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TV Review: The Walking Dead 7.2 “The Well”
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The Walking Dead 7.2 Khary Payton as Ezekiel

The Walking Dead
Episode 7.2 “The Well”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Matthew Negrete
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Christian Serratos, Sonequa Martin-Green, Josh McDermitt, Khary Payton
AMC
Air Date: October 30, 2016

Warning – SPOILERS for AMC’s The Walking Dead…

Last week’s Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was probably one of the most difficult episodes to watch and to process. Not only did it see the death of two major characters, but it saw the breaking of the group’s leader Rick by Negan, the new villain (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). It’s clear now that Negan and his “Saviors” are the real deal, and they are not easily beaten or outsmarted by Rick and his crew.

This week’s episode, 7.2 “The Well,” does not return to Rick and company. Instead, we finally find out what happened to Carol and Morgan.

When last we saw Carol at the end of Season 6, she had left the comfort of the Alexandria Safe Zone to go off on her own. She no longer wanted to kill. But once she was out on the road, she ran into a group of Saviors, who threatened her life. She killed most of them, with one left behind playing dead. Meanwhile, Morgan was on her trail, hoping to bring her back to Alexandria. When he does find her, she’s injured and hiding, and insistent that she doesn’t want to go back with him. She also seemed to have given up caring if she survived. She goes so far as to skip out on Morgan, but the remaining Savior catches up with her and plans to kill her with his dying breath. Morgan finds them, and kills the Savior, going against his beliefs that all life is precious and that he does not want to kill. But he did it to save Carol. Just then, two men in homemade armor arrive on horseback, and offer help for injured Carol.

The new episode opens with the men taking Carol and Morgan to safety. We then see from Carol’s hazy perspective the men cutting down some walkers. She takes this opportunity to sneak off. Seriously, HOW is she even able to do this; she’s been shot and is losing blood, yet she running away. Yeah, no. Anyhow, she passes a house and sees a woman in the window beckoning to her, but it’s really a walker. Then more people in armor on horseback arrive and put down the Walkers, but when Carol gets a flash of their human selves as they die. Carol goes off with the group, and Morgan, who marks a mailbox and lifts its red flag, presumably to mark the route.

Carol comes to in a bed, with Morgan sitting beside her. She’s been asleep for two days. Morgan explains where they are — they’re at a place called The Kingdom. He relinquished their weapons to this community as requested; he did so because they were treating her wounds. Morgan has been contributing, to do his part. He then takes her out in a wheelchair and we see the community members tending gardens, and doing work. Morgan confirms that these new people don’t know much about his and Carol’s history.

Morgan takes Carol to meet the community’s leader – a man called King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), who’s sitting on a stage with a large tiger named Shiva laying at his side. In a theatrical way, Ezekiel welcomes Carol to the Kingdom, but she doesn’t seem shocked by what she sees and he detects her skepticism. When confronted, she puts on her goodie-goodie housewife persona that she does around people she believes are stupid and who want to believe her act. She behaves as though the Kingdom is just so overwhelmingly wonderful. “I think you’re amazing, its amazing, and your Shiva, amazing,” she tells Ezekiel, like a giddy schoolgirl. “I would be speechless if I wasn’t already speaking.” Ezekiel invites Morgan and Carol to stay and become part of the community, if they do their part in running it, and says it has a lot to offer – a choir, fruits, etc, for those who contribute. “Take from the well, replenish the well,” he says. He then offers Carol some pomegranate, poetically describing about how they are sweet surrounded by sour, but worth the effort, but she declines, saying that pomegranates are not for her – she prefers chocolate. Now, I know the whole thing about the fruit is really about Carol herself, but I really get annoyed when I see anyone in this post-apocalyptic world refuse food. Give me a break!!!

Anyhow, when Morgan wheels out Carol, who right away says, you gotta be shitting me. “This place is a circus,” she tells him, “It’s play time.” She says she can’t and won’t “do this.” She’ll wait and when no one is around to stop her, she’ll go. Morgan fights her on this, stressing that he won’t let her die out there.

After, Ezekiel is out in the field with his men, and Morgan is accompanying them. They have several pigs with them, and they’re having them eat some walkers, though Morgan doesn’t understand why. Then, a young man named Ben comes forward – it’s time for him to fight a walker like he was taught. But, he’s still not ready, because the other men, including Morgan, have to dispatch the walker for him — this shows Ezekiel what a good fighter Morgan is. After the pigs have feasted, Ezekiel tells Morgan to keep this under wraps at the community, and then gives a farewell to the remaining walkers, telling them that his people will live on in their place.

Back at the Kingdom, Ezekiel asks Morgan how he learned to fight, and he says a cheesemaker taught him (referencing Eastman, who not only taught him to use the staff, but taught him how to live a life of peace). Ezekiel then asks if Morgan will teach Ben how to fight, like he was taught. Morgan isn’t very receptive to the idea, but Ezekiel says that he needs Ben to live, because he will be an important part of his kingdom. Morgan then agrees to it.

Next up, a montage set to the sounds of the choir practicing. Carol sits up in bed looking at the wheelchair; outside, she sees Morgan teaching Ben to use the staff, so she wheels herself out there and snatches a knife off of a table without anyone noticing. It’s obvious she’s gearing up for her next escape. Next, we see her talking to a man doing the laundry, gushing over how wonderful it is there that there’s cobbler every day, getting so overcome that she gets the man to get her some tissues (nice that they have tissues on hand!). Carol then swipes some clothes off the table. Back to Morgan and Ben: Ben is getting better, and now he wants to talk about the book Morgan is always reading, The Art Of Peace. He wants to borrow it, having read all of the Kingdom’s books twice already, including a refrigerator manual. Morgan is hesitant, but eventually lets him borrow it the book his mentor, Eastman, gave him.

Back to the swine: Ezekiel and his men, along with Morgan, are awaiting the arrival of another group. Guess who? Yep, it’s the Saviors! That’s why they were feeding the walkers to the pigs, because they have to give tribute each week to Negan’s men — another secret Ezekiel is keeping from the bulk of the community members, as these are burdens to be carried. The Saviors come, and the leader of this pack is Gavin; he approves of the fattened pigs. Ezekiel boasts that he always fulfills his obligations on time every time. A woman on Ezekiel’s team goes to explain to Morgan who these people are, but he interrupts her: “I know who they are.” Just then, one of the Saviors taunts Richard, one of the Kingdom members, who doesn’t want to take shit so he fights back, but his leader tells him to stand down. Gavin lets his guy punch Richard a few times, before ordering him to stop, before warning Ezekiel that they’ll be back in one week for some produce and he wants everything on his list, not one bit less. This is to show us how far Negan’s reach stretches, and how smug his people have become. When they leave, Ezekiel asks Morgan if he killed one of the Saviors to save Carol. “Is that why you wanted me here, so I can do it again if I had to?,” Morgan asks. “No,” Ezekiel responds, “quite the opposite in fact.”

Later on, Morgan has dinner with Ben, who’s taking care of his boy. The boy is off to movie night, but Ben says he has to finish what’s on his plate first, so the kid eats the last piece of broccoli. I mention this part because remember how I find it annoying when anyone doesn’t finish their food? There’s zero way even a bratty kid wouldn’t finish his vegetables under these circumstances. Ugh! Anyhow, Ben says he’s doing his best to raise the boy and that Ezekiel, who had been a close from of his late father, has been a great help with this. His father had gone off on a mission, but him and several others didn’t make it back; it was in the early days of Ezekiel’s leadership, so he’s learned more about what to do now. Ben reveals that the Negan deal is kept a secret because the community members might want to fight back, but they wouldn’t win. Ben brings up that Morgan only eats vegetables, and that his Art Of Peace book had a handwritten inscription in it about not killing. Morgan says, people can point you in the right direction, but you have to find the way for yourself. He thought he found the way, but he’s just fumbling through. He then declines an invite to movie night, so he can go talk to Carol, but when he does, she’s not in her room.

And where is she? She’s off! She’s out in the woods at night making her great escape. But Ezekiel and his enthusiastic right-hand man Jerry are there. The King says he knows she’s leaving, and she puts on her coy act to say there’s nothing she can do there. He tells her to cut the act — “Never bullshit a bullshitter,” he tells her, revealing that he knows her game. “The sweet and innocent act you’re doing is quite clever,” he says to her, “blend in, get people to trust you, then get out.” But, he knows the guns she had in her bag were from the Saviors, so obviously she’s a survivor. She laughs, saying that he’s a joke and so is the Kingdom. She’s been in seemingly idyllic places like this before, where the occupants are living in a fairy tale world like the one she says he’s selling his people. “Maybe they need the fairy tale,” he says, stating that people want someone to follow, that it’s human nature, and that they want someone to make them feel safe. People who feel safe are less dangerous and more productive — which we know he needs to deal with his quota for the Saviors.

Interestingly enough, Ezekiel then reveals a big secret about himself to Carol. He says that people see a man with a tiger, and they create a backstory for him about taming a wild animal. The truth is, though, he was a zookeeper before the end of the world. Shiva had gotten injured and he risked his life to save her; once the apocalypse came, he went back for her and saved her once more, and she has been his faithful companion ever since. So, people started treating him like royalty. “I faked it til I made it,” he confessed, before asking Carol to keep his revelation to herself. Turns out, he also did community theater, which is why he’s so dramatical. After all this, Carol is still not impressed. “I don’t care,” she tells him, “you do what you want, I just want to go.” But where will she go? “Away,” she says. He says he’s sorry for what she’s been through, but that it’s not all bad out there; life is not all bad, because where there’s life, there’s hope — heroism, grace, hope, love. Where there’s life, there’s life. He tells her that she doesn’t have to walk away, that he can help her if she lets him. “Why do you care?,” she asks him. “Because it makes me feel good,” Ezekiel responds.

The next day, Carol and Morgan ride out to the house where he had left the mailbox flag up. It’s also where Carol saw the woman/walker beckon to her. Morgan says it’s up to Carol if she wants to go and that it’s always been up to her. “You’re my favorite person I ever knocked out,” he jokes to her. She promises to watch out for herself. “Always watching, always ready,” she tells him, which is a callback to another episode. He puts the red flag on the mailbox down as he rides off with both horses and Carol enters the house.

The episode ends with Carol burying the home’s former occupant. Inside, she lights a fire, getting cozy in her new abode. But there’s a knock on the door, and then a tiger roar. She opens the door to find Ezekiel and the tiger Shiva. “You really gotta try one of these,” he says, holding out a pomegranate.

Wow, he’s really not letting up on her. Is he interested in her, or does he realize he needs her for his own army.

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