Last week, I observed that something needed to happen to propel the action forward in The Walking Dead otherwise this entire season will have accomplished nothing by the time it ends in three weeks’ time. I’m in two minds about today’s episode, titled ‘Bury Me Here’. The episode propels Morgan, the immovable pacifist, into a spiral of rage and murder. It’s exciting and I’m curious about what will happen next. However, the events of the episode that lead to a transformed Morgan are, for lack of a better word, disengaging.
There are some small moments of genius in the episode that deserve an honorable mention. Carol’s midnight cigarette signifies early on to us that this is also an episode of change for her – we have seen smoke and fire work as a motif for Carol in episodes like ‘Consumed’ and ‘The Same Boat’. After finally learning about Glenn and Abraham’s deaths, Carol too is propelled into motion and makes her way to the Kingdom, planning to fight with Ezekiel. Furthermore, the inclusion of the first ever Muslim character on the show is long overdue, but exciting from both a production point-of-view and a story perspective, too. The only character with any real faith we have seen depicted thus far is Father Gabriel, and he’s a patchy character to say the least.
However, from there the bulk of the episode is – simply put – boring. Ezekiel and the Kingdom dwellers plan for yet another drop-off for the Saviors, only this time it goes awry. The Kingdom’s stock is short one cantaloupe. The Saviors threaten them, as per usual, but this time it ends in tragedy – the Saviors shoot young Benjamin in the leg, and he bleeds out before he can be saved. Morgan later discovers that Ezekiel’s right-hand man Richard set up the faulty drop to incite conflict between the communities. The problem here is that this drama plays out between characters that I literally do not care about. If you were to substitute Benjamin and Richard with Carl and Daryl, I am immediately enthralled and emotionally involved. Benjamin’s death scene carries no weight because the audience hardly knows him, and I’m sure the majority of us are watching the action wishing that the writers had positioned us to care about the drama playing out on screen.
The events that culminate in Morgan’s moral transformation are nondescript, but when it comes it’s loud and fast and exciting. Following Benjamin’s death, Morgan freaks out – for lack of a better word. The editing excels here through a series of jump cuts, using shots of Morgan’s son Dwight from the very first episode of The Walking Dead. In this moment, it is not only the visual style but the acting which triumphs – Lennie James as Morgan changes instantly, his face hardening. The grief is written all over his face.
‘Bury Me Here’ ends on a shot of Morgan, back to the camera, sharpening his iconic staff into a spear. The Aikido staff has, up until this point, been a symbol of Morgan’s moral point-of-view in this life. Walking Dead characters such as Tyreese and Glenn have been known to flip-flop on the morality scale, but the transformation of the staff into the spear therefore suggests Morgan reaching a point of no return. He might just be the powerful force that we need to drive us into the action of the last three episodes.