Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched episode 13 of season 7 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Bury Me Here.”
“The Walking Dead” has a death problem. Since the very beginning, it’s operated under the premise that anyone can die at any time. And for a while, it worked. Tears were spilled over beloved characters, and maybe even some for those who drove us a little nuts. But ever since the gang holed up in Alexandria, the power of casualties has deflated. Too many characters with little backstory and/or deafening naivete have fallen by the wayside, and even fan favorites like Glenn have had their demise diminished by the heavy-handed showrunners. So here we are again, after watching two more characters perish, wondering why we should care.
“Bury Me Here” hops over to the Kingdom to see tensions with the Saviors finally boil over. On the way to offering up 12 cantaloupes — a hilariously light drop to warrant an armed exchange in a neutral area — King Ezekiel, Richard, Morgan, and Benjamin are slowed down by a blockade of shopping carts. A quick sweep of the area doesn’t reveal a culprit, but it does expose an empty grave with the cryptic message, “Bury Me Here.”
Ezekiel shows up late, which miffs Gavin and the ever-antagonistic Jared, who shall henceforth be known as Rat Face (good name, Benjamin). Skulls are cracked before the real problem can even be stated, so in anticipation of an emotional moment, Gavin demands everyone’s guns. Only 11 of the 12 cantaloupes are in tow, which means someone needs to be punished. Gavin previously promised that Richard would be the first one to go, but we know that’s just not how the Saviors roll. Instead, Richard is forced to watch as Rat Face shoots young Benjamin. Ezekiel and Co. rush to patch him up at the nearest safe space, Carol’s outpost, but it’s not enough. Just like that, the episode cuts to Benjamin under a sheet.
There’s still the matter of that missing cantaloupe, though, and the Saviors are petty enough to arrange a second meeting a day later for the delivery of a single melon. Richard takes it upon himself to hand over the fruit and begins to tell Gavin the Kingdom gets it in an attempt to win back their trust before an ultimate betrayal. But before he can finish, Morgan is on top of him, strangling him to death. It’s a shocking scene, and credit’s due to Khary Payton for delivering a proper sense of horror as Ezekiel watches.
Now back in the murder business, Morgan reveals the truth to his stunned audience: Richard set up the bungled drop to coax Ezekiel into war. He created the blockade, stole a cantaloupe, and planned to sacrifice his own life, hence the fresh grave. But killing Richard wasn’t just an act of punishment. It was a way for Morgan to continue his mission. He picks up right where Richard left off, explaining that the Kingdom understands where things stand. What better way to win back the Saviors’ trust than to kill the instigator?
Narratively, this all makes sense. The deaths will get Ezekiel to fight, and Morgan to give up his refusal to kill once and for all. But seriously, why should we care? We haven’t spent all that much time with Benjamin, and the arc that we’ve seen has consisted of him buying into a philosophy we know doesn’t work in this world. There’s no room for pacifists in the zombie apocalypse, as the show’s continuously reminded us. Doom was in the cards as soon as poor Benjamin hesitated to raise his gun earlier in the episode.
Even had Richard died by his own sacrifice, why would we miss him either? He’s been a one-note supporter of war who’s demonstrated a willingness to engage in any and all manipulation to support his cause. His speech to Morgan was an attempt to justify the botched plan, but it served as the same exposition behind almost everyone on the show: Richard’s lost a lot — in his case, his wife and daughter — so he’ll embrace the morally dubious in an attempt to prevent further tragedy.
Elsewhere, Carol’s progress is being expedited in a few brief scenes. She has an unnoteworthy visit with Morgan inside the Kingdom before she returns to her outpost and eventually watches Benjamin die there. After killing Richard, Morgan shows up at her doorstep and tells her the truth about Glenn and Abraham. This prompts her to convene with Ezekiel and goad him into war. Finally, the King is down. But “not today.”
“Bury Me Here,” written by Scott M. Gimple and directed by Alrick Riley, has one more community ready for war, but it’s the least satisfying development in this back half of season seven. Once the fighting does begin, we’ll see if any of the casualties manage to land.
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