Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead was a turning point. The cold open was equal parts somber and enigmatic. It begins with a handful of “Kingdommers” loading a single melon into the flat bed truck that they’ve used so many times to ship tribute to The Saviors. It’s clear that something very strange is happening.
Far too many human resources are being used for one small melon. It’s like a human Rube Goldberg machine: one person opens the gate of the truck, another person places a small crate inside of the truck, another ties the crate down so it won’t move, and another places a melon inside the truck. Finally, King Ezekiel examines the melon and then commands two of the aforementioned “melon caretakers” to lock the payload – all while Morgan guards the truck. They packaged the melon as if they were paying “last respects.” At this point we have no idea where in the timeline this scene falls.
Carol Wakes Up:
Next, we see hear and see someone whimpering in the dark, then she lights a candle. It’s Carol. It appears that she’s just woken up – perhaps she’s waking up from sleep and waking up from her long-held delusions that her son and friends are still alive all at the same time, because she’s crying. She leaves her home and heads for the Kingdom. Five walkers are blocking the gate to The Kingdom. With ingenuity, she kills all 5 with “One Way” street sign and then walks through the gates of the Kingdom to confront Morgan about what’s happening in Alexandria.
Morgan knows that Daryl didn’t tell her about the carnage that Negan has left in Alexandria. Morgan simply says to Carol, “whatever Daryl told you was between you and Daryl.” Morgan points out that she’s chosen to put on blinders. He promises that he’ll take her to Alexandria so she can see for herself just what’s happened with her own eyes.
Carol leaves in a huff, unsatisfied, but curiously she doesn’t actually press Morgan or demand more information. As she’s walking home, Benjamin chases behind her to ask for training in killing walkers. He tells her that he’d be happy to miss the Kingdom’s tribute drop with the Saviors for a lesson krav maga zombie murder. She says “no,” and proceeds home to do some gardening, actually.
A Prelude to a Tribute Gone Wrong:
Cut to Richard, with tears in his eyes, he’s seen digging a hole for himself somewhere. Meanwhile, the King is standing on his balcony literally watching a Kingdommer gather exactly the right number of melons (12) for their tribute to Negan later than day. The King is interrupted from his complex supply-chain management by another Kingdommer, named Nabila. Nabila explains that ‘weevils’ are eating “The Royal Garden,” and that the garden must be destroyed before the weevils to spread to the other crops. (Hmm, metaphor for a traitor among them? Yup!)
Richard then talks to Morgan, apologies for his differences with Morgon, and tells him that a time is coming where Morgan going to have to accept going to war and killing. (“Send off” conversation? Yup!)
It’s A Setup!:
So, everyone loads into the vehicles to drop off the melons, and other perishable goods, for Negan. Curiously, someone has set up a barricade of shopping carts in front of their usual route to the drop zone. (Crap, isn’t that always happens when you’re on a deadline to pay tribute to a dictator?)
They all get out of the truck to move the shopping carts and, importantly, see the hole the hole that Richard was digging – only it’s not a hole it’s clearly a grave that says, “bury me here.” Richard pretends that it’s his first time seeing it, even though he dug the grave himself.
The Saviors are waiting at the drop zone, alone. Savior Jared is pretending to be Ninja with Morgan’s staff to pass the time. The Kingdommers arrive finally arrive and Ezekiel tries to explain that the “2 train was running behind,” or the Zombie apocalypse equivalent to “being stuck in traffic.” Gavin’s not having it. Gavin tells Ezekiel that his ‘TPS reports’ can’t be late. Jerry defends tries to defend his “King,” and Jared quickly kicks Jerry’s a*s with his “Yoda staff.”
Gavin them informs everyone that Ezekiel is not a King. In fact he rubs it even more by saying something like, Ezekiel isn’t King, a Governor, a Prime Minister, a Selectmen, Comptroller, or any type of elected or appointed official. Gavin counts the tribute. He realizes that the count isn’t right and he goes all Stringer Bell on the Kingdom. Gavin begins a slow and overly-articulate monologue, the kind of thing that movie-mobsters do before they abruptly kill you.
Immediately, Gavin asks Ezekiel for all of his guns. Ezekiel, says cool you can have all of our guns, if you give us Morgan’s stick back. Seriously, that’s what happened, because Ezekiel is an expert negotiator. Gavin explains, ”We took your guns right now because things are about to get emotional, and you don’t do well with emotion. You’re short, you said 12 [melons], and I count 11 [melons].”
Ezekiel is extremely confused. He explains that he managed the entire supply chain himself while Nabila was telling him the weevils metaphor.
Long story sort of short, Benjamin ends up shot. Jared shoots him, even though Richard in fact volunteered to take the bullet. In fact Richard dug his own grave in anticipation of taking that bullet. Gavin demands that his 1 melon be delivered the next day – that’s right, “B*tch Better Have My Melon.”
The Kingdommers start racing to Carol’s to try to save Benjamin, whose been shot in the abdomen or hip and his bleeding out quickly. Carol had gone back to tending her garden, as if a war isn’t happening all around her, and as if her son wasn’t disemboweled a few months ago by Negan – now she’s confronted with the reality of a 17-year-old boy dying on her kitchen table.
They all place Benjamin on Carol’s kitchen table and impotently apply pressure to the wound. Benjamin knows that he’s going to die. He says, “It’s okay…to injure your enemy is to injure yourself,” or some corny granola saying that sounds good but isn’t actually true. Ironically, no one seems to be injured accept for Benjamin, and Benjamin’s enemies all appear to be in perfect health. Benjamin bleeds out.
Morgan walks out of Carol’s house and starts to have delusions and suicidal thoughts. He appears to – either in reality or delusion – hold a knife to his wrists while sitting in the pre-dug grave. At this point, he seems to realize that Richard was somehow behind the missing melon and that Richard had betrayed them all to start a war with Negan.
Morgan confronts Richard back at the Kingdom with only a stare. Richard confesses that he set everything up, right down to “delaying the 2 train,” so they’d be late for the drop. He explains to Morgan that he wanted to die at Jared’s hands in order to start a war with Negan. He explained that appeasement only makes things worse. (Okay, Winston Churchill…)
He tries to convince Morgan that they should pretend to appease the saviors, “show them that we get it…do something to make them believe us…when we gain their trust back. End them. Join with Alexandria and The Hilltop and crush them. But this is it Morgan, you have to kill. Or you might as well kill yourself…I’ll be the one to lead our army to crush The Saviors, destroy them.” He pledges to tell Ezekiel and everyone what he did.
At the second melon drop the next day, Richard still has not confessed. So, Morgan does what anyone would do in this situation. He kills Richard by strangulation in front of Gavin, Ezkeial, and everyone else. The strangulation goes on for about 2 minutes – and, for some reason, no one helps Richard. After Richard is dead, Morgan tells everyone what happened, what Richard had done. Morgan tells Gavin, “We get it.”
Carol joins The Kingdom, and she tells Ezekiel she’s ready for war.