Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's latest episode, "Bury Me Here," so head to another story if you haven't watched yet.
Of all the communities in The Walking Dead, The Kingdom has been the place most free from emotional ruin, at least as far as current events go. (There's cobbler!) Tonight's episode, however, ended that streak in a couple of big ways, as both Ezekiel's enforcer Richard and the burgeoning soldier Benjamin were both taken down. And as it usually goes when The Walking Dead eliminates its lesser-developed characters, these characters' deaths are far less important as individual losses than as how they will impact the overall story. Everything is changing for The Kingdom now.
Let's start with Richard, who was aiming to die by the end of the episode, no matter how things would actually go down. Having had his Carol-sacrificing scheme shot down previously, Richard saw himself forced into a corner, at the end of his rope in terms of contentedly standing by and allowing the Kingdom's deal with the Saviors to go on. So he intentionally botched the day's offering, removing a melon from the bunch, which caused Savior Gavin to take all of the good guys' guns and invoke a showdown. Richard's end game was to be at the first man down at the end of a Savior's death blow, thus inciting a fight and/or something bigger between Good and Evil.
As is his wont, Richard sorely misjudged how things would play out, and it turns out The Case of the Missing Melon wasn't important enough for outright manslaughter. Not even from the long-haired mega-douche Jared, who only shot Benjamin in what might have been a non-fatal area in a world with proper medical care. Richard looked mentally pummeled by this turn of events, and at that point, he's far less interested in going to war than in swallowing his failures.
Which is when Benjamin exits the picture. The Kingdom-ites take him to Carol's, where he bleeds out on her table, and it's implied that Morgan then stabbed him in the head to stop him from turning. And after Benjamin offered up that "To injure your opponent is to injure yourself" quote, no less. R.I.P. Benjamin. Hopefully your brother Henry carves out a different fate for himself.
It's this sequence that sends Morgan off into temporary madness, as he starts having hallucinations while screaming out in the middle of the street. He finds the grave that Richard dug for himself, as well as the missing melon, which leads him to a confrontation that is not at all as heated as it seemed like it would be. Instead, Richard provided a respectably emotional backstory about what he went through before joining The Kingdom - "There were always babies crying." - where he was part of a makeshift community that fell apart after a fight and a fire, which led to Richard watching both his wife and his daughter die. Had he stopped with that, Richard might have soothed Morgan's worries. But no, he kept talking.
By telling Morgan that he HAD to kill someone, along with his other hogwash justifications for doing what he did, Richard did a far better job of setting himself up for his grave plot. Because instead of killing one of the Saviors, Morgan chose Richard to bear the brunt of his bottled rage, and it was a superb scene for Lennie James. (The episode was a great one for him in general.) He knocked the shit out of Richard several times with his sticks and then strangled him to death, smashing his head against the ground several times. It was brutal, ruthless, and exactly what Morgan needed to become a viable force in a world on the way to an All-Out War.
Morgan confessed Richard's foul deeds and convinced the Saviors that The Kingdom is right back in line with proper subservience, and Gavin is only too happy to take that info and get the hell out of there. Of course, Morgan has no such goal of appeasing The Saviors forevermore, and it'll be extremely interesting to see how the formerly zen-like character factors into the upcoming episodes, especially now that Carol is back in. Ezekiel knows that he has to fight now, and he's the kind of guy who will bring a tiger to a gun fight. Now somebody just needs to let Rick know.
With presumably more memorable side characters biting the bullet - or getting the life choked out of them - The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC, with just two episodes left to go before Season 7's big heartbreaking finale. Check out some other characters we bet will die by the finale's end and then head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what other shows have yet to premiere in early 2017.