‘The Walking Dead’ recap: Death becomes him

It was never going to be easy.

The war against Negan has been a slow beast in the second half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season. There have been lots of preparations and alliances and intelligence gatherings, but Benjamin might be the first casualty (Spencer, Olivia, Glenn and Abraham were a part of Negan’s war on Alexandria). Richard and Morgan’s soul are the next.

Now that the Kingdom is on board, the confrontation between Team Kill Negan and the Saviors looms closer. There are three episodes left of the season, and one will inevitably be spent dealing with the Oceanside community, whether or not they join the alliance. At this rate, is there anything stopping our heroes? If Morgan is an indicator, maybe themselves.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Richard?

We should have known Benjamin and Richard were not long for this world.

Benjamin was too soft. He was too nice. He had a cute little brother and he was too interested in the future. Those characteristics almost always spell death in The Walking Dead’s universe.

Richard, too, was always in danger. His reckless obsession with taking out the Saviors has already proven to be dangerous to himself (in previous confrontations) and others (his plan to frame Carol for Savior sabotage), but never more so than in this episode.

Richard’s plan worked -- sort of. After sabotaging the Kingdom’s tribute of 12 cantaloupes (what a weird and small tribute, by the way), the Saviors get angry and violent. The only problem is Benjamin is the one who gets killed, not Richard as he planned. And Morgan figured out what he did, and ends up strangling him in front of Ezekial and the Saviors in one of the more horrifying moments of the season so far.

What’s unclear from this is whether or not Richard’s death was planned. Sure, he planned his death the first time, complete with a “bury me here” sign, and that didn’t work out. But when he and Morgan have the heated exchange just before it goes down about whether or not he’s “told” Ezekiel, something feels off. It also feels pointed when Morgan parrots Richard's own master-plan language when he explains his rash strangulation to the Saviors.

Morgan is certainly damaged, but it’s unclear how intentional it all is.

Time To Fight

In more exciting news, this episode finally gets Carol up off the bench.

Sending her away to her little cottage was one of the biggest mistakes of the first half of the season, even if she needed the alone time to recollect herself. But now she’s collected and ready to fight.

Unlike Morgan and Ezekiel, Carol didn’t need new death to convince her it is time to take up arms against the Saviors. She simply needed to be told the truth about all the deaths that had already happened, specifically Glenn and Abraham. That new knowledge, plus Benjamin bleeding out on her kitchen table, is enough to move her out of the cottage for good. And to inch her closer to a romance with Ezekiel. There’s an incredible poignancy to the final shot of the episode, of Ezekiel, Carol and Benjamin’s little brother planting in the “royal garden,” a weird family unit created by death and destruction. That’s the life Ezekiel wants to preserve, and he has to pay for it in blood now, not just produce.