Melissa Moore ’20 / Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer
Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers for Season 7 Episode 2 of The Walking Dead.
After last week’s emotional premiere, viewers knew the second episode of this season’s The Walking Dead, “The Well”, would be a step back in terms of intensity and suspense, but the promise of key new characters and a new setting – fan-favorites from the comics – kept the level of anticipation as high as ever. That said, despite expecting a slower-paced episode, the overall lack of tension and, frankly, excitement, made the episode rather disappointing in the eyes of this reviewer.
“The Well” followed Morgan (Lennie James) and fan-favorite Carol (Melissa McBride) as they are rescued by strangers and then brought to a new community, known as The Kingdom. While Carol sleeps off injuries for two days – viewers will recall that she had been beaten and shot by Saviors when we last saw her in Season 6 – Morgan becomes respected, if not trusted, by the leader of the community. Viewers are introduced to this monumental character and his entourage as Carol is: King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) sitting upon a throne, with his tiger Shiva on his left, growling at Carol.
Around Ezekiel and the rest of The Kingdom’s inhabitants, Carol has embraced an act viewers have become familiar with: innocent, cheery, and sweet. To Morgan, however, she is the pragmatic and focused woman that makes her so adored by audiences. She warns him that she’s going to leave this “circus” as she calls it and she sneaks clothing and other items in preparation for her departure throughout the episode. Viewers meet members of Ezekiel’s inner circle through demonstrations of the King’s trust for Morgan. He recruits Morgan to train a young man, Ben, and includes him in his secret dealings with the Saviors. Ezekiel brings Morgan along with a small group to hunt and capture wild pigs, which he then has feed on walkers. Later, the group meets up again, and the fattened pigs have been slaughtered by one of Ezekiel’s men, Richard. The group is joined by a collection of Saviors, and it is revealed that the exchange of swines from Ezekiel’s people to Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) occurs each week.
In addition to tension between the two parties, new character Richard and one of Negan’s men have a small fight. Ezekiel is quick to call Richard off and the leader of this group of Saviors calls off his subordinate as well. After last week’s episode – as well as previous interactions with the Saviors – the altercation between the two seems like a scuffle, especially as Richard holds no significance or emotional weight with viewers yet.
After the Saviors depart, and Ezekiel and his group return to the Kingdom, the King explains to Morgan why he has kept his dealings with Negan and the Saviors a secret from the majority of his people: he knows that people would want to fight back, but he also recognizes that they would not stand a chance.
This logic shines through again when Ezekiel catches Carol sneaking around in preparation to leave and explains why he is King and why he rules the way he does. After calling her out on her innocent act, Ezekiel explains that he had been Shiva’s keeper at the zoo before the outbreak and that after saving her life, the two had developed a symbiotic relationship. With her support and his experience portraying monarchs in community theater, he had quickly filled the role of the strong leader that the community so needed. With a strong leader, he explains, people are less afraid and thus more productive and less likely to make dangerous choices.
Ezekiel then gives Carol his blessing to leave. She does so the next morning, with Morgan as her escort. After a heartfelt conversation, the two part ways and Carol takes ownership of a nearby house. The episode ends with her reception of a visit from the King and Shiva. Thus Carol’s plans remain unclear: is she going to stay in this house – right outside the Kingdom gates – or will she try and return to Rick and the gang? Or will she do something completely different?
The episode seemed shorter than usual – despite moments that dragged on – and other than several significant revelations, connections, and introductions, some scenes and bits of the dialogue felt inconsequential and merely filler material. That said, this episode has definitely served to establish places for the season to go and has introduced Ezekiel as a strong leader unlike one viewers have been lucky enough to see recently. He is a focused, compassionate, and discerning leader who, unlike the other ringleaders we have been exposed to, has shown no signs of psychological damage or insanity. He is also clearly respected and trusted by his people. Furthermore, while the revelation of the link between the Kingdom and the Saviors was far from surprising, it will allow for later episodes to jump right into the conflict and drama that will undoubtedly arise, without having to spend time on background.
Episode Grade: B-