‘The Walking Dead’ S7: E02 ‘The Well’ Review
on 2016-10-31 13:05
Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) are brought to a community the group has never heard of before - The Kingdom. The duo has no idea what Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the others faced in last week’s episode.
This review contains spoilers for S7E02 of The Walking Dead. If you haven’t yet watched, read at your own risk.
The opening sequence. Not only do we get to see what’s going on with Carol and Morgan right out of the gate, but we also get treated to some seriously great zombie VFX during this sequence. My personal favorite? The zombie whose face drops right off as he’s hit (sliced?) by one of the people from the Kingdom. It’s gross, but it’s so well done. Couple the VFX and makeup in this sequence with Carol’s hallucinations as she sees the walkers as they could have been, and it’s a powerful opening sequence.
Shiva. King Ezekiel’s tiger is impressive. And what’s most impressive is that the tiger isn’t real. Through a combination of CGI and animatronics, Shiva was brought to life, so there was no need to have a real tiger on set. The detail is pretty impressive, right down to the tiger pacing and crouching as Carol laughs - both a sign of discomfort and anxiety in big cats.
The Kingdom is jarring - in both a good and a bad way. After the tense drama of last week, the Kingdom is, to a degree, a welcome change of pace. There’s no heightened anxiety here and no fear for either Carol or Morgan’s well being throughout the hour. Instead, we get a welcome to a community that is pretty completely self sustaining with its walls, its weapons, its gardens, and its people. It looks like what Alexandria should have been, but Alexandria, as we know, saw quite a few problems put it in danger. It’s really only a matter of time before that tense drama and anxiety and danger comes to the Kingdom too. This is The Walking Dead, after all. The other shoe has to drop.
Feeding the pigs walkers. Okay, I have to admit this confused me when it was initially presented. There would likely be some contamination fears if people knew their pigs were feeding on walkers before they were slaughtered, right? As it turns out, those pigs are fed and slaughtered for King Ezekiel’s men to give as payment to the Saviors, Negan’s men. This is a clever form of civil disobedience from Ezekiel, though I’m curious if we’ll see consequences from it. Will the tainted meat hurt Negan’s people? Or is this just a way to get one over on them, even if it doesn’t kill any of them?
Carol and Ezekiel’s chat. Ezekiel might be the first person on the show to see through Carol’s act because he’s putting on one of his own. It’s a great moment when Carol is found out in his garden before she can even escape the community, and the two have something of a confessional instead of a heart-to-heart. Ezekiel (and the show) powers through much of his backstory so we don’t have to waste time on it later or get it parsed out over several episodes. I appreciate this, and that Carol’s up front with him: she doesn’t care how he runs his kingdom, as long as she’s allowed to leave it. It seems like Carol finally gets what she wants as he allows her to leave once she’s recovered from her injuries too. She can finally be alone without the worry of other people around to kill. At least, she can until Ezekiel shows up to offer her the pomegranate she kept refusing.
The shift in tone might be too abrupt. I appreciate that the show wanted to bring some levity to its audience after the drama produced last week, but I think the tonal scale change might have gone a little too far. It’s hard to watch an episode where everything is being presented as a fairy tale when you know that two of the people Morgan and Carol have lived with and fought beside are dead - and they don’t even know about it. We get a few hints to the darkness, what with Saviors showing up for the pigs, but overall, it’s almost too bright of an episode.
How many communities deliver to Negan? Negan wants what Rick’s people (and Alexandria) has, he’s got a deal going on with the Hilltop, and now, we see he’s got a deal with the Kingdom. It’s about time the world grew to include areas other than Rick’s people, but just how many communities are within range for Negan?
Is that pomegranate symbolism going to be important? There’s an air of Carol refusing fruit from the biblical tree of knowledge about her repeated refusals of Ezekiel offering her fruit. As the episode closes though, and she’s on her own in a little house away from the Kingdom, he shows up again, this time with Shiva, and another pomegranate to offer her. Then, it becomes more like Hades getting to keep Persephone for half the year after she eats his pomegranate seeds in the underworld. Either bit of symbolism, or both, could come into play, and I’m curious which we’ll see.
How long before Morgan and Carol know about Glenn and Abraham? And will that change their minds about wanting to stay away from violence? How will they react?
Grading the episode: Carol is one of my favorite characters on the show, so I definitely loved getting to devote so much time to seeing what was going on with her once Morgan found her injured. I love the glimpses we’ve seen of the Kingdom so far, even if I think it was just a little too bright after the events of last week. A-