Synopsis of 7×02: Negan who? Carol and Morgan make it to the Kingdom and meet a brand new cast of characters in a lighter episode that still manages to bring the gore and some extra theatrics.
As The Walking Dead does, the episode after a heavy, emotionally taxing one is usually on the lighter side and this week the name Negan wasn’t even spoken as Carol and Morgan make their way to the Kingdom and learn about this new group alongside the audiences.
On the way there, Carol is still weakened from her gunshot wounds and blood loss, causing her to hallucinate the walkers as people being brutally murdered in front of her. By the time she wakes up again, she’s been sleeping at the Kingdom for two days. Morgan promptly takes her to see King Ezekiel…
To which, Carol smiles and delivers the delighted line, “I don’t know what is going on in the most wonderful way.” It doesn’t help that Morgan sprung the King bit and, you know, Shiva the pet tiger on her just before they announced themselves. Ezekiel seems interested in gaining Carol’s approval, while still letting her know that this community is all about filling up the well and she’ll be expected to contribute the resources she uses. We also met Jerry and I need so much more Jerry on this show.
After leaving his presence, Carol can’t pretend anymore and asks Morgan if he’s kidding about this make believe circus show – that, admittedly, is working out very well for them with their horses and gardening and children. It’s like Alexandria 2.0, only without any noticeable threats. Regardless, Carol promises to leave the minute Morgan lets her out of his sight even as he continues to refuse to let her die.
What does he immediately do after that promise? He leaves Carol for a trip into the city to round up pigs with some of the men from the Kingdom, including Ezekiel, Benjamin, and Richard – I’m also going to need so much more Richard in this show. They herd wild pigs into a room with a chained walker and allow the pigs to feast intentionally.
The group also uses it as a test for poor Benjamin, who struggles to kill a walker and is ultimately assisted by Ezekiel. Morgan also saves him to Ezekiel’s approval as they leave and he’s warned off of telling anyone else in the Kingdom about the going-ons in the city. Ezekiel gives a theatrical speech to the dead and they load up into a truck, headed for home while the pigs head in an opposite direction.
Ezekiel later approaches Morgan about teaching Benjamin to use the staff as a weapon, to which Morgan demures but is eventually convinced by Ezekiel’s impassioned plea that the boy has to live. While he teaches a slightly reluctant Benjamin aikido, Carol wheels herself around the Kingdom collecting supplies to leave.
Unfortunately, Benjamin is more interested in Morgan’s book than his self-defense classes and before they can get too engrossed in practice, they’re summoned by Ezekiel. They meet back up with Richard and the pigs, with Ezekiel warning Morgan that this is the cost of safety as some Saviors show up to collect the skinned pigs.
But things don’t go smoothly, when one of the Saviors antagonizes Richard and is only able to land punches when Ezekiel tells him not to fight back. In the chaos, Morgan realizes how easily it was for him to draw his gun on people again and has a moment of internal regret. When things calm down slightly, the Saviors remind Ezekiel next week is produce week and they drive off.
Back at the Kingdom, Benjamin is taking care of a younger boy and shares his past with Morgan. His father was a great asset to the Kingdom, but he and seven other people were lost in a mission to clear a building. Ezekiel’s been more careful since then and keeps an eye on Benjamin himself. This is also the reason Benjamin says they keep the deal with the Saviors quiet, because people would want to fight and ultimately people would die.
Benjamin also asks Morgan about his book while Morgan is in the middle of another crisis of conscience. He explains that it’s not his book, but that he’s learned you have to find the way through life for yourself, something Morgan is still fumbling with. Sometimes, he says, people change their minds, but when he later goes to bring Carol food, he finds her room empty.
She hasn’t made it far and is caught by Ezekiel and Jerry picking fruit from the trees. Jerry’s dismissed and promises to stay within shouting distance with deuces and Ezekiel finally drops his act. He tells Carol that she should never bullshit a bullshitter and she stays on the Ricktatorship party line by explaining to him that the Kingdom is a joke and he has no idea what’s going on outside.
Ezekiel shares his past with her, how he used to be in community theater and how he rescued Shiva after the start of the apocalypse, and explains that people want a leader to make them feel safe. It’s ultimately about finding something to believe in and to pull the community together as he drops his accent and lets her in on the secret.
However, none of that seems to sway Carol’s convictions and he offers her a last ditch effort to go and not go. Ezekiel explained that the King act was his way of dealing with everything and that he can help her if she lets him.
Morgan escorts Carol to the house near the Kingdom they saw when entering Ezekiel’s territory and they share a humorous goodbye. He leaves her and she goes about clearing the house of walkers and setting it up for herself. It’s only once she’s starting to get comfortable that Ezekiel shows up with Shiva to bring her a pomegranate.
I love Ezekiel in the comics and my guess is that we’re subbing in Carol for Michonne’s storyline and I’m not mad about it if we get to keep Richonne as well. Do I think it might be jarring for audiences to see him accept Carol and Morgan so easily on the flimsy excuse that he saw them defend themselves against some Saviors? Yeah, I do, but I’m not going to complain if it keeps King Ezekiel and Shiva (and Jerry and Richard and what happened to the ginger hockey knight from last season?) on our screens.