In “Bury Me Here,” The Walking Dead begins and ends with Carol and Morgan. Both find themselves exactly in the positions they’ve been avoiding as the agreement between the Kingdom and the Saviors starts to unravel. Ezekiel has been desperately clinging to the arrangement with the Saviors in order to keep his people safe, while Richard has been looking for a way to undermine the one-sided agreement. “Bury Me Here” serves as the death knell for the tenuous peace Ezekiel had brokered for the Kingdom.
“Bury Me Here” was written by showrunner Scott Gimple and directed by Alrick Riley (“Twice as Far” and “The Cell”). Though there some moments in the middle of “Bury Me Here” that gave us pause, the scenes with Carol and Morgan were extraordinary. The Walking Dead can be hit or miss with dialogue, but sparse conversations among Carol, Morgan, and King Ezekiel provided the gravitas necessary for the episode. It also helps that Lennie James (Morgan), Melissa McBride (Carol), and Khary Payton (King Ezekiel) are some of the best actors in the series. Riley’s wide shots and use of space conveyed divisions between characters and feelings of isolation. He shows us the motivation of each main character through their positioning, with Ezekiel looking over his Kingdom, Richard half-hidden as he harvests melons, Carol striding purposefully away from Benjamin, and Morgan taking the role of teaching defensive skills to the young. By the end of the episode, their moral positions have all changed.
Despite the emphasis on Negan and the Sanctuary in Season 7, The Walking Dead has done a good job of integrating characters from the Kingdom into the series. “The Well,” “Rock in the Road,” “New Best Friends, ” and now “Bury Me Here” have provided viewers with a good introduction to the community. King Ezekiel, young Benjamin, Richard, Jerry and even little Henry have become characters we’re invested in, to varying degrees.
Benjamin’s impending death was telegraphed throughout the first part of the episode—Carol refusing to help teach him, bringing a gift to Morgan, Morgan taking a fatherly interest in him, Richard noting that he’s too young to parent his brother, and telling Ezekiel that he’s created something different in the Kingdom.
“The world does drive people crazy now, but you made us another world.”
As soon as the confrontation with the Saviors started it was evident that it would be Benjamin who would die.
Having a hint of what’s to come made Benjamin’s death easier to accept. We’re fed up with The Walking Dead trying to fake us out or surprise us with characters’ deaths. It feels better to have a series of moments with Benjamin that make us care that much more about his death than to be totally surprised. The only unfortunate aspect was having a commercial after hearing the shot, rather than just showing us right away it was Benjamin. It didn’t increase our suspense, only our annoyance at the way the series continually underestimates its viewers. If you can make people care about a character through good writing, you don’t need to try to trick or shock viewers. You probably don’t need to kill off as many characters either.
While we might not have been surprised at Benjamin’s death, Morgan certainly was. He had allowed himself to begin feeling a part of the Kingdom, and had come to see Benjamin as a surrogate son of sorts. Benjamin’s death triggers his feelings about losing his son Duane, unleashing the madness Morgan has striven to keep locked inside.
As Morgan starts to fall back into an unbalanced state, he finds the missing melon and realizes that Richard is the cause of Benjamin’s death. Morgan manages to hold it together when he confronts Richard. Richard shares the story of losing his family, some of which had already been revealed to the audience when Richard tried to recruit Daryl in“New Best Friends.” Richard is driven by feelings of guilt for not taking the action needed to protect his child, something Morgan can relate to. Richard wanted to sacrifice himself in order to push Ezekiel into war, but Benjamin was the one who was killed in his stead. Though he seems genuinely regretful that it was Benjamin instead of him, Richard still has a Machiavellian air about him, and you can’t help but think that Richard figures the ends justifies the means.
When they return to the drop point it becomes clear that Richard plans to follow his own agenda regardless of the consequences, enraging Morgan.While everyone watches in horror, Morgan brutally strangles Richard. For a moment, we wonder if Richard asked Morgan to kill him, but it doesn’t seem that Morgan, who has resisted violence for all this time, would kill on request. Though it may not have been what Richard intended, Morgan ends up carrying out Richard’s plan, both in terms of sacrificing Richard and rebuilding trust with the Saviors. In his explanation to Gavin, Morgan uses the approach laid out by Richard to regain his trust:
“He [Richard] wanted to get something started between the Kingdom and the Saviors. I wanted to show you that we get it. That we understand what is it that we need to do. That we know how to go on.”
In the scenes between the Saviors and the Kingdom, Gavin seems almost desperate to keep the peace. He clearly must follow the Saviors’ rules in terms of ensuring the subjugated know their place, but he doesn’t seem to take pleasure in torturing other people in the way that some of the other Saviors do (like rat-faced Jared). Gavin recognizes the dangerous point they are at when he learns Benjamin has died, and seems quite concerned about what happens next. We’re curious about Gavin’s backstory. Does he have family he’s trying to protect?
After the Saviors leave, Morgan tries to explain further to Ezekiel, who seems more shocked at Richard’s betrayal than by Morgan’s brutal execution of Richard. Morgan refers to his own son, Duane, instead of Benjamin. Though Ezekiel tries to reach out to him, Morgan tells the others to leave.
Morgan buries Richard in the “Bury Me Here” grave, where he finds the backpack that once belonged to Richard’s daughter, Katy. You can feel that Morgan is on the brink of madness. We’re reminded of Ezekiel’s earlier words at this same spot:
“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’re not all insane.”
Morgan arrives at Carol’s cabin to tell her the truth, if she wants to hear it, before he leaves. When Carol asks where he’s going, Morgan tells her he’s going out there, somewhere else, “to kill them one by one.” Just as Ezekiel once suggested to her, Carol tells Morgan, “You can go and not go.” Later, We see Morgan sitting at Carol’s former cabin, making spears. It’s not clear if they’re intended for the dead, for the living, or maybe both. Has Morgan pulled himself back from the brink? We remember Richard’s earlier words to Morgan:
“The day is coming when you can’t be that good. When it happens, don’t beat yourself about it.”
Despite Benjamin’s attempt to connect with Carol several times, she has resisted, knowing that caring about others can lead to killing on their behalf. Just like with Sam, her efforts to scare off the young man only increase his interest in her. Both Sam and Benjamin recognized Carol as someone who could take care of herself without depending on others, making both of them want something from her. Sam sought out protection from his father, while Benjamin wanted to learn how to better protect his own family.
Though “Bury Me Here” is about the Kingdom on the edge of change, it’s also about Alexandria. Carol comes to Morgan asking him to confirm the truth of what Daryl told her. She’s a smart woman and can’t shake off how unusual it was for Jesus to bring Rick and the others to the Kingdom to ask for help. When Carol finally learns that Negan beat Glenn and Abraham to death with a baseball bat, as well as killing Spencer and Olivia, she’s compelled to action. The question remains: what will happen to Carol if she returns to her violent old ways? In “New Best Friends, ” she told Daryl if she starting killing again that “there wouldn’t be anything left of me after that.”
Carol arrives in the Kingdom and tells Ezekiel, “I’m going to be here now. We have to get ready. We have to fight.” Ezekiel, ever the wise leader, tells Carol, “We do, but not today.”
“Bury Me Here” Review
The Walking Dead takes us one step closer to war. Richard’s plan did work, though not for the reasons he envisioned. Rick’s arrival in the Kingdom only stirred up the desire to fight that Ezekiel had recognized in his people. We’re not sure if the writers want us to feel excited that the Kingdom is going to join Alexandria, but we mostly feel sad that this moment of peace for the Kingdom, for Carol, and for Morgan has come to an end. Morgan and Carol have lost more than most, and though they might be able to physically endure a battle, it’s not clear they can spiritually survive it. “Bury Me Here” brings this chapter to a close, and opens the door to a war that could bring even more death to The Walking Dead in what has already been a bloody Season 7.