Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers…
There is a lot of the show’s two most conflicted moral compasses being tested this episode: both Morgan and Carol face challenges that appear to set them on a new path. Carol’s is relatively simple, set in motion by Morgan’s experiences in the main plot: he ends up telling her the whole truth about what Negan has done to the Alexandrians and she decides that she’ll have to leave her less-than-splendid isolation and fight. Once more, this is the show moving the pieces into place with less than subtle shoving motions, but at least the emotional journeys are taken by two of the more capable characters (and actors) on the show.
The primary story, meanwhile, which takes place among the Kingdom dwellers, is one of pain, tragedy and regret. Finally deciding that something has to happen to force King Ezekiel to take up arms against the Saviours, Richard ((Karl Makinen) decides to sabotage the latest supply drop to the sneering villains, who are such sticklers for keeping to agreements that they’re willing to deliver rough justice for the sake of one lousy cantaloupe. This is why no one likes, you Saviours. Well, that and the killing and enslaving people. It also explains that first scene of Ezekiel and the other Kingdomers (still not sure we want to call them that) placing one cantaloupe on the truck like the world’s least efficient Tesco delivery. We were definitely in more familiar territory after last week’s relatively light episode.
And in contrast to last week’s brief, unsuccessful attempt to show the walkers as a danger again, we’re back to show standard, as Carol randomly (albeit entertainingly) stabs, slices and impales them on her way from the cottage to the Kingdom. No, the big threat remains the Saviours, represented mostly here by Gavin and Jared, sort of the Dumb and Dumber of the group.
They’re still the least compelling part of any episode, mostly providing the danger and the occasional snatch of snark.
The death of Benjamin is at least handled relatively well, all shock and confusion and the Kingdomers struggling to get him to Carol’s as he slowly bleeds out. It’s an effective little sequence, and has some impact even if we saw it coming a mile away (see below).
Can you say metaphors? The Walking Dead was loaded with them this week, and even the usually sure hand of showrunner Scott M. Gimple on script duty couldn’t quite save the episode from seeming heavy-handed. There is talk of how injuring the enemy injures yourself right out of The Art Of War, and Ezekiel’s garden has to be torn out to destroy an infestation? That’s the biggest one sat right there. There are also some dead – pun entirely intended – giveaways that someone is going to die early in the episode, when we have more chatter between Richard and Morgan, and especially young Henry (Macsen Lintz) and Benjamin (Logan Miller) enjoying more screen time than they have in ages. It’s never a good sign on this show, which adheres to the conventions of war movie death foreshadowing as outlined in this Punt & Dennis sketch. Richard getting more to say wasn’t too shocking given his scenes with Daryl a few episodes ago (and once he got to deliver his tearful backstory speech, you could guess he might not be long for this world), but Benjamin gifting Morgan and painting and coyly mentioning some girl he knows? Dead. And thus it came to pass when Richard’s scheme badly backfired.
At least this week had the benefit of interesting visuals, with the shopping trolley arrow leading to the grave (though one does wonder when Richard had the chance to set it all up). And all credit to Lennie James, who has done sterling work as Morgan before and stepped up once again to truly show his agony at the unnecessary death of Benjamin. He can do more with a glare than many of the others can with a monologue.
Will Morgan fight now?
He killed Richard, so Captain Pacifism’s classic stance is well and truly over. And the last we see of Morgan is him sharpening his fighting stick so…
Was that Duane we saw in the flashes haunting Morgan?
Indeed! That was a nice callback to Morgan’s own departed son, played by Adrian Kali Turner.
That was an awfully short cold open…
The shortest, in fact, of the series to date. Perhaps they’ll try to top it with a blipvert down the line.
Read this season’s previous reviews below…
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.