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There’s a saying: The pessimist looks down and loses his head. The optimist looks up and loses his footing. The realist looks forward and adjusts his path accordingly. — King Ezekiel
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. — K, “Men in Black”
I skipped posting yesterday, what with the deluge of fantastic (and mine) Hallowe’en stories. So, even though it’s been a couple of days, and you should know better,
There was a lot, and not a lot, involved in this week’s episode, “The Well”.
It starts with Carol having a fever dream where she dips in & out of reality:
- Is she in ancient England? If so, why are the knights wearing baseball equipment?
- Why are the knights attacking civilians? Why are the civilians turning into zombies?
- Why is Morgan pushing me in a cart? Am I Miss Daisy?
Eventually, all is sorted out and she & Morgan had a grand laugh.
NO! Not really. When Carol actually comes to, it’s been a couple of days, and Morgan has to fill her in on where they are – it’s called “The Kingdom”. Then he takes her through this seeming paradise of iambic pentameter to meet the fellow in charge, King Ezekiel. You know, a typical post-apocalyptic leader, just a simple man with a head full of dreads and a pet tiger.
Most of the rest of the episode is a(nother) “Carol calling bullshit” journey, with a conclusion that falls into the middle of the two usual Carol outcomes:
- “Nah, I’mma be fine on my own” and Carol walks off; or
- “Nice. I’mma be fine right here” and Carol stays.
Carol eventually has a nice long chat with King Ezekiel, where he tells her the truth, because he knows she’s not buying the act, but he needs her to know why the act exists and why the others do. His “don’t bullshit a bullshitter,” real-talk eventually gets Carol to acknowledge the accepted necessity of the act. It also gets her to open up about why she acts how she does, and there seems to be a common-ground established, which implies – especially at the end of the episode – that there’s going to be some uglies bumped*.
[* = Comics spoiler – in the comics it’s Michonne & Ezekiel, but since she & Rick are together, it appears Carol – who is already dead by this point in the comic – and the King are going to form this bond. (If the soft-hearts who thought the violence on the show was bad, how are these same idiots going to handle the added miscegenation?)] [(Answer: see gif below.)]
I half-expected “The Promised Land” from “Darkness on the Edge of Town” to be the song playing as Carol cleans her new house of walkers, with an actual **record scratch** , before the surprise-not-surprise of King ‘Zeke popping by to share some pomegranate.
They actually did use a Bob Dylan song in the episode, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. Research points to the fact that the song is about questioning the place you are in, and the people who surround you.
Which has NOTHING to do with Carol or Morgan at all. Nope. Not sure where they’re going with that there.
Research shows this is the second time they’ve used a Dylan song on the show – in Season 1 they used “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” in the finale.
The only part of the episode that kept the whole thing from feeling like it was part of Carol’s fever dreams was when Ezekiel took his party (including Morgan) and went & took tribute to The Saviors. When King Ezekiel told Morgan about fattening the pigs up with downed walkers, it probably brought to mind for Canadian viewers a famous news story involving a farmer and his pigs.
A nice little dick-move to feed contaminated pigs to the dicks making you feed them.
Still, it grounded the episode in the reality of the world as we’ve seen it unfold, and sets an eventual course for one-or-more conflicts between the various groups we know exist. Right now, Carol & Morgan are in a gated paradise, versus the hell-on-earth Rick & the gang now inhabit.
What gets me about this episode is the online reaction to it. (I know – it’s my fault for looking.) More than a few sites are interpreting this episode as a “palate cleanser” from the season premiere, that it was somehow filmed to draw people back after the language & violence from the week earlier, because they’d anticipated the complaints and backlash. It makes me thankful the FCC only keeps records of complaints for cable TV**; networks like AMC are only accountable to advertisers, so they keep swearing to a minimum. There are also a few opinions that cover the, “Well, NOW I’m done with this show!”, because they didn’t follow up with even more violence than last week. Like every Game of Thrones episode has a “Red Wedding”.
Of my favourites, Forbes went deep into the Classical Studies program with this one:
I wonder if the pomegranate has some symbolic meaning. It’s known as the “fruit of the dead” in Greek mythology. Hades tricked Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, trapping her there for six months of the year. During these months, Persephone’s grieving mother Demeter no longer gives fertility to the earth—the ancient Greek’s explanation for the seasons, basically. Could this be some foreboding hint?
Then again, even in modern day Greece it’s customary to give pomegranates as house-warming gifts, something Ezekiel does in the final scene of the episode when he arrives at Carol’s door. He even brings a genuine smile to her face, which is a lovely moment.
That’s nice, but they seem to overlook the sly grins between the two that imply Priapus and Peter North more than Hades & Demeter.
The most obscure, English-majory analysis was found was a guy at Vox who compared The Walking Dead to Watership Down. He compared the survivors various stopping points to the places the rabbits encountered and how the two groups are challenged at each stop. Seriously,
What I’m most struck by, however, is the way the various warrens Hazel and his friends encounter are similar to the various communities Rick and his friends have visited on The Walking Dead.
Every other one seems too good to be true, until the dark secret at its core is exposed. (The ones in between “every other one” are all run by murderous psychopaths.) Rick and company imagine staying at each of them for a bit, until they realize it’s time to move on. But in Watership Down, the “let’s sample other warrens” element of the story occupies roughly the first third of the novel, and that’s it. The Walking Dead keeps trying variations on it, to diminishing returns.
Plus, it makes total sense because Walking Dead and Watership Down; if only they had the same number of letters.
If anything is truly going to make me give up watching, it’ll be because of these haughty dissections of a teevee show. God forbid Peter King ever starts talking about this show regularly; Hardwick is more than enough.