After last week’s Emmy-worthy season premiere, are you ready for a nap? Because that’s basically what we got with this week’s new episode of “The Walking Dead,” entitled “The Well.”
The episode opens on Carol who is somewhere between hallucinations and reality, and it’s hard to figure out what’s really happening. She’s been shot multiple times. She thinks she sees walkers coming, but then they look like normal, healthy people. And then they look like walkers again. And she loses consciousness somewhere in there. She also wakes up again and starts running. With bullets in her body. Because nothing stops Carol. Except Morgan, who goes after her and eventually gets her some help when mysterious, armored soldier types show up. Which is what we saw at the very end of the second to last episode last season.
At some point in there, they are in front of a rundown house next to a graveyard, that was probably once really charming. Morgan fixes the mailbox for some reason that isn’t explained. And then they move on with the guys with the armor and horses.
Carol wakes up in an unfamiliar place. Morgan is in a chair by her side. She asks how long she’s been asleep and Morgan says it’s been about two days. She asks where they are. Morgan takes her for a walk. Well, he walks. She’s in a wheelchair. He explains they are in a place called The Kingdom and that he’s been helping the people here because they have been helping Carol.
Carol asks Morgan what he told the people about who they are and what they were doing. He says he kept the facts pretty minimal. They were out and ran into some trouble and Carol got hurt. “That’s all he knows.” Carol asks who they’re going to see and Morgan tells her the man in charge is called King Ezekiel.
He takes her into what appears to be a theater and says, “Oh, I forgot to mention, King Ezekiel has a tiger.”
So we meet King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and his tiger Shiva and Carol is as confused as we are.
Shiva growls at Carol and King Ezekiel says, “Shiva, the fair maiden has been through enough.” And Carol continues to wonder what the hell is going on, as is the entire audience.
King Ezekiel continues speaking like an actor fresh off a performance of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Or maybe “Spamalot” feels more accurate.
He continues, “You have been addressed by the king, yet you remain silent. Do I detect skepticism? Perhaps you think me mad…Tell me, what do you think of The Kingdom, Carol? What do you think of the king?”
Carol, because she’s more awesome than basically all the other characters on this show combined, slaps that brilliantly fake smile on her face, grinning ear to ear and says, “I think you’re amazing. It’s amazing. And your Sheba (Shiva)…amazing. I would be speechless if I wasn’t already speaking. I don’t know what the hell’s going on in the most wonderful way!”
Neither do we, Carol. Neither do we.
Ezekiel has his right hand man, Jerry, offer Carol some fruit but she refuses, saying she prefers chocolate. Because who doesn’t? She is particularly averse to the pomegranates. Ezekiel continues trying to impress her by mentioning a guitarist, and a choir. She says she just needs some rest and thanks “Your majesty? Should I call you Your Majesty?” He says yes.
Outside, Morgan tries to soften up Carol, who proclaims The Kingdom to be a damn circus. She says she’s going to go once she’s healed. Morgan says no, but Carol tells him it’s not up to him. He says, “I know what I’ve started, but I won’t let you die out there. That’s what I won’t do.” She says it doesn’t matter what he does.
King Ezekiel takes a group which includes Morgan and some Kingdomites, Benjamin and Daniel and Richard and some others. They go to a nearby city, though it’s not clear which city it is. Morgan asks what they’re doing and Ezekiel, in his weird LARP-ing speech explains that they’re hunting that which used to be captive on the farm.
Pigs. They’re hunting pigs.
Which they then lock into a room with a walker and the pigs eat the walker. When Morgan asks why, Richard explains that Ezekiel wants their bellies full of rot.
Some walkers arrive and Richard tries to teach Benjamin, who’s a young kid, probably around Carl’s age, how to kill a walker with a machete. When Benjamin freezes, Ezekiel kills it with his sword. And Richard tells Morgan that he should maybe not tell anyone back at home about the pigs.
Back in The Kingdom, Carol sits in her room, plotting. Outside the window she can see Morgan training Benjamin, and a choir is practicing a song. She wheels herself around the complex. When she passes a table with a knife on it, she discreetly snags the knife and keeps on going.
Later, she is talking to one of the Kingdomites as he folds laundry. She goes on and on about how wonderful everything is, pretends to cry and everything. She asks for tissue and when he turns to find her some, she grabs clothes from the table and slips them under the blanket on her lap.
Ezekiel watches Morgan and Benjamin’s training session. Benjamin and Morgan talk about books. Benjamin says he’s read everything in The Kingdom. Twice. And makes some jokes about all the things he knows about HVAC systems.
Ezekiel asks them to come with him and bring their guns.
In a parking lot, he explains to Morgan that he keeps the pigs a secret from his people and that it’s a burden. Some Saviors show up, led by someone named Gavin. He counts the pigs and thanks them for their hospitality, asking for help loading the pigs into the trucks. When one of the Kingdomites, Diane, tries to tell Morgan about the Saviors he says, “I know who they are.”
And because the Saviors are completely rational people all the time, one of them picks a fight with Richard. “We’ve been letting you off easy,” he says. Richard says, “Sure you don’t have that backwards, kid?” And then he punches the Savior kid. The two fight and everyone on both sides raise their guns, although Morgan seems to question his own move.
Ezekiel tells Richard to back off, which he does. But then the Savior kid sucker punches Richard and Ezekiel tells Gavin to put a stop to it. Which he does.
As the Saviors are leaving, Gavin says, “Same time next week, Ezekiel. It’s produce week, so…produce.” And then he makes a not-so-subtle threat to kill Richard if they don’t give enough.
The Saviors leave and Morgan and Ezekiel talk about the fact that Morgan has encountered them before. Ezekiel asks if the man he killed to save Carol was one of them. Morgan says, “He was, yeah. Is that why you brought me here? Because I could do it again if I had to?” Ezekiel says, “No, Morgan. Quite the opposite, in fact.”
Later, Morgan is in the cafeteria with Benjamin and his little brother. Benjamin is trying to raise the kid on his own since their parents are gone. He tells the story about how his father was killed clearing a building. He calls them “wasted.” Then Benjamin explains why Ezekiel hasn’t told the people in The Kingdom about the Saviors. Because if they knew, they’d want to fight, even though there aren’t enough of them.
Benjamin asks about Morgan’s book, The Art of Peace. He asks about the philosophy of aikido, and the No Killing policy. Morgan tells Benjamin he has to find his own way. “I’m just fumbling through. Sometimes we change our minds.”
And then he leaves to see Carol, who has disappeared, just like she said she would.
And Morgan goes after her. Just like he said he would.
Carol’s out in the dark, picking fruit. From the darkness, she hears, “By all means, fair maiden, have one.” He lights a fire and reveals himself and Jerry and explains that he had this enclosure transformed into a garden. “It pleases me that you have seen it with your own eyes before choosing to leave us so suddenly.” Carol simply says, “What good am I here?”
Ezekiel goes on, “What’s that saying? Never bullshit a bullshitter.” He calls her out on her sweet and innocent act. And then mentions that he knows her guns came from Saviors. He tells her she won. She says, “By ending up here?” And she laughs. They talk about the fairy tale he has constructed and they sit down on a bench.
He says, in a normal voice, “People want someone to follow.”
And then he explains that he was a zookeeper that rescued Shiva when she was injured falling into an empty concrete moat. He rescued her and she trusted him after that, never attacking him. When the zombie apocalypse started, he went back to the zoo and found that Shiva was one of the only animals left. She was alone and scared, so he kept her.
Oh, and he also used to do community theater. And who did he play? King Arthur. MacBeth. It all makes sense now.
“My name really is Ezekiel, though.”
He asks Carol to keep his secret. She says, “You do what you want. I just want to go.”
As she gets up and walks away, he says he’s sorry for whatever bad she’s been through. And he reminds her that there’s so much more bad out there, especially when you’re alone. “The thing is, though, it’s not all bad. It can’t be. Life isn’t.” He suggests that she could “go and not go.”
Carol asks, “Why do you care?” He says, “Because it makes me feel good.”
He offers to help her get some things together and have someone she trusts meet her at the gate so that she can go and not go.
And so, Morgan escorts Carol to the caretaker house of a cemetery, where he fixed the mailbox earlier. He asks if she’s sure that’s what she wants and she says yes. So then he says, “It should have always been up to you.”
And then he says, “You know, you’re my favorite person I ever knocked out.”
They exchange a few more words and then he leaves her. She goes inside the house and kills an old woman walker.
Later, she’s all alone in the house and starts a fire in the fireplace. Someone knocks on the door. She’s nervous, and then hears a tiger growl. She opens it to find Ezekiel, holding out a pomegranate. He says, “You really gotta try one of these.”
All right, so that’s the episode. What did you think? Is this setting us up for more exciting things? Or is this another case of “Here’s Not Here?”
Let us know what you think in the comments below!