SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED “THE WALKING DEAD” EPISODE “THE WELL.”
A week after Negan’s murderous “Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Mo,” the show tried luring back traumatized viewers with catching a tiger by its toe.
Well, a CGI tiger, anyway, but the big cat made an impression on Morgan and Carol, whom we caught up with Sunday in a blissfully bat-bludgeoning-free episode that even sprinkled in a few laughs.
Carol was shot in the arm and wounded by one of Negan’s Saviors in last season’s finale, when Morgan broke his “all life is precious” vow to gun down her attacker and save her. That’s when the cavalry rode up, in the form of two armored men on horseback.
TV ratings: ‘Walking Dead’ boodbath matches all-time high
Say Hello To Lucille! A look at the iconic ‘Walking Dead’ weapons
This week, we learn they hail from The Kingdom; a bucolic D.C.-area colony that looks too good to be true. It’s safely set behind walls; with apple and pomegranate orchards; rows of crops; stables of horses, goats and pigs; kids going to school; people taking arts and crafts; a choir; cobbler at every meal; even movie nights!
In fact, they’re so comfortable that we see a kid whining about finishing his broccoli. Compare that to how close the Alexandrians were to starving, or the late people of Terminus resorting to cannibalism to survive.
The Kingdom is ruled by the eccentric King Ezekiel, who wears graying dreads, speaks like a Renaissance fair reject, and has an enormous, chained tiger named Shiva. The rule of the realm is, “You drink from the well; you replenish the well,” so everyone is expected to contribute.
Carol is still recovering from her wounds from the finale.
Carol, upon meeting the King after being unconscious a couple of days, offers her widest, fakest smile and laughs, “I don’t know what the hell’s going on, in the most wonderful way!” The King and his punny sidekick, Jerry, seem to buy Carol’s wide-eyed act at first.
Alternate ‘TWD’ scene shows Negan’s bat landing on someone else
Outside with Morgan, however, we see skeptical Scarol return. Once she’s recovered, she plans to slip away and continue on her self-imposed exile. She spends the next week or so cozying up to various members of the Kingdom — and stealing from them whenever their backs are turned.
Morgan, meanwhile, has integrated into the realm, and makes his way into the King’s good graces by taking a young man (Ben) under his wing, and teaching him to defend himself with aikido.
Morgan finds himself blending into The Kingdom.
But Negan’s shadow has spread to the Kingdom, too. Ezekiel has secretly bargained with the Saviors, and provides them with livestock and produce each week so that the realm can be left alone. He keeps most of his people in the dark about this arrangement, however, because he’s afraid they’ll want to fight back. And fighting Negan, as we learned last week, has deadly consequences.
This week’s offering is eight pigs — which, little do Negan’s men know, have been fattened up by eating zombies. So that begs the question, will the Saviors be sickened by eating tainted meat that’s fed on walkers? Is the Kingdom secretly trying to poison them?
The episode is otherwise a quiet one, culminating with Carol trying to run away from the community — but getting caught by King Ezekiel and Jerry as she raids the grove.
Zombies — and Negan’s Saviors — still threaten The Kingdom.
The King reveals he’s seen through Carol’s act, and comes clean about his own: Turns out, he’s a former zookeeper who bonded with Shiva after he saved her life before the apocalypse. He went back to check on the animals when everything fell, and she was the last one standing. He took her with him for protection, but the people he met came up with wild stories that he’d somehow fought and tamed the tiger, and who was he to correct them? This led to building up this fairytale community, and embracing life inside instead of fearing what’s happening outside, because, “maybe they need the fairytale,” he says. “People who feel safe are less dangerous, more productive.”
Oh, and as for his royal airs? “I used to be in community theater.” That elicits an actual laugh from Carol.
The King then offers a tempting contradiction to Carol, so that she can go away, but also stay. Huh? Well, we learn what it is at the end of the episode; Morgan escorts her on horseback to an empty house just outside the Kingdom, where she makes herself at home. And later that day, or maybe the next one, the King and Shiva pay her a visit – with a pomegranate. So it looks like they’re letting her pretend to be on her own out there while she sorts out where she belongs.
Is eating walker-meat safe?
—Stephen Yeun was not only missing from the opening credits — so was the shot of his pocket watch from Hershel that usually accompanies it. Michael Cudlitz was also missing. And our hearts break yet again.
—Frenemies Carol and Morgan have a nice moment as he escorts her out. “Ten more minutes, and I might start to regret all the times I tried to shoot and stab you,” she tells him.
There’s more to King Ezekiel than meets the eye.
“I think you’re my favorite person I haven’t knocked out; definitely top two or three,” he responds.
—What was your favorite King Ezekielism? I had a few: “Perhaps you think me mad?” And what does “pitch-kettled” mean?
—If you want to get really deep, the Kingdom has Biblical phrases scrawled on the walls, and it’s a veritable Garden of Eden in the zombie apocalypse, right? In the Book of Genesis, some interpret the “forbidden fruit” that Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge as being a pomegranate, not an apple. So it’s noteworthy that the King tries getting Carol to eat a pomegranate when they first meet, and she refuses. Yet later on, he catches her stealing one from his groves, and it leads to him revealing his true identity, and the nature of the Kingdom. And he offers her another at the very end.
Send a Letter to the Editor
Powered by WPeMatico