Monday, March 13, 2017

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Thirteen: Bury me Here

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Every once and awhile, The Walking Dead decides to tell a story centering one of the characters.  It is usually done to indicate a massive change in the winds and Bury Me Here, fits the bill. When Morgan lost his son Duane, his entire reason for living disappeared.  He lost himself and became nothing but a killing machine. It didn't matter whether he killed zombies or living people, for Morgan everyone had to die. He really devolved to the point where his grief erased his entire personhood. This all changed for Morgan when he met Eastman, a man who also was haunted by demons. Since being with Eastman, Morgan has dedicated himself to avoiding conflict where possible and to try to save life rather than take life.  Prior to this episode, the only person Morgan killed was a man attempting to kill Carol and so while he took life, it was absolutely in defense of another.

Many of the characters have expressed exasperation with Morgan's determination not to kill and in fact, it was a major point of contention between Morgan and Carol. Carol and Morgan in many ways were the antithesis of each other. It's only when the killing became too much for Carol and she retreated from Alexandria, that they became close.  For the first time, Carol could see things from Morgan's perspective.  Together they created a détente, as Carol craved an escape from the unrelenting violence and Morgan respected her wishes enough to understand where she was coming.  Morgan went as far as to shield Carol from the knowledge that Glenn and Abraham are dead and that Alexandria is in real trouble with the Saviours.  Morgan didn't even reveal to Darryl where Carol was living.  

Despite the threat that the Saviours pose, Morgan has remained steadfast in his belief that the peace between The Kingdom and The Saviours must be maintained. He has never been in denial about how dangerous The Saviours are but is determined that violence not be the first response.  Morgan very quickly became a member of the Kingdom and even had a protégé  in the form of  Benjamin.  It's Morgan who trained both Benjamin and his younger brother Henry to use the staff - a defensive weapon.  Clearly, a relationship had developed, and Morgan became invested in another in a way he has not been since Duane was alive.  

Though Ezekiel has done his best to shield his people and hold onto the peace, things have become increasingly difficult.  Ezekiel has been pressured by Rick, Darryl and Richard.  At each meeting with the Saviours, Richard constantly steps right up to the line but doesn't cross it.  The Saviours, and Jared in particular, seem to have developed a problem with Richard but as long as Ezekiel enforces compliance they are inclined to simply threaten and let well enough be. 

More than anyone in the Kingdom, Richard has been vocal about finding a way to take out the Saviours because he doesn't trust that the peace which Ezekiel has forged will last.  Each time Richard speaks up, it falls on deaf ears.  Richard even went as far as to attempt to create a situation which would force the Saviours to kill Carol, but was stopped by Darryl.  In that moment, his desperation became evident.  

Richard has a new plan and this time, instead of sacrificing anyone else, he plans to sacrifice himself.  Richard creates a roadblock that the people of Alexandria will have to navigate on the way to their meeting with the Saviours.  He even goes as far as to dig his own grave with a cardboard sign which reads, "bury me here".  Richard assumes that since the Saviours indicated that if something else went wrong that he would be the one chosen to die that his grand sacrifice would finally lead to the confrontation that he believes needs to happen.  As with all plans of mice and men, things didn't quite work out the way that Richard planned.

When the Saviours discover that the tribute is short one cantaloupe, Gavin orders  everyone to hand over their guns.  Ezekiel agrees to do so if Gavin agrees to return Morgan's staff but Gavin makes it clear that they are not in a position to bargain.  It's Richard who is the first to suggest that they should comply, which is certainly out of character for him. Ezekiel does finally give the order to hand over their guns and is informed by Gavin that there has to be a penalty paid for being short on their end of the agreement.  Jared aims his gun at Richard, who promptly steps closer and tells Jared to do what he needs to do.  Jared responds not by killing Richard, but by shooting Benjamin several times.  

Up until the moment that Benjamin gets shot, I don't think Morgan even admitted to himself just how much Benjamin had come to mean to him. The people from the Kingdom become frantic to get Benjamin some medical aid but Jared forces them to stop and listen to him. Jared makes it clear that tomorrow, they are to return with the missing cantaloupe. 

Benjamin is rushed to Carol's because her home is the closest place with medical supplies. Despite their best efforts, Benjamin dies on Carol's table.  When Benjamin dies, Morgan is taken right back to the man he was when Duane died and his grief overwhelms  him. Morgan takes off, unable to deal with the grief that he is feeling.  Morgan doubles back to the roadblock and actually climbs in the grave considering killing himself.  We get flashes of Clear (Morgan's kill everything that moves mode).  Morgan then discovers the cantaloupe and together with the grave, he realises that this was set up.

Morgan heads straight to Richard's to confront him with his suspicions.  Richard is quick to admit that he set the whole thing up and explains that he thought he would be the one to die.  Richard wanted his death to be the catalyst which finally drove the Kingdom to war. In tears, Richard explains that he lost his wife and his daughter because he refused to act and didn't want to make the same mistake again.  It's worth noting that this yet another instance of The Walking Dead only filling in the backstory of a character to make their passing more emotional.  Richard promises to tell everyone what he has done but suggests that in the meantime, they make the Saviours believe that they know the deal now and then make their plans to go to war.  He suggests that Benjamin's death be the catalyst that is needed for them to fight for their freedom. 

It's clear at the meeting to deliver the cantaloupe the next day that something significant has changed in Morgan. Morgan questions if Richard has told everyone about what he has done but Richard says that now is not the time. Hearing the animosity between Morgan and Richard, Ezekiel demands that they clear the air right now but before they can, the Saviours arrive.  Gavin asks how Benjamin is doing and when he gets no response, he realises that Benjamin is dead.  Gavin then orders Jared to return home on foot without antagonising anyone else on pain of death.  Richard hands over the cantaloupe with downcast eyes.  This is when Morgan snaps and attacks Richard.  Ezkiel is shocked and calls out Morgan's name but Morgan continues his assault. Since no Saviour is in harms way, Gavin orders his people not to intervene. Morgan kills Richard with his bare hands and it's absolutely brutal.  Morgan than stands and explains how Richard is the one who took the cantaloupe in the hope of starting a confrontation between the Kingdom and the Saviours and assures Gavin that they know the score now and will make sure to be compliant.  Morgan followed Richard's plan to the T, proving that he was indeed listening when Richard tried to explain his actions.  It also serves as proof that Morgan is ready for war.  As he is explaining what happened, Morgan mistakenly refers to Benjamin as Duane and has to correct himself. When the Saviours drive off, Ezekiel tries to encourage Morgan to come with them but Morgan has other things to do.

Morgan drags Richard's body to the grave that he dug and buries him, along with a little girls knapsack. Morgan then makes his way to Carol's and questions if she wants to really know what is going on with Alexandria.  Morgan finally tells Carol about the deaths of Abraham and Glenn as well as the others who died.  Morgan explains that the Alexandrians have been forced to work for the Saviours and are now trying to find a way to free themselves.  Morgan then turns to leave because his mission now is to clear (read: kill whatever is moving). In a role reversal, it's now Carol's turn to convince Morgan to stay, explaining that he can still go while staying.  

Carol heads to the Kingdom and meets with Ezekiel, who is helping Henry replant the garden they had to destroy.  Carol is urgent and explains that something has to be done.  Ezekiel concurs but points out that it doesn't have to be done today and goes back to gardening with Henry.  Carol drops her bags and joins them.

Morgan is sitting on the front steps of Carol's home and he is changing his staff into a spear.  This means that Morgan's weapon of choice has gone from defensive to offensive.  Morgan is ready to clear. 

Much of this episode is really about what kind of person do you have to be to be able to survive a zombie apocalypse?  No one could possibly call Rick and his people good people, yet they certainly see themselves that way.   With no rule of law to enforce submission and very little in the way of consequence, people are free to allow their baser instincts to rise to the surface.  This new world doesn't respect anything but strength. Morgan could afford to live his peaceful non violent life as long as no one he loved paid the consequences.  What he failed to realise is that not taking action is indeed an action.

Things are about to get serious what with Carol now deciding to get in the game. Rick may have the people but as we know all to well, it's Carol who is great at strategy.  It's Carol who is going to bring the Saviours to their knees.  I understand why Carol had to pull away for a time but I'm so happy to have her back.  Henry better watch himself in that garden though.

Ezekiel was also brought on side by the death of Benjamin.  Rick didn't understand Ezekiel's refusal to join the war given that the Kingdom has to tithe to the Saviours.  What Rick, and Darryl failed to realise is that unlike Alexandria, The Kingdom hadn't lost anyone to the Saviour's brutality. The Saviours don't even enter the Kingdom. It's easy to see why Ezekiel would favour the uneasy truce over an all out war which would certainly cost him people.  Richard was right in his assumption that it would take a catalyst to force Ezekiel to agree to go to war.  Now that he has lost someone he cares about, Ezekiel finally has a reason.

On a final note, it looks like we got our first Muslim character tonight. I hope that she's not a one off and that we get to see more of her in future episodes.