I don’t know about the rest of you, but watching last night’s episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ was like Christmas came early! By far the best episode of the season (in my opinion anyway) and if you missed it last night, hopefully this recap will entice you to give your eyes a very nice treat.
Last night’s episode ‘Clear’ focused on one of the best and oldest story lines of ‘The Walking Dead’: that of Morgan (played by the wildly talented Lennie James) and the fate of his son, Duane. For those of you that don’t remember season one too clearly, Morgan was the first non-walker that Rick came into contact with once he awoke from his coma and left the hospital. Morgan and his son, Duane were taking shelter in their home and allowed Rick to stay there until he cleaned himself up and was well enough to set out on his mission to find his family. They agreed to each keep a walkie-talkie and to turn it on every day at dawn, in hopes of one day reuniting. It was a touching story of human kindness and the hope of survival when the zombie apocalypse didn’t seem so dire.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start from the beginning. Rick, Carl and Michonne go out on a raid to Rick’s hometown in hopes of bringing back some much needed food and weaponry. On the way there, they came across a loan hitch hiker (wearing a very vibrant orange backpack) who begs for them to stop and help him. Now how this person has survived so long on his own (or maybe he is just very recently on his own, we don’t know) is a mystery. But true to form, the group drives right past him without blinking an eye of regret. They later get stuck in the mud and are forced to kill a posse of walkers through the crack of the car door. As they are about to leave again (once they liberate the car from the mud it was stuck in) the hitch-hiker catches up to them and again screams for them to wait and begs them to help him. They again leave him behind, watching through the rear-view mirror as he drops to his knees in defeat.
Once they arrive to their beloved hometown, they are struck by odd writings in colorful spray paint on a brick wall. Intrigued, they follow what appears to the markings of a mad man and find a sort of zombie-mouse-trap (visually its crazy and mesmerizing) as they go deeper into the town. They receive a very hostile greeting from a masked man on the roof of the building next to them, demanding they drop their weapons and leave. Rick and Michonne know they need the guns, and the spry Michonne whispers that she can shimmy herself up the building to try and restrain the crazed lunatic long enough for them to get what they need and leave. Rick agrees and he and Carl start shooting up at the man and take shelter while Michonne sprints into action. In 2.5 seconds she’s up on the top of a building but the shooter is nowhere to be found.
He then comes out guns a-blazing and backs Rick up against a car, but Carl comes out of the shadows and shoots the mystery man point blank. This is the first time Rick has REALLY seen Carl shoot something. He’s killed a dozen zombies sure, but this is a living person. I think Rick was pretty awe struck at Carl’s actions and how he didn’t hesitate not only made him realize that Carl is a bad-ass but that he’s also growing up a lot faster than he should have to. Instead of playing sports and hanging out with friends, Carl’s main sources of entertainment are shooting practice and picking up new survival skills. If it weren’t the zombie apocalypse he might sound like an Eagle Scout or something but sadly that is not the case.
They realize the masked man was wearing body armor so he’s not dead, only stunned and unconscious. They remove his helmet and find that its Rick’s long lost pal, Morgan. OH HAPPY DAY!! Hard core fans of the show have been waiting for this moment for A LONG TIME. They decide to walk him back up into his apartment but come to find that Morgan has set up quite a few boobie-traps as well as more ranting gibberish in spray paint (the ax behind the sheet is my favorite). Rick demands they wait for him to wake up seeing as he owes Morgan his life and doesn’t just want to leave him there. While they’re waiting, Carl discovers a hand drawn map of the town on the wall and decides to go for a little run.
Now Carl is mature beyond his years but he’s still too young and inexperienced to face any real walker run-in alone. Carl is determined to do this errand on his own but Rick refuses. In an uncharacteristically warm moment, Michonne plays undercover peacemaker and offers to go with Carl. She makes up an assumption that he wants to get a crib for his sister and argues that the box will be too heavy for Carl to carry on his own; she will go with him to help. Well played, Michonne, well played. This way Carl can still feel like he’s got a little independence and Rick feels better knowing he has a chaperone.
Carl tries to give Michonne the slip but clearly he doesn’t remember that Michonne has supersonic speed and can catch up to him without much effort. Carl is on a quest for a treasure and wants to do it alone, but realizes that she’ll never let him get away with that and is resolved to have her help. They come to a diner which is teaming with walkers inside but they’re all super sluggish as they haven’t been outside in months and therefore are very weak (kind of like how I feel after consuming an entire bucket of KFC alone, but I digress). Carl and Michonne wheel some few rats in cages on state boards (sorry rats!) to distract the walkers from seeing them. This is the first time in a long time that I was actually nervous about them encountering any walkers or being attacked. They have run-ins so frequently and seem so unaffected about it that I never really feel scared for them. I am happy to report I was anxious during this scene last night. Carl is seeking a family photograph that is hanging on the wall of the restaurant, so with the walkers distracted and the photo in hand what could go wrong? One of the rats gets out and runs directly to them, that’s what goes wrong! With a swarm of walkers coming at them in every direction they barely make it out of there unscathed but butterfingers Carl drops the picture just before they get outside. Michonne has had enough of the little man’s BS for one day and says she’ll go get his picture but he has to wait outside. She leaves him for what seems like the blink of an eye and returns unharmed, sweaty and affected by the event and hands over the picture. He’s thrilled and states “I just think Judith should know what her mom looked like”. Heart = melting.
Meanwhile at Casa de Crazy, Morgan comes to but doesn’t remember who Rick is, well at least not right away, and stabs him. This episode is overflowing with excellent emotional moments but this one is the cherry on this episode’s sundae. Morgan goes into describing how he lost his son Duane to his zombie mother and how she was the only walker he couldn’t kill (and neither could Duane, poor kid) and how it defined his entire life. He has nothing to live for and begs Rick to kill him. He says Rick being alive, along with Carl, doesn’t ‘clear’ him of his injustices and the loss of his son. Good and bad people die, but the weak have inherited the earth and there’s nothing left for him but killing zombies and people until there aren’t any left. It’s so heart-breakingly sad to see how far Morgan has fallen and how he’s lost all humanity left in him. His speech brought me to tears and is some of the best writing I feel the show has ever seen. Rick realizes how that could be him if it weren’t for Morgan’s kindness and knows there is nothing he can do for the man that saved his life. Yes he’s lost Lori, but that feels like nothing compared to the pain that Morgan must live with now every day.
Morgan allows them to take what guns they need and once Carl and Michonne resurface with a crib (way to make your lie true guys! Teamwork!) they decide to take their leave of the town and Morgan. Before they go, Carl apologizes for shooting him stating “You understand I had no choice right? But I’m sorry”. Morgan shows a subtle rage enveloping him as he storms up to them and says “hey, you don’t ever be sorry, you understand? Don’t ever be sorry”. You can sense his regret and pride at Carl’s actions all at the same time as he more than likely wishes his son had been able to hold the same strength in his ability to take action and to eliminate any threats that may come to his family. That kind of strength might have saved his son.
As they get into the car, they load up all of their new loot and Michonne has another uncharacteristically ‘open’ moment with Rick as she tells him that she too ‘sees things’ referring to Ghost Lori. She used to talk to her dead boyfriend so she understands if Rick is going through a hard time with his dead wife. He then asks if she wants to drive back to the prison. When she, of course, agrees. he says “Good, cause I see things”. It seems like a truce or friendship is not far behind even though Rick was originally set upon kicking her out of the group seeing her as a loner who didn’t care about anyone but herself. With her actions on Carl’s behalf and the commiseration with Rick on dead lovers, seems she’s making a genuine effort to show them that she IS a part of their team. The relationship she holds with Carl seems to be one of friend and guardian. This could be a foreshadowing for Carl’s possible take over as leader of their group and perhaps Michonne becoming his second in command. As they begin their journey back to the prison, they come upon the same spot where they got stuck in the mud and the last time they saw the hitch hiker. With little surprise they find what seem to be the remains of his body and the bright orange backpack lying across the pavement. They reverse only to pick up the backpack and then continue on their way back. This brings the theme of the episode full circle that one cannot survive the current state of the world alone. They must stick together.
It was supremely nice to have the episode take the focus off the group as a whole (not to mention having an Andrea-less episode didn’t suck one bit) to make it more about the intimate relationships as opposed to what they need to do to survive as a group. It was a beautiful episode not only visually with the colorful touches, but the writing and soundtrack made this episode one for the books. If you didn’t get a chance to catch it last night I strongly suggest you do soon, you won’t want to miss it.
Let us know how you felt about ‘Clear’ in the comments section below.