Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's latest episode "Bury Me Here," as well as the appropriate comic arc.
Last night's episode of The Walking Dead was quite possibly Lennie James' best episode yet, as his character Morgan faced a psychotic break head-on as a result of some extremely duplicitous scheming from a trusted Kingdom soldier, Richard. The title "Bury Me Here" was actually a reference to Richard's death, interestingly enough, and that death was essentially the only thing that happened during the episode that also happened in the comic book. But, of course, it was also completely different from how things went down in the source material.
In the Walking Dead comics, Richard was indeed one of Ezekiel's soldiers within The Kingdom, but he was a fully trustworthy and non-complex one, rather than a tortured man whose impulsive reactions were driven by years of regrets. That said, he also didn't have much of a pronounced arc on the page to differentiate him from many other characters, so it's easy to understand why the TV series had to strike out in narratively original ways, and why his demise was therefore also quite different. Richard died something of a hero's death in the line of duty in the source material, but that did not translate to the live-action version, no matter how much Richard wanted that to be the case.
When Richard bit the dust in the comics, the All Out War between Team Family & Co. and Negan was already reaching the mid-way point. As the Kingdom's crew was taking on one of the Saviors' many outposts, they were overwhelmed, and Richard was surprisingly bitten on the neck by a walker. Though Ezekiel tried to soothe his friend's worries about not making it out alive, Richard died in Ezekiel's arms, and it was a pretty sad affair.
On the TV show, however, Richard's death was not only welcomed, but it felt damned necessary after he completely screwed up the melon offering with the Saviors, which led to Benjamin's death, which later led to the origin story behind Richard's rash decision-making patterns. He'd lost his family as part of another community, and all because he didn't take the initiative to stand up for himself at that time, so he chose to make up for time lost while inside The Kingdom. But this final plan of his went sideways, and it wasn't just Benjamin that was sacrificed, but also a big chunk of Morgan's relatively newfound sanity.
While fighting the urge to fully return to his pre-Eastman days of "going clear," Morgan made the decision to carry out the main thrust of Richard's plot: fooling the Saviors into thinking everything was kosher, so that the real revolution could be planned. To do that, though, Morgan had to show the Saviors that he understood their form of extreme corporal punishment by beating and choking Richard to death in front of everyone, an act that went against his "life is precious" mantra. Ultimately, Richard's death in the TV show means more than it did in the comics, so I applaud all involved for nailing this big change. However, that comic death DID bring Shiva into the action, which did not happen in live-action, so maybe it's a short round of applause.
We only have two episodes of The Walking Dead left to go before getting to watch that monster of a Season 7 finale. Find them Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, and after checking out some hilarious behind-the-scenes Walking Dead mages, head to our midseason premiere schedule to find out what's hitting the small screen in the near future.