This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 13
It feels like The Walking Dead pulled off a miracle this week, serving up a second genuinely excellent hour of television after last week’s fantastic “Say Yes.” It almost feels like the show could really dig itself out of the hole it made in 7A. If the last two weeks have proved anything, it’s that The Walking Dead is much better off without Negan or the comics baggage he brings with him. This second half of the season has shed the paint-by-the-numbers approach quite a bit, and it’s all the better for it.
Most importantly, “Bury Me Here” is the first hour spent in the Kingdom that’s actually worth watching. I’ve complained before that the Kingdom episodes have felt really out of place with the rest of the season, especially the bizarre “The Well,” which followed up the uber dark and violent season premiere with a mostly cheery episode that didn’t fit at all. It also didn’t help that 7A barely spent any time with Ezekiel and his people after their initial introduction.
But “Bury Me Here” is a step in the right direction in terms of making you care about these characters. There’d been a lot of build up with Richard and it finally paid off tonight. Ultimately, Richard is successful in his mission to ignite the war between the Kingdom and the Saviors, although things don’t quite go the way he planned. While perhaps some could call Richard a good guy, a misunderstood martyr, he fails to see the big picture until the very end. Richard has a singular vision, an internal madness we discover is brought on by the death of his own family, and it’s what gets young Benjamin killed.
It’s not too surprising that Benjamin died tonight, honestly. The show’s curiousity with this seemingly unimportant character marked him for death from the start. Benjamin reminded me a bit of season 5’s Noah, actually – a survivor young enough to still carry a little bit of hope in him. Like Noah, who died about thirty minutes after expressing his interest in becoming an architect, Benjamin hoped to learn to be a great warrior for the Kingdom in order to protect his little brother and the rest of his people. And it didn’t help that he seemed fond of Carol and hoped to learn from her. As we all know, young characters don’t fare well when they associate with Carol.
Speaking of Carol, I’m so happy this episode finally gave her something to do, even if it wasn’t too much. At least we finally got to see her wreck some zombies – and with a street sign! Melissa McBride continues to be a standout in this cast, and she’s all the better when sharing scenes with Lennie James and Norman Reedus. I really do like Carol’s unlikely “friendship” with Morgan, and I hope they continue to be close, even as Morgan goes into exile.
Morgan’s brief relapse was a bit forced, wasn’t it? I understand that Benjamin’s death caused him to have flashbacks and that a parent can never truly get over the trauma of losing a child, but it seemed a bit surreal when he went berserk on Richard (who, again, totally deserved – and wanted to – die tonight). Morgan’s turn felt more convenient to the plot than actual character progression. There was never any doubt that Morgan would kill again – there was even a bit of foreshadowing every single time someone reminded him that he had to kill to survive – but it felt a bit forced in this episode. But then again, he’s remained so passive throughout the season that I guess it was only a matter of time until he exploded. Call me nitpicky, but it just seemed a bit sudden.
Otherwise, “Bury Me Here” does a great job of finally selling the Kingdom as a place we should want to spend time in. It also moves the story forward very efficiently. There’s almost no fat in this episode, which is impressive considering the show has become a bloated monster this season. “Bury Me Here” is more proof that things that have worked for The Walking Dead in the past – original stories that stray from the comics and standard runtimes – still work now. It really does feel like this show is finally regaining its balance. Of course, I’ve been wrong before.