Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's The Walking Dead Season 7 episode, "Bury Me Here."
Overview: A boiling point is reached between the Saviors and the Kingdom on their specified tribute day, but Morgan discovers that the outcome was rigged by someone inside. Carol decides to leave her safe haven once the truth catches up with her.
I know I'm in the semi-minority about loving The Kingdom-centric episodes, but this one, yet again, served up what's been keeping me engaged the most this season: Ezekiel, Carol and Morgan. Maybe it's the inherent realism these characters exude or just the performances of the trio being so exceptional that I always feel they are exploring human frailty and vulnerability in such an engaging way.
For example, Carol wakes up having a Ripley moment, waking up from a nightmare in a sweat, which clearly lets us know she can take herself out of the fray but she can't run from the memories or reality which is always beckoning just outside her white, iron fence. It sends her on a purposeful, walker-killing stomp to The Kingdom where she demands to know from Morgan if everything is okay back at Alexandria. She's so attuned to Daryl, of course she picked up that he wasn't telling her the truth and that's eating at her. Morgan tells her he's respected her request for distance this whole time but will take her to Alexandria right now to learn the truth from Daryl. But Carol balks. Right then, she's not ready, and it makes sense that she's not. Her quiet, violence-free home is a mighty temptation to stay in as long as she can. It takes a bloodied Morgan on her porch in the last act, confessing his murder of Richard, and the list of the dead back in Alexandria for Carol to recognize it's time to re-engage.
That lonely house outside an actual peaceful future (The Kingdom) has been an effective season-long, physical metaphor for intense depression. Carol's done her work inside its walls, and in that moment, she recognizes her own misery and depression in Morgan. How can the warrior who cracked not see another warrior cracking? So she offers him her hideaway to work through the internal darkness that's returned with a vengeance. It's just left for us to wonder if Morgan's PTSD back to his 'Clear' days and confusion of Ben being his son, Duane, means he's already too far gone or if he can find his way back to himself before the war begins. All of it is a worthy exploration portrayed with heartbreaking resonance by James and McBride. It's handled with the kind of subtly and grace that Ben's storyline in the same episode is not.
It's interesting to see a Muslim woman represented in The Kingdom. Religion is still a factor for a few in the apocalypse (as we know with Father Gabriel), so it's interesting to see Nabila representing that and that Ezekiel welcomes it inside his walls. Plus, her reaction to Shiva was perfect. Peeing in her pants is a completely relatable reaction to a porch tiger.
I appreciated the conversations about fatherhood between Richard and Morgan. Knowing they've both lost their children creates a common ground between the two disparate men. Understanding that Richard's own prior passive stance is a direct influence on his mania to do something now against the Saviors creates a resonant context for his actions. Could he have crafted that as a story to try to wrench Morgan from his own current passivity? Perhaps. It's likely considering Richard's desperation to get anyone on his side and especially in light of Richard's coda to his story that he wants to convince Ezekiel to allow him to lead the war. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle and Kayla's backpack is the only tether to the true story that goes to both of their graves. Morgan caught the perverted goal that stuck out at the end there and snuffed it out for some canny leverage the next day.
And bringing it back to the last scene where Carol returns to The Kingdom with the intent to train his people for war, what an impactful way of showing that Ezekiel has embraced what's to come (even if it means burning down so much of what he's built so that it can bloom again) and that Carol has found her hope once more. The Carol of old would have spit nails for his lack of immediate response in favor of planting the Royal Garden back with Henry. The Carol of now is a woman who has embraced her own hope once more and is joining in to sow new roots.
Seven years into its run, The Walking Dead has never been very graceful about telegraphing episode deaths. If you're a long-time watcher, you pretty much guess who the noose if for when an episode weirdly leans on a specific character narrative out of nowhere. Such is the case with this episode when right from the start, Morgan's Kingdom protégé Ben is mentioned with such reverence by him and Henry. Then Carol declines to mentor Ben in how she's able to wipe out walkers so easily. (Yeah, like that wasn't going to come back and haunt her later.) And then later, Ben almost angelically says to Ezekiel at the open grave, "You made us a better world" in regards to The Kingdom being the antithesis of the outside world's grim darkness. So when Ben bites it an act later, there's very much a "no duh" feeling to how it plays out, which is unfortunate, because the show is still capable of executing very meaningful subtext (see above with Morgan and Carol's choices). It would be nice if the 'sacrificial lamb' playbook was given a work-over inside the writers' room.
Do I buy that Savior softee, Gavin, wouldn't have been murdered by his lunk-headed. murderous toadie, or even that Negan would have sniffed out his reticence to be a hard ass by now? Nope. Especially not by a dude that is going on tribute runs to the outside world. I know he's there to show a possible exploitable weakness for The Kingdom when the war is ignited, but still, nope.
"Oh S--t!" Moment
Morgan going full neck-wrenching assassin on Richard right in front of the Saviors. I could see murder in Morgan's eyes the night before when Richard confessed his emotional but nefarious plan, so I expected the guy was dead meat in that moment. But it was a good call shifting it to the make-good tribute meet and have Morgan use Richard's own words to Gavin saying, "We wanted to show you we get it. We know how to go on..." It's a slightly ambiguous co-opting that leaves us wondering if Morgan is going to assume Richard's plan for defeating the Saviors with a trust reversal down the line? Or was this Morgan's last-ditch attempt to retain peace a little while longer and avoid the bloodshed Richard was craving? We shall see ...
"Bury Me Here" got me a couple of times with some riveting moments including Morgan's murder of Richard and his possible psychotic break, as well as Carol coming out of the dark as a remade version of herself. I want to see who that woman is now and how she's going to fit into the war to come.
What did you think of "Bury Me Here"?