“Do you want to know what happened in Alexandria?”
That’s it guys, after this episode we’re officially back to crazy Morgan and kill-happy Carol. Well, almost. We’re on the cusp of it, with Carol prepping for war and Morgan sharpening his peace staff into a spear. Just a shame it took crazy Richard getting Benjamin killed to do it.
And all of the drama this episode came down to a melon, a cantaloupe in fact. It says a lot about the state of the world when a whole bunch of people’s lives are ruined because of one missing fruit. The melon-stealing culprit is Richard, the Kingdommer we’ve seen a few times now who is the most sick of King Ezekiel’s reluctance to go to war. He was ready to join Rick back when the Alexandrians offered a team-up. Richard’s plan to be the catalyst for war is to hide one of the 12 cantaloupes that they were delivering to the Saviors, making the Saviors so angry that they’d kill him and give King Ezekiel the kick up the backside that he needs to finally go to war. But as they say “The best laid plans of mice and men…” And this is The Walking Dead so things were always going to get violent. The Saviors kill young Benjamin instead, just as he was getting interesting.
Richard’s plan makes sense. We, the audience, have been on the edge of our seats the past few weeks waiting for war to break out. And the only person who he thought was going to get hurt was himself. The Saviors told him that he would be first to go. Also he’s been through some pretty tough times. After things go south there is a wonderful scene where Richard tells Morgan about his wife and daughter’s deaths. He blames himself for not doing anything because he didn’t thing he was strong enough, or smart enough. He wasn’t about to sit by and let the same thing happen again. And yeah, I think he was on to something.
Pacifist Morgan definitely does not see things Richard’s way. Benjamin was becoming like a son to him, as we see in in Morgan’s heartbreaking slip of the tongue when he refers to the dead Benjamin as “Duane”. This is an awesome callback to season 1 too. See I knew there was a reason I memorised all of this lore! We also see flashes of Morgan’s dead wife and his time as a crazy person in Season 3’s excellent episode ‘Clear’. After all of his hard work it looks like Morgan has lost his mind once again.
It’s difficult to say what would have happened if Richard’s plan had worked. They probably would have gone to war and Benjamin would still be alive, but things don’t work like that in this world and Richard has to pay. And he does so at the hands of Morgan. This scene was great. The sudden burst of anger and violence from Morgan reminded me of Rick, although Morgan was a lot more focused and controlled. Perhaps he’ll go back to his way of “clearing”. But this time with Saviors.
Carol still seems to be struggling in this episode. We see her waking up in the middle of the night. She gives in and goes to The Kingdom. She senses that something must have happened at Alexandria and that Daryl was perhaps not telling the whole truth when she spoke to him. And now Morgan more or less confirms her suspicions. He offers to take her to Alexandria to see for herself but she declines. Carol thinks she doesn’t need to know, that ignorance is bliss perhaps. But when crazy Morgan offers to tell her the truth at the end of the episode she gives in. I’m glad they didn’t stretch out this plot further than they needed. We need Carol back in the game.
At the end of the episode she heads back to The Kingdom with her go-bag in hand. There, Ezekiel is tending his ruined garden with Benjamin’s little brother. He understands that they need to fight but “not today”. And that’s fine. Some people might get the wrong end of the stick here and think that this is the writer’s killing more time. I didn’t see it like that. It was Ezekiel slowing Carol down, making sure she doesn’t run off half-cocked. They’ll go to war but they’ll be a plan. Now I’m all for Carol and Daryl, but part of me really likes the relationship that’s forming between her and King Ezekiel. He trusts her and she is one of the very few that know his regality is a sham. All aboard the Carzkiel train!
There were some very impressive performances in this episode. You know the one I mean. That’s right; Jerry. He shows once again that he is the secret MVP of the show, with his giant axe and love of cobblers. Just you wait until it hits the fan. You’ll see what I mean.
And Lennie James and Melissa McBride were great too! Lennie James is probably the best actor on the show. Every single second he is on screen is engrossing and I’m so glad he got some real plot to work with this episode. He’s been sitting on the sidelines for too long. It’s amazing to see him change just in this episode. When it begins he is a stoic mentor teaching aikido, then we see him happy when he’s talking to Benjamin. When he confronts Richard in his room later on he is like an animal, ready to tear Richard to pieces. Again I’m seeing a huge parallel between Rick and Morgan. At some point their crazy will align and then The Saviors are in trouble.
This was a really clever episode of the show. They’ve been on a really good run recently. This episode showed perfectly the benefits to splitting off from the main cast every now and then. You also got a feeling by the end that things have changed irrevocably. Now we only need the Hilltop and the odds in this war are even. And judging by the number of absolutely crazy people and tigers on Rick’s side, I really wouldn’t want to be the Saviors.
Reviewed by Jack