Ooh - it's a Carol- and Morgan-focused episode with NO Rick! Yay!
The episode opens with somber Kingdomites loading the back of a big truck with just one canteloupe. Seems like we might be coming back to that.
A bad dream wakes Carol. She wipes the tears from her face, lights a lamp and a cigarette. Seems she's got her friends on her mind. "Goddamn it," she mutters, getting up. When the sun is just up, she leaves her house and walks to the Kingdom. She encounters a number of walkers and briskly, efficiently puts them down, including a group of about five that are gathered outside the Kingdom's gates. This is how she does it: she grabs a fallen One Way street sign, climbs up a tree and bangs on the sign. As the walkers approach the tree, she stabs them in the head with the metal sign post, then hops down. Benjamin is at the gate to let her in and the expression on his face is no less than awe. Carol goes to Morgan's room and asks what happened with Daryl and Alexandria and the Saviors. "You need to talk to Daryl about that," says Morgan. He says that he kept her secret and it's not his place to tell her anything about Daryl now. He offers to go with her to Alexandria if she wants to make the trip. But she's not ready yet and heads back to her cottage. Benjamin is waiting for her: he offers to walk her back home and he asks her if she will teach him to do what she can do. She refuses and returns home alone.
As she passes through the outskirts of town, she doesn't see Richard watching her. He ducks around a building and begins to dig.
Ezekiel gazes at his walled garden (where he had that heart-to-heart with Carol), Shiva loose at his side. A woman cautiously comes out to speak to him, nervous about the tiger. She tells him that they've found weevils in his garden and they need to cut and burn everything before the weevils get to the main production gardens in the courtyard. He sighs, but she reminds him that everything will grow back and it will be okay.
Now the focus shifts to Morgan. Before they leave for their delivery to the Saviors, Benjamin brings him a painting that he scavenged. Morgan is touched. He obviously has some affection for the boy. So Benjamin's days are probably numbered. Morgan, Richard, Benjamin, fat Jerry, Ezekiel and two or three others head out for the delivery. En route, they have to stop because someone has blocked the road with a bunch of grocery carts. They all get out, guns drawn, wary of an ambush. They find an empty grave behind a building - where Richard had been digging, for what it's worth - makes with a sign 'BURY ME HERE." Nothing pops out at them though so they clear the carts and keep going.
But they are now late. And the Saviors do not like to be kept waiting. Things get testy and guns get drawn, Kingdomites get beaten on. The Saviors take all the Kingdomites' guns. The lead Savior, Gavin, inspects the day's offering, which is supposed to be twelve cantaloupes (a strangely specific number, plus that's really not very much) - but one is missing somehow. Ezekiel is all, there were twelve, I counted them myself! But Gavin is not having any of it and intends to make an example of someone, to show the Kingdom that they need to follow the rules of the deal. When a gun is drawn, Richard steps up, ready to sacrifice himself. But the asshole Savior (who beat Richard up in a previous episode and who took Morgan's staff) is a bit of a loose cannon and it is Benjamin who gets shot.
He gets shot in the leg and it's bad. He's bleeding out. The Kingdomites are in a panic, begging the Saviors to let them leave so they can try to save him. Gavin (who probably wasn't that bad a guy before the zombie apocalypse) yells at the shooter to drop the staff and get in the car. But before he lets the Kingdomites go, he insists that they bring that last cantaloupe this afternoon, to finish the tribute. Ezekiel screams that he understands but they have to go.
They drive to Carol's cottage since they gave her a bunch of medical supplies and her house is nearer than the Kingdom. But they can't stop the bleeding and Benjamin dies, on Carol's kitchen table, holding Morgan's hand.
Everyone is sad - and Morgan runs out of the cottage. He's losing it a little bit, having lost this boy with whom he was building a connection. He screams, flashing back to his crazy days after his own son died. [Some reviewers think that this is out of character, that Morgan wasn't close enough yet to Benjamin that he should have had this break. I prefer to think that this just shows how thin Morgan's grip was - how much care he had to take, with the pacifism and all, to keep from sliding into madness.] He kicks a plastic bin and when it goes flying, a lone cantaloupe rolls out from under it. Morgan stares at it, remembering Richard being the last of them out of the truck when they were stopped by the shopping cart blockade. And he puts it all together.
He confronts Richard later and Richard confesses to all of it. He blocked the road to make them late, and hid the cantaloupe so they'd be short, all to provoke a conflict so that Gavin would have Richard shot, which would incite Ezekiel to join Rick's fight against the Saviors. It was supposed to be Richard who died, not Benjamin. But, he says, they can still use what's happened. Ezekiel will be ready to fight. So they will lull the Saviors with their agreeable behavior - showing them that they understand what is required of them - "We have to do something to make them believe us, to win their trust back" - and then they will put the Saviors down. But, Richard says, "Morgan, you have to kill or otherwise you might as well just kill yourself." He also promises to 'fess up to Ezekiel and everyone as to what he did that got Benjamin killed. Morgan doesn't say a word through all this, just stares balefully at Richard.
At the second drop, where the Kingdomites bring that one sad cantaloupe to Gavin and his crew, Morgan pipes up, saying to Richard, "Did you tell Ezekiel?" Richard's all, we'll talk about it later. Morgan: not a fucking chance. He picks up his staff from where it was dropped at the earlier drop. When the Saviors arrive, Gavin asks after Benjamin. When they tell him he died, he snaps at that asshole Savior who shot him to start walking back home now and if he even looks crossways, Gavin will kill him here and now. The asshole leaves. Richard brings out that last cantaloupe and hands it over.
And Morgan surges forward, clobbering Richard with his staff, dropping him. While everyone - Kingdomite and Savior alike - watch in amazement and/or horror, Morgan slams Richard's head into the pavement and then CHOKES HIM TO DEATH. Damn. But no one stops him. When Richard is dead, Morgan tells the assemblage about what Richard did, saying that he was trying to provoke a conflict. To Gavin: "I wanted to show you that we get it, that we understand what it is that we need to do, that we know how to go on." And thus Morgan finishes Richard's plan, winning Gavin's trust back.
When the Saviors have gone, and the Kingdomites return home, Morgan stays behind, finishing Richard with a knife through the temple, dragging him back through town to the grave he dug. He is struggling, trying to hold onto his sanity as he buries the man. Afterwards, he stops by Carol's cottage. He's a changed man now and he asks her if she wants to know what happened in Alexandria. She can't help herself and he tells her the whole thing as tears stream down her face. When he turns to go, she stops him, bringing him back, telling him he can stay in her cottage to be safe and away from people.
So he does, sharpening stakes on the front porch,looking around suspiciously at every little sound. Carol packs her things and heads back to the Kingdom. She finds Ezekiel replanting his garden with Benjamin's little brother. She tells the king that she'll be staying here now. "We have to get ready," she says, "We have to fight." Ezekiel agrees: "We do. But not today."
Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead
2 hours ago