The last several weeks have given us focus episodes, with last week’s setting things in motion with Rick and company, and the previous giving us insights into Sanctuary and the Saviors. This week appears to be all about The Kingdom and King Ezekiel, not to mention a certain homebody called Carol. From the previews, there’s a lot of suggestion, but very little solid (and isn’t that always the case?). Below, I’ll go over the two preview videos, and suggest what I think might be coming up in the next episode of The Walking Dead.

[Spoiler Warning: This Sneak Peek of The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 13 “Bury Me Here” includes promotional material from AMC, discusses recent episodes, assumes a knowledge of everything that has happened in the series to date, and will speculate on future events. Read on at your discretion.]

Episode: 713
Airdate: March 12, 2017
Directed by: Alrick Riley
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Scott M. Gimple (written by); Frank Darabont (creator); Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard (series of graphic novels)

This week’s episode synopsis at IMDB: “Things don’t go as planned, when a group of Kingdommers delivers goods to the Saviors during a routine supply drop-off.”

Okay, so this has been building for some time, as we’ve watched King Ezekiel’s Master-at-Arms, Richard, get more and more aggressive with resident Savior douchebag Jared. The last two times The Kingdom has made a food and supplies drop, things have been escalating, first fisticuffs, then guns. The writers are obviously leading us to some sort of showdown between the two groups, despite Ezekiel’s attempts to steer clear of direct confrontation. Whatever happens this Sunday, I don’t think neutrality will be a tenable option any longer.

Odds are good that someone is going to die. I suspect it’ll be Richard. What was the whole set-up two weeks ago with regard to Carol, if not to make us dislike him? Up until then, Richard had been (next to Jerry and Shiva) the best thing about The Kingdom. But you don’t, I repeat don’t threaten Carol. And to do so to Daryl? The guy’s lucky all he’s got is a few bruises to show for it. And I guarantee that a lot of viewers lost any sympathy they had for him prior to this.

We do get a few hints as to what goes down from the “On the Next Episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead” video:

We open on Carol – she looks determined, a gun over her shoulder, as she leaves the protective fencing around her home. Did I say determined? Maybe also a little annoyed. She looks like someone who’s going to go and do some goddamned chore that she’d rather not, but that has to be done. She walks toward The Kingdom, and we cut to Morgan sitting at a desk with his back to the camera. He turns as we hear Carol in voice-over asking, “Is everyone okay?” Cut to an empty grave with a marker: “Bury Me Here” (the name of the episode). Ezekiel is there, with the group he meets the Saviors with (Richard, Morgan, Dianne, Benjamin), saying, “People have lived with every kind of misery. It is mere luck we are not all insane.” We next see Ezekiel and his team, weapons out, walking in front of a truck on the road, interspersed briefly with a shot of Carol using a machete on a walker, as we hear a voice-over from Kingdom/Savior contact Gareth (he who can barely keep his idiot assistant Jared on a leash). He’s saying, “I need you, to understand the gravity of what’s happening here,” and we cut to a close-up on him as he finishes – interestingly, we see Morgan from behind, holding a gun on someone, as there is apparently a stand-off happening in the background. Cut back to Carol using her machete, and then Gareth again, “I gave you a choice. What is it going to be.” As he finishes, we see Ezekiel and his people facing off across from Gareth, Jared, and the other Saviors, everyone pulling out their guns (except, ironically considering he’s really the one that ramped up the tension in the first place, Jared – he’s got Morgan’s bo-stick, stolen back in Episode 710). Close-up on Ezekiel, gun held out in front of him, eyes practically bugging out – he says, “This world drives one mad.”

So this preview, with the exception of a couple of Carol asides, focuses almost entirely on this key confrontation between The Kingdom and the Saviors. This will, in my opinion, be the turning point that brings Ezekiel around to working with Rick. I think that someone will die in this confrontation, but the question is who? Have a look at this picture on the right – note that Jerry – our beloved Jerry – has a wound on his cheek. They better not be planning to kill him. The most obvious death would be Richard’s, for the reasons I mentioned above. But then again, wouldn’t that be just a little bit too obvious? No, I think the death might take us all by surprise. It won’t be Ezekiel – he’s too essential to the plot going forward. Similarly, I don’t see Morgan biting it in this encounter. No, rather I suspect we might see Benjamin die this Sunday. He’s been set up as the new up-and-comer, a boy turning into a man that Ezekiel trusts. He’s an innocent who is only just learning the ways of this brutal world, and his inclusion in the exchange group meeting with the Saviors is an attempt to give him confidence in his new role as a soldier for Ezekiel. But he’s still reading bedtime stories and babysitting for Ezekiel. Who better to ensure audience buy-in for Ezekiel’s inevitable change, than Benjamin?

The other sneak preview focuses entirely on Carol, and it seems to indicate that the good old Carol might be coming out of retirement:

We begin with Carol walking toward The Kingdom. She strides past a walker, not bothering to kill it, instead hitting it through the shoulder with her machete, essentially disabling it, and getting a bit of blood splatter on her face. She approaches the gates, where a handful of walkers are pushing against the fence. She takes a One Way road sign (One Way? One Way straight to Hell – amiright?) and climbs a nearby tree with convenient rungs nailed on. She uses the metal post beneath the sign to pierce walkers’ skulls (apparently, their heads have gone all squishy), dropping several in short order before Benjamin and a couple of other soldiers come out through the gate. They look almost disturbed by Carol’s work (I think Benjamin really bought into her lonely helpless lady schtick) as she walks past them into The Kingdom. He chases after her, saying, “Hey. We were just about to come out to clear…” “Where’s Morgan?” Carol interrupts him. Benjamin shakes his head, asking, “You okay?” and Carol interrupts again: “Where’s Morgan?”

Is Carol back? Maybe. She certainly looks ready to fix some shit as she’s on the warpath here, and Morgan appears to be in her sights. This is bound to be fallout from her meeting with Daryl a couple of weeks back. Apparently, she doesn’t take Daryl at his word about everyone being okay. Perhaps she’s aware of Daryl’s feelings for her, and his desire to protect her. She’s likely to find out what happened to Glenn and Abraham, and this will have one of two results: it will drive her over the edge as she suggested to Daryl, or it will focus her and aim her directly at Negan’s heart. I vote for the latter. I know she sees herself as weak and on the verge of losing herself; but this character only ever seems to be fully in her element when she is the mother bear, protecting her cubs. I really hope that Carol is, indeed, back.

So, in a nutshell – I think Carol’s back, Benjamin will die, and Ezekiel will learn the hard way that there is no compromise when it comes to The Saviors. Oh, and did I forget to mention? I think that Gareth, Jared, and the rest of his Savior group won’t survive the encounter with angry Ezekiel. We’ll see this Sunday.