Morgan returns to break our hearts in the newest episode of The Walking Dead. Read on for our SPOILER-ridden review!
Season 3, Episode 12: Clear
Rick, Michonne, and Carl go back to Rick’s hometown, but find the police station’s armory has been cleare out. Tensions continue to be on edge as Michonne’s presence has Carl wondering if it’s a good idea that she comes along considering he left Rick’s rescue team in a gunfight at Woodbury. As they walk through the town, they find a portion of the town booby trapped. When they are fired upon, Carl wounds the defender who is revealed to be Morgan. When they get Morgan to his home they find a massive stash of grenades and guns. Written on the walls are ramblings of a madman with the word CLEAR repeating over and over. Among the ramblings, Rick not only finds the walkie talkie he gave him, but a message stating his son, Duane, “turned”. Despite Michonne’s concerns about Morgan being dangerous, Rick decides they are going to stay and wait for him to wake up so they can talk to him.
While Carl and Michonne go on a run, Morgan wakes up and attacks Rick by shoving a knife in his chest. Rick pulls a gun on Morgan who begs him to shoot. It takes a while for Rick to reach Morgan. Morgan yells at Rick for not being there when he would turn on the radio as instructed, but Rick explains that he had to keep pushing further out to keep the others safe. Morgan tells the story of when his wife turned Duane when they were out on a food run. Rick tries to convince Morgan to return with him to the prison, but Morgan sees the number of guns going with Rick, and realizes things aren’t as great as Rick may try to spin it. As the trio leaves, Michonne reveals a secret to Rick that shows she knows she has more in common with him than just an enemy.
This episode does something few others have in these last couple seasons. It calls back to the earliest moments of the entire series. On top of that, it has so many nice little moments that the overall end product becomes something even more special than we’re typically used to from The Walking Dead. Obviously, the main driving force of the episode is Rick’s reunion with Morgan. In some ways, it satisfies anyone who may be re-watching the first season and stops to ask, “What happened to that fellow that helped Rick in the first episode? Did he and his son die? Did they have a change in plans?” Well, the answer to two of the three questions turns out to be yes. Certainly, Duane’s end is a direct result of the last time we saw Morgan in the series. Because he couldn’t put down his wife, her reappearance is too much for Duane, and Morgan, to be able to handle. This not just ends the Morgan Rick once knew, but also sends the good man down a pretty nutty path full of booby traps and a room full of things that go boom. It’s the more obvious emotional impact of the episode. It’s showing Rick just how truly lucky he is, but how he honestly cannot help everyone. His justification of why he wasn’t able to always be there for Morgan on the radio might have been somewhat of a load off Rick’s shoulders in terms of the guilt he’s felt for the entire season.
The emotional exchanges between Rick and Morgan isn’t all there is to the episode either. In fact, the entire story plays out with a symmetrical layout. Just about every little thing that happens has some sort of call back. Yes, as mentioned before, the call back to the very first episode is the main part of the story, but there were so many things that appear only to have some sort of resolution later. It’s one of those things that you don’t always recognize, but your brain does. The very first shot is of a handmade sign on the side of the road telling “Erin” where to find whoever she got separated from. When the car gets stuck in the mud one of the very first walkers we see attacking the car is wearing a bracelet with “Erin” on it. Because the car got stuck, the path Michonne takes driving away from Rick’s town is different and therefore doesn’t cause her to get stuck. We see a man walking along the road a couple times during the episode begging for them to stop and help him. Later a greasy blood stain on the road and his abandoned back pack full of goods is shown to reveal his fate. With the backpack featured prominently in one shot, the supplies that are stuffed inside are picked up by Carl. Even the bait (mice and other small animals) used by Morgan to lure the walkers into his traps are used again and even one of the mice returns to cause problems for Michonne and Carl as it escapes and chased by a dozen or so walkers. It’s all of these little things that makes this a extremely well-written episode.
However, it’s the character moments that really shine in this script. You can’t help but feel for Morgan as he tells Rick about his son, and what he wasn’t able to do for his wife. Despite his madness, you can’t help but to understand Morgan’s new view on the world. This is a man who isn’t quite as strong as Rick, and, for all that Rick has seen and done lately making us all wonder his current mental state, was fractured by the knowledge that he couldn’t keep those he loved most safe. It’s so heartbreaking what Morgan’s gone through that it becomes next to impossible for Rick to even defend his actions or his way of life. In a way, that’s even a call back to the differences between Rick and Shane. Rick is still looking for some way to have a normal life for everyone, but, even though he’s crazy, Morgan has already seen that there really is no way to find that happy ending. And, you know what? He’s probably right.
This might be the most important Michonne has ever been since we first saw her. She doesn’t make any big gestures, but she bonds with Carl, who is very vocal earlier about his reservations about her, by helping him on his own little personal mission to get a picture of himself, Lori, and Rick in a walker infested restaurant. She even is a little endearing to everyone when she takes something for herself in the form of a really ugly paper mache cat. Her fondness for this thing shows her to be an actual normal human for the first time instead of this standoffish killing machine which later leads to one of my very favorite moments in any episode to date. At the end, Michonne and Rick take a moment to talk about “seeing things”. She is upfront with him about him seeing Lori, and others, from time to time. She then, in her own way, tells him it’s okay because she used to talk to her dead boyfriend. After making Carl a believer that she can be “one of them”, she opens up to Rick for the first time and almost makes him feel normal again leading him to making a brilliantly placed and acted joke to round out a pretty phenomenal episode.
This week may have felt like a break from the larger tension of the coming war against Woodbury, but it looks like our little vacation is just about over.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Well crafted and well played script. Michonne making a believer out of everyone. Morgan’s heartbreaking circle comes to a close, for now. Spectacular ending.||None.|