This is a spoiler-free review. Read on below for additional spoilery bits. For information on how to watch it, click here.
Truths hit home hard in Episode 13 of The Walking Dead’s seventh season, when the unnecessary tension between the Kingdom and the Saviours finally boils over at what should have been a routine tribute. Jared (Joshua Mikel) has been itching to make an example out of Richard (Karl Makinen) for weeks and there is only so much diplomacy King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) can bring to the drops when his nobility isn’t recognised, so it was never going to take much to tip things over the edge. Their deal is simple: be on time, every time, and deliver what is asked of them; fail, forget a cantaloupe, and the consequences could be catastrophic.
Richard has been trying to conceive a plot that will convince Ezekiel to go to war against the Saviours and he finally believes he may have found the catalyst. Without authorisation, he puts his plan into place but he isn’t expecting the results that may change the values of the Kingdom and one of its residents, Morgan (Lennie James).
Usually a picture of calm and tranquillity, Morgan is pushed to his breaking point and forced to make a choice. His dilemma feels tinted with shades from the season premiere, as he holds the key to life and death is in his hands, while the weight of the decision he must make flashbacks to Season 3, where Morgan lost his sanity after losing his son.
Lennie James really does shine as Morgan – even when preaching peace and forgiveness, when you want to smash his own stick against him in frustration, he engages you as a character. He only appeared in one episode during that third season, but Clear was one of the finest episodes to date, thanks to Morgan’s fall into insanity. Bury Me Here shows promise that the many layers to his appeal are beginning to show again. Even as Richard embarks on a four-minute monologue, Morgan steals the scene through his unwavering intensity. Richard tells him the “days are coming when you can’t be that good”. Morgan’s silent reply speaks volumes.
The Royal Garden, meanwhile, has an infestation of weevils. It’s an obvious metaphor for the choices that need to be made at the Kingdom and it’s not the only unsubtle thing about the episode. For most of the second half of this season, The Walking Dead has been following a paint-by-numbers approach to build up to its inevitable showdown. In doing so, it has made itself predictable in several ways – on occasion, some things are blatantly spelt out for us. Regarding those weevils, Ezekiel is told it can all be dug up and burned away, but if he wants, it will all grow back. Awfully like the other situation the King is facing. Yet even in face of such obviousness, the show can still swerve and hit you in the face with the butt of a stick when you least expect it.
Despite its bluntness at times, Bury Me Here shines as a character driven episode for both Richard and Morgan and may plant a new seed in the Royal Gardens that could grow into conflict. With only three episodes of the season remaining, the reality of the looming war with the Saviours takes a Shiva-sized bite out of the Kingdom that could swallow a cantaloupe.
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Entrails and innards (spoilers)
– Two deaths? That’s certainly unexpected. One was anticipated, as things were looking far too joyful for Benjamin. Just as we predicted last season with Abraham meeting Lucille, as soon as you find happiness, you find death. Benjamin learned the ways of Aikido and peace from Morgan, he had found a lady friend, he was happy – and therefore was the perfect pawn to greet death.
– Richard is a different matter. He wanted to die, thinking he would be the sacrifice, but never did he think it would be at Morgan’s hands.
– Morgan enacts Richards plan, taking from his speech the importance of re-gaining the trust of the Saviours and almost repeating that verbatim when sending his message. Throughout the episode, Morgan was told he must fight, that he must kill and, after witnessing Benjamin’s death, the parallels of his own son’s death return to haunt him in a cracking jumble of quick shots that show Morgan on the brink, ready to slit his own wrists to end his torment.
– In the wake of Morgan’s madness, Carol (Melissa McBride) takes it upon herself to be the peaceful one, calming Morgan and telling him to go and not go by taking up residence in the cabin instead of his insane one-man-killing-spree plan. But as Morgan sharpens his stick at the end of the episode, he turns his head, as if he hears something. Earlier, it looked as though someone was watching Carol as she left the Kingdom and it was thought that person was Richard as he set up his diversion, but perhaps that shadow is the same one that might have snuck into the cabin? Have the Takers found the Kingdom?
– After learning of Benjamin’s death, the Saviours curiously appear to show remorse. Upon learning of the short shipment, Jared is told to deal with the situation as the Kingdom have to learn the consequences. At the last tribute, Richard was told he would be the first to go, so perhaps the guilt came from not making good on their word or having the death of a young kid on their hands, but it’s a peculiar situation for a group of mercenaries to show guilt over their own actions.
– Richard’s plot might have gone off track somewhat, but essentially, Benjamin’s death followed by Richard’s has achieved just what Richard wanted. The Saviours now believe the Kingdom to be back to their subservient selves and Ezekiel now agrees with Carol that it’s time to fight. In another quote that states the obvious, this time from Morgan’s little book The Art of Peace, “to injure an opponent is to injure oneself”. The Kingdom may have suffered casualties, but that has only set a false belief within the Saviours that they’re safe, when they’re far from it.