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.
I’ve been on record before saying I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead’s Morgan. After “Bury Me Here”, I realized something. I don’t really care too much about Morgan. Lennie James is just such a damn good actor that he’s able to sell what little the writers have given him. It makes me wonder how great this character could be if the writing was a bit more capable and considered.
This is, I hope, going to be one of the last table setting episodes of The Walking Dead for the season. We have three episodes left of the season. That means next week is probably going to be another setup episode to get all the pieces in place, with the last two episodes focusing on the big showdown between the Saviors and Rick’s coalition. By the end of “Bury Me Here”, both the Kingdom and Carol have been pulled into the fight. That just leaves Tara’s village of women, children, and guns. We’re almost there.
And that, right there, is my biggest complaint about the The Walking Dead. Sooner or later (hopefully by the end of the season, I’m sick of the teases) the Saviors are going to be dealt with. It seems like we’re spending a lot of time setting up something very, very obvious. Yes, we need to have stakes, and yes we need to give the characters the opportunity to change overtime and overcome their built in objections and need to keep the peace. But we’ve been seeing the writing on the wall ever since the Saviors have shown up, which means The Walking Dead isn’t really creating a story, it’s simply going through the paces to get us to a foregone conclusion.
And that’s boring.
As an audience, we’re not being surprised. Yeah, Rick started off scared and timid. We knew that wouldn’t last. Yes, Alexandria is at a tremendous disadvantage, and the other communities are unwilling to risk working together because of the overwhelming force offered by the Saviors. And, again, we knew that wouldn’t last.
This can still work as a story when the other elements work to support things. When you have excellent writing and strong, dynamic characters, the plot being a obvious doesn’t matter because we’re enjoying how we get there. But The Walking Dead doesn’t have those things. The closest it comes is some great acting and a few genuinely likeable characters.
I really can’t wait until we’re done with the Saviors. This story arc just isn’t working for me. Negan doesn’t work, and he’s the lynchpin of this whole thing. He’s just not scary. Yes, he’s randomly and brutally violent, and yes he’s fairly creative and canny, but that’s just not enough. He doesn’t have the gravitas to sell legitimate threat. I don’t believe that he’s capable of permanently shattering things on the show. He’s simply another test for Rick to overcome. The over-the-top violence is just a distraction to keep us from realizing that there really isn’t much to the character outside of the occasionally funny one liners.
And, wow. That’s almost six hundred words and I haven’t talked one bit about the episode itself. Sorry about that, but there’s really not much to say.
“Bury Me Here” is a pretty slipshod episode. Benjamin, the baby-faced kid we all knew wouldn’t last, is tragically killed when Richard’s plot to force the Kingdom into conflict with the Saviors takes a nasty turn. Morgan finds out what happens, and finally has to sacrifice his facade of nonviolence to both convince Ezekiel and buy time for the Kingdom to get their shit together.
By the end of the episode, we see major changes for Morgan, Carol, and Ezekiel. All of whom have been forced to confront the reality of the situation, and pick a side. All told, the episode largely worked despite it’s sloppiness. Tightened up, it could have been a compelling hour of television
In the end what stayed in my mind was the fact that both of these groups wasted huge amounts of man hours and a lot irreplaceable gasoline in order to transport twelve cantaloupes from one group to another. I understand that they were going for something subtle here, about how just one small thing can bring about so much change. But man was it poorly executed.