by: Transmute Jun
Previously, on The Walking Dead….
Carol left Alexandria, and Morgan went looking for her. After she badly injured a bunch of Saviors, the one survivor came after her, wounding her leg and about to kill her when Morgan found them. Morgan saved Caro’s life by killing the Savior. A pair of people, one on a horse arrived and offered to get Carol some help.
We pick up the story with Carol being wheeled somewhere on a cart drawn by the horse. She goes in and out of consciousness, but awakens to see the men (including Morgan) fighting walkers. Hallucinating, Carol wanders away (although how she can on an injured leg, I don’t know). She sees the walkers as living humans, and is horrified to witness everyone killing them, including Morgan. Other people on horses arrive, clearly with the men who are helping Morgan and Carol. They kill more walkers, who are congregating outside of a cottage, until the area is clear.
Afterward, Morgan carves a chevron on the post of a roadside mailbox, similar to the markings he carved on trees back in the days when he was searching for Rick’s group around Terminus. Morgan also raises the postal flag on the box. The group continues onward, approaching a city. (Washington DC?)
We next see Carol waking up in what appears to be a hospital room, with Morgan by her side. He tells her she has been out for 2 days. He takes her (in a wheelchair) through the community, which is called The Kingdom. They have taken Carol’s bag of weapons, to be held until her departure. The Kingdom appears to have a thriving farm, a school for children, and a large number of horses. Morgan says that he has been helping out, and then takes Carol to meet the leader of the Kingdom: King Ezekiel.
It would be a severe understatement to say that Carol is taken aback when she meets King Ezekiel, who has the mannerisms of a medieval ruler and a pet tiger named Shiva. She is speechless, but when Ezekiel clearly expects her to respond to him, Carol’s face changes, and we can see her putting on a new persona, even more silly and clueless than the role she played in Alexandria! She giggles and sighs, capturing everything with the priceless phrase, “I don’t know what the hell is going on, in the most wonderful way!”
Ezekiel buys the act, and offers her fruit, which she refuses, even after he insists. He wants her to eat a pomegranate. This seems to me to refer to the Greek legend of Persephone, who was trapped in Hades and ate pomegranate seeds while there, which permanently tied her to the underworld domain, preventing her from fully leaving, even once she was rescued. Carol, probably understanding this legend, continues to refuse the fruit.
Ezekiel tells her that the motto of the Kingdom is ‘Drink from the well, replenish the well.’ As long as Carol gives back, she is welcome.
After they leave, Carol tells Morgan that this place is living a dream, and she will be leaving; he can’t stop her. Morgan tries to dissuade her, but reluctantly understands that it isn’t his choice, it is Carol’s.
As Carol recuperates, Morgan goes out with the men of The Kingdom, including Ezekiel, his steward Jerry, and a young man named Ben. They are gathering wild hogs that are running through the suburbs of the city. To Morgan’s surprise, the men of the Kingdom are letting the hogs gorge themselves on walker flesh. When Morgan asks one of the men, Richard, why they would do this, Richard tells him that he ‘wants the hogs full of rot’.
Walkers approach, and the men stand back to let Ben have his first kill, ‘just like he’s been taught’. But Ben hesitates, and Ezekiel kills the walker instead. Morgan is informed that none of what he saw should be discussed back at The Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Carol goes around the Kingdom, lifting useful items: a knife, some clothes, and half a bar of chocolate.
Back at the Kingdom, Ezekiel asks Morgan to teach Ben how to use the staff, having been impressed with Morgan’s fighting skills on the mission. Ezekiel says that he needs Ben to survive, and that the boy hasn’t taken to other weapons. Morgan eventually agrees, and Ezekiel is grateful.
Carol looks out her window to see Morgan teaching Ben, while preparing for her departure.
Morgan and Ben are asked to go on another outside mission. They are led far away, where the hogs have been butchered and skinned. Ezekiel says they do it far from The Kingdom so the people there won’t hear the hogs’ screams. But it turns out the hogs are not for the Kingdom… they are for the Saviors. A contingent of Negan’s men arrive, and the butchered hogs are a delivery. Now the ‘full of rot’ comment is understandable. Apparently, The Kingdom delivers a weekly tribute to the Saviors, always complete, always on time. Still, Richard resents this state of affairs, and gets into words with one of the Saviors. He is forced to back down by Ezekiel and the current Savior-in-charge. The man who confronted Richard hits him and taunts him before they depart.
Morgan acknowledges that he knows who these people are, and admits (when asked) that the man he killed to save Carol was one of them. He agrees not to mention the Saviors back at The Kingdom: Ezekiel doesn’t want his people to know about them, because if they knew, they would fight, and some of them would die.
Back at The Kingdom, Ben talks to a small boy, acting like a big brother, with Morgan looking on kindly. Once the boy leaves, Ben speaks with Morgan, who notes that Ben is close to Ezekiel. Ben explains that his father was close to Ezekiel, but got killed clearing out a building. Ezekiel feels guilty and doesn’t want more deaths. They discuss Morgan’s philosophy, Ben realizing that Morgan doesn’t like to kill. Morgan responds that he had to find the way for himself. He thought he had it, but now he knows that he is just fumbling through.
Morgan brings a tray of food to Carol’s room, finding it empty.
After dark, Carol stops by to pick an apple from a tree as she leaves, but Ezekiel catches her. He asks her to stay, but she says no. Ezekiel notes that Carol’s bag (the one they confiscated) was full of guns belonging to the Saviors. He is impressed that she was able to kill so many of them. But Carol still refuses.
Ezekiel calls out Carol’s act, telling her, “Never bullshit a bullshitter.” He was fooled at first, but now sees through it. Carol comes clean, asking honestly what’s going on, saying that she has to laugh because this whole place, and by extension, Ezekiel, is a joke. Isn’t it?
Ezekiel seems to have a connection with Carol, revealing himself as she has just done. His voice changes, and he admits that he was a zookeeper, who befriended Shiva when he was working by saving her life when she injured her leg. When the apocalypse came, everyone he loved died, and Shiva was the last one left, so he took her with him. When he met others, they thought of him as a wild man who had tamed a tiger, and they needed a leader, so he filled the role.
“I found a way to deal with the bad by going overboard with the good. ” he explains. He has made people feel safe, and wants to build a community. He wants Carol to be a part of it. There is clearly a connection between them, making me think that perhaps Carol will take on the relationship with Ezekiel that Michonne had in the comics. But Carol is fighting it.
“Why do you care?” asks Carol.
“Because it makes me feel good.” Ezekiel answers. He offers to have her things brought to the gate so she can leave, but it is clear that he hopes she won’t.
But she does. The next morning, we see Morgan taking Carol to the border of The Kingdom’s land, leaving her behind. He tells her, “I think you’re my favorite person I ever knocked out.” And it is clear that the two of them have gotten past their differences.
Carol walks away, but doesn’t go far, approaching a cottage just on the outskirts of Kingdom lands. She goes inside and uses a knife to kill a walker inside. Outside, Morgan lowers the flag on the mailbox with his staff.
Later, Carol hears a knock at the door, and she tenses, until she hears an animal roar as well. She opens the door to see Ezekiel, offering a pomegranate. She smiles, finally accepting his presence, although we do not see if she accepts the pomegranate.
Overall, I loved this episode. The character of Ezekiel is larger than life, and this comes through much more in video form than it does in the comics. He is a captivating character from the start, and his interactions with Carol hint at better things to come. I am looking forward to seeing him become an ally of Alexandria.
For those who play the No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s season 7 mission involves Morgan and Carol killing walkers outside the cottage.
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