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The Walking Dead Recap: Steer Clear

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!

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  • Dawn Tabor

    I totally agree, this was by far the best episode of possibly the entire series. I was thinking the same thing, don’t go to Woodbury don’t go to the prison- stay with this story line… I cheered when I saw the masked man was Morgan. I hope he snaps out of it at least a little bit to eventually hook back up with Rick – but alas, he probably won’t.

  • Anonymous

    “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.”

    That’s the whole point of the series. That’s the title of the series. “WE ARE the walking dead.”

    Spoiler alert.

  • Melissa Stolasz

    I loved it and it gave Carl and Michonne some much-needed character development. And the rat on a skateboard trick was awweeeeesome!!!

  • Jill Pantozzi

    The whole point of the series is to leave survivors for dead? I’d have to disagree. They certainly weren’t like that in the beginning. They’ve become hard.

  • Charlie

    Best episode by far. Lenny James definitely deserves any award he can be nominated for. I especially enjoyed his return since I just finished watching Jericho.

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    Good article, although your point of calling it a lackluster season is probably in the vast minority (that would go to the first half of season 2 in most votes I’d say).

  • Ryan Colson

    Season 3′s not lackluster.. season 2 was. 3′s actually been pretty cool. :P

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    This show gets crappier and crappier…so, yes, this WAS a surprisingly good episode. It’s the peanut in the turd.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    You get a “Like” for mentioning Jericho!

  • Ryan Colson

    In Season 2, they said this group was going to become darker due to Dale’s death and being the moral head (apparently Andrea’s waving the morality banner now, though).
    But ranhalt seems to be saying the craziness needs to stop, that the survivors need to care for people, and /that/ is the point of it (and they are the walking dead, of course).

  • R.O.U.S.

    Sick of Woodbury, sick of Andrea, sick of crazy!Rick. Thank god for this fabulous episode.

    Agreed on the hitchhiker – reclaim some of that humanity, guys.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Agreed…though, I think, you pulled your punch. They’re not just becoming cold, they’re becoming downright paranoid psychotic. Leaving someone to die like that makes me not care at all anymore what happens to Rick, Michonne, or even Carl (he didn’t speak up at all).

  • Anonymous

    It certainly would have felt good to see them assist the hitchhiker, but we have to remember the mindset these guys are in (not a good one). They’ve lost loved ones, been betrayed by group members and newcomers alike, and are now on the verge of an all out siege. I can understand not wanting to take on the responsibility of caring for/keeping an eye on another person. Until they can get to a point where they aren’t scratching out an existence day to day, they probably aren’t in a position to take on new members to their fragile group. It is a hard truth, like so many of them are.

  • Hailey Ferraro

    I was in awe of this episode. By far, my favorite episode of the season.

  • Anonymous

    The whole point of the series is to survive. The effect of survival on the survivors. Period. Black and white. Just like the book. The book that explains the title. Rick going crazy, no longer trusting anyone new, and killing anyone that threatens his group is exactly what The Walking Dead is about. The end of this season will have Rick come to the revelation that “we are the walking dead”. That’s the only thing that will keep audiences hooked for the next season, to watch survivors leave behind the old ways and adopt a new civilization.

    Of course they weren’t like that in the beginning. The whole point is to devolve. There is no civilization anymore. There are no rules anymore. There are survivors and walkers. Kill or be killed. That’s what made them hard. If the series had no amount of transformation, it wouldn’t be as successful as it is now. It wouldn’t be a story. It would be a sitcom.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    Right, I don’t think you’re really arguing against what I said, we’re mostly in agreement. I just think that random dude wasn’t a threat to them, they didn’t even bother talking to him. In the book, they add people to the group even after all the Governor crap, however grudgingly, because it’s about survival for everyone, not just their group. Like I said, I just wish they wouldn’t be *so* cold.

  • Alice Ruppert

    I also loved the episode, especially because of the relations between Michonne and Rick/Carl.
    Besides, Carl just seems to get cooler every episode!

    I am kind of afraid of what will happen in the next episodes. Having read the comics, I think I’m more scared of that Governor than people who’ve only seen the show.

  • Elwood Grobnik

    I don’t know why you would call this a lackluster season – certainly the first three episodes of of the second half were disappointing, but the first half of season 3 was the best sustained period of the show so far! Maybe you meant to say “lackluster half season,” but there are still 4 episodes left and we may end up with a favorable impression overall in spite of the slow start. The key to making good episodes of TWD is simple – guest stars. Otherwise the main cast either sits around bickering, or repetitively bashes zombies in the head. Either way, we’ve seen it before. The show is much better when they have new people to react to.

  • Mandy

    IDK about Carl. It might be the writers but Carl seems to go from being a badass stepping up to take a place in the group/growing up faster at the end of the world to being an idiot kid taking dumb risks and not listening to anyone. I kinda miss him having another kid around (didn’t Sophia stay around with him a lot longer in the comics?). It must suck being all by himself surrounded by adults. Another kid gives him something do to/someone to interact with, and it’s also that slight thread of hope that the writers could weave through about trying to make the world better for the next generation.

  • Keiv M. Salmon

    Michonne got to do something other than grunt, snarl, and leer menacingly with distrust. it really was a great episode, devoid of all the “noise” from previous eps. it felt like characters grew a little.

    great episode

  • Anonymous

    Pretty sure that “clear” he says at the end means to clear the stuck walkers from the traps outside by killing them and burning the bodies. That way the next batch of walkers that comes around will get stuck too rather than trying to find some other way to get the caged animals.

    I imagine that it has the added benefit of giving him something structured to do in his boredom and growing insanity that helps him clear his mind also.

  • zeeshirt

    I do think “Clear” is one of the
    best episodes so far this season. I particularly liked that we finally get
    closure with Morgan, and we finally understand his fate. When I’m working at DISH,
    my co-workers and I love talking about this show. The Walking Dead airs on a
    night when my boyfriend watches his favorite primetime shows on nbc. We have a
    new DISH Hopper that automatically records all the primetime shows from the
    local networks, so we can record up to six other programs the same night. This
    has meant no one misses their favorite shows, and we watch them at a time that
    is convenient for us.

  • Dennis Duncan

    What show are you watching? This season has been awesome. Maybe you’ve been watching the Kardashians.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Ha! You get a “Like”, sir.