Thoughts with summary mixed together.
I gave this a 67 on Robin's scale. Sorry for the long summary, however I think this one is worth it.
I find that rarely in the Walking Dead does the writing, direction and acting come together to deliver an emotional feeling drama and I think Scott Gimple, Lennie James and Alrick Riley pulled an incredible synergy around Morgan's character in this episode. I will tell you in the comics, Morgan is a flat, two dimensional character in contrast to what they have been able to deliver and achieve with Morgan in the show. I love the arc Gimple has put together for Morgan since Season 3's episode 'Clear'. It appears to be carefully constructed.
For me, Morgan represents the continuation of morality; the use of violence only when it's necessary; handing down of life lessons and nurturing of the young; justice and channeling of the elements of goodness; even if they are sourced from those who aren't all the way good (like Richard who had good intentions and leadership aspirations.)
* Tiny cold start. We jump forward to a preparation of an offering of one cantaloupe to the Saviors and then credits.
* We jump back to the present where Carol awakes from nightmares by the light of a hurricane lamp.
* Morgan trains Benjamin's brother on the Bo Staff and manages to get him to admit he looks up to Benjamin while Benjamin walks by.
* Carol decides to go to the Kingdom to question Morgan if everyone in Alexandria is okay? She injures a walker on the way and kills five more with a street sign before entering. Morgan defers to Daryl and offers to take her to Alexandria to find out.
* On the way back Carol notices an unknown person killed the injured walker and they then show Richard digging a grave next to some shopping carts and a yellow crate. He buries the backpack of a little girl with the dirt he is piling up from the grave (this was the backpack of his daughter.)
* Nabila tells Ezekiel that the King's garden is ridden with Weevils and has to be destroyed, however it will grow back with time (nice analogy and hopeful message about the world they live in with the walkers and civilization.)
* Benjamin goes to Morgan's apartment. He gives Morgan a velvet painting of a bull fighter. Morgan asks who the girl was who gave it to him and he refuses to answer. He shows Morgan his Akido book and quotes the line "To injure an opponent is to injure oneself" and concludes you get injured no matter what. (Foreshadowing his future death.)
* Richard comments to Morgan that Benjamin is too young to be a father. Morgan asks him if he was ever a father and he says he was and had the perfect life. Richard takes the opportunity to acknowledge how they don't see things the same and reflects on how Morgan will have to change his good ways because the thing with the Saviors won't last.
* Ezekiel and Company head out for a Savior drop off with 12 cantaloupes and they are delayed from arriving on time by shopping carts blocking the road in an arrow formation. They get out to clear the road block and find an open grave the arrow points to that says 'Bury Me Here'. Ezekiel comments that it's luck people are not insane and Benjamin points out that the world they live in drives people insane but Ezekiel made them another world.
* The Saviors aren't happy they are late and the Kingdom is a cantaloupe short. The Saviors ask also for their guns besides the food. The Saviors says Ezekiel needs to teach them a lesson. Richard steps up to be shot by the Saviors (as he expected) and instead they open fire and shoot Benjamin in the left femoral artery and he starts to bleed out. They tell Ezekiel to come back with the missing Cantaloupe the same time the next day.
* Ezekiel and crew rush Benjamin to Carol's place because she's the closest and has medical supplies, however it's too late and Ben loses to much blood and dies. Ben repeats the line 'To injure an opponent is to injure one's self' before he goes. (That may be the case if it causes Morgan to rampage against the saviors.)
* This causes a psychotic break in Morgan and he starts to relive his past in flashing montage. He nearly commits suicide by slashing his wrists in the open grave Richard had dug. He kicks the yellow bin at the height of his freakout to reveal the cantaloupe that made them short with the Saviors and cost Ben his life.
* Morgan confronts Richard about the Cantaloupe and Richard admits he set up the whole thing to have a conflict with Saviors. He was sure he would be the one who was shot because the Saviors stated he would be the first one to go if there was a problem in the past. He then tells Morgan since it didn't go that way this was because the Kingdom has done nothing. Richard reflects back to his past where he did nothing and it cost his family their lives. He points out they can use what happened to make the Saviors understand that they get it and understand what they need to do, so they Saviors gain their trust and then they kill the Saviors. 'Kill or you might as well kill yourself.' He tells Morgan he will take this opportunity to lead the armies to kill the Saviors and that he will talk to Ezekiel and tell everyone what he did soon and live with that the rest of his life.
* The next day they bring the Cantaloupe (the scene we see right at the beginning) to the Saviors on time. Morgan asks Richard if he spoke with Ezekiel and he says he will do that later. (I think at that point Morgan felt Richard was lying to him and had is own motives other than what he told Morgan.) Ezekiel overhears this conversation and demands to be told then what Richard was going to tell him just as the Saviors show up. The Saviors ask about Ben and Ezekiel tells them he's dead and the leader of the small Savior group tells the shooter of Ben to start walking back to where they came from or he will kill him.
* Richard starts to tell the Saviors they get it and Morgan snaps and strangles Richard and tells everyone Richard caused the issues from the previous day. He continues Richard's intended speech by saying they know what they need to do. Richard's original intention to use his own life to gain the Saviors trust is realized by Morgan. The pickups will continue after that. (Morgan has every intention to kill the Saviors when they least expect it; fulfilling Richard's other intentions.)
* Morgan tells Ezekiel that Richard wanted to die and he thought that he had a choice in the matter, however when the Saviors chose *Duane* had to die. Ezekiel asks who is Duane? and then Morgan quickly changes that to Ben (Morgan obviously saw Ben as Duane; yet another life of a child he failed to protect that had died needlessly.) Ezekiel wants Morgan to go with him however, Morgan tells them to leave without them and finishes off Richard so he doesn't turn and then goes to *bury him* in the grave he dug for himself. He uncovers Richard's little girl's backpack and buries that with Richard.
* Morgan goes to Carol and admits killing Richard because he got Ben killed and tried to start a war with the Saviors. He gives Carol the opportunity to ask him what happened at Alexandria and she does. He tells her that the Saviors killed Glenn and Abraham, Denise, Spencer, and Olivia and he's going to kill them one at at time starting now and turns to leave. Carol begs him to stay in her house for the time being, which he does. Morgan sharpens one side of his staff at her house into a point. (It appears at least part of the hold Morgan is back; the one that can kill people and walkers very efficiently.)
* Carol goes to talk to Ezekiel about getting ready to battle the Saviors. Ezekiel acknowledges to her that they have to get ready to fight but not today and she helps him and Ben's brother plant new crops in the King's Garden.
* Best Lines 'I think I just pissed myself'; 'Leave the Cobbler'.
* I loved the writing and blocking, especially how Morgan really listened to Richard in his speech about his plans and he carried out the plan; sacrificing Richard to get the Saviors to believe their obedience. (The part he omitted was Richard being the leader of the attacking armies.) Now he's getting ready to fight; Richard got through to him.
* A big episode for Morgan. I really feel like I saw the break in his psyche after the loss of Ben. He now knows he has to fight to keep humanity from disappearing. The loss of Ben and killing of Richard has in some ways balanced him; he will fight and kill humans now if he has to. This is a move to the center from the leftest notion of not killing any humans anymore.
* Great montage where I really felt Morgan slip in his sanity at the loss of Benjamin.
* For me, Morgan represents the continuation of morality; the use of violence only when it's necessary; handing down of life lessons and nurturing of the young; justice and channeling of the elements of goodness; even if they are sourced from those who aren't all the way good (like Richard who had good intentions and leadership aspirations.)
* Minor things really. Some of the closeup walker kill scenes with Carol using a road sign to kill zombies looked a little funny and need to be adjusted.
* I can argue Ben's life was a throw away (because I didn't really know him too much), although if I think of the promise a child brings to the world (that someone nurtured) and the tragedy a young death robs me or society of that promise, is this any different then what happens in reality? For me, not really...Every day on the news I hear about another life snuffed out way too early. It hurts even though I don't know them at all.
* Who killed the Walker Carol left in the road? Was it Richard?
* Is Morgan going to remain at Carol's house until the war with the Saviors begins or sharpen his staff and to start killing Saviors right away?
* When is Ezekiel planning to strike the Saviors?
* Will Carol make her way to Hilltop to help synchronize the attack?
* Where are the heck are you Heath?? An update is long overdue. Who are the people you are with and can they join in the war? Do they even know who Negan and the Saviors are?