“Bury Me Here” Proves Lennie James May Just be the Best Actor on The Walking Dead

Lennie James as Morgan in Bury me Here
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead, “Bury Me Here” Plot Summary:

The episode is set in The Kingdom. During a routine drop-off it’s discovered that King Ezekiel’s tribute is short of the usual weekly quota. This escalates into the death of one of the Kingdom’s most beloved community members. Morgan (Lennie James), distraught over this death, must decide if he can no longer sit on the sidelines, and in the process he discovers why the drop-off was short.

The title of this review is a bold statement. Now this isn’t a slight on the current cast, there are some extremely talented individuals occupying this post apocalyptic world. However, if you look at the series as a whole, and who has had some of the emotionally gutting scenes, and has also shown the widest range of emotions — it’s Morgan aka Lennie James.

Think about all his big moments…

  • Saving a bewildered Rick from becoming a buffet for hungry walkers — and in the process saved audience members from the wild, and unwielding world of terror and chaos Robert Kirkman and company unleashed upon us in the first episode.
  • Grounding Rick in reality, and setting him on his path to find his family.
  • Seeing his zombified wife in the streets outside of his home through the scope of a rifle, and with his tears in his eyes deciding whether he could kill her or not.
  • Going batshit crazy in Season 3, wiping out an entire town of walkers after we learn his undead wife (who he did not kill in Season 1) killed his son, Duane.
  • In that same season brawling with and being subdued by Rick.
  • Fighting with The Wolves in Season 5
  • Appearing at the end of Season 5 when Rick kills Pete, and his look of shock and disappointment at his friend.
  • His constant arguments for peace in Season 6.
  • His scenes with Carol in Season 6 and 7.
  • The entire episode titled “Here’s Not Here” where he recovers from his mental break, and learns karate, and picks up his famed staff.

And finally, “Bury Me Here’ where Morgan, after seeing the death of his pupil Benjamin, has another mental break,nearly taking his own life. The scene is powerful, and wrought with heartbreaking sorrow. It’s unlike the breaks we see normally on the series where humans react in visceral, near animalistic shock. We rarely step into someone’s mental state, it’s usually just the gut reaction — screaming, tears, the knee jerk violence. With Morgan though, we’ve always delved into his mind.

(Sure, they’ve done it with Carol, but that turn was so dramatic, and unconvincing when it happened. Of course now when everything makes sense with her, she takes another left turn and rejoins the fight).

With Morgan we see the toll the apocalypse takes on a man. Yes, we’ve seen nearly every character change (sometimes even multiple times) because of it, but as stated before we rarely see the mental side of things. We got a glimpse of it with Tyreese before his ultimate demise, and we saw power corrupt Rick’s mind in Season 5/6. However, we don’t often see the everyday mental battle these survivors go through — except Morgan.

James perfectly portrays this battle week in and week out. While he doesn’t wear any physical scars from the apocalypse, his mental and emotional scars are as stark, and haunting as the Carl’s lack of an eye, or Merle’s disfigured arm. James, unlike any other cast member, makes his internal monologue speak as loud as any shouting Rick or Negan or anyone else does. No one else even comes close to hitting the emotional notes with such precision, and complexity as James does.

For the Morgan character it’s refreshing to see him drop the “man of peace” routine that he’s barely clinging to. That arc dragged for a bit too long, but the payoff. And even though the arc was too long, James made it work. He was able to portray Morgan’s desperation to hold true to his ethos in a way that audiences could both understand, but also be aggravated by. He’s a complex man in a world of “kill or be killed.” And it’s glorious to watch.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites