With another season of The Walking Dead comes yet another safe haven that may or may not be exactly what it seems. The only difference is this community, born from the muck of a viral zombie apocalypse, has flourished into a medieval society with a truly bonkers leader at the helm. After the severe bloodshed of the spectacle that was the premiere episode, Carol’s response to encountering such an eccentric is the most appropriate: “You’re sh-tting me, right?”
Anyone hoping to see how Rick and the others bounce back (or don’t) from their first Negan encounter will have to wait another week, because “The Well” is all about Carol and Morgan. Those two men on horseback from last season — who we learn are named Nathaniel and Bolton — are leading them to help, with Morgan wheeling an injured Carol on the closest thing to a stretcher this world can afford.
As Carol dips in and out of consciousness, she stirs to find herself on the ground as walkers descend upon the group. She keeps hallucinating the dead as real people, struck down by Morgan’s staff and the spears of her rescuers. In a panic, she leaves the scene and stumbles over to a cracked white fence surrounding a small house. An old woman standing in the window motions for Carol to come inside, but that, too, is another hallucination masking the frenzied walker trying to break out.
More dead encircle Carol, but reinforcements arrive in the form of men and women decked out in bulletproof gear on horseback. Some have spears, some carry swords, others sport bows, and together they clear out the threats.
Morgan, who’s been carving arrows into trees in case they need to find their way back to Alexandria, makes another mark on the house’s mailbox and puts up a red flag before leaving with the armed detail.
When Carol wakes up, she’s lying in a hospital bed with a lucky rabbit’s tail hanging on the bedside lamp, a DIY wind chime dangling outside the window, and Morgan sitting in a chair. Now that she’s up, it’s time to meet their host.
As he pushes her in a wheelchair through their newfound haven, Morgan explains it’s called The Kingdom, led by a man who calls himself King Ezekiel. Oh, and he has a tiger. Carol has been out for a couple days, but she sees gardens, young kids sitting in a classroom-type setting on an open porch, vacant school buses parked in the background, and guards stationed with spears — there are no guns around. Morgan mentions they should probably stay for a few weeks to give Carol enough time to recuperate, but that doesn’t jive with her plan.
It’s William Shakespeare who wrote “All the world’s a stage,” and Ezekiel took those famous words to heart. Morgan presents Carol to the King, sitting on his throne in the middle of a school building’s auditorium. At his side is an enormous tiger, Shiva — who snarls at the Alexandria refugees — at his back, a bodyguard (his “steward”) named Jerry, who may be The Walking Dead’s version of Jerry/Garry Gergich from Parks and Recreation.
NEXT: Seeing is believing