Well. They went and did it. I called it weeks ago, but somehow my dumb inner optimist was clinging to a shred of foolish hope that my sweet, flaxen-haired Benjamin would make it. But he was too pure for this world, let alone the reeking, dog eat dog world of The Walking Dead. A meek sacrificial lamb, he bled out on Carol’s dining table, the victim of a Savior’s itchy trigger figure after Richard’s plan to sacrifice himself in order to galvanise Ezekiel into action backfired spectacularly.
With only a few episodes left this season, it seems late in the game to be convincing the key players to join the cause. But “Bury Me Here” fundamentally changed the mindset of several characters and shifted the landscape in ways I suspect will stretch way beyond the season 7 finale.
Benjamin may have featured in only a handful of episodes, but his inherent goodness, his youth, his parenting of his little brother, and the extent to which he affected Ezekiel, Carol, and Morgan meant that his death carried real emotional weight. The slow pace of this episode may have frustrated those champing at the bit for the war to kick off in earnest, but I think Benjamin’s death and all it represented needed space to unfurl and deserved our focus. It’s easy to forget than peace-loving, zen Morgan used to be violently psychotic, and Benjamin’s murder broke him completely, bringing back memories of his lost son, Duane, and inciting him to ditch his pacifists’ code and commit a shocking act of violent retribution.
Having discovered Richard had sabotaged the delivery of food to The Saviors, short changing them by one melon, Morgan confronted him and heard a little of his history, specifically his horror at witnessing the death of his daughter, Katy. Richard confessed to hiding the fruit, believing The Saviors would kill him to make an example of him, prompting The Kingdom to side with Rick. There’s something horribly tragic about Richard, having been prepared to throw Carol under the bus a few weeks ago, deciding to take one for the team only to have his plans go awry. And there’s a terribly irony in the fact that he finally convinced Morgan to get his hands bloody, only to die by those very hands.
Benjamin’s death may have convinced Ezekiel that turning a blind eye is no longer an option, but The King’s failure to intervene in Morgan’s attack on Richard, and reluctance to start preparations for battle with Carol at the close of the episode demonstrated a lack of conviction. Indeed their final exchange could be the mantra of this season to date:
“We have to get ready. We have to fight.”
“We do. But not today.”
This season has been about people learning to avoid conflict in order to preserve their lives, their sanity, or their humanity. Except it hasn’t really worked out for any of them, and it’s often been at the expense of pacing.
At least Morgan’s full disclosure means Carol can take her inevitable place fighting alongside Rick, Daryl, and her friends, whatever it might cost her to do so. Morgan too, is ready to enter the fray, but only after the other shoe has well and truly dropped. Perhaps taking time out in Carol’s house will give him the perspective he needs to find a middle ground.
“Bury Me Here” may have been largely slow and ponderous, but it served as a meditation on the consequences of taking action, and of failing to act. The depressing moral of the story is that in the new world order, all roads lead to violence and death, and no one can bury their heads for long.
Final Grade: B
+ Nabila is now up there with Jerry for me. Not only is she a philosophical weevil mistress, she is WISE. Pissing your pants when in close proximity to an unchained tiger is the correct response. Speaking of Jerry, whatever else is going on, Ezekiel affectionately chiding him always makes me grin like crazy. It’s so out of place with the rest of the show, but so hilarious.
+ Brilliant performances all round this week, especially from Lennie James and Melissa McBride. Carol lost me for a while after the prison, but she’s a complex and fascinating character, beautifully realised by McBride.
+ It was good to see a bit of light and shade in The Saviors. Gavin’s insistence that he would kill Jared if he didn’t get out of his sight suggested he felt real remorse about Benjamin. Fleshing The Saviors out will be integral to sustaining viewer interest in them beyond how many of them get killed in horrible ways. It doesn’t look like Negan is going anywhere any time soon, so we need to invest in his character and his group as more than a homogeneous Big Bad.
– Well, I will never be able to eat a cantaloupe without having trauma flashbacks now, so thanks, Scott Gimple.
– Speaking of melons, I get that the food is just a symbol for the power The Saviors have over their colonies, but would even they risk sending a whole party out into the zombie-filled wilds just to collect twelve melons? It seems like a huge waste of resources just to make a point.
– Richard’s plan to martyr himself, even down to digging his own grave, was robbed of a little poignancy by the obviousness of Benjamin’s impending death. I mean, meeting a girl? Really, guys?? The symbolism of the ruined garden and the sharpened stake were not very subtle either.
Extra Thoughts: I’m very upset about Benjamin, but if Shiva bites the dust, I will throw my TV out of a window.
What did you think? Was this episode a treat to rival Jerry’s cobbler, or did you want to bury it with Katy’s rucksack? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!