Last week’s Walking Dead was a dismal, awful mess, and it made me not want to continue watching the show. I was ready to be done!
So imagine my surprise when “The Well”…redeemed all that. A bit. I really enjoyed this episode, and honestly with Glenn gone this is the show I want to watch now. Move Maggie and Carl and Michonne to the Kingdom and just let me tune in there every week. Forget Rick and Daryl though; they’re just draggin’ me down.
I’m not gonna spend too long here, because I want to get to other stuff, but here we go.
The episode opens with Carol and Morgan from last season. People from the Kingdom offer to help them because Carol’s been shot. They load her into a cart and head toward home, but on the way they’re ambushed by zombies. Carol wanders off, but Morgan finds her, and then scouts from the Kingdom ride in and rescue all of them.
When Carol wakes up two days later, Morgan takes her to meet Ezekiel. The King.
Carol’s reaction to the whole thing is the most “What the FUCK!?!?” look of astonishment you’ve ever seen. She plays cute and innocent to Ezekiel, and when Morgan rolls her out (she’s in a wheelchair), her exact words are “You have to be shitting me!”
This man looks completely insane, on his throne with his pet tiger, and Carol has no patience for either him or the so-called utopia he’s created with gardens and a choir and shit.
Morgan, however, is entirely into it, and he quickly gains Ezekiel’s trust. He goes with some of his people to collect pigs (who eat zombies because pigs will eat literally anything), and then Ezekiel asks him to train one of the older kids, Benjamin, in the ways of the zen staff fighting. Morgan agrees, slightly reluctantly, and the two hit it off.
Later Morgan goes with the same group to deliver the now-slaughtered pigs as their tithe to the Saviors. Ezekiel keeps the arrangement secret from his people, but they’re always prompt with their deliveries. Later Benjamin tells Morgan Ezekiel doesn’t want to lose any more people trying to fight the Saviors, so he made the deal instead.
Carol, meanwhile, is rolling around charming everyone with her innocent act while she steals things to help her escape: weapons, clothes, etc. Late one night she’s stealing apples from the orchard, on her way out, and Ezekiel catches her.
He drops the king act and tells her about himself: pre-zombies he was a zookeeper, and one day Shiva fell into the moat around her enclosure. He put a tourniquet on her leg to save her life, and after she was his buddy. He ended up at the zoo during the zombie surge. Shiva was one of the few animals left alive; he rescued her, and she kept him safe until he got to the Kingdom.
Now he’s the guy with the tiger play-acting at being king, and his people follow him because they need someone to follow. He encourages Carol to stay, but she’s stubborn, so he tells her she can stay and go. She’s skeptical, but the next day she and Morgan head for a house she saw on their way to the Kingdom, and Morgan leaves Carol there.
There’s a knock at the door: it’s Ezekiel, his kitty, and a pomegranate.
Did I mention I really liked this episode?
It was clearly meant to wash the taste of last week out of our mouths, and it did a good job. Ezekiel is a foil to Negan: where there’s life, there’s hope. He’s built this beautiful place based on reward, not punishment, and he keeps his people happy and productive by fostering the best of them. There’s school for the children, a choir, plentiful food, but none of Alexandria’s “the zombies are just fun play times” blindness.
I’m nervous, because of course I don’t trust anything on this show anymore. Ezekiel offers Carol a pomegranate the first time they meet, but she refuses. She says they’re too much trouble. Later, when he shows up at her door, he offers her another one. The implication is she takes it, and since Ezekiel calls her “fair maiden,” we’re obviously getting some Hades and Persephone parallels.
Since Carol is apparently both staying at the Kingdom and leaving it, I guess she’s doing kind of a “three months in hell, three months on earth” type deal, like Persephone. The difference being I think Ezekiel is actually what he seems. I don’t know why I trust him, and it’s probably stupid, but the fact that they feed the pigs zombies before giving them to the Saviors says a lot.
Didn’t I just say I’m nervous about it? Well, yeah. But a big part of me isn’t. Yeah, Ezekiel took the Savior’s deal, and that sucks, but I also…Rick’s way is always so all or nothing. Ezekiel realized that he could keep his people safe without going to war, so that’s the way he took. It’s not great, but he’s also doing small things to fuck with Negan’s people. That’s something.
I keep thinking about the French in WWII. They surrendered to the Nazis quickly when they realized they couldn’t win, and then the French resistance spent the rest of the war making the Nazi’s lives in France difficult. Is it better to keep fighting until you’re dust and rubble, like Rick does, or to pretend to make nice while tweaking the other guy’s nose? I don’t know. There’s something to be said for preserving the Kingdom’s way of life, and maybe part of Ezekiel is just biding his time until a bigger, stronger force can come along and liberate them.
It’s a moral dilemma, but considering the losses Rick’s group has already suffered, I might vote for the “bide our time” option while you try to take them down from the inside.
But, then, I like fruit.
In other news, I’m shipping Carol and Ezekiel so hard it’s not even funny. Daryl who? Honestly they have so much chemistry, and his bullshit + her bullshit is like a match made in conman heaven.
Next week is apparently Daryl with the Saviors. More Negan. Ugh. I want to stay in this show with the apples and the singing and the hope. It’s okay to have hope. Everything doesn’t have to be all icky and dark all the time.
Images curtesy of AMC and tumblr user blurrymelancholy