‘The Walking Dead’: Back to the point

The Walking Dead
“Bury Me Here”
March 12, 2017

In not-quite the Kingdom, Carol wakes up in the middle of the night from a bad dream, lights up a cigarette and has a good “GOD DAMMIT” before gathering her things and heading over to the Kingdom. Before entering the gates, she creatively kills a few walkers with a street sign, and that Ben kid is like, “WHOA, WHAT” because he has no idea who he is dealing with.

carol-laughing-twd

Once inside the Kingdom, Carol heads straight to Morgan and demands to know if everyone in Alexandria really is OK, and Morgan is like, “That is a Daryl question for Daryl to answer so you should ask Daryl.” Morgan offers to accompany her back to Alexandria but instead she stomps back to her cabin pausing only to refuse to train that Ben kid. Carol’s not great with kids.

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Morgan is later visited by that Ben kid who presents him with a velvet matador painting with a giant NO symbol painted over it.

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Meanwhile, that Richard asshole digs a hole somewhere, pausing to inspect a child’s backpack with “Katy” embroidered on it.

Back in the Kingdom, a woman informs King Ezekiel that they are going to have to cut and burn the royal garden on account of a weevil infestation, but she promises him that it can all grow back. “And if you’ll excuse me, I am going to leave before your unleashed tiger friend eats me, kthnxbai,” says this random woman.

Later, King Ezekiel and his knights including Morgan, that Ben kid and that asshole Richard prepare to head out on a Savior drop off, that Richard asshole making a point to apologize to Morgan before leaving, and trying to bond with him over them both having been fathers. But Morgan does not care about your dead kid, asshole.

On the way to the drop off, the group finds their passage blocked by a chain of grocery store carts deliberately linked across the road. That Richard asshole gets out to investigate before leading the group to an empty grave with a “BURY ME HERE” sign next to it. “WELL THAT’S BLEAK,” everyone agrees.

When they arrive at the drop off site, the Head Savior In Charge berates them for being late, and King Ezekiel tries to explain only to be rudely shushed by the HSIC. When Jerry has the audacity to demand that HSIC address Ezekiel as “Your Majesty,” that other jerk Savior, the one that took Morgan’s Jedi Stick, whacks Jerry upside the head, prompting that Ben kid to call him a “rat-faced prick” under his breath, which Rat-Faced Prick most definitely hears.

i heard that key

Meanwhile, HSIC inspects the Kingdom’s offering of cantaloupe before demanding that everyone hand over their weapons because things might become “emotional.” After an interminable standoff, King Ezekiel orders everyone to hand over their guns and HSIC reveals that their offering is short: there are supposed to be 12 cantaloupes, there are only 11. King Ezekiel protests that he counted them himself, but when he checks, it’s clear that one is missing. Somehow. Impossibly.

What this means is they have to be punished, and Rat-Faced Prick raises his gun to Richard’s head, only to shoot that Ben kid in the leg at the last second. BECAUSE HE HEARD THAT.

i heard that key.gif

Everyone FREAKS OUT, including HSIC who did not see that coming. He orders Rat-Faced Prick to return Morgan’s Jedi Stick and allows King Ezekiel and his men to take that Ben kid for medical treatment, after making them promise to bring the missing melon the next day.

The group rushes that Ben kid to Carol’s cabin but it’s too late and he bleeds out because of course he does, his entire purpose on this show was to serve as a sacrificial lamb, uh duh.

Morgan, however, doesn’t understand foreshadowing and proceeds to FREAK OUT even further, returning to the roadblock and having a meltdown. However, mid-meltdown he discovers the missing cantaloupe, carefully hidden underneath a recycling bin. And somehow, in the midst of his psychosis, Morgan manages to figure out that Richard asshole hid it.

So Morgan returns to the Kingdom where he confronts that Richard asshole, and that Richard asshole is like, “Alright, yeah, I hid the cantaloupe, but I meant to be the one Rat-Faced Prick killed. It was supposed to be me! And it’s a shame that I didn’t die, but why let a child’s premature death go to waste? I say we keep pretending to be in service of the Saviors and in the meantime, we team up with your buddies in Alexandria and take care of this Savior problem once and for all.” But Morgan does not care about your best laid plans, asshole.

The next day, King Ezekiel, et al, return to the drop off spot with the one cantaloupe, transported, no less, in a flatbed truck and an SUV, because you can’t be too careful with your melons. There, HSIC asks about the kid, and when no one answers, he puts it together that he died. Furious, he orders Rat-Faced Prick to walk home, because he might be a Savior, but he’s not a monster, you guys.

That Richard Asshole steps forward with the missing cantaloupe but Morgan attacks him from behind, and proceeds to strangle him to death in front of everyone while they stand there and twiddle their thumbs and do nothing to stop him. SURE. OK. I BELIEVE YOU THAT ALL OF THESE PEOPLE WOULD JUST STAND BY WHILE THEIR FRIEND IS KILLED IN FRONT OF THEM WITH NO EXPLANATION. THAT JUST MAKES SENSE.

Once he kills that Richard asshole — who, to be fair, needed some killing — Morgan explains that Richard asshole took the missing cantaloupe with the intention of staring a war with the Saviors. But Morgan assures HSIC that they “get it” and will continue to serve them.

As the Saviors leave, Morgan explains to King Ezekiel that Richard asshole wanted to die, before accidentally referring to that Ben kid by his son’s name. Morgan then drags that Richard asshole’s body back to the grave he dug for himself, and buries him with Katy’s backpack.

girl-bye-nene

Morgan then swings by Carol’s cabin where he explains the entire plot of the episode before telling her that Abraham, Glenn, Olivia and Spencer are all dead, so. As he turns to leave, Carol asks him where he’s going and he replies that he is going to kill the Saviors one by one. “How about instead you hang out here in the cabin for a few days instead, and sharpen your Jedi Stick?” Carol suggests.

Carol then heads to the Kingdom where she tells King Zeke that they have to fight. “Cool, cool, cool,” King Zeke says before leading her to his garden to do some gardening with that Ben kid’s younger brother and ZOMG GET CAROL AWAY FROM THAT CHILD DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE DOES TO KIDS?

walking-dead-melons
So I guess the cantaloupes have been explained…. AMC

And that’s how Morgan got his groove back.

So this episode … I liked it? I hesitate to be overly enthusiastic about the episode mostly because it felt a little obvious. That Ben kid was always going to die, that Richard asshole was always going to overplay his hand, Morgan was always going to be a linchpin in bringing the Kingdom to the fight against the Saviors against his own moral code. I almost feel like I could have written this episode myself, they have been setting it up for so long now.

But that’s also what makes this episode work: it felt earned. While we didn’t get to actually know that Ben kid as anything but a cardboard cutout of a well-meaning teenage boy, he had been around long enough on the show that one could imagine that Morgan had grown close to him — especially as someone who had lost a son who would have been around that Ben kid’s age. As for that Richard asshole, they did a better job of fleshing him out as a character than they did with that Ben kid — Karl Makinen brought a great deal of complication and nuance to the character. His distress when that Ben kid is shot is palpable and sincere — but so is his insistance that they not let this opportunity go to waste. He’s believable as a good man whose moral compass has been broken by this world.

Which brings us to Morgan. It’s Morgan’s story arc that truly feels earned. It has been 25 episodes since we learned about Morgan’s back story with the cheesemaker and the goat, and something like 29 episodes since we re-engaged with this new, pacifist Morgan. Morgan’s struggle to remain non-violent has been fundamental to his character for a long time now — and he has faced many challenges to hew to this moral code. But Morgan’s pacificity always felt like something that ultimaetly couldn’t last this world, and it felt real that this intersection of the Saviors’ brutality and watching a surrogate son die in front of him would cause him to leave it behind. Morgan became a killer again  — and didn’t come at a cheap price.

Finally, I should point out the metaphor of the Kingdom’s garden needing to be torn out and burned to prevent the other gardens from being destroyed. Basically, fire is a symbol of destruction and rebirth: it represents both Morgan’s painful “rebirth” if you will, but also that Ben kid’s death and the deaths that will come as a result of the war. Their deaths, like the burned crops, was and will be painful. But they are also necessary, because from the ashes, the Kingdom will can grow into something greater and freer.

Or something.

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The Walking Dead airs at 8/9 p.m. on Sundays on AMC and doesn’t care much for cantaloupe.

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