This week’s episode of The Walking Dead picks up after last week’s intense skull-bashing encounter. Now that we have that whole cliffhanger business behind us, episode 2 of this season takes an abrupt detour into the continuing misadventures of Morgan and Carol. This was one of the more inconsistent storylines of Season 6, so the showrunners must be pretty confident to dedicate yet another episode to it. So how does “The Well” stack up?
The episode opens after the events of episode 15 of last season, “East.” Morgan and an injured Carol are being rescued by a group of survivors. Carol tries to escape, but doesn’t get very far due to her gunshot wound. She wakes up a couple of days later in a community known as the Kingdom. Morgan takes her to meet the community’s leader, King Ezekiel, and Carol is stupefied at his flamboyant mannerisms and… pet tiger.
And speaking of King Ezekiel, he is a fan favorite comic book character, and I’ve been looking forward to his introduction. Having an extravagant king with a pet tiger just inherently worked in the comics, but this concept is much more ridiculous on screen. The show handled his introduction pretty well, mostly by relaying his backstory pretty quickly. We learn though a conversation between Ezekiel and Carol that he is a former zookeeper, and is putting on his royal act in order to better lead his people. Actor Khary Payton does a fantastic job as Ezekiel, and was easily the highlight of the entire episode.
Morgan contributes to the Kingdom by helping them round up a few pigs. They end up rounding them up and feeding them walkers, something that raises suspicions. We then learn that they are feeding rot to the pigs because these little piglets are actually the Kingdom’s offering to the saviors. This is a good enough “a-ha!” moment, but all in all, the show hasn’t told us why we should care about the Kingdom anyway.
Other than this, not much else happens in this episode. Morgan mentors a young Kingdom resident in the art of Aikido, while Carol does her tired old “play dumb” technique and tries to run away from the Kingdom. Ezekiel catches her, but eventually they let her go, with Morgan’s blessing. The episode ends with Ezekiel finding Carol at the creepy house she holed up in.
“The Well” isn’t a terrible Walking Dead episode, but it’s a fairly uneventful trip whose main point is to introduce us to the Kingdom and its characters, but is ultimately devoid of much story on its own merits. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it is a bizarre choice to place this as episode 2, completely ruining all the momentum from the nail-biting season premiere. It simply serves as yet another example that these showrunners aren’t very good at plotting out a storyline with clearly defined emotional ups and downs. What we get instead is abrupt and inconsistent changes in tone and mood from week to week for no reason. But we’re still only at episode 2, so I’m not going to get ahead of myself! Stay tuned for next week.
+Khary Payton is fantastic as new character King Ezekiel
+Ezekiel opening up about his backstory is a highlight
-The summer break did nothing to heal Carol and Morgan burnout
-Pretty inconsequential to the overall plot of the show. Not much story movement at all this week
-Some of the dialogue, especially from the new Kingdom characters, are cheesy beyond description