Well I’ll be damned. Just last week I was complaining that the season was getting a bit stagnant. Then they go and pull one of these! An episode that really gets you in the gut and excites the hell out of ya! And to accomplish this feet of keeping fans interested and roped, they’ve gone back to the beginning of things with the series.
Last week, hints were given as to what was coming. Fearing diminishing supplies of guns and ammo, Rick, Michonne and Carl made plans to head back to Rick’s old hometown to see what they could dig up. And with the threads involving the prison and the town of Woodbury pretty much tied for now, what they find on their mission is the basis of this week’s entire episode.
Here’s what happened:
The episode opens with Rick, Carl and Michonne on the road together as they drive into town. On the way, they pass an uninfected man who begs them to stop, but they continue on. They come to a set of abandoned cars and stop to take on what they can find, and are set upon by Walkers. With barely a concern, they begin dispatching the Walkers, take what they need, and set off again. Once again, they are beset by the uninfected man and leave him behind.
From this opening scene, were are once again told a tale in very few words. After so much time spent being forced to fight and survive, they are immune to the pleas of outsiders looking for help and are free from fear. The habits have become so engrained that they come easily, as does turning a deaf ear to those they do not know or trust.
They come to town and begin inspecting the police station, which appears somewhat low on guns and ammo. Rick then decides to get a hold of the town’s gun registry, which they will then use to chase down all the firearms remain in town. When they reach the main road in town, they find a series of booby traps, sharpened stakes, and signs warning them to leave. Michonne observes that it looks like someone else has already made this place their home.
Without warning, they are spotted by a man on a roof who tells them to drop their weapons and get out. Not wanting to lose their weapons, or lives, they attempt to take him down with a little misdirection. Rick and Carl run and shoot while Michonne circles around to outflank him. However, the gunman is a step ahead and makes his way down to the street. Before he can shoot Rick, Carl pops out and shoots him in the stomach.
After a quick search, Rick learns two important things. First, the man is wearing a vest and is only unconscious. Second, and more importantly, the man is none other than Morgan, the one who saved him after he woke up and wandered back from the hospital. They proceed to take him inside, noticing several booby traps, a massive arsenal, and tons of disturbing messages scrawled on the wall. Over and over again, the word “Clear” appears.
Carl says he’s going to make a run to the nursery store in the hopes of finding a crib for Judith. Michonne reasons he will need help and comes along, but Carl tries to get away the first chance he gets. When Michonne catches up to him and notices they’ve passed the nursery store, he reveals that there’s something else he wants for his sister first.
He takes Michonne to cafe which appears to be filled with Walkers. After sending in a diversion, they run in to grab a picture from above the bar – apparently of Carl, Rick and Lori. However, the Walkers soon notice them, they have fight their way out, and the picture is left behind. Michonne does him the favor of retrieving it on her own, since Carl wants a photo so Judith can know what their mother looked like, and this is the only photo left.
Back in his home, Morgan wakes up and uses a stashed knife to cut his bonds. He then attacks Rick and wounds him, but Rick manages to get the upper hand point his gun in Morgan’s face. He begs Rick to shoot him, but Rick pleads with him to remember, which Morgan finally does. The key is the old walky-talky which Rick gave him, and Morgan begins to remember. He tells Rick he looked for him on the radio, but he wasn’t there. What’s more, he explains to him that his son is dead, and that it was his wife who did it.
Rick invites Morgan to come with them, but Morgan refuses. He can tell Rick’s situation is less than ideal since he needs some of his guns. Rick assures him things will work out and he can get better, but Morgan is intransigent, saying he has to “clear”. Carl and Michonne rejoining him, carrying a crib. Carl pauses to apologize for shooting him, to which Morgan tells him to “never be sorry.
At the car, Carl let’s Rick know that he thinks Michonne might be one of them. She asks Rick if he sees people, to which she adds that she too used to talk to visions of her dead boyfriend. On the drive back to the prison, they pass the remains of the man they saw twice along the way, and stop to take his backpack.
In case the intro wasn’t clear, this episode rocked for me. Even though it involved the reintroduction of an old character, it felt very much fresh and new and offered a much-needed diversion into the season. It was also nice that they brought back Morgan, considering that his character played a prominent role in the story at the beginning and was left very much unresolved.
After finding him and seeing what’s become of him, Rick also learns that he couldn’t bring himself to shoot his infected wife, and this is how Duane (his son) died. Because of this, he has become convinced that its only a matter of time before everyone will die. Many times over he says to Rick that “no one gets clear”. It’s not specified what he means by this, but if I were to guess, he means free and clear, as in safe and sound.
Between that, the scene at the beginning where they twice turn away a man in need, and the final scene where they find his body and take his things; all of that manages to wrap the most predominant theme of the show up in a nutshell. That have been few episodes with this kind of tight narrative and consistency, demonstrating so succinctly that in this world, survival trumps morality, and sentimentality can mean death.
Yet, at the same time, they do their best to restore some degree of humanity and compassion through kind acts. Rick invites Morgan to come back with them, Carl struggles to get a photo of his mother for his sister, and Michonne helps him to recover something sentimental even though it means risking her life. And the way she begins to bond with Rick shows that human connections remain important in this world.
And of course, it was exciting throughout, especially where Morgan’s traps and arsenal were concerned. After all this talk of shortages and supplies running low, it was good to see so many guns, sharpened steaks, grenades and bullets in one place. It is what I’d want to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse and he pulled it off. So… yeah, you go Morgan!
It also was nice to see Michonne get back to her cool, ass-kicking self. The way they humanized her was nice, though I thought it was a little out in left field. Yes, they’ve done this before, like how they revealed how hurt she was when Andrea chose to stay in Woodbury rather than go with her. And after all she’s been through, she deserves a little kind-heartedness. I just hope it doesn’t last long and she gets back to kicking ass soon!
And of course, with all the weapons and ammo they grabbed, they are sure to be that much more ready when the inevitable war comes. Next week promises to be confrontational, so it’s sure to be coming soon!