The Walking Dead episode 702 flashback: The Kingdom

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Khary Payton as Ezekiel - The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Khary Payton as Ezekiel - The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC /

Let’s flashback to Episode 702  of The Walking Dead, and remember how “The Well” introduces another new group of survivors, “The Kingdom.” When Carol (Melissa McBride) is brought into their little setup, she immediately assumes they’re in over their heads. Why wouldn’t she? She’s seen plenty of places promising to be walker-free, but the human conflict was quick to tear them apart if not the walkers themselves.

Fortunately, their leader, King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), is not as overtly authoritarian as his name suggests and by no means puts any handcuffs around Carol’s wrists. So, at this point, one assumes maybe The Walking Dead needed one of those rare episodes that are a little less bleak. Then again, more cynical viewers will understandably feel such a place was previously teased in the series. After that happens enough times, it starts feeling like Lucy is taking away Charlie Brown’s football. So it’s understandable to ask, “Is Carol really not a prisoner now in The Kingdom?”

The Walking Dead – The Kingdom represents hope. Maybe?

If one lets those “we’ve been here before” feelings subside, there’s a sense that maybe, just maybe, some things might begin working out for some people, finally. To be fair, there were reasons for doubt, including how The Walking Dead tends to sidestep even some obvious glimmers of hope. For example, by season 7, we know Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) established a romantic relationship; it’s almost bizarrely ignored in the story arc (and much could be said regarding Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) burgeoning relationship with Enid (Katelyn Nacon), which seems like it simply fizzled out with no actual resolution).

So, for me, this is one of the critical questions surrounding The Walking Dead: Is it a little too bleak, almost in a forced way? Over the past few seasons before season 7, the series decided to abandon most “lovey-dovey” stuff. While Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol are commonly depicted as loners, it might have made sense to have given them a growing romance, having shared some incredible scenes together, and with audiences perhaps needing a breath of fresh air after moments like the infamous season 6 finale (and season 7 premiere).

I get it, though; Carol’s relationship with Morgan has always felt more platonic to some viewers than romantic, even though some were rooting for Carol to end up with him or maybe for Carol to end up with Daryl (Norman Reedus) (their names even rhyme), or somebody! And hey, what about Ross Marquand’s character, Aaron? The Walking Dead looked ever-so-slightly into his relationship once, and it was refreshing to have a gay character thrown into the mix, but that angle was also rather unexplored.

Well, at least The Kingdom is a magical place, sort of

So, yeah, “The Well” is not much about Morgan and Carol but a suggestion of Ezekiel’s larger-than-life character. It’s a bit of a strange angle, and it’s almost actually more about the respectful relationship between himself and his loyal tiger, Shiva.

If nothing else, this episode is a nice little introductory side story, just as some episodes of season 3 focused a bit on Milton Mamet’s (Dallas Roberts) work studying zombification in his lab (one of a handful of stories that attempted to examine zombification itself, though very little resulted from his observations and experiments). So “The Kingdom” almost dangles another promise of a fresh start, by Carol’s too cynical and jaded to fully accept it and, understandably, decides to live nearby instead.

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