I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to come down from the adrenaline high of last week’s episode. The horror of losing characters with whom we had invested so much in, is so hard. Moving from Negan’s sadistic semi-circle to Ezekiel’s Kingdom, we get a bit of relief as we watch Carol take in everything she witnesses.
When we first see Morgan, he and members of the kingdom are transporting Carol in a makeshift cart. He again marks a path and whether it is for them to find their way back, or for Rick to find them, we aren’t sure. With each bump, Carol winces in pain, unaware of her surroundings. We see her internal conflict made manifest when the walkers flash from images of living people back into walkers again. When they are attacked by a herd, Carol is delirious and cannot distinguish between the living and the dead. Morgan comes to her rescue helping to kill the walkers.
When Carol finally regains consciousness, Morgan takes her to meet Ezekiel. He carefully chooses his words as he tries to prepare her for who she is about to meet. Given her current mental situation, Carol really doesn’t know what to think. As Morgan rolls her down the aisle of what appears to be a theatre, we see King Ezekiel and Shiva. What really sticks out in my mind is how she is greeted– not by Ezekiel, but by Shiva. Carol uses the very same innocent act that allows her to camouflage herself so well within the walls of Alexandria when she speaks to Ezekiel. However, here in the Kingdom not everything is as it seems. Shiva, who, being a tiger, is part of the natural world. She uses her animal instincts to see through Carol’s facade and issues a very menacing and cautionary roar. Again Carol doesn’t really know how to respond to this. She is very conscious of this new world order and this fantasy world strikes her as being very naive and, to an extent, life threatening. King Ezekiel welcomes her into his Kingdom; he is very grand and speaks with a renaissance flare. He tells her that he is happy to have her, but says, “if you drink from the well, you replenish the well.” Carol has no interest in dealing with any of these people, so she keeps her plans to herself and laughs away the absurdity.
Throughout the entire episode, Carol keeps up her innocence as she steals items that she needs to run away, such as a knife and some clothes. Morgan pleads with her to stay. He is so afraid that she wants to leave to allow herself to be taken by one thing or another. She tells him very matter-of-factly that she is going to leave one way or another, it’s just a matter of time, and she makes good on that promise and leaves at night fall. However, the apples tempt her one last time and as she picks a couple for her journey out, Ezekiel says very grandly, “go ahead and take it.” This puts Carol’s senses whirling. Ezekiel comes down to talk to her and still she holds true to her innocent identity, but as he sends his people away so they can talk alone, we learn that Ezekiel is not the man he portrays as well. He is actually a zookeeper who took care of Shiva when she was hurt and was able to offer hope to to a group of people who needed a leader. He tells her he really wants her to stay, but if she has to go, then, “go, but don’t go.” As we, like Carol, are confused at first, we begin to understand what he means when Morgan escorts Carol out of the gates of The Kingdom to a house right outside. He tells her that she is his favorite person that he has ever knocked out, “definitely top two or three.” For the time being the two have said their goodbyes, and Morgan puts the mailbox flag down again.
As she settles herself into her new home for the time being, Ezekiel visits. With cards on the table, she opens the door– not only is Ezekiel there, but he brings Shiva with him. At this meeting, Shiva is calm, knowing that they are who they say they are.
This is a very interesting story arc. I’m not quite sure that Carol will bounce back from this personal crisis or not. (I hope she does.) But even so, I don’t believe that she will be the “kick-ass” Carol who saved the group from Terminous this time; we shall see.
We also learn in this episode that The Kingdom is being harassed by the Saviors as well. We see King Ezekiel’s group as they round up pigs that were running around feasting on walkers. This seems odd, especially given the fact that people eat this meat, however, when we learn that these are part of Negan’s “offering” from The Kingdom, it fits perfectly. What better way to potentially destroy The Saviors quietly than with, dare I say, “tainted meat”. Morgan goes with Ezekiel on this run and he witnesses the transaction between Ezekiel’s group and The Saviors. Afterwards, Ezekiel asks him to teach Blake his philosophy of fighting. He accepts, and in a poignant conversation between the two, Morgan realizes that people are allowed to change their minds. It really hits home thinking about Carol. He wants to go talk to her, but when he gets to her room she is already gone.