Editor’s note: this review of AMC’s The Walking Dead will contain some spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum, but they’re be there nonetheless. You’ve been warned.
After what was a pretty disappointing season premier of The Walking Dead, I’m glad to see the show take a step back from the current misery porn story line with “The Well” to check in with Carol and Morgan, whom I’m sure many of us had lost track of in all the excitement.
The pair are, thankfully, okay and fallen in with a pretty unusual group of people who refer to themselves as “The Kingdom”. Interestingly, the kingdom appears to be functioning quite well despite the zombie apocalypse. Perhaps some of the credit for this can be laid at the feet of the king himself, Ezekiel.
Carol, injured from her run-ins with Negan’s people last season, comes to just as Morgan and his new friends are being attacked by zombies. Things look dire for a bit, but then even more people riding horses and wearing football pads show up to save the day. When she regains consciousness again, she’s in a proper hospital room with Morgan by her side. It seems she was out for a couple of days (more or less).
Next we get a brief tour of the Kingdom, followed by Carol’s introduction to the King himself, and his pet tiger. She quickly slips back into the sweet and innocent role that’s served her so well in the past, and the meeting passes awkwardly, but without incident. Afterword, however, she tells Morgan in no uncertain terms that she’s leaving as soon as she is able, citing the fact that the Kingdom is run like a fairy-tale land.
As the rest of the episode plays out we see that King Ezekiel is maybe a bit more canny than he initially seemed. Sure, he calls himself a king and has his follows paint trite sayings on the walls, but the guy does seem to know what he’s doing. Case in point: how he deals with Negan’s people. Rather than resist, he simply gives them their tribute. But he does it in such a way that the people of the Kingdom are completely unaware of the arrangement. This means no simmering resentment, no calls for resistance, and – hopefully – no violence. I’m not sure how long that can continue, but it’s definitely an interesting and different approach to the problem.
Morgan is assigned a young protege to train in the art of stick fighting. The young man seems pretty useless early on, struggling with several zombies and almost getting himself killed at least once, but he seems to take to Morgan’s training well. This being The Walking Dead, I assume he’s going to die tragically before too long, but I guess you never know.
The episode ends, perhaps predictably enough, with Carol making good on her threat to leave. But not before Ezekiel talks to her, and lays out his own story and how he came to become a king. It made for a fantastic scene, with Ezekiel demonstrating a vastly different approach to leadership from what we’ve seen so far on The Walking Dead. While Carol still opts to leave, she does leave the door open to continue working with the Kingdom, and indeed Ezekiel (and tiger) show up in the episode’s denouement.
I really enjoyed “The Well”. It was an interesting episode that explored a society that actually seemed legitimately different from what we’ve seen, and very functional. I’m intrigued by what they are doing here, and especially by the character of Ezekiel. Looking forward to how this play out in the coming weeks.