That was pretty happy, right? Even with a few rolling walker heads, this week felt like Andy Griffith compared to the grit and bloodshed of the premiere.
That doesn’t mean that we were without problems, however. A few nagging “Gimple-isms” linger in the form of Carol. She’s been going off the rails since her self-imposed exile from Rick and the gang. We know this already. That doesn’t stop the show from giving you a quick refresher course. We’ve seen dream sequences and flashbacks so many times that it no longer has the same effect it once did. I feel there are more effective ways to show a character’s mental instability without cheap visual gags or camera tricks. It’s easy to get over this once the episode starts rolling (wheelchair bound) into The Kingdom.
The show has spoiled how idyllic The Kingdom should be since we’ve already seen our own group become self-sufficient and thrive — many times. Despite Woodbury, the Prison, Terminus, Grady Memorial, Alexandria, and The Hilltop, it still manages to feel visually fresh. It’s always interesting to learn about new communities in this world and how they operate, especially when those societies are filled with colorful characters.
Khary Payton is perfectly cast as Ezekiel. He embodies a Shakespearian thespian, speaking with delusions of grandeur. Between him and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan, we can expect to have a friendly competition as to who can steal the most scenes. It also seems that Ezekiel has the potential to fill the one-liner void left by our dearly departed Abraham. (“You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”)
Shiva looks passable as a CGI tiger, but your mileage may vary. The illusion only fails for me when her weightless frame moves around. Stationary, it works beautifully. As comic readers will know, she gets a little more “mobile” later. I worry how those scenes will look in the future.
Ezekiel has some bizarre, yet solid motivation for what he does in his Kingdom — it was insanely smart to have him confide in Carol. In this world, not everyone is virtuous (another lesson we’ve had smacked over our heads) so it’s great to see morally gray characters communicate (again) after seeing some unhinged evil. Initially, I had reservations about this episode… judging it before I had seen it. Now was the perfect time for an episode like this. It had been a long wait for the resolution to the “Lucille cliffhanger”, but it had been even longer since we last saw Carol and Morgan. With so many scenes of them together, this particular beat feels eerily similar to Carol and Tyreese’s post-”Grove” outing in early season 5 (“No Sanctuary”). Thankfully, unlike then, our group is in a much better place — part of them, anyway.
The episode came to a charming end, our two “master pretenders” sharing a kind moment that will shine in stark contrast to what will follow in next week’s episode. “The Well” provides a nice bit of levity compared to the oppressive nature of the season premiere.