As noted in the review for “New Best Friends,” The Walking Dead is at its best when it focuses on one or two characters, rather than a massive cast. Case in point: “Bury Me Here,” which hones in on Morgan and Richard in particular.
1. The Royal Garden
King Ezekiel’s garden seems to be a metaphor for Ezekiel’s governing style in this episode. His peaceful methods are falling apart, and so his garden has developed weevils and has to be uprooted and destroyed to prevent it from infecting the rest of the crops, i.e. from having a further negative effect on the rest of the Kingdom.
On the other hand, upon the decision to go to war, he works together with Benjamin’s little brother Henry and the newly returned Carol to replant the garden in its entirety. As he himself says about the coming war, if they have to fight in it, “but not today.” They had to grow again before they can work for their common defense. He realizes that he does not need to seek out war, but he does need to be ready for it in order to defend those he cares for.
2. Surprising Standards of the Saviors
On the note of the Saviors, there is a somewhat larger difference in personalities between members in the field in this episode, compared to previous ones. Before, the only thing shown of the Saviors to other people was cruelty and mild mitigation of their responses.
On the other hand, the interaction between Gavin, the lieutenant in charge of Ezekiel’s tribute, and Jared, his very abrasive subordinate, shows a surprisingly high amount of morality. When Jared shot Benjamin without being ordered to do so, Gavin first demanded he give Eastman’s staff back to Morgan as compensation, then, upon learning Benjamin died of his wounds, he actually threatened to kill Jared if he did not walk back to their outpost immediately without a word. Is it purely pragmatism, or is there at least some compassion in him?
3. Martyrdom and its Applications
Richard’s actions, from setting up a blockade to sabotaging the tribute, seemed not only to be a war hawk, but also want to kill himself in the process. He seems to want his death to be the deciding factor in the war ahead. In fact, it technically was, but not in the manner that he wanted it to be. He did, however, forget the problem with martyrdom: it had to have the death mean something. When he decided to simply move alone without any change after accidentally causing the death of the wrong person, he showed his incapability to stick to a plan of that sort, and cheapened any effect that Benjamin’s death could have had. Furthermore, he proved unfit as a leader, the position he apparently wants to have in the war to come. He seems to mistake being willing to die for his beliefs with wanting to die for his beliefs. After all, “dying is easy; living is harder.”
4. Richard’s Rejected Redemption
As part of his attempt at martyrdom, Richard brought up the origins of his war hawk nature. He does not seem to be someone who was always so gung-ho. Rather, he was once a follower more than a leader, wanting to let other people deal with things, rather than do them himself. Only after the death of his wife in a fire at the first camp they were placed in and the later death of his daughter on the road did he seem to come up with this mentality to “do something” to help.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, he proves incapable of learning from his mistakes. With a several-minute-long speech to Morgan, he seems to have not only come around to being okay with Benjamin’s death, but willing to just continue moving along in the exact same manner that he had been going before. Furthermore, he neglected to tell Ezekiel what he had done, despite his tearful promise he would do so.
As such, his inability to learn caused his death at Morgan’s hands. Even someone as forgiving as the aikido practitioner could not forgive the death of his surrogate son, especially after it was so callously thrown away.Continued below
5. Are We “Clear”?
Zen Morgan is dead, long live Zen Morgan.
The cold rage of Morgan Jones is one of the most palpable pieces of this episode, and its absolute highlight. After he saw the grave with the words “Bury Me Here,” he seems to have flashed back to his insanity of Season 4’s “Clear,” where he had gone completely insane and developed a collection of mantras that reinforced his mentality, including “clear” and “here’s not here,” amongst others.
In fact, his hallucination in this episode after the death of Benjamin was the most potent one of the entire episode. The montage showed that even with his rigorous practice of aikido, he is still just a hairsbreadth away from falling over the edge again. Killing the Wolf in the last season was one thing, a shooting in defense of another. However, his public execution of Richard with his own two hands had far more emotion behind it, even to the point of him calling Benjamin “Duane,” the name of his dead (or if according to the comics, undead) son.
One of his most powerful moments aside from that montage was his complete silence as he went to confront Richard, all the way until the next drop off. He did not say a word, nor did he even change his expression. He did not have to do so, as his pure rage did not even need any facial expression to show. In fact, the lack of any expression showed his emotion even more, as it showed how he had to remain outwardly emotionless to keep from railing on him at any given moment.
The image of him going to work on Eastman’s staff, presumably sharpening it into the shape of a spear, shows further that he is done with pure peace. The monster is out again, but how far can it go before he can rein it in?