Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) take center stage in The Well. They missed the carnage of losing Glenn and Abraham to Negan's bat. The pair ends up in a utopia-like new settlement with an eccentric leader. As usual, The Walking Dead has a lighter episode following the gut-punching tragedy of the premiere. The season is already coming into focus as the world no longer revolves around the Alexandrians.

Carol, still injured from her encounter with the Saviors, is being pulled by a horse in a travois. As she fades in and out of consciousness, the group is attacked by a horde of walkers. Carol stumbles off by her herself. She comes to a quaint house with a walker in the window. She watches as her new compatriots, decked in armor, use spears to dispatch the undead. Morgan saves her again with his wicked staff skills. He notches a post at the house's mailbox, then raises the mail flag. He wants to remember where they are going.

Carol wakes up again in a comfortable room. Her wounds have been attended. Morgan tells her she's been asleep for two days. He takes her outside in a wheelchair. This new settlement is unlike any she has seen. Children playing, people gardening, hanging up clothes. Morgan tells her that they are in the Kingdom. He wheels her into an auditorium. On stage, against a magnificent backdrop, a man with dreads sits on a throne; holding a tiger, Shiva, by a chain.

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King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) introduces himself with eloquence and flourish. He asks Carol what she thinks of the Kingdom. Carol goes into her aw shucks routine. Feigning weakness and lauding the strange man before her. Ezekiel offers her fruits, telling her she must, "drink from the well and replenish the well". Carol, looking utterly dumbfounded, politely declines. After their meeting outside, Carol rails against Morgan. She calls the Kingdom a circus. Tells Morgan she will not stay. Morgan says he cannot let her die. Carol abruptly reminds him that he has no choice.

Ezekiel asks Morgan to join him on an excursion outside the Kingdom. His men are using walkers to feed feral pigs. He asks Morgan not tell his followers how they get the meat. A youngster called Ben is given an opportunity to kill a walker. Struggling, he is saved by Morgan. Ezekiel thanks him, and then asks him how he got his training. Morgan replies truthfully, "from a cheese maker". Ezekiel persuades Morgan to train Ben on the staff. As they leave to return, Morgan notices that one of their trucks splits off and drives in a different direction.

Carol watches from her room as Morgan instructs Ben. She wheels herself outside, in disbelief as the Kingdom's citizens live placidly. She steels a candy bar, a knife, and then some clothes. Ezekiel asks Morgan to join them once more outside the compound. This time bring your gun.

The Kingdom dwellers meet the Saviors in a parking lot. They have been supplying the Saviors with meat. One of them gets into a fight with Ezekiel's lieutenant. Gavin, the leader of this group of Saviors, tells them to stop. But if they come next week and the Kingdom doesn't have their produce, he will be the first to die. Morgan understands why Ezekiel brought him. The King asks him again not to tell anyone of these events.

At dinner, Ben and Morgan bond more. Morgan has given him his book on Aikido. Ben comments that Morgan doesn't kill, he doesn't meat, is pacifism the way for him as well? Morgan surprisingly says he must find his own way, that his path is also evolving. He takes a tray of food to Carol's room. She has escaped into the night.

Carol is about to leave the Kingdom when she is surprised by Ezekiel. He tells her that he never believed her story. The guns they found her with belonged to the Saviors. She coldly laughs him off. This whole place is farcical to her. Ezekiel then tells her the truth. He lost it all, came back to the zoo where he worked. He found Shiva badly injured. After rescuing the tiger, she become his trusted companion. The people he met began to preach his greatness. They needed something, someone to believe in. Ezekiel had played Macbeth in community theater. He became the king his followers desperately wanted.

The episode ends with Morgan taking Carol back to the quaint house. She leaves the Kingdom, but is not so far away. She kills the lone walker, then buries her in the backyard. As night falls, she starts a fire. There's a knock on the door, followed by a tiger's roar. King Ezekiel has brought her fruit. Carol smiles and accepts it.

The introduction of the Kingdom and King Ezekiel is a welcome change for The Walking Dead Season 7. The producers have greatly expanded the scope of the show. You have Rick and the Alexandrians, Maggie heading to the hilltop, Carol and Morgan at the Kingdom, and presumably Daryl with the Saviors. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was listed in the opening credits as a main character. He's the big baddie with the boot on the settlements. It'll be interesting to see how the insurrection against him begins. King Ezekiel is an intriguing new character. Finally we have a leader with a little panache who isn't a psychotic killer...at least not yet. The Walking Dead returns with an all-new episode this Sunday on AMC.

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Julian Roman