Warning: The following contains SPOILERS!
By: Heather Seebach
By: Heather Seebach
In true Walking Dead fashion, last week's boring episode was followed up by a riveting one this week. "Clear" was not so heavy on violence and gore, but the combined awesomeness of Rick, Carl, and Michonne - plus an old familiar face - and incredible writing made this episode very memorable.
This episode centers entirely on the aforementioned trio as they return to Rick and Carl's hometown looking for guns. This is great for numerous reasons: a) no Andrea; b) further exploration of Rick and his son's ever-reversing roles; and c) this is the most Michonne has ever talked!
Of course, the big surprise of the episode is Morgan. Okay, it's not that surprising once you consider where they are and who had a sniper rifle there. But still, very cool! So we soon learn that Morgan is now crazypants and suicidal thanks to losing his son and years of isolation.
One viewing of this episode could never do justice to how great Morgan's maze of boobytraps was. On The Talking Dead, we saw there were even color-coded escape routes! Morgan clearly had this elaborate (and arguably, insane) system worked out. Think A Beautiful Mind with zombies. My personal favorite was the axe rigged at the door that read, "Told you." As if the victim could read Morgan's taunt with an axe buried in their skull haha!
How great was Lennie James this episode? Wow! He had some incredible dialogue and delivered it with flawless emotion. Let's take a moment to recap all the amazing, bleak lines Morgan had this episode:
Morgan: "Your son - is he dead?"
Morgan: "He will be. People like you, the good people, they always die. The bad people die, too. But the weak people, the people like me, we have inherited the earth."
Rick: "We found a prison."
Morgan: "Is that where your wife died?"
Morgan: "You willl be torn apart by teeth and bullets."
Also, the story of how Duane was turned is heartbreaking. Because Morgan could not kill his zombie wife when he had the chance, he lost his son and now carries that guilt forever. Consequently, he is obsessed with the idea that he has to "clear" everything and everyone, which is not so different from Rick's guilt and constant need to protect everyone.
I LOVE the parallel between these two characters. Morgan represents Rick had he followed a different path.
As a result of their divergent paths, Carl lives on while Duane was turned. Both men dabbled in madness but Rick is clearly rallying. In fact, seeing Morgan is no doubt a catalyst for Rick to stop pushing people away and come back to reality. Rick is so determined to "fix" Morgan in this episode because if Morgan can't come back from this, it scares Rick that HE can't come back from this. But bleak as Morgan's mindset is, I think it's just what Rick needs to continue fighting. Seeing how dead inside Morgan is will undoubtedly push Rick to not become that person, if nothing else, for his son. Finally!
One brilliant piece of symbolism you might have missed this episode - the rats. Obviously, Morgan used them as walker bait, but I couldn't help but think they represent Morgan himself. He has succumbed to a life of hiding and scavenging, and so, just like the rats, he survives it all. I would love AMC to make a webseries entirely about Morgan and his isolated existence in the house all this time.
Okay, so aside from the Morgan stuff, we got some great bonding between Carl and Michonne. The latter was uncharacteristically sassy this episode but I didn't mind. I feel like she's just coming out of her protective shell now.
Rick: "We eating his food now?
Michonne: "The sign said welcome."
Michonne: "He tried to kill us and we didn't leave him for walkers. He's had a good day."
And of course, the rainbow cat!
It's nice to finally get an episode that gives Michonne a good amount of screentime. She got to connect with the others, say funny one-liners, and still impale some undead fuckers. And I loved the end when she referenced how she used to talk to her dead boyfriend. That is right from the comics, and I love that they subtly referenced it rather than devoting a subplot to it. I know some people will scoff at the cheeky humor in this episode - like that exchange about Rick "seeing things" - but I welcome more humor on The Walking Dead.
Carl's need to retrieve the photo for Judith was really beautiful, and shows how fast he is growing up. To recklessly go after it alone proves how childish he still is, but his drive to behave like a leader proves that he is poised to take over for his father someday. This was also seen in how Carl disobeyed his father to shoot Morgan. I always enjoy watching the role reversal develop between Rick and Carl - the further the zombie apocalypse drags on, the more Rick loses his mind, and the stronger Carl has to become.
"Clear" was so incredibly bleak, not only because of Morgan but some other outsiders, too. How about that guy in the orange backpack, huh? Brutal stuff. It's hard to blame Rick & co. for leaving him behind - he could have been a trap, a psycho, or just a giant idiot. Screaming "Hey!!! Help meee!" with zombies all around isn't exactly genius material, so probably for the best they left him behind. But it was still pretty harsh seeing his blood smeared across the highway at the end. Love the shot when they, in true survivor fashion, casually back up to retrieve the backpack.
Another dark easter egg you might have missed -
I smell another webisode! Backpack guy - are you J?!
Finally, I loved the last driving scene with Rick staring out the window. Set to Jamie N. Commons' "Lead Me Home", it reminded me of a lot of the end of "18 Miles Out" where Wye Oak's "Civilian" plays as Shane stares out the car window.
"Clear" was such an incredible episode about hope and the lackthereof. The dialogue was fantastic, numerous characters were developed, and it was so deliciously bleak. It's exactly what The Walking Dead should be.
Now, six more days until Rick and The Governor finally meet!!!