The Walking Dead: 7.13 Bury Me Here

After the brilliance that was the Rick-and-Michonne-rich Say Yes last week (excluding the CGI deer that everyone’s been complaining about), this week’s The Walking Dead was another killer of an episode. Bury Me Here returned to the Kingdom to check back in with characters Carol, Morgan, and Richard as tensions between Ezekiel’s crew and the Saviours drew to a climax.

Our first focus was Carol, who we saw alone in her cabin, waking from dreams that had her crying and making distressed noises in her sleep. From there she headed to the Kingdom with resolve to go and see Morgan, expertly dispatching a few walkers on the way. Once arriving at Morgan’s door there was no beating around the bush, she just wanted to know what really happened at Alexandria and whether or not what Daryl told her was true (clearly unable to pretend any longer that it probably was). Morgan refused to discuss it with her as he insisted what Daryl said to her was between the two of them, but this only confirmed to Carol what she’d been suspecting. She has tears in her eyes as Morgan offered to go with her to Alexandria, and I can only imagine how painful it must have been for her having to imagine going there, not knowing who wouldn’t be alive when she arrived. She turned away and left without saying a word.

For all of this season’s faults, I’m really happy to finally see Carol getting a fair amount of screen time again that isn’t just her in full-on killing mode. Her strength, resilience, and gentle nature that’s still there underneath the ruthlessness are traits that make her character extremely admirable and worthy of paying attention to, even in times when she’s not being overtly “badass.” Melissa McBride is an extremely talented actress and it really shows in these quieter moments, where she is able to perfectly convey the heartbreak and hardship of a situation without even needing to speak.

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The main event of the week was Richard’s botched attempt to martyr himself, which was a lovely idea but just too perfect a plan to work out smoothly. On their way to deliver the Saviours some cantaloupes, the Kingdom crew find their path blocked by an array of shopping carts forming a large arrow, pointing to a grave with a sign saying “bury me here.” There’s a somber moment while Ezekiel and co. consider how morbid it is, before carrying on and thinking no more of it. But when they arrive at the usual drop point, it seems they are one piece of fruit short, even though the king personally counted them before they left. Naturally, the Saviours wouldn’t stand for this enormous transgression and when it seems that the long-haired wanker is finally about to shoot Richard in punishment, the little sadist opts to make Benjamin’s leg the recipient of his bullet instead.

It becomes obvious as Richard has a gun pointed at his face that it was he who was responsible for this, and that the earlier grave was for him. He and said gun-holding Saviour have been at odds for their past several meetings, so it makes sense that Richard would assume he’d be the one to brave the bullet (particularly as it’s previously been said explicitly by Gavin that he’d be the first to go if there was any trouble). Despite how badly his plan turned out, Richard’s character consistency satisfies me. It was good to see him still doing his best to trigger a war even after his failed attempt to recruit Daryl to that cause. There are definitely parallels that can be seen between him and Rosita this season, but where she’s chaotic, Richard was calculated.

After getting shot, Benjamin was rushed to Carol’s for help as it was nearer than the Kingdom, but in the end he bled out anyway. I’ve been saying Benjamin probably wasn’t going to make it ever since his character was introduced, and brief mentions of a possible love interest for him earlier in the episode really cemented the fact that he was almost definitely going to die before the day was out. Seeing it happen still wasn’t particularly pleasant, though. This show has an unfortunate habit of killing off the most precious characters that really don’t deserve it, so Ben’s optimism and general sweet and likeable personality were warning signs right from the start. I’m hoping this trend will get switched up soon and we’ll start to see some of the nastier characters dying off, otherwise there’ll surely be only more predictability in the future. It’s also worth noting that there’s an extra degree of tragic in Benjamin’s story as he wanted to go with Carol and learn from her instead of going to the Saviour meet, but Carol insisted he go. Now he will never get to be the fighter he had potential to be, and Carol will possibly have to deal with even more guilt if she hasn’t already buried it.

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Benjamin’s death most profoundly affected Morgan. It seemed to trigger him into spiralling back into the unhinged mental state he had in Clear, back in season 3. This was shown in a roughly cut together series of flashbacks portraying that grief-induced madness and all the anguish and horror associated with it. For a moment Morgan almost lost himself completely, contemplating suicide, before discovering the missing cantaloupe that Richard had hidden and going to confront him about it.

This was the scene where Karl Makinen, who plays Richard, really came into his own. In a heartbreaking and perfectly delivered monologue, Richard explains his actions by telling the story of how he lost both his wife and daughter due to inaction, and so he refused to make the same mistakes again by not doing something about the Saviours. He also told Morgan how of course he intended to be the one who died, but even though it was awful that it ended up being Ben instead, they still needed to use it to move forward, and lull the Saviours into a false sense of security before striking.

Richard had some serious resolve and was ready to be a leader in the upcoming war, but in the end he was just a little too cold and calculated about how to best use Benjamin’s death. I think he was just perceived as a little too insensitive by Morgan, who was finally sent flying into a rage at the next Saviour offering, interrupting Richard in the middle of his “we get it” by strangling him to death in a shocking twist. Earlier in the episode Richard had told Morgan that sooner or later he’d have to kill again, and not to beat himself up about it when he was no longer able to be such a “good guy,” so it’s kind of ironic that he was Morgan’s first casualty since that conversation. In a neat way, I almost feel like it’s better that he died as well as Ben. He gets to fill that grave that he dug for himself and rest with his daughter’s backpack after all, and I do wonder if part of him may have even agreed with what Morgan did, given that strategically speaking, it’s pretty much perfect. By explaining why he murdered Richard, telling everyone what he did and putting it to bed by killing him, it appears to clear the air with the Saviours, meaning that just as Richard wanted, they won’t suspect anything.

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I was sad to see Richard go, but he did a good job while he was around, and sometimes a condensed story is better than a drawn out one where the character eventually loses their purpose. Still, it would’ve been so interesting to see him lead a fight and maybe even showdown with Negan or another big authority figure. It’s a real shame that we won’t be seeing any more of Makinen as an actor in the show, as I was very impressed with how he really made you feel for Richard, despite his screw up.

Killing Richard signified the end of Morgan’s pacifism, and I feel so sorry for him. It became clear when he accidentally referred to Benjamin as his dead son Duane that the motivation behind his anti-violence stance has been trying to stay sane while in the throes of pure, unadulterated grief, and now that that heartbreak has been pulled to the forefront of his mind once again, his mental health looks to be rapidly deteriorating. He now wants to do nothing but kill. He does at least have focus and clarity for now, but whether or not he’ll hold onto it is questionable. I smell another potential death on the horizon. Stay with us, Morgan. It’s almost like he’s going through the reverse of what Carol went through, but while she’s now made it to the other side of her breakdown, I’m not sure he’s going to make it through the season. Actor Lennie James manages to make a compelling performance even out of sharpening a stick with his back to the camera, and no matter Morgan’s fate, I’m really excited to see what he does next.

Speaking of Carol, after Morgan eschewed his nonviolent ways, he returned to her cabin to tell her the truth about Glenn and Abraham, prompting her to return to the Kingdom and at long last tell Ezekiel “we need to fight.”

In conclusion, Bury Me Here was a super sad episode that was extremely emotionally charged. It was very well written, well acted, and well paced. It was completely different from last week’s (also good) episode, and was fantastic in its own right thanks to good writing and incredible work by the cast. As the season draws to a close, I really hope this spike in quality will continue. Say The Walking Dead is a garden: maybe the lows of season seven so far have been the tearing out and burning down as a result of weevil infestation, and maybe now it’s starting to grow back into the truly awesome show we know and love.