In the second episode of The Walking Dead season 7, “The Well,” we get a look at The Kingdom, a large community run by a man called King Ezekiel (new cast member Khary Payton). As Morgan and Carol get acquainted with The Kingdom’s way of life, we are treated to a refreshingly lighthearted episode in the wake of the dark and traumatic season premiere.

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Carol and Morgan Arrive in a Strange New Community

As the episode begins, we see Morgan and Carol being led to The Kingdom by their rescuers from last season. Carol is still very out of it, presumably thanks to all that blood loss. When the group encounters a horde of walkers, Carol begins to hallucinate that the walkers are actually human. She ends up running away from the group and collapses outside of a creepy-looking house. There is a walker inside, and Carol hallucinates it as an old woman. Other members of The Kingdom show up and help the group dispatch the rest of the walkers.

Carol wakes up a few days later to find Morgan sitting by her bed. Morgan takes her outside in a wheelchair so she can see the community. He tells her that the doctor says she’s healing, but it’ll be another week or so before they are ready to return to Alexandria. He says he’s been helping out at the community because they’ve been helping Carol. He goes on to say that the people call their community ‘The Kingdom.’

Carol asks Morgan what he told people about them, and Morgan says all “he” knows is that they got separated and Morgan found Carol when she got into trouble. Carol asks Morgan who this “he” is, and Morgan explains that “he” is The Kingdom’s leader, King Ezekiel. Morgan wheels Carol into an auditorium, where King Ezekiel is seated upon a makeshift throne. Morgan left out the very important detail that King Ezekiel has a pet tiger. Carol’s face upon meeting Shiva is absolutely priceless.

Meet Richard and Ben

Faced with King Ezekiel, Carol immediately slips into her helpless homemaker routine and pretends that she is amazed by the way Ezekiel and his people live. She even calls him “Your Majesty.” Ezekiel calls Carol a “friend of the realm” because she’s a friend of Morgan’s. He offers her anything she needs during her stay, but Carol says all she needs is more rest.

As soon as they are out of earshot, Carol asks Morgan what he’s thinking associating with these crazy people. She thinks The Kingdom is a circus and she plans to leave as soon as she can slip away. Morgan says he won’t let her do that, but Carol reminds him that it is not his decision.

We see Morgan head out with Ezekiel and some of his people. Morgan is told they are going hunting. The group rounds up a bunch of feral pigs, who we see consuming walker flesh. One of Ezekiel’s men, Richard, even feeds the pigs more walker flesh because he wants their bellies full of rot. Once the pigs are loaded up, the group notices a walker headed their way. Richard tells one of the younger members, Benjamin, to take care of it. Alas, poor Ben is not very skilled and has to be saved by the others. As the group prepares to leave, Morgan watches as the truck full of pigs is taken somewhere else.   

The Saviors Arrive

When the group returns to The Kingdom, Ezekiel tells Morgan how impressed he is by Morgan’s skill with his stick. He asks if Morgan will consider training Benjamin. Ben hasn’t had much luck in learning how to fight, and Ezekiel isn’t sure if it has to do with the teacher or the weapons he’s been training with. Since Ben will become an important part of Ezekiel’s court one day, Ezekiel needs him to survive. Morgan agrees to train him.

We are then treated to a montage featuring Morgan training Ben, a lovely choir practice and Carol sneakily gathering supplies for when she’s ready to leave The Kingdom. After their lesson, Benjamin asks Morgan if he can borrow Morgan’s book since Ben has already read every book The Kingdom has to offer. Morgan eventually agrees to lend it to him.

Ezekiel asks Morgan and Benjamin to join him and his men on a special assignment. When they get to their destination, Morgan sees that the pigs have been slaughtered, and Ezekiel explains that they do the slaughtering far from The Kingdom to keep the noise from getting back to his people. Ezekiel apparently keeps some secrets from his people. Morgan is there as Ezekiel and his men meet with a group of Saviors. The pigs are The Kingdom’s offering to Negan’s group.

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Morgan Makes a Friend

Instead of just taking The Kingdom’s offering, one of the Saviors decides to start something with Richard. Richard isn’t having it, so they get into a fight, and everyone pulls their weapons. Ezekiel is quick to shut things down and even lets the Savior get a few free shots off at Richard. Of course, the Savior takes it too far, but the man in charge, Gavin, gets him to back off. Gavin and the Saviors leave but not without reminding Ezekiel that they will be back in a week, and if The Kingdom doesn’t meet the required offering, Richard will be the first one punished.

Back at The Kingdom, Morgan continues to bond with young Benjamin. After Morgan sees Ben with his little brother, Benjamin says that Ezekiel has been helping him raise his brother. Morgan observes that Ben is very close with Ezekiel, and Ben explains that Ezekiel was once good friends with his father. Ben’s father was one of The Kingdom’s best fighters, but he was killed along with several other men when Ezekiel sent them to clear out a building and they got overrun by walkers.

Benjamin goes on to say that Ezekiel confided in him that he’s keeping his deal with the Saviors a secret because he is afraid too many of his people will want to fight the Saviors and they cannot win, at least without losing some of their own. Morgan asks Ben if he thinks Ezekiel is right about not fighting back, but Benjamin doesn’t think he has enough experience to know. They have a discussion about finding one’s path, and Morgan says he thought he knew this, but he realized that he’s just fumbling through.

Morgan decides to skip movie night so he can check on Carol, but when he gets to her room, she’s already gone.

Ezekiel and Carol Reach an Understanding

In the best moment of the episode, Ezekiel catches Carol trying to steal fruit from the garden before she leaves. She tries to go into her sweet and innocent act, but Ezekiel calls her out on it. They end up discussing the Saviors, and Ezekiel says Carol didn’t just fight them — she won. Carol doesn’t think winding up at The Kingdom is winning. She calls Ezekiel out on his kingly act and says he’s creating a fairytale for people. Ezekiel says it’s human nature for people to want someone to follow, and he chose to play the part, using his community theatre roots as inspiration for his royal persona. He then opens up to her about who he really is.

Ezekiel explains that he used to be a zookeeper. When Shiva was hurt in an accident, Ezekiel saved her life. After that, she never showed him so much as a tooth. When the world fell apart, Ezekiel made it to the zoo and found Shiva. She protected him, and they’ve been together ever since. While much of his personality may be an act, Ezekiel assures Carol that his name is “100% real.”

Ezekiel asks Carol to keep what he told her a secret from his people. Carol doesn’t care what kind of show he puts on for everyone because she just wants to leave. Ezekiel apologizes to her for whatever bad things she’s been through but says that life isn’t all bad. He found a way to deal with the bad, and he thinks she can too. Ezekiel says he thinks he can help her, if she’ll let him. Carol wants to know why he’s so keen on helping her. Ezekiel explains that it “makes me feel good.” He asks if he can arrange an escort for her so she can “go and not go.” Carol agrees to this odd arrangement.

Carol Finds a New Home

It turns out that Ezekiel sends Morgan to help Carol get set up in the creepy house we saw in the opening scene. The house is not far from The Kingdom, so it allows Carol to live on her own while also keeping her close to the community. Morgan and Carol exchange what I assume is meant to be humorous banter about that one time they almost killed each other over the Wolf before Morgan leaves.

As soon as Carol gets settled, there’s a knock at the door. Ezekiel, Shiva by his side, pays Carol a visit and offers her some fruit. (I have a feeling Ezekiel has a little crush on Carol, and I am all for it.)

What did you think of this episode of The Walking Dead? Were you pleased to have such a lighthearted episode after that heavy season premiere or are you disappointed we didn’t get to follow up with our main group? What did you think of King Ezekiel and his awesome pet tiger? What do you think of Morgan’s burgeoning friendships with Ezekiel and Ben? How long do you think it will be before Ezekiel’s deal with the Saviors falls apart? Which member of The Kingdom is your favorite (I kind of like them all, including the laid-back Jerry.) Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Walking Dead season 7 airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on AMC. Want more news? Like our Walking Dead Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of AMC)