by Billie Doux
With a title like "Bury Me Here," I was sort of expecting someone to get buried. And of course, someone was.
Young Benjamin died for a cantaloupe. This is a world where someone can die for a cantaloupe. Of course, we all knew that something bad would happen to the Kingdom so that King Ezekiel would decide to fight because the story was going that way, but I wasn't expecting two deaths. Is that a Walking Dead pattern these days? That you're braced for only one death and they hit you over the head with two, pun intended?
At least Benjamin wasn't beaten to death. He died surrounded by friends and King Ezekiel, his beloved mentor, and was clearly comforted to the end by the principles of aikido that Morgan had taught him. Principles that are no longer comforting Morgan. Morgan the gentle teacher, Morgan the pacifist — is he gone forever now?
Morgan had gotten comfortable at the Kingdom and was deeply attached to Benjamin. Losing the young man was too heavy a blow; it took Morgan back to the madman he was when he lost his son Duane. (Morgan referred to Benjamin as Duane, just in case we didn't get that.) For a moment, I thought Morgan really would slit his own wrists in that pre-dug grave. Note how the "Bury Me Here" sign was so much like the signs Morgan used to surround himself with, back when he was mad, in "Clear" and in "Here's Not Here." I was outright shocked that Morgan strangled Richard so deliberately, to achieve Richard's purpose — to make the Saviors trust the Kingdom again. (Gavin and King Ezekiel were also shocked.)
And now Morgan has told Carol that he is going to kill the Saviors, one by one. That's sort of amazing. If Morgan has decided to kill, the Saviors are in trouble. Especially if Carol has decided that she's ready to start killing again, too.
I wasn't surprised that Carol was having nightmares; her subconscious must have picked up clues that Daryl hadn't told her the truth. Early in the episode, Carol picked up a "One Way" sign to take out walkers, a little reminder of what a badass she used to be. Later, she walked past that same sign, this week's Most Obvious Symbolism. The message is that there is really only "One Way" to go now. The last shot of the episode was Morgan turning his aikido stick into a spear. Sort of the opposite of the old adage about swords and plowshares.
Gold acting stars for Lennie James and for Karl Makinen, who played Richard. I didn't like Richard, but it was hard not to feel for the guy. Just like Morgan, Richard had lost his wife and child and was one of the "walking dead" anyway. He genuinely believed that he'd be the one that Ratface would kill, which was logical since Gavin had already told him he was at the top of the list. Richard believed that his wife and daughter died because he didn't fight, didn't do something. Well, he did something. It may have even achieved his purpose.
It's interesting that King Ezekiel didn't lose his temper, didn't collapse with grief, that in the end he was still focused on the positive, showing Benjamin's little brother how to plant, not teaching him how to kill. I believe that Ezekiel is ready to fight, that he knows it is inevitable, but that it's not going to change who he is. I really like that.
The other bit that stood out for me was Gavin, the Savior boss, and his reaction to Benjamin's death. He didn't apologize to the Kingdommers, but there was sadness on his face and he told Ratface the psycho to leave, and leave now. Morgan killing Richard in front of him shook Gavin, although he kept his cool. I am betting that Gavin might be a semi-decent person. That's unusual for one of Negan's top lieutenants, isn't it?
-- The painting that Benjamin gave Morgan was a matador with a crossed out circle on it. That's an interesting artistic statement in the context of this episode.
-- There was a lot of photography carefully framing the cantaloupes, especially the missing one that cost Benjamin his life.
-- Why did Gavin decide to take the guns? Is it a new Negan policy for everyone? Can Negan feel rebellion in the air?
-- I loved the scene with Nabila telling Ezekiel that the plants had weevils, while she carefully didn't get close to Shiva.
Morgan: (to Carol) "You found what you wanted, right? You got away from everyone. Is it what you wanted? Was it just too late to get away?"
That last part, Morgan.
Nabila: "Okay, I think I just pissed myself."
Laugh out loud.
Ezekiel: "This world drives one mad. People have lived through every kind of misery: tyrants, genocide, systems of quiet hate, while others enjoy freedom on the same piece of land. Yet this how we must exist now. It is mere luck we are not all insane."
Benjamin: "It isn't luck, your majesty. The world does drive people crazy now. But you made us another world."
Carol: "We have to get ready. We have to fight."
Ezekiel: "We do. But not today."
Three out of four one-way signs,
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.