The Walking Dead “Bury Me Here” was written by showrunner Scott M Gimple and was directed by Alrick Riley. Given the importance of this episode to Morgan’s (Lennie James) story arc, it’s obvious why Gimple – who also wrote “Here’s Not Here” – was the one to write this episode. I knew almost from the first few minutes that Benjamin (Logan Miller) was not making it out of the episode alive. He had to die in order to change Morgan’s mindset, but it’s still a blow to the show.
The opening montage with them curiously and solemnly loading a single cantaloupe onto the truck establishes that someone has died – and who it isn’t as we see Morgan standing in the background as well as Richard and Ezekiel (Khary Payton). And of course, it’s Benjamin who we don’t see.
The first scene after the credits begins in the dark with a tiny noise of discomfort from a woman – and we quickly see that it’s Carol. One has to wonder, given her history of abuse, how long she’s had to stifle her nightmares – she would never have wanted to “disturb” Ed after all – and it’s a good survival technique when walkers are attracted to noise. She wakes, lights her lamp to push back the darkness – of both the night and her mind – and lights a cigarette before simply getting up. Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) lies have not stopped her nightmares or reassured her. She can’t stop thinking and asking the hard questions.
Adorably – and tragically – Henry (Macsen Lintz) has come to Morgan to be trained with the stick. Morgan knows he wants to be like his brother – and he makes sure that Henry admits it when Benjamin can hear. I loved the tiny smile of pride that flits across Miller’s face. Henry also proves to be a good – and somewhat precocious – student.
Meanwhile in a fabulous and utterly Carol-sequence, Carol sets off to get her answers from Morgan. I adored the pragmatic way she used a handy road sign to let the walkers essentially kill themselves without having to really work up a sweat herself – just more evidence of how well she deals with this new world.
Once again, I loved the Benjamin piece to this sequence. He is deeply impressed by Carol’s abilities, and his first instinct is to assure her that they were just coming out to clear the walkers she just killed. When Carol goes to leave, Benjamin asks to walk back to the cottage with her. He’s trying to learn and he’s impressed by her arrival. Carol thinks about it, but ultimately tells him to go do his drop. She doesn’t want to get close to anyone, but this has to be a decision she regrets.
Carol comes to Morgan as he’s working at his desk. She wants to know why Jesus (Tom Payne) brought Daryl and the others to the Kingdom. Morgan hedges. She wants to know if what Daryl said was true. Morgan tells her that she has to ask Daryl. He’s kept her secret – and what was said between her and Daryl is between them. McBride is – as always – fantastic in this scene as she tears up. She both wants to know the truth and doesn’t want to know the truth – but it’s clear she already suspects that she hasn’t heard it yet. Morgan offers to go back to Alexandria with her – she shouldn’t go alone.
And then he asks her if she got what she wanted – to get away from everyone. Or was it too late? He tells her that he’s ready to go back with her right now. Carol has an answer. Morgan doesn’t want to see Carol isolate herself – it’s no way to live. But he’s also got to realize that Carol’s “vacation” hasn’t changed her basic outlook. If people are killing her people, she’s going to have to fight back. Morgan also knows things are worse in Alexandria – it will be harder for him not to fight there, so it’s a sacrifice for him to leave the Kingdom and also a curious offer.
As Carol leaves, she pauses by a walker corpse. She seems to sense something or is she considering whether to go back or stay on the course she’s on – or does she sense that someone is watching her? And then we see that someone is. The next scene cuts to Richard. He looks at a backpack that says Katy and starts to dig a grave. Was he considering sacrificing Carol one last time? It is clear that he’s planning on sacrificing himself to force Ezekiel’s hand – but of course, that doesn’t work out.
Ezekiel gets a report from his gardener – Nabila (Nadine Marissa) – a new favorite character! And thank you to the writers and producers for introducing a Muslim character. She’s also adorably nervous of Shiva. Because, d’uh, tiger! Ezekiel assures her that Shiva likes her – but that’s what she’s afraid of. She has bad news. And a gigantic metaphor. The Royal garden is full of weevils and if they don’t cut it all down, they will spread to the main garden. The time of the Kingdom is over too.
Nabila tells Ezekiel that the beauty of it is that he can cut it all down and burn it, but if he wants, it can all grow back. They can lose the peace they have now – but gain it back even better. Ezekiel smiles at her attempt to cheer him up, and then Shiva make a bit of a growly noise. Nabila says, “Ok. I think I just pissed myself…” and takes her leave. We get a good close up shot of 12 cantaloupes being taken out of the garden.
Benjamin returns Morgan’s book. He’s still thinking about it. He quotes “if you injure your opponent, you injure yourself” and comments that you get injured no matter what. I loved that he brings Morgan a present for his “new place.” It’s a bullfight on a velvet background – with a no symbol painted over it – by “a girl he knows.” Benjamin found it on a scavenging raid. I loved how much backstory we got in that simple exchange – and more reasons to mourn Benjamin’s loss. Benjamin, of course, doesn’t kiss and tell – even when Morgan asks him again who the girl is later in the episode.
What really clinched it for me is Richard and Morgan watching Benjamin say good bye to Henry. Richard also gives up his backstory. He had the perfect life – perfect wife and a child at the perfect time. When he asks if Morgan had a family, Morgan only nods. He still can’t talk about it. But he’s also got new “sons” now.
Richard goes on to apologize for the tension between them, but reiterates that things can’t go on the way they have with the Saviors. He tells Morgan that he knows he’s a good man, but they day’s coming when he can’t be that good man – and when it happens, he tells Morgan not to beat himself up about it. He completely tips his hand to Morgan in this exchange.
We get another moment of lightness when we see Jerry (Cooper Andrews) stuffing his face with cobbler. Ezekiel snaps at him to leave it – but one puppy-dog-look from Jerry has him caving. Is he too compassionate and caring about his people to keep them safe? It’s a question that comes up time and time again in the series. I loved Jerry’s grin when he’s told he can finish!
Richard sets a trap to steal the cantaloupe, but he also makes sure that they find the grave. It’s interesting that as soon as they exit the truck, Richard is in charge, telling them to tighten up around the King and to keep their guns up – he especially makes sure that Benjamin is keeping himself safe. I had to wonder if there was a shout out to Supernatural when I saw “Dean’s Appliances” in the background. Supernatural has made a number of shout outs to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s playing Negan, including having Dean (Jensen Ackles) – Morgan’s “son” on the show – actually use a “Lucille” style bat in the last episode and muse that Dad would have liked it.
Ezekiel comments over the grave that “this world drives you mad. People have lived through every kind of misery – tyrants, genocide, systems of quiet hate while others enjoy peace on the same piece of land. Yet this. How we must exist now. It is mere luck that we are not all insane.” It’s Benjamin who points out that it’s not luck. “The world does drive people crazy now. You made us another world.”
Jerry makes the mistake of telling Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith) not to interrupt the King. But Gavin is having none of that – he’s not playing along with the King fantasy. The world that Negan has built is not the same one of compassion – he can’t exist with compassion in his world. Everyone is angry when Jared (Joshua Mikel) hits Jerry, but Benjamin’s “rat-faced prick” remark seals his fate. Jared is not happy about that remark – had he not made it, Jared likely would have shot Jerry. But Negan has taught them all well. It was never going to be Richard who got shot.
Gavin complains about the amount of stress he’s been having to put up with. When the offering is short, he demands the guns – and he does that first. Give the guns up or use them – that’s their choice. Richard says they should give up the guns. Ezekiel wants Gavin to give Morgan his stick back – after all, Morgan is just as lethal with it! Morgan also advises to give up the guns – it’ll be fine. And once they’ve given up the guns, Gavin tells them they’re short.
Gavin tells them he’s taken the guns because they don’t deal with emotion well – and it’s about to get emotional. Gavin tells him this is real, it’s happening, and the only time that matters is right now. Ezekiel has to learn the stakes right now. I loved that the screen went to black as Jared shoots – leaving us in the dark as to whom was shot – until after the commercial.
Gavin, to his credit, is furious with Jared. He’s completely dispassionate until Ezekiel tells him they have to get Benjamin back to the Kingdom – Gavin had fully expected that Jared would have taken out Richard – the logical choice as the troublemaker of the group who was causing most of Gavin’s stress. Gavin angrily orders Jared to give back Morgan’s stick and get in the car – like a naughty child. But then he tells Ezekiel that he must be “present” and listen. It’s interesting that Gavin is so convinced that Ezekiel only lives in a fantasy world when he’s actually been completely pragmatic about his relationship with the Saviors. Gavin insists that they bring him ONE cantaloupe the next day.
There’s no question that Richard feels terrible as they rush Benjamin to Carol’s – the closes place with medical supplies. Carol, symbolically is planting seeds in her own garden when they arrive. Her garden of Eden is about to come crashing down.
Benjamin tries to comfort Morgan – and repeats what he said earlier “to injure another is to injure yourself.” Ezekiel apologizes for bringing Benjamin to Carol’s after he dies. Carol doesn’t respond until Morgan suddenly leaves.
Morgan goes back to the grave. I loved the flashes that took us through from Duane to Benjamin – through the insanity of the signs – his “clearing” – and back to his learning a new way. But has he lost his tenuous hold on sanity? He ends up at the grave – this world drives you mad – and is about to slit his wrists – to bury himself there. But his rage won’t let him, and it leads him to kick the bin and find the missing cantaloupe. Literally uncovering Richard’s plot.
Morgan takes the bin and cantaloupe and confronts Richard in his room. Richard insists that he was going to give his life to show Morgan that they have to act to stop them. There’s a beautiful contrast between Morgan and Richard’s room. Richard’s walls are covered in maps and older, military-type pictures. His room is lived in – while Morgan is still getting settled.
Richard tells Morgan his history – how he started in a camp and did nothing. And he lost his wife and daughter. Makinen really knocks it out of the park in this scene. From his grief over his family and then his hatred of the Saviors.
He tells Morgan that they have to convince the Saviors that they know how to go on, that they will cooperate, while they really join with Alexandria and the Hilltop – it’s another nice juxtaposition between reality and illusion. James is also wonderful in this scene as he just stares at Richard – at first as if he’s beaten down and barely comprehending what he’s saying and then more alertly as Richard rolls out his plan.
Richard tells Morgan that he has to kill – or else he might as well just kill himself. He basically tells Morgan to kill him. Richard thinks he’s now going to be the one to lead the army to crush the Saviors. He promises to tell everyone what he’s done.
Morgan goes to his room and spends the night thinking. There are beautiful parallel shots of Morgan’s face in profile and shadow to the same shot of Carol from the opening. He’s also reliving his own nightmare. He sees Ezekiel comforting Henry. And the next morning we have a reprise of the opening scene – this time with an added shot of Ezekiel watching his garden burn.
They arrive with the cantaloupe for the drop off. Morgan wants to know if Richard has told them. Richard insists not now – but Ezekiel wants to know now – and then they are interrupted by the arrival of the Saviors. Morgan picks up both his own stick and Benjamin’s.
To his credit Gavin’s first words are to ask about the “kid.” And he’s not happy – he tells Jared to start walking back or he’ll kill him.
I loved that when Morgan jumps up, Gavin flinches back. I’m actually really liking Smith as Gavin. Morgan jumps up and tells Gavin that he wanted to show him that they really do get it. That they understand what they need to do, that they know how to go on. And Morgan has decided how he will go on – and it won’t be the peaceful path he’s followed – or so I’m betting.
Ezekiel is stunned that Richard did it. Morgan tells him that Richard thought he could choose who died – like that’s ever an option. Morgan slips, however, and says “that’s why Duane had to die.” This is a fascinating slip – Ezekiel asks “Duane?” Morgan had come to think of Benjamin as a son – a surrogate for Duane. But it’s even more than that. Morgan himself thought that he could choose to let his wife live (as a walker) – and ultimately that cost Duane his life. Morgan’s failure to act was as final as Richard’s. James is magnificent in this scene as it all crashes down on him.
Ezekiel shows his compassion again as he tries to bring Morgan back with them – he knows he shouldn’t be alone. But Morgan insists.
He drags Richard (how fun was that to shoot? Not!) and buries him in the grave that Richard prepared. The way he dragged him also reminded me again of Eastman. Morgan finds and understands the significance of the backpack. He buries it with Richard. Morgan uses his stick to clear the walkers on the way to Carol’s cottage in a nice echo of Carol’s journey at the beginning of the episode.
Morgan asks Carol if she wants to know what happened. She is concerned about him – he’s covered in gore – and he tells her what Richard did. Carol says she wants to know the truth – and Morgan tells her. James and McBride are fantastic.
Morgan goes to leave. He’s going to go and kill them, one by one. Carol runs after him to try to stop him. She tells him, “You can go. And not go.” And she looks at the cottage. She asks him twice – please – not to go. Will he stay at the cottage? I doubt it.
Carol, however, returns to the Kingdom, with her bag. She reenters the Royal garden – Ezekiel’s Eden – and he’s just starting to re-plant with Henry’s help. She tells him that she’s going to be there now. They have to get ready to fight. Ezekiel agrees – but not today. Today they plant the seeds for the future.
The final scene is Morgan sharpening his stick into a spear. Will he have the time he needs to re-find his equilibrium? Will he join the wider fight? Or will he go off on his own to fight them one-by-one?
This was a very emotional episode – with two fairly major episodes, but it moved the characters in directions that they needed to go. It’s interesting that Carol is aligning herself to fight with the Kingdom rather than with Rick’s group. Clearly, she’s hoping that she won’t lose her humanity if she stays with Ezekiel – or maybe it’s easier to lose people she’s not as close to? What did you think of the episode? Did both deaths affect you equally? Do you blame Richard for Benjamin’s death? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!