This week’s episode, “The Well,” is an almost surreal change in tone after last week’s heartbreaking bloodbath, which left the Alexandrians broken, and reeling at the hands of Negan.
We pick up with Carol and Morgan, who have just been rescued by a heroic stranger on horseback. He’s wielding some kind of lance and is wearing body armor that isn’t exactly shining but it is pretty spiffy. (“Do you think they made those chest protectors,” wonders my husband, “or did they just find them in a children’s lacrosse team bag?”)
Carol is being transported in a jolting wagon, accompanied by the “knights” on horseback while Morgan walks beside them, wandering the earth like David Carradine in Kung Fu. At one point, walkers beset them and Carol, who is hallucinating and sliding in and out of consciousness, books it out of the wagon and into the woods. She confuses the walkers with the living, and Morgan and the riders round her up and load her back up in the wagon.
When Carol wakes up again, she’s in a bed. They are in an idyllic community called The Kingdom. Naturally, Carol is suspicious as hell, because idyllic communities in the zombie apocalypse always hide some kind of dark secret. Remember that one place where they barbecued Bob?
The Kingdom is run by a dude named King Ezekiel. When Carol questions Morgan about him, Morgan just says, “He does his own thing.” His own thing turns out to be talking like he works at Medieval Times and owning a pet tiger named Shiva. An actual tiger, y’all. Like in The Hangover.
We are all Carol’s face in this moment. Because, WTF? But also, this is so cool!
We also meet someone who is probably going to be my new favorite, King Ezekiel’s right hand man, Jerry. I love Jerry because he is completely comfortable telling a tiger to chill out, and he gets really happy about offering Carol some of the produce bounty the inhabitants of The Kingdom have grown. “It’s fruit time!”
Carol does not want fruit. She also cannot hide the fact that she thinks King Ezekiel is bonkers. “Nobody told me I’d be meeting royalty.” Morgan is giving her a look like, CALM DOWN. She keeps it together throughout their bizarre audience with the king and then as soon as they get outside, she asks, “You’re shitting me, right?” I mean. Right?
She may be in a wheelchair at the moment, but as soon as Carol can manage it, she is outta this place, she tells Morgan. Morgan says he can’t let her leave, but Carol is not having it. She asks Morgan if he’s planning on chaining her up like a Wolf and scores a direct hit. That didn’t work out so well.
Morgan heads out with Ezekiel and some other men to hunt pigs, which run feral in the streets of the city. They lure the pigs into a trap baited with a walker and pigs feast on it. One of Ezekiel’s men, Richard, says he wants their bellies full of rot. This confuses Morgan.
Another member of the hunting party is a young teenager named Ben. Ezekiel encourages Ben to kill a walker but Ben hesitates and Morgan steps in to the rescue with his staff. Later, Ezekiel asks if Morgan will train Ben. He clearly is looking at the boy as some kind of successor. Morgan reluctantly agrees. Carol, meanwhile, is scooting all over The Kingdom in her wheelchair, pilfering clothing and supplies for her escape.
Morgan is asked to accompany some of the Kingdom folks to what turns out to be a meet up with the Saviors. One of them starts to explain who the Saviors are and Morgan replies that he knows who they are. The Saviors have come to collect their tribute in the form of pigs. Now the whole bellyful of rot thing makes sense. Richard clearly HATES these guys and is happy to feed them walker-stuffed pork. One of the Saviors notices Richard’s resting bitch face and tells him to smile. This does not go over well. Fisticuffs ensue, and Ezekiel manages to intervene before someone gets killed.
Ezekiel, it turns out, has been keeping The Kingdom’s arrangement with the Saviors a secret. He doesn’t want his people to worry.
That evening, Carol attempts to leave, but is discovered by Ezekiel. She tries to go all Stepford housewife with him, but Ezekiel is not buying it. He tells her not to bullshit a bullshitter. He drops the Medieval Times accent and reveals that he was once a zookeeper. When the shit hit the fan, he returned to the zoo and found Shiva alone and hungry. The tiger gave him a legendary mystique and he used that to assume a new persona as King Ezekiel. He tells Carol that people feel safer if they have someone to follow, and this whole Kingdom thing is a way to give them what they want. It’s actually a nice moment of connection, with Carol and Ezekiel both tired and unguarded. He wants Carol to stay, but she says, simply, that she just wants to go. Ezekiel comes up with a solution. She can go and not go.
As the episode ends, Morgan escorts Carol to a cottage just outside The Kingdom. It’s one she spotted earlier when she was hallucinating. Carol kills the lone walker who is inside and begins to settle into her new home. There’s a knock at the door, and it turns out to be Ezekiel and Shiva. He’s grinning, and, sans accent, he offers her a pomegranate. Maybe there’s some symbolism from Greek mythology there. Hades offered Persephone a pomegranate when she was brought to the underworld, and though she was warned not to eat any food while there, she ate six pips. Thus, she was forced to spend six months of every year in the underworld. I wonder if Carol will find herself similarly attached?