"We have to fight."
“I know. But not today.”
The final words spoken by Carol (Melissa McBride) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) in the latest episode of The Walking Dead season seven are emblematic of the problems some viewers would express have plagued what's come before.
The slow-burn attitude that's been applied to the series in the run up to the oft-mentioned upcoming war against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) presents quite the catch 22: while we need time to be taken ensuring everybody's in their right position for the battle, it's proving increasingly more difficult to maintain enthusiasm when we know what is being worked towards - and while 'Bury Me Here stands out for (finally) convincing King Ezekiel that The Saviours need to be stopped, it opts for the scenic route; several seasons ago, this episode would have been condensed into a mere few scenes - fans' reward for their patience is being dripfed slowly and, this week, not a whole lot effectively.
Last week's episode took the foot off the pedal in a different manner - it was a departure instalment not really designed to propel the story onwards so much as reestablish character motivations and make the mandatory reminder that, hey, pretty much anyone can die at any time. This week's merged the two with Lennie James' Morgan Jones getting more transformation than he has since he resurfaced in the closing moments of season five: Richard's plan to convince Ezekiel he needs to fight back against The Saviours backfires when young Benjamin - the boy Morgan had taken under his wing - winds up dead. Morgan's psychosis spirals and, after momentarily slipping into 'Clear' Morgan, he murders Richard in cold blood and sets off to wreak his vengeance on unsuspecting Saviours.
It's an extreme reversal for the character whose abstinence from killing has really frustrated in an enticing manner - his 180 would irk if not for the episode's unhurried pace, and yet any shock surrounding his twist gets drowned in the fray, sadly.
The most shocking Walking Dead moments
The most shocking Walking Dead moments
1/10 Sophie's a walker (season 2, episode 7)
Much of season two's opening half is spent looking for Sophia, the missing daughter of Carol (Melissa McBride). Turns out she was locked up in Hershel's barn as a zombie all along.
2/10 Shane reanimates without being bitten (season 2, episode 12)
When Carl (Chandler Riggs) guns down a deranged Shane (Jon Bernthal) to protect his father, the shock arrives when he manifests into a walker despite not being bitten; turns out everyone's infected with the virus and will turn whichever way they die.
3/10 Axel's bullet to the eye (season 3, episode 10)
A character introduced in the show's prison arc, Axel is a reformed prisoner who strikes up a friendship with Carol - until he's gunned down mid-sentence.
4/10 Carl kills Lori after she gives birth (season 3, episode 4)
Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) goes into labour at the very moment a zombie siege breaks out at the prison. Unfortunately, she doesn't make it through the procedure with her son Carl being the one to put a bullet to her head.
5/10 The Governor slays Hershel (season 4, episode 8)
The Governor makes his dramatic return for a showdown at the prison after he captures Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Hershel (Scott Wilson). Rick reaches out, attempting to reason with him - but The Governor starts a war when he proceeds to decapitate poor old Hershel instead.
6/10 "Look at the flowers" (season 4, episode 14)
In a standout episode from the show's fourth season, Carol is forced to take drastic measures when young teenager Lizzie murders her sister Mika in the belief that she'll live on as a zombie. Realising Lizzie's depraved mind would endanger those around her, Carol puts a gun to the young girl's head and, telling her to "look at the flowers," pulls the trigger, fighting back the tears.
7/10 Carl's bullet to the eye (season 6, episode 9)
Season six returned from its mid-season break in typically dramatic fashion when an iconic moment from the graphic novels came to life: Carl takes a bullet to the eye.
8/10 Beth is killed (season 5, episode 8)
Upon being kidnapped, Beth (Emily Kinney) is taken to Grady Memorial Hospital managed by Atlanta Law Enforcement. Forced to reside there against her will, the group - including Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) - eventually find her - only for her to be accidentally shot in the head by her captor. The worst thing? Her sister Maggie (Lauren Cohan) had just arrived outside.
9/10 Negan kills Abraham
Season seven opened in brutal form as we discovered it was Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) at the opposite end of Negan's baseball bat. "Suck my nuts," the soldier growls as the Saviours' leader brings Lucille raining down on his head until nothing remains but a pulpy mess.
10/10 Negan kills Glenn
Negan decides to punish the group once more after getting clocked round the face by Daryl. Without expectation, he thwacks Lucille round the head of poor Glenn. With his eyeball popping out of his head, he manages: "I'll find you, Maggie before Negan proceeds to finish the job ending the former pizza delivery boy's life.
The other person who is in waiting in the wings to dispatch of some Saviours is Carol (Melissa McBride) who comes out of murder retirement when Morgan - after initially refusing - undoes Daryl's white lie from episode nine and details all of the awful acts we've seen Negan commit this past season. Glenn, Abraham, Spencer, Olivia - all dead, he tells her. After a season of sparring, their motivations align - Morgan's unraveling calls her bluff and, through tears (McBride stealing the show - quelle surprise), heads directly for Ezekiel who's enjoying some downtime in the Kingdom's gardens before certain bloodspill in the season's final stretch.
Sure, 'Bury Me Here' is by no means a weak episode in the grand scheme of The Walking Dead - it merely suffers from its placement; with three episodes to go before what is sure to be a dramatic finale, not to mention after a season of baited breath, it's almost a necessity for things to be moving faster than this. All that was required was a final shot of Morgan approaching Alexandria, bloodied stick in hand, with Rick looking on. Not today, indeed.
The Walking Dead airs in the UK tonight, 9pm on FOX. You can read our review of last week's episode here.Reuse content