Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 13: Bury Me Here

This week on a very strange and bizarre The Walking Dead, King Ezekiel is finally jolted out of his complacency and vows to join Rick's fight.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!

Seriously, this episode is just plain weird. I cannot emphasize that enough. Every single character in this episode speaks and acts in ways that no human being would ever do. Things like killing walkers with an unwieldy street sign when they're already holding a machete. Or murdering someone and starting a war over a single melon (!). At times it feels like the script was written by an extraterrestrial who just arrived on our planet.


In last week's review, I predicted how I thought the rest of the season would play out. Among the plot points I guessed, I said, "something will bad will happen between the Kingdom and Negan, which will finally convince King Ezekiel to join with Rick." 

And that's exactly what happened! Benjamin, the young, fresh-faced Kingdom guard who was like a son to both Morgan and King Ezekiel, is tragically killed. This finally spurs Ezekiel into taking action against the Saviors.


Actually, it didn't take much to figure out that Benjamin was going to die. Ever since he was introduced in The Well, he's been living on borrowed time. His eagerness and optimism made him too good to survive for long in this world.

Ben's death wasn't in vain though. In addition to forcing Ezekiel into a decision, it also gave us the long overdue return of Badass Carol, as well as Murderface Morgan. Frankly I was getting a little tired of their peacenik antics— especially in the case of Carol. Her odd, puzzling and abrupt change of personality last season never made much sense to me.

FINAL SPOILER WARNING!

The Plot:
Carol wakes up from a nightmare in her little house just outside the Kingdom. She gets dressed and walks out the door. Inside the Kingdom, Morgan trains Henry— the younger brother of Benjamin— in the art of the bow staff. Benjamin, who's a guard in the Kingdom, looks on approvingly.

Carol marches down the street toward the Kingdom's main gate. She kills several walkers in her way in the most bizarre and inconvenient way possible. Benjamin watches from the top of the wall and is impressed by her badassery. She enters the Kingdom and storms into Morgan's room. She asks him why Jesus brought Daryl to the Kingdom, and if Alexandria made a deal with the Saviors. He tells he's staying out of it, and she'll need to talk to Daryl about that. He tells her he'll escort her to Alexandria, but she walks out. Welp, that was all perfectly pointless!

As Carol leaves, Benjamin asks if he can follow her and watch her kill more walkers on the way home. She tells him to beat it. Meanwhile, Nabila, the first ever Muslim survivor we've seen on The Walking Dead, tells King Ezekiel that the "Royal Garden" is infested with weevils. She says the plants will have to be cut down and burned, but that it can be replanted. Ezekiel tells her to do what must be done.

Red Shirt, er, I mean Benjamin, visits Morgan and returns The Art Of Peace book he borrowed from him back in The Well. He also gives Morgan a tacky black velvet painting he found in a restaurant. Ben mentions something about a girl he likes, and Morgan gently ribs him about it. Wow. This kid might as well have a target painted on his chest.

Morgan and Richard watch Benjamin look after his brother Henry. Richard says Ben's much too young to be a father to the boy. We get it, writers! Benjamin's dead, he just doesn't know it yet. Richard tells Morgan that it's great that he refuses to kill, but he can't survive in this world forever with that attitude. He then infodumps his backstory to Morgan, and we all know what that means, right? Any time a character reveals something about their past and becomes a little more three dimensional, that's the signal that it's their last episode. Ezekiel and the others load a single crate of twelve melons in a truck (???), and head out for their weekly offering to the Saviors.

On the way they see the road's blocked with a line of shopping carts. As they get out to move them, they discover a freshly-dug grave with a sign labeled "Bury Me Here." We have a title! They push the carts out of the way and move on.

They arrive at the drop site, and see the Saviors are already there waiting for them. Gavin, the leader, tells them they're late. He says things have been unnecessarily tense between the two groups lately, and wants it to stop. He goes to the truck and is angered when he sees there's only eleven melons instead of twelve (!). Suddenly there's a standoff as both groups point their guns at the other. Gavin insists the Kingdomites hand over their guns. There's a tense moment before Ezekiel finally agrees, and they give their weapons to the Saviors.

Ezekiel insists he counted the melons and that there were twelve when they left. Gavin says these problems have to end now. Jared, a rat-faced asshole of a Savior, points his gun right at Richard's head. Richard tells him to go ahead and do it. At the last second, Jared shoots Benjamin in the leg. Gosh, how completely unexpected.

Gavin tells Ezekiel they'll be back tomorrow for the missing melon, because that's apparently The Most Important Thing In The World right now. Ezekiel and the others load the wounded Ben into their truck and race back to the Kingdom.

The group stops at Carol's house, as Ben's in such bad shape that they apparently can't take the time to drive another mile. Apparently Carol's now proficient in nursing, as she tries to help Benjamin, but to absolutely no one's surprise, he dies. Morgan rushes out of Carol's house and goes back to the "Bury Me Here" grave they found. His mind begins unhinging as he transforms into Murder Morgan, his true form from before Clear. He finds the missing melon under a storage tub in the street.

Morgan then barges into Richard's room back in the Kingdom, and tosses the storage tub on the floor. Richard realizes Morgan's figured out his plan, but explains it to the audience anyway. He says the plan was to anger the Saviors enough that they'd kill him, which would hopefully cause Ezekiel to join Rick's war against Negan. He didn't mean for Ben to be killed. He tells the fuming Morgan that they can still save the situation. He says they need to do something to convince the Saviors that they've learned their lesson. Then once they have their trust back, they can strike them down. He tells Morgan the only way the plan will work is if he agrees to kill again.

Later Morgan sits in his room thinking, while Ezekiel comforts Henry.

The next day, Ezekiel and the others put one goddamned melon in a truck (???) and drive to the meeting point. Gavin and the others are there waiting for them. Gavin asks how Ben is. When no one answers, he seems genuinely sorry, and orders Jared (who shot Ben) to start walking back to the Sanctuary as punishment. Jared throws down the bow staff he stole from Morgan a few episodes back, and starts walking back.

Morgan picks up his staff, as well as Benjamin's, which was lying where it fell the day before. He then clubs Richard in the head and chokes him to death in front of both groups, while everyone looks on, seemingly powerless to intervene. He then tells everyone that Richard set up the whole thing—making them late and shorting the melon offering— as part of a plan to start something between the two groups. He tells Gavin that they get it now, and they can trust them from now on (using Richard's exact words). Gavin seems satisfied, takes the World's Most Important Melon and leaves.

Morgan tells Ezekiel that "Duane" died because of the choices Richard made, accidentally saying the name of his late son instead of Benjamin. Ezekiel tries to get him to come back to the Kingdom with him, but he refuses. They leave, and Morgan stabs Richard in the head so he won't turn. He then drags him through the streets, and plants him in his "Bury Me Here" spot.

Morgan goes to Caril's house and tells her that Negan killed Glenn, Abraham, Spencer and Olivia, and that everything Alexandria does now is for the Saviors.

The next day Carol enters the Kingdom again. Ezekiel and Henry are planting a new garden. Carol tells Ezekiel they have to joint the fight against Negan. Ezekiel agrees, but says, "Not today," as he and Henry finish the garden. Meanwhile, Morgan ominously sharpens the end of his bow staff...

Thoughts: 
• Wow, that had to be the shortest cold open in the history of the show, clocking in at just forty seconds. I think The Grove is the only other episode that might come close.

• Carol walks a mile or so to the Kingdom, using her machete (and sometimes her fists!) to kill dozens walkers along the way with her typical brutal efficiency.


She reaches the Kingdom's front gate and sees a paltry five zombies milling around. She decides the best way to dispatch this small handful of walkers is to grab an old traffic sign, somehow haul it up in a tree and sit on a platform(?). She then uses the jagged metal end of the sign post to stab walkers in the head as they lurch toward her.

What. The. Hell? That was all much easier than just stabbing them in the head with her machete as she did five minutes earlier!

Did she see the Kingdom guards on the wall and decide to show off for them? Give her killings a bit of flair to thrill anyone watching?

And what's up with that platform? Why is it in the tree in the first place? For a second I actually wondered if she built the thing just to kill these five zombies, but that would be ridiculous. On the other hand, there's so much bizarre crap going on in this episode that I honestly wouldn't rule out anything.

• Why is it that The Walking Dead effects team can create a perfectly realistic CGI tiger...

...but last week they gave us a CGI deer that looked only slightly less real than Disney's Bambi?

• This week we meet the hijab-clad Nabila, the series' first Muslim character.

I am 99% convinced that her inclusion is meant as a big "F*ck You" to Donald Trump and his ridiculous, ineffective and unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban. Her appearance is too perfect to be coincidental.

See, Trump supporters? Muslims are nothing to be scared of! They're friendly, they makes jokes and they even piss themselves when they see a tiger! They're just like you and me!

Sadly, even if the Zombie Apocalypse and there were only a few thousand humans left in the world, I have no doubt there would be some who'd refuse to work alongside this woman or try to kill her on sight.

Nabila may be the first Muslim to appear on the TV series, but there's been one in the comics for quite some time now. Siddiq appeared in Issue #127, and resides in Alexandria after moving from the Oceanside community (!).

• Let's talk about the melon in the room. This whole "melon drop" deal is one of the more bizarre scenes in the history of the show. Literally NOTHING about it makes one lick of sense, no matter how you look at it.

First of all, Gavin and his merry band of Saviors drive all the way out to the Kingdom's drop point, just to pick up an offering of twelve, count 'em 12 melons. 

That's it? All that trouble for twelve measly melons? They couldn't have just picked them up during the regularly scheduled weekly (or is it monthly?) offering? Was Gavin afraid the melons might go bad by then, and Negan just has to have a slice at breakfast as he reads the morning paper?

Gas is no doubt precious in this world, as there ain't nobody making any more. Once the available supply's gone, that's it (unless Eugene figures out how to refine crude oil)! Does it really make sense for Gavin to bring TWO truckloads of men to pick up a dozen melons? We don't know how far the Sanctuary is from the drop off point, but even if it's only ten miles there and back, that's still a huge waste of gas. They could have sent one guy on a motorcycle to pick 'em up!

It gets worse! Gavin discovers the offering is one melon short. Instead of saying, "Fine. Next week you owe us TWO dozen melons," or something like that, he actually tells Ezekiel he'll come back the next day. He's actually going to bring two trucks full of men out AGAIN to pick up one goddamned honeydew melon!

Those must be some damned good melons!

And then there's this. When the Kingdomites are preparing to meet the Saviors again the next day, they rig up an elaborate system in which they strap a small crate to the bed of their truck, and then carefully place the Most Important Melon In The World inside it.

Jesus Melon Farming Christ! Sit in the truck and hold it on your goddamned lap, Ezekiel!

As I said earlier, it's like someone from another planet, who's heard of Earth but never been there, wrote this episode.

• I thought it was interesting that Gavin seemed genuinely sorry that Benjamin died, and even punished Jared for shooting him. It helps give the Saviors a bit of depth to know that they're not all sadistic assholes like Negan.

• When Morgan strangles and kills Richard, it all happens chastely offscreen. We hear Richard's horrible gurgles and the bones in his neck snap, but we see none of it, as the camera lingers on Morgan's face instead.


The Walking Dead caught a lot of flak last year over the violent season premiere, in which Negan brutally clubbed both Glenn and Abraham to death with a baseball bat. Apparently some viewers were shocked by the fact that a show set in the zombie apocalypse would be violent from time to time, and were so traumatized they took to the internet (natch) to voice their outrage.

I wonder... is it possible this episode was filmed long enough after the season premiere that the producers decided to dial back on the violence?

• "Hey! Hey you! Morgan! You... you better stop! Hey! What are you doing, Morgan? You better stop it before someone gets in trouble!"

Why the holy hell did everyone just stand there staring helplessly at Morgan while he killed Richard? The Saviors, sure; they don't care if the Kingdomites kill one another. But why was Ezekiel frozen on the spot? Why didn't he step in? 

The Walking Dead has never been particularly subtle when it comes to symbolism. Remember last year's Start To Finish, in which a horde of hungry ants swarms all over a plate of food in Sam's room, shortly before Alexandria's overrun by zombies? This week's episode takes the visual metaphors to hilariously obvious heights.

Nibila informs King Ezekiel that there are weevils infesting the Royal Garden. Hmmm... some kind of pest infesting the place. I wonder what that could possibly mean?

At one point Carol's working in her garden, and literally sees a storm looming on the horizon! I honest to god laughed when I saw that one.

After Benjamin's killed, Morgan inadvertently refers to him as Duane, which was his late son's name. Do... do you think it's possible Morgan might have thought of Ben as a son?

Later Ezekiel and Henry plant a new garden, one without pests. Could it be that this represents King Ezekiel's decision to finally fight back and rid themselves of the Saviors once and for all?

In the final scene, we hear (but don't see) Morgan sharpening the end of his bow staff into a point. Gosh, he's turning his staff, which he generally uses defensively, into an offensive weapon. I'm not quite sure, but I think this scene might be trying to tell us that Morgan's formerly pacifist attitude has shifted a bit.

2 comments:

  1. The snark over the terrible terrible symbolism kills me XD

    I really really used to like this show, long after most people starting complaining it was too full of itself. But I can't make it through this season at all. It's just so stupid and pretentious now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There's nothing wrong with symbolism if it's done right- i.e. "subtle." But a LITERAL storm on the horizon??? C'mon!

    ReplyDelete

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