The Walking Dead: Bury Me Here
It’s appropriate that an episode titled “Bury Me Here” includes a couple of characters dying. I’ll hold off revealing their identities until after the jump. One of these characters went to the trouble of digging his own grave in advance and posting a sign so as to make the purpose of the hole clear. Signs are a theme of the episode as Morgan flashes back to the days when his grief turned to madness which resulted in him posting warning signs all around him. The writers of The Walking Dead have been posting signs too. Every episode is loaded with signs spelling out exactly what is going to happen before the season finale. If anything that happened in this episode surprised you, you haven’t been paying attention.
Benjamin was always going to die. You knew it from the minute he made his first appearance. He was too good. Everywhere he went, he brightened people’s day. He was Morgan’s student, Ezekiel’s cheerleader and he was raising his own little brother fer crying out loud. In case you missed the point, Scott Gimple had characters spend much of the episode’s first act talking about how sad everyone would be if Benjamin happened to die. It was like the moment when Meg Ryan showed up in Top Gun. You knew Anthony Edwards’ Goose was cooked. When you saw Benjamin playing with his little bro, you knew he was a goner.
The deal between the Kingdom and the Saviors was always going to end in violence. Daryl said as much a few episodes back. Over the course of the season, we have witnessed several drop-offs each of which became progressively more tense. After the last one ended in a scuffle there was nowhere left to go but bloodshed. As a viewer, it was obvious that the next drop off scene would signal the end of the truce. When Carol told Benjamin that he should go on the drop off, it was equally obvious he was marching to his doom.
Richard was always going to get himself killed. You can’t exactly blame the guy. Like viewers, he was getting impatient with the show’s pace. Despite the fact that peace with Negan is untenable, certain characters like Ezekiel and Morgan continue to refuse to take action. Richard made a valid point in an earlier episode. The arrangement between the two communities strengthened the Saviors while weakening the Kingdom. The longer it took for Ezekiel to stand up to Negan, the harder the inevitable fight would be.
Previously, Richard tried to light the fuse on a war with the Saviors by using Carol as bait. His plan was convoluted and unfortunately he picked the wrong accomplice in Daryl who would have gone along with any plan that didn’t involve putting Carol in jeopardy. But apparently Daryl didn’t tell anyone about Richard’s plotting which gave him the opportunity to sabotage a drop-off. Richard intended to play the sacrificial lamb, but not surprisingly things didn’t go according to plan. Instead of killing Richard, the Saviors randomly shot poor Benjamin.
Following the death of his student, Morgan had a little flip-out that included flashbacks to the fan favorite episode “Clear” (also written by Gimple). Later, Morgan mistakenly calls Benjamin by his son’s name. The idea is that Morgan viewed Benjamin as a surrogate son. You can see how that would be the case, but the show never bothered to establish their relationship in any meaningful way. When Benjamin dies, we see Morgan’s grief, but as a viewer I was never invested enough in Benjamin as a character to be moved by his passing. He was always clearly a “red shirt” anyway.
Morgan was always going to return to killing. From the very beginning, The Walking Dead has mined the morality of the apocalypse for drama with certain characters willing to do whatever it takes and other characters drawing lines they refuse to cross (and then usually being forced to cross them anyway). It’s one thing to be merciful, but Morgan’s brand of pacifism has crossed over into stupidity. People have died because Morgan refused to kill bad people even when the show made it clear that they were remorseless killers.
When Morgan finally does take a life, it’s not a bad guy. Instead, he brutally murders Richard in retribution for getting Benjamin killed. It’s not a smart move. Richard, despite his flaws, would have been a useful ally against the Saviors. Killing him doesn’t make sense, but it does connect the dots on the story the writers are telling. Richard’s death was somehow even less moving than Benjamin’s. It carried all the dramatic weight of sacrificing a pawn.
Carol was always going to get back into the fight. Like Morgan, Carol has been sidelined with a story-line involving a crisis of conscious. It was a random development that never fit with the character, but was apparently necessary as a stalling tactic. Previously, Daryl lied to Carol about the deaths of Glenn and Abraham because telling the truth would bring her back into the conflict. After seeing Benjamin die and killing Richard, Morgan visits Carol to bring her up to speed. As a result, Carol returns to the Kingdom to be part of the war effort while Morgan seemingly moves into her cabin.
The plot is advanced incrementally which I suppose is a good thing. Plenty of episodes spend an hour running in place. But all of the events have been so heavily foreshadowed that by the time they come to pass there’s no drama left to wring out of them.