UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 2
Neil Brazier | On 01, Nov 2016
This is a spoiler-free review. Read on at the bottom for spoilers in full bloody detail.
While we’re still reeling from the shocking Season 7 opening, Episode 2 provides a welcome respite from fear and tension, a calmer affair – inasmuch as The Walking Dead can be.
The Well provides the yang to the last episode’s yin. Where Episode 1 was bleak and dripped in blood, the second offers hope, optimism and pomegranates. It’s unsurprising, then, that the focus is on Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James), one half of whom is the embodiment of tranquility amid the apocalypse and the polar opposite to the baseball-wielding leader of the Saviours, who just broke their friends.
Picking up from where we left them, Morgan and Carol are helped by some strangers back to a new compound. The inhabitants there call it The Kingdom and it is presided over by a larger-than-life character named King Ezekiel (Khary Payton). And his giant pet tiger named Shiva. The Kingdom looks bigger than Alexandria and well supplied with crops growing in every conceivable location, including abandoned filing cabinets. Children are being schooled, although in what is unclear (probably not the same lessons Carol was teaching back in the prison on how to stab a zombie in the brain). The Kingdom could be exactly what both Carol and Morgan need, arriving at a point in their lives when they are both troubled, Carol having recently been begging for death and Morgan dealing with taking a life. Perhaps this is the catharsis that they both require.
With cobbler for every meal and a choir singing Bob Dylan, it all seems a bit like a fairytale. Carol finds herself unable to accept the absurdity of the situation, that a man could be so arrogant as to dub himself King, and so refuses to take a bite of an offered apple in case it turns out to be poisoned. In her first meeting with Ezekiel, Carol once again dons her butter-wouldn’t-melt facade, later admitting to Morgan they’d be better off outside the walls. Without a casserole to hide a knife, Carol finds other ways and means to get what she needs to escape the watchful eyes of Morgan and The Kingdom. But before she can leave, she comes face to face with the King again and she learns that they may have more in common than she first thought.
As Carol plots to leave, it appears Morgan has become part of the community. It’s unclear how long the two of them have spent at The Kingdom, but it is long enough for Ezekiel to trust Morgan and let him in on some secrets that not even all the residents are aware of. The King appears to be the sort of character Mogan would get along with, both sharing a level head and philosophical sensibility. Mantras are painted on walls throughout the Kingdom and everybody appears to get along happily, folding clothes or maintaining produce and livestock. It isn’t until Morgan goes outside the compound that he begins to understand that the Kingdom and Alexandria are much more closely connected.
Morgan accuses Ezekiel of using him to benefit his needs, but Ezekiel offers the opposite view: that their community can protect him and allow him not to partake in violent acts, if he doesn’t want to. It’s a similar vein that the King takes with Carol: she can go and not go at the same time. If she wanted, she could even drop her fake persona and be the real her again, living at the Kingdom and helping to replenish the well she takes from. Where Episode 1 was a reset for Rick and his survivors as to where the balance of power lies, could this be the reset for Carol and Morgan to find their true selves again?
The impact of the premiere left everybody trembling and so to have one of the series slower episodes come next is a smart move. It’s not without its gore and the opening zombie attack, as Carol struggles with hallucinations, is remarkable in both the slaughter and the haunting images it creates. The Well establishes a bigger world, but maybe not in the same hopeful way that it paints; Morgan, Carol and we all should enjoy the yang for as long as we can, before the inevitable yin comes knocking at our door…
The Walking Dead Season 7 is available to buy and download on pay-per-view VOD. For more information, click here.
Entrails and innards (spoilers)
The Kingdom are supplying the Saviours with goods, meaning they are aware of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), so it won’t be long before everyone gets introduced. The Saviours are unaware they’re being given plump pigs, who have recently been gorging on dead flesh. If and when they find out the truth, the tense confrontations might end in more bloodshed.
When Rick (Andrew Lincoln) hears of The Kingdom, perhaps it will give him hope and a renewed vigour to take on the Saviours again. Neither groups look like they hold much of a threat, but perhaps together, they could be dangerous. If not as an army, then the two groups each have experience of the Saviours; their knowledge could be vital.
Ezekiel was a zookeeper before the apocalypse and found Shiva injured and alone in the zoo. He tended to her and she became loyal and tame to him. However, when you see a man walking around with a tiger, stories start to spread and so Ezekiel started to play along, to create his own reality. He has become something larger than life and in this world, that is the sort of person who becomes a leader. He plays his role well; he is wise and philosophical, choosing to watch situations and assess them, before taking action. He could be a strong ally to Alexandria.
We meet some other residents of The Kingdom, one Morgan agrees to teach in the art of Aikido whom Ezekiel believes will, one day, be an important part of his council. The other doesn’t like having his life dictated to him by the Saviours and could very well end up the first victim, should war break out.
Ending with Carol taking up residence outside the Kingdom, is this the start of a reduced role for her? Ezekiel visits, offering her a pomegranate and being invited inside. Are the two just friends? Having shed his cloak in front of her, does Ezekiel find a sense of relief in the company of Carol, or is he just being neighbourly? Will Carol want to return to Alexandria and will her mind be swayed, when she hears about the fate of her former family?