REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S7 Ep2 – The Well

After the harrowing season premiere, The Walking Dead gave us an unexpected treat – a lighthearted episode (by this show’s standards) that also made room for some character growth, and the expansion of the universe by introducing a new community and an intriguing new character. At the end of last season, Carol and Morgan were rescued by a group of armored individuals on horses. They bring the two back to their community where they meet the king.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep2 - The WellKing Ezekiel’s addition to The Walking Dead was teased back at Comic Con, and as he made his first appearance in this episode, he did not disappoint. He was impressive and flamboyant, speaking in faux-Shakespearian style; his manners were antiquated and over-the-top, but for all that he seemed like a capable leader, having built and sustained a thriving community, called “The Kingdom.” And he has a tiger named Shiva. Awesome.

He welcomes Morgan and Carol and lays down the law that they may be a part of the community for as long as they contribute to its upkeep. (Carol’s incredulous and giggly reaction to meeting the king for the first time was such a joy to watch and pretty much covered what we all felt: “I have no idea what’s going on in the most delightful way!”)

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep2 - The WellThe newest community on The Walking Dead, the Kingdom, is one of the most progressive so far. It almost seems like a paradise, with breakfast cobblers, fresh produce, clean clothes, even a community choir singing Bob Dylan songs to while the days away. It’s perfect. And since this is The Walking Dead, it’s only a matter of time before all this goes down in flames. (Hopefully not too soon, though).

We also got to see a bit more of Morgan, who has thankfully survived the horrors of the world. He is enlisted to help teach a young man, Ben, some self-defense skills as Ben proves to be less than capable of fighting on his own. Morgan also learns a bit more about how the Kingdom operates, and finds out that King Ezekiel has an agreement with the Saviors. He provides supplies to them with reluctance but keeps this deal a secret from his “subjects.”

For all the pomp and circumstance, Ezekiel is a practical man and he understands that his people will probably lose in a fight against Negan’s men. But there’s a subtle and sinister revenge going on, which was a treat to see. The pigs that Ezekiel was providing to the Saviors have been fed walker meat. Gross but genius. Either the Saviors choke on their undead-filled pork or they die of food poisoning. Anything goes.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep2 - The WellThe best part of the episode was the revelatory conversation between Carol and Ezekiel. The former was ill at ease in the new community and preferred to struggle beyond the walls, in the real world, however brutish. But Ezekiel catches her before she leaves and he reveals that he saw right through her “happy and innocent act”, because he too is playing an elaborate part. Royal accent gone, he tells her the truth about himself, about how he was a zookeeper before the apocalypse who rescued a wounded tiger. Stories spread about him and got exaggerated beyond recognition, but he saw that people needed this bit of fiction to help them cope with the horrors of the new world.

So he became the legendary figure they believed him to be, and he played the part with relish, thanks to his experience in community theater. It was important to reveal the truth about Ezekiel’s character so soon after he was introduced so as not to make him seem too ridiculous. Characters like him remind us that The Walking Dead is based on a comic book, no matter how grounded the television show usually is. And Ezekiel’s coming clean to Carol really established some rapport between them, as he advocated hope and life as opposed to her own desolate perspective.

They reach some sort of compromise with Carol moving out of the community but not too far away. And in the end Ezekiel even pays her a visit, offering her a pomegranate (it’s hard not to think of Hades and Persephone references at this point.) I enjoyed their dynamic in this episode and I would not be against seeing this develop into something more. Carol, being the amazing person that she is, clearly made an impression on Ezekiel and it will be fun to see how that plays out. At the very least, it’s a prospect that makes The Walking Dead seem a little less bleak.