The Walking Dead: season 7 episode 13 – Bury Me Here
This week’s episode of The Walking Dead does the entirely predictable thing once again, killing off two minor characters in a single episode, but somehow manages to do so in a fairly unpredictable way. The series also sees a return to form for both Carol and Morgan, for better or for worse. Below is our spoiler-heavy review.
As a longtime viewer and avid comic reader of The Walking Dead, I find it exceedingly frustrating that the series rarely delivers something unpredictable and I’m able to accurately predict character deaths weeks before they happen. This week saw the end of both Benjamin and Richard from the Kingdom, the former I predicted in episode 9, the latter in episode 10 (I also mentioned Ben again at the very end here). As is customary on this show, both characters received heavy focus in the very episode they met their demise in. What’s more aggravating is that, with the exception of their leader Ezekiel, they were the only members of their community to get any character development. The others that have been present have barely had any dialogue, and it would be surprising if even the most dedicated viewer knows their names. With the exception of Jerry, who so far has only served as comic relief. If the writers hope to keep fans invested, it’s confusing as to why they repeatedly kill off minor characters just as we’re getting to know them.
Granted, something major had to happen to someone close to Ezekiel to serve as the catalyst that would motivate him into fighting the Saviors. And in that manner, their deaths severed the story. Since Richard was introduced earlier in the season, he’s been a force for trying to get Ezekiel to want to take on the Saviors, and knowing that sacrificing someone close to him would be the only means of doing so, he devised a strategy that would put the groups at odds with one another and effectively make this happen. Prior to their drop with the opposing group, he set out to block their path in order to make them late, and further incited the situation by making their delivery short. Given that he’s repeatedly and intentionally caused their meetings with the Saviors to be tense, he’s operating on the assumption that he himself will be the one to be killed. However, his attempted self sacrifice fails miserably, and instead of getting killed himself, Benjamin is shot in the femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death. As ever on this series, it’s always the ones with the purest of hearts and strongest moral compass who receive the most untimely deaths.
This is where things take an unexpected turn. Morgan, who’s been whistling the same “All life is precious.” tune since he returned as a series regular, has a complete breakdown over the death of Benjamin, who he’d been serving as a mentor to and had become very close with. Wandering out on his own to try to process what happened, he begins reverting to the mental and emotional state in which we witnessed him in during season 3 episode 12, when his main objective is to “clear” the world of anyone living or dead. At one point during this sequence he very nearly takes his own life. During his breakdown and despite his emotional state, he discovers the truth about why they were late for their drop and confronts Richard.
Here Richard’s past is revealed, and it tragically mirrors Morgans very closely. He discloses that he had been with his wife and daughter at the onset of the outbreak, but lost them both horrifically because he failed to act. This is not unlike Morgan’s backstory, as he failed to dispatch his zombified wife, who later attacked and killed their son Duane in front of him. This explains why Richard is so determined to act against the saviors, as he fears the worst should they fail to remove them as a threat. He tells Morgan that since his attempt at self-sacrifice didn’t go as planned, that he’ll admit what he did to everyone and spend the rest of his life making up for it by leading their people into battle against the Saviors. Not for the first time in the episode, he presses the fact that Morgan will need to kill. He also declares that they need to convince the Saviors that they understand how things work and earn their trust back, and that they need to do something to make them believe it, before joining the other communities and attacking, which Morgan later takes into his own hands.
Quite literally. They meet with the Saviors group the following day to deliver their missing cargo, and Morgan asks Richard if he told the others what he’d done yet. Richard says they’ll talk about it when they get back, which Ezekiel overhears and demands that they talk about it immediately. However, they don’t get the chance, as Gavin and his group of Saviors show up. Richard personally hands them what they came for, declaring that they know what needs to be done to keep the peace. Here is where things get really wild, as Morgan comes at Richard from behind, attacking him with his stick and then choking him and bashing his skull against the pavement. It’s an intense moment, and not a single person from either group knows what to do and merely stands by watching in horror. Only after Richard is dead does Morgan reveal how he’d set the whole thing up in an attempt to start something between the groups. Morgan reiterates to the Savior’s that they understand how things work and know what needs to be done, and moreover he did specifically what Richard said needed to happen, an act that would truly convince the Saviors that they know how to go on. It’s surprising that Morgan heeds Richard’s words here, and it will interesting to see how closely he carries that torch going forward.
It’s worth noting here that Gavin is probably the most reasonable Savior we’ve met so far. It’s very clear by his obvious exhaustion and body language that he really doesn’t want to be in the role he’s found himself in, and he’s proven to be rational at every turn. I would very much like to learn more about him as a character at some point. Ideally, I would prefer if he were one of the Savior’s to deflect from Negan and ultimately join the fight against him. But it’s too early to tell if that’s plausible, so we’ll have to wait and see.
The groups take their leave from one another with the exception of Morgan, who makes his way to Carol’s house. Earlier in the episode she went to the Kingdom to confront him about the situation at Alexandria, wanting to know if Daryl had told her the truth about what happened between them and the Saviors. He told her she needed to take that up with Daryl, and offered to go to Alexandria with her. She opted not to, and returned to the solitude of her cabin. After the incident with Benjamin, the group brought him there to try to save him, because she was closer and had medical supplies. It was too late for him, and he bled out on her table, which was a very sobering moment despite that she hasn’t allowed herself to become emotionally invested in members of the Kingdom. Here, finding Morgan at her doorstep once again, she asks what happened. Getting directly to the point, he flat out declares that he killed Richard and briefly states why but leaves out the details. He asks if she really wants to know what happened with Alexandria, and she reluctantly says that she does. McBride’s performance here is as captivating as ever, as her facial expressions reveal so much without her having to utter a single word. Morgan makes to leave, stating that he’s going to go out and kill as many of them as he can find. Seeing his mental and emotional state, she pleads with him to stay, saying “You can go, and not go.” Which are the very words that were said to her earlier in the season. For now he accepts, and is last seen carving a sharp point onto his stick. Carol on the other hand returns to the Kingdom to approach Ezekiel. She tells him that she’ll be staying there from now on, and says the need to prepare to fight. He soberly agrees, saying “We do. But not today.” He then returns to planting crops with Benjamin’s orphaned younger brother, and Carol joins them.
And thus the narrative flips both Morgan and Carol’s roles in one fell swoop, something that’s been much needed for ages. Despite the frustration over the very predictable deaths and the loss of two very compelling characters, this episode was executed rather impressively and with very strong performances from the cast. Next week takes viewers back to the Hilltop, finally granting screen time to Maggie, Jesus, Enid, Sasha, and other characters we’ve been missing. With only 3 episodes to the season remaining, the following episode will likely return to Oceanside. It’s anybody’s guess at this point as to how the storylines will culminate in the finale, and hopefully it’s done in a compelling and satisfying way.
Image credits: AMC, FOX