'The Walking Dead' season 7, episode 13 recap: Is the Kingdom finally ready for war?
The Walking Dead hasn't really shied away from the fact that the Kingdom is the greatest place to live out your days in the zombie apocalypse. Everyone's generally quite friendly. They grow their own crops, and there's a CGI tiger and endless cobbler. But the 13th episode of the show's seventh season, "Bury Me Here," lingers a bit too much on idyllic shots of the Kingdom and its easygoing inhabitants. That pleasantness is basically an omen for shit going down.
It doesn't take long for things to go awry with the Kingdom, and it unsurprisingly harkens back to its shaky alliance with the Saviors. They've successfully been offering up their tributes every week, but things have been a bit more tense lately. At their last exchange, a Savior confiscated Morgan's beloved staff. Richard has warned King Ezekiel that the Saviors' alliance will turn sour, and that the Kingdom should turn their attention toward helping Alexandria and Hilltop's insurrection.
In fairness, the audience knows this is inevitable; the show is precipitously close to events of the comic book's all-out-war arc, save for a few unfamiliar faces living in a junkyard, turning zombies into spike-covered gladiators. What the series needs to do is bring the Kingdom to this decision in a manner that isn't entirely predictable. In other words, the opposite of Alexandria's solution to finding more guns — which everyone knew, for months, led back to Oceanside. Oddly, while "Bury Me Here" does lead to some predictable deaths, it's the execution that's unexpected (in a good way!).
Let's cut to the chase: If the Kingdom wasn't going to help Rick and the rest of Alexandria fight the Saviors, you'd imagine someone would have to be killed for them to change their minds. So, who's a good candidate to die tragically? Probably not Ezekiel, the group's charismatic leader — or his awesome tiger Shiva, who needs to kill some zombies onscreen before they cut her expensive-looking CGI from the budget. New fan favorite Jerry would've been a safe bet, but AMC would've (hopefully) had to deal with the wrath of rioting fans sending hate mail in the millions. Then there's Benjamin: the affable kid who took to being Morgan's staff-wielding protégé. He has an adorable little brother, and as he reveals to Morgan in "Bury Me Here," he may have a budding romance with a girl at the Kingdom.
Yep, Benjamin's dead. But his death at the hands of the Saviors still comes in an unexpected way, as it's inadvertently caused by Richard. Their bounty for this week was 12 melons (seriously), but once they're at the exchange, one of the Saviors mentions there's only 11 in the truck. How? Well, Richard created a diversion on the road heading toward the exchange, using it as an elaborate ruse to hide one of the melons. He believes this will lead to the Saviors killing one of the Kingdom's people as retribution for their error — it'd ostensibly be him, since they dislike him the most — and he even creates a makeshift grave for himself with a sign: "Bury Me Here."
The Saviors do point a gun at this head, but instead of shooting him, they elect to shoot Benjamin (one also whacks Jerry on the head with Morgan's staff, which is unacceptable). Benjamin bleeds out and eventually dies at Carol's house outside of the Kingdom, though not before he has a final goodbye with his mentor, Morgan.
Morgan has supplanted Carol as the most compelling character on The Walking Dead, since the latter has been marred by poor writing and a character arc where she's more interested in being left alone than helping anybody else. Conversely, Morgan has been steadfast in his commitment to pacifism in The Walking Dead — the exception being the Savior that tried to kill Carol in the season six finale — which is inherently fascinating. However, watching Benjamin die flips a switch in his head; he's getting violent flashbacks to his days of "Clearing" from season three, as well as visions of his dead son, Duane. It's also in this state of disarray that Morgan comes across the twelfth melon, and eventually puts the pieces of Richard's plan together. As Richard later explains to him, he was going to use himself as a martyr so that Ezekiel would finally be willing to fight against the Saviors. But Richard conjures up a new plan: Convince the Saviors that they learned their lesson after Benjamin's death to throw them into a false sense of security for when the Kingdom later rebels.
Technically, Richard's wish is granted. When the Saviors return the following day for their — again, this is such an absurd item for such a large amount of drama — twelfth melon, Morgan proceeds to whack Richard over the head with his now-returned staff and choke him to death. This obviously freaks the shit out of everyone, but he then explains that Richard was behind the melon drama, and that he was intentionally trying to incite violence between the Saviors and the Kingdom. So the Saviors do leave, thinking all is well and that the Kingdom understands their place in the post-apocalyptic hierarchy. In reality, Benjamin's death was over the line: The Kingdom is going to go to war against the Saviors along with everyone else.
All that's left is for Carol to be brought into the loop, since she's the only person on the show who has no idea what happened to Abraham and Glenn. Thankfully, an unhinged Morgan covered in zombie blood is up to the task, which leads Carol to leave her remote home to return to the Kingdom and help them get ready to fight. This also puts Carol much closer to Ezekiel and creates a potential romance some fans have been shipping since they first met, assuming Shiva is cool with this whole thing.
But, again, even in the waning moments of "Bury Me Here," Morgan takes the deserved spotlight. It's a subtle moment, but we see Morgan at the doorstep of Carol's home, apparently sharpening one side of his staff to fashion it as a spear. If killing Richard coupled with flashbacks to season three wasn't clear enough, we have the staff turning into a spear for a more pointed symbolism: Morgan is no longer a pacifist on The Walking Dead — just in time for an "All Out War."
Mic has ongoing coverage of The Walking Dead. Please follow our main Walking Dead hub here.