If you missed AMC’s The Walking Dead last night, you missed what many are hailing as the best episode of the series.
British actor Lennie James made his triumphant, and long-awaited, return as Morgan last night in the episode titled, “Clear.” The last time we saw him was all the way back in the series premiere when he saved Rick’s life but I don’t think anyone quite expected his storyline to take this particular turn.
Rick, Carl, and Michonne are on a road trip to find more guns and ammunition for their attack on Woodbury. What I didn’t realize was they were headed back to Rick’s old town to pick clean the police station. Along the way they pass a man backpacking along the road, they barely blink an eye as he screams for help and runs after them. They get stuck in some mud and quickly dispatch a few walkers as he catches up to them…and they leave him in the dust yet again. All I could think here was, this needs to stop. They need to stop being so cold to the rest of humanity because there isn’t much humanity left.
They arrive at the police station to find exactly one bullet left. That’s ok, says Rick, there’s a few secret guns in town I’m sure no one has found. Instead, they find written warnings, some completely incomprehensible, burned corpses, and a mock fortress. There are spikes, barbed wire, and all sorts of traps the group realizes are to catch walkers. They see one get tangled up attempting to eat a caged rat and continue on instead of killing it. This is also something they need to stop doing because, as we’ve previously learned, sometimes the walkers you let go are the ones who literally come back to bite you. There is no reason not to kill them when you see them.
An armed man on a rooftop warns them to drop their weapons and go but Rick isn’t going to go that easily. The man leaves his high-ground and winds up getting shot by Carl. Rick asks his son if he’s ok and Carl’s like, yeah NBD. But he didn’t kill the man who, as it turns out, was wearing body armor, and who also turned out to be Morgan.
And here’s where things got heavy. Morgan is, unfortunately, not the same man Rick left with a solitary gun and a zombie wife. While the apocalypse hasn’t been particularly kind to anyone, it’s treated Morgan particularly badly. He’s had a serious mental breakdown and goes in and out of coherent thought. Michonne and Carl go off on an errand leaving Rick to an intense one-on-one with his old friend. And that’s where James earned an Emmy nomination in my mind. If he’s not at least nominated for a guest actor award they don’t know what they’re doing.
Yeah, Morgan had it hard. He didn’t kill his zombie wife like he should have. He let her go. He tried reaching Rick on the walkie talkie but never got an answer. And he finally broke when his zombie wife turned up again and ate their son. See what I mean about killing walkers when you find them? He’s damaged and so much more than Rick (and that’s saying a lot). Perhaps seeing what has become of Morgan will snap Rick out of his own state.
Meanwhile, Carl is trying to go off on his own and Michonne is trying to prove she’s willing to help by following him. He claimed to want to hit up a baby store for Judith but his real plan was to attain a family photo hanging in the town cafe. Doesn’t seem like a big deal except every walker left in town is hanging out in that particular cafe. Waiting to be served, perhaps? Regardless, things go south and Michonne saves the day and the picture seemingly making her Carl’s new best friend. Also, the prison’s new interior decorator apparently.
Everyone meets back up but Morgan is insistent on staying in his solitary confinement. He has a job you see, he must clear, as the episode title says. His head? The world of walkers? The word seems to have more than one meaning but whatever it is, he’s focused and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop him. Luckily this trip also leads to a newfound understanding between Rick and Michonne. They have a brief bonding moment over seeing and talking to people who aren’t there and it seems just enough to get Rick to change his mind about her. Thank god, because he’s going to need her.
On the way back to the prison, they come upon the backpacker again. Dead, on the side of the road of course. They stop to take his backpack and continue on their way.
What I appreciated most in this episode, aside from the phenomenal acting, was that they didn’t cut away to other scenes. After the first 15 minutes or so I found myself saying, “please don’t cut away too Woodbury, please don’t cut away to the prison,” and thankfully, they didn’t. That’s one of the things that made this episode so fantastic. I would agree with others that this may be the best episode of the series but I haven’t gone back to watch the old seasons as a whole since they’ve aired so I can’t say for sure. What I do know is this was a highlight of an otherwise lackluster season which stood out in a big way. It’s going to be a bit of a bummer returning to the main storyline next week, especially if the showdown between Rick and The Governor isn’t going to happen until the finale.
Let us know what you thought of the new episode in the comments and we’ll see you back here next Monday for another recap!