As expected, the second installment of this season was calm and, for the most part, without complication. After the first episode and its emotional wringer, it was actually rather nice to slow things down a bit and live within the illusion that bad things going on outside the walls of the Kingdom aren’t really happening.
We catch up with Morgan and Carol, who are being taken in by soldiers of the Kingdom. For reasons not explained, Morgan leaves a mailbox flag up at a house they pass by near their destination. There’s a major city in the distance, but it’s never actually clarified in the episode as to what city it is. (According to walkingdead.wikia.com it’s actually Washington, D.C.)
Carol’s introduction to King Ezekiel is everything you could possibly hope for, given the build-up. From the quotes by King Ezekiel in Old English text smattered on the walls, to the “court,” which is little more than an auditorium with a throne set up on the stage, to even the language and mannerisms of King Ezekiel himself, Carol’s reaction once she’s out of earshot is much like anyone’s would be. “You’re shitting me, right?” While I love the character, and his tiger Shiva, the concept that anyone would buy into the Ren Faire thing as a manner of existing in the modern world? It’s a bit of a stretch. Sure, I’d probably love it, but I don’t want to have to dig out a dictionary every few minutes. On the other hand, thanks to this episode, I now know what it means to be “pitch-kettled” (confounded or puzzled, in case you were wondering).
But, despite her overabundance of congeniality towards the King, Carol’s primary goal is still to make her escape and go her own way. Meanwhile, Morgan seems to be buying into the Kingdom, hook line and sinker. Ezekiel has Morgan accompany him and his men to rustle up pigs, which are being fed walkers, and later deliver said pigs to the Saviors. Morgan learns that Ezekiel is keeping his “deal” with the Saviors a secret from the people of the Kingdom, because he knows they would want to fight. And they would lose.
Morgan later returns to Carol’s room with some food and finds her gone. After dark, Carol is waylaid by King Ezekiel who catches her trying to escape through the garden. The veil comes down and she finally learns about the man behind the myth: He’s a former zoo keeper, and Shiva had been injured. He saved her, and when things started to go bad, he’d rescued her. She’d been with him since then. Carol told him that he was just selling the people a fairy tale. He asked her to keep his story to herself, to which she replies simply that she doesn’t care, that she just wants to go.
The most confusing part of the episode comes when Ezekiel tells her that she can “go and not go.” Plans are made, and the next morning, Carol is escorted by Morgan back to the house where he left the mailbox flag up. The only thing I can figure is that Ezekiel was suggesting that she could leave the Kingdom, but stay close by just in case she needed protection. Later, after she kills a walker inside the house and started making herself at home, Ezekiel shows up with Shiva.
This was not a bad episode. It doesn’t make my list of favorite episodes, but did have a few really great moments. Carol is, and always will be, my hero. Ultimately, I’m left with the sense that there’s going to be some great story arcs that are born from this episode, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I like the idea that Ezekiel might have found someone he can be himself with, and that neither he or Morgan are forcing Carol to stay when she clearly doesn’t want to. She doesn’t need to be completely alone either, despite being more than capable of fending for herself. The real trial will come when the Saviors, the Alexandrians, Hilltop, and the Kingdom storylines really begin to merge.