Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Walking Dead S7x2 The Well

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 2 The Well Recap
Photo Credit: The Walking Dead / Gene Page
Hot off the heels of the series most violence episode yet, The Walking Dead turns it down a notch as Morgan and Carol's world gets a whole lot bigger. They're heading to the Kingdom. Will they find friends or foes? (This post contains spoilers. You've been warned.)

The Well fiddled with it's time turner again in order to explore what Carol and Morgan were doing at the time of the Negan's carnage towards Rick and the group. Met by good Samaritans on the road to nowhere, Carol's bullet wounds were tended to, and she was carried to the Kingdom. Leaving behind style for a bit more substance, the second episode of the season a bit on characters finding resolve and focused on another sanctuary that might be too good to be true. 

Season seven might be the start of understanding the apocalypse with the full weight of shattered psychologies behind it. So far into the post-civilization age, we've seen the violence, the perseverance; people losing a sense of social order or living for hope/love/other people. As our survivors have lost nearly everything, can it be psychologically necessary to stand your own ground instead of being one with a community?

Carol's physical injuries were starting to heal, but her mental state is still a bit unbalanced. Before they officially arrived at the Kingdom, and their horses were attacked by walkers, she couldn't distinguish between walkers and humans; her mind flipped back and forth between the dead and living in what felt like a fever dream. To quell any notion of making it seem like she was on the total fritz again, the writing laid out Carol's brace face humorously as opposed to brilliant The Same Boat performance from last season. The reasoning this time around was Carol's self-preservation protects her from accepting people care for her, and she can't reciprocate those feelings.

The episode itself showed life at the kingdom - which is a bit of a rinse and repeat concept. No safe haven exists without strings attached. The King's village isn't different from other sanctuaries we've visited. The presentation was different, but darn if it wasn't catchy.

The Kingdom is something out of Deanna's dreams for Alexandria only in a more eccentric form; the place has an animal and vegatable farm, laundry mills, warriors protecting the grounds, and civilians fulfilling day-to-day operations. Some smaller details exposed some amazing luxuries too like movie nights and not thinking twice about finishing dinners. The initial peaceful atmosphere drilled in the idea of a place our group could've grown old together like Negan mocked about previously.

But behind every paradise, there is poisonous fruit and snakes.

The first awry aspect is it's leader Ezekiel. His spectacle was one of the episode's nicest moments, harking back to season one's lighter sensibilities. Though a bit hammy and over-the-top at first, the King is optimistic but also pragmatic. He has eyes and ears everywhere, but trusts his people as they trust him. He puts on a good show of having diminished threats to his followers, but confides in a select few their issues i.e. the Saviors.
"The pessimist looks down and hits his head. The optimist looks up and loses his footing. The realist looks forward and adjusts his path accordingly." - King Ezekiel
His leadership is provides escapism and gives people reason to live, so he doesn't take that fantastical faith for granted. He appears like an intensely naive person but he and his warriors filling the pigs with walker meat was clever. (But what does that do in the long run? make them sick or is just about having an upperhand?) When he tones down his performance and monologues to Carol about who he is, it's interesting to see a leader owning up to the myth.

In comparison to Ezekiel, Carol puts on a good show, or at least for the time being, tries to. Similar to her classic entrance at Alexandria, she was all golly-gee's and smiles in the face of royalty, only turned up a few too many notches. At first her Suzy Homemaker persona was a way to get intel on Alexandria until she and Rick assumed they would take over the entire community. Once that crumbled, she'll wear personas to withdraw further. While her introduction to Ezekiel was funny, especially on McBride's part, it didn't disguise her true feelings/intentions.

No matter how much Carol wants to keep her cards close to the chest, her friendships with Morgan and Ezekiel is impressive, if not also perplexing. While it was great for her to finally tell Morgan he didn't have the right to decide how she lives or kills, the major conflict between the two didn't go much further than that. Her: "Hey I didn't like how you were treating me." Him: "Okay." Her *flees to the woods by herself* Carol can be happy with anyone she chooses, but everything seemed too easily resolved for how long their disagreements were pent up. And it still feels like a massive relationship void that she wasn't able to, hasn't or can't confide to Team Family about anything.

With Ezekiel, no one can bullshit a bullshitter. They read each other very closely and quickly. He saw her as something sweet by harsh at the center (like the pomegranate), and she saw through his theatricality. The only issue is her seeming permanent state of withdrawal. She wasn't anxious to go back to Alexandria or to hang around Morgan but she (unassuming) took residence smack dab in the between Kingdom and Alexandria. When he visited her, her grin at a hint of annoyance. Is it real or a facade? does he ever turn off his King persona?

(Interesting to note that in her digs, she killed a walker and then buried it in the backyard. This might be how she reconciles killing people even though they're walkers, or something else is bubbling underneath the surface.)

For Morgan, presentation seems to be everything. To a point, all of our leaders have earned their position for some reason; for Rick it was the reliance on his sheriff's badge, for Negan it's terrifying coercion. Excluding Rick's penchant for violence or acceptance of violence, the Kingdom is a lot like Alexandria only with more problems on it's plate. Ezekiel's brand has a bit of pizzazz here and composure there, which Morgan easily acclimated to. Funny, how quickly Morgan grew into his surroundings and didn't think twice about returning to Alexandria after that week off Carol had to heal. Is Team Family just disposable all around now?

After The Day Will Come When You Won't Be tinkered with time and our feels, a week off from Negan was welcoming. The show is attempting to maintain a middle ground of Negan's ownership over others and some sense of morality alive. But as new characters create ties to the older group, the series is in a bit of recycle-mode: introduce safe camps where the leader thinks he/she has a tight leash on everything, only not to because of Reasons. Usually Rick.

Next to risking violence for violence's sake like the premiere, the series can jump between locations to attend to multiple stories, but must find a way to be fresh with old tales. And postponing how characters are affected by colossal tragedies doesn't help. While I didn't find The Well to be pure filler, the show struggles to massage what fans want to see with who and when.  We're heading into a territory where some ideas have slowly run dry.

Maggie Sasha The Walking DeadMaggie Sasha The Walking Dead
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Additional Thoughts
+ Bringing these ladies back because I haven't had enough of them.

+ Things to crush your soul: Maggie & Sasha grieved together over losing their siblings. Now they're mourning over their lovers. OMG.

+ Thing #2: Full circle moment of Sasha believing Glenn was dead after the prison fell and thought it was fruitless to keep searching for him. Sasha helping Maggie with Glenn's body arrive to the Hilltop Colony. The entire group not splitting up to bury Abe and Glenn. FOR F'S SAKE.

+ Thing #3: Glenn, you wonderful boy. You brave, brave man. COME ON TUMBLR. GLENN AND HARRY POTTER.

+ WHAT'S MORE BRUTAL? Secretly knowing your character is going to get killed off and still have to promote the show, or the secret is out, everyone is fucking devastated, and your fans need consoling from you at every appearance for the rest of time

All righ Back to The Well:

+ I swear I'm getting better with word counts, ya'll. Or maybe nothing happened during this episode. :P

+ Some proverbs: Hope is the north star, let it guide you. What's going to guide people now? 'CAUSE IT USED TO BE GLENN. Drink from the well, Replenish the Well. Obviously, contribute to the group as equally as you take...

+ Why can't Ezekiel respect Carol's space? What truly beckons him to see her again? SOMETHING'S FISHY.

+ Did Ezekiel (and his very pronounced helping me help you speech) watch Jerry Maguire one too many times? 'Cause that makes Morgan his Rod Tizwell who just wants the quan (community, love, respect).

+ I guess it's OTP time (for some people) now?

+ Nice music placement on this show once again: Don't Think Twice by Bob Dylan during the Kingdom montage.

+ No, Talking Dead - Carol can do more than grieve or attack. She can actually do both, which is what's she been doing all along - shouldering people's deaths as she attacked to keep others alive. WHICH IS THE REASON FOR HER BREAKDOWN...GAH, Hardwicke.

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