation with the Saviors? Is it Richard’s fault that Benjamin is dead? Was he the one who left the ‘Bury Me Here’ sign?
Morgan confronts Richard, laying down his suspicions.
“It was supposed to be me; that’s what Gavin said,” Richard confesses. He wanted to give his own life to show The Kingdom what to do. He is distraught that this isn’t what happened and that Benjamin had to die
“We’ve done nothing to stop them!” Richard cries.
Richard tells a story of how he was in a camp at the start of the apocalypse. He knew the camp was unsafe, but he never spoke up because he figured better, smarter people were in charge. He didn’t do anything. Things went badly, and he lost his wife and his little girl. And it was all because he didn’t speak up when he could have done something. It’s evident that Morgan is equating this story to his own. He was unable to kill his wife when she turned into a walker, and it was because of his emotional attachment to his mother that Duane allowed her to get too close and was bitten himself. Duane died because Morgan was unable to do something (in his case, kill Walker Jenny).
It is clear that Richard’s point of view is similar to the samurai code: he is ‘already dead’, and as such, his life doesn’t matter. He wants to give it in service to The Kingdom. Richard urges Morgan to use this event to convince The Kingdom to fight the Saviors. He has a plan. Let them gain back the Saviors’ trust and then turn on them, then join with Alexandria in the fight. They need to do something to gain back the Saviors’ trust.
“This is it Morgan. You have to kill. Or else you might as well just kill yourself,” Richard insists. And amazingly, Morgan seems to be listening.
“Someone had to die. It tried to be the one. That didn’t happen,” Richard moans. So now he wants to lead their army. He wants to crush the Saviors. He will tell Ezekiel what he did and spend the rest of his life making up for it.
Morgan is awake through the night, thinking about what Richard said.
In the morning, the meaning of the pre-credits scene becomes clear as men from The Kingdom glumly load the single cantaloupe into the truck. They go to the meeting with the Saviors. As they get out of the truck, Richard asks if Morgan told others what he confessed, but Richard says he will do that when they get back. But Ezekiel overhears them. He wants to talk about it now. Yet Morgan ignores him, stepping up to where Benjamin was shot, picking up his staff and Benjamin’s from the blood on the ground.
The Saviors arrive, and Gavin asks about Benjamin. When there is no answer, Gavin knows he is dead. He turns to Jared and tells him to start walking back; he is clearly angry. Obviously Gavin wanted Richard dead and not Benjamin, and Jared disobeyed orders.
Once Jared is gone, Gavin asks for the cantaloupe. Richard brings it up to him.
Morgan steps forward, raising his staff, but he strikes Richard. He attacks Richard, choking him, and no one there can do anything as they stare in shock. Gavin appears almost as horrified as Ezekiel as he watches Morgan kill Richard with his bare hands and confess what Richard did to all present.
“Wanted to show you that we get it,” Morgan tells Gavin, using Richard’s exact words from the night before. “That we understand what it is that we need to do. That we know how to go on.”
Gavin seems appeased. He tells them to be there the same time next week.
Once the Saviors have gone, Morgan explains to Ezekiel what Richard wanted. But he gets confused and mentions Duane instead of Benjamin; clearly his grief for the two is still intermingling.
Ezekiel wants to take Morgan back to The Kingdom, but Morgan refuses to go. He grieves over Richard’s body as they depart.
Morgan drags Richard’s body back and buries him where the sign indicated. He finds Katy’s backpack in the dirt. Understanding what it must represent, Morgan buries it with Richard.
Morgan uses his staff to kill walkers in his anger as he goes to Carol’s home. He knocks on her door with the bloodied tip. When she answers, he asks her if she really wants to know what happened in Alexandria. Instead, she asks what happened to Morgan, and he tells her that he strangled Richard because he was the one who got Benjamin killed.
After asking Carol one more time if she really wants to know what happened, Morgan reveals to Carol that Negan killed Glenn and Abraham, beating them to death with a baseball bat. He tells her that officially, Alexandria is working for the Saviors now. He also tells her that Spencer and Olivia were killed too. Jesus brought Team Rick to The Kingdom because Rick wants to fight.
“You wanted to know, now you do,” Morgan says to Carol. She seems to be in shock.
“I’m gonna kill them out there, one by one,” Morgan vows. His non-violence pendulum has clearly swung the other way. He stalks off, but Carol chases after him.
“You can go and not go,” she tells Morgan, offering her cabin as a place for Morgan to stay.
Next, we see Carol walking into The Kingdom with her bags. She comes across Ezekiel and Henry replanting the garden. She tells Ezekiel that she is sorry, and that she is going to be a part of The Kingdom now. They have to get ready, they have to fight.
“We do,” Ezekiel agrees, “but not today.”
At Carol’s cabin, Morgan carves a point onto his staff, turning it into a spear.
I have to admit, the episode with Morgan and Eastman was dull for me. I understood what Eastman was trying to say, but Morgan’s character development seemed trite and slow. This episode turned that around for me. Morgan’s state of mind, especially given the parallels between his life and Richard’s, is made clear. We can see why Morgan changed his attitude, just as we can see why he needed to be ‘non-violent’ for a while, to clarify his own mind. This mirrors Ezekiel’s shift in attitude, and we can see how he now understands that they are not safe from the Saviors, even if they officially ‘obey’ them. This episode will clearly have ramifications for the rest of the season, and into the next.
For those who play the No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s season 7 mission is Morgan going through his emotional distress, attempting to ‘clear’ the street of walkers (discarded shopping carts still lining the road). But in this version, Ezekiel is at his side, refusing to let Morgan go through his torment alone.
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