Last week’s episode of the Walking Dead certainly had fans, including myself, riled up, wondering if one of the major characters many of us love was indeed dead or was able to somehow manage an escape. I was tremendously disappointed to find out that this week’s episode would not answer that question and would instead center around Morgan and how he suddenly became a staff wielding master. I groaned out loud. Fans were going to be thrown some so-so filler episode just to drag out the mystery of the fate of Glenn. Sure I was curious of the back story of Morgan but a 90-minute episode to tell us how he got to where he is now? I love the Walking Dead, but I was prepared for a boring drawn out episode that was just in place to hype the events for next week’s shows. Well, I was wrong…dead wrong.
In the series finale of Season 5 of the Walking Dead, Morgan was reunited with Rick. When season 6 opened we began to see how different Morgan is now from when we last saw him in the episode “Clear” in Season 3. At that point, he was on the edge of madness. He had lost his wife and then his son and was just surviving. When we see Morgan now, he is very disciplined and precise in his movements. He believes killing is wrong and refuses to take the lives of the Wolves that are attacking Alexandria. I found myself at times saying to the TV, “You have to be joking!” when Morgan refused to kill. This is the Walking Dead. The world is cruel and harsh now, killing means survival. After watching Here’s not Here, things became much clearer.
The episode opens with Morgan ranting to himself in the apartment we last saw him in during Season 3. Clearly this Morgan is still the one Rick encountered, the one still tormented by the loss of his family, tiptoeing on the edge of madness and filled with rage. During his ranting and pacing, he inadvertently knocks over a kerosene lamp and the whole place goes up. Morgan then secures a place in the woods with a makeshift circle of spears impaling incoming walkers. He even kills some survivors that were following him at one point, including one with his bare hands. It’s a true testament to how far gone Morgan is that there is no hesitation when he takes these people’s lives. He just does it. He clears everything… walkers, people, it doesn’t matter. That’s what he does. He then comes across a log cabin in the woods, which he’s lured to by the bleating of a goat. This is where Morgan and we are introduced to Eastman. Morgan again tries to clear this area but is subdued by Eastman.
Morgan awakes in a cell in that cabin he had seen and the audience begins to see who this man Eastman (played by John Carroll Lynch) truly is. Eastman is a man of peace and understanding and doesn’t believe anyone is ever too far gone. His experience comes from his time before the end of the world when he worked as a forensic psychiatrist at a prison. He even explains that out of 825 interviews he conducted with various inmates, some of which have committed acts from the darkest part of the human soul, that he’s only ever met the one truly evil person. He knows that Morgan is suffering from a type of PTSD that has brought him to where he is now and slowly begins to crack this shell around Morgan. Eastman begins to train Morgan in Aikido, which is a style not about killing but about redirecting attacks. He shares his knowledge and training with Morgan, along with the tale of his own personal tragedy and how he overcame it. We slowly begin to see the formation of the Morgan we know now.
One of the profound things about this episode aside from being a fantastic standalone story was the way it slowed the pacing down, focused on only two people – and it worked. The episodes throughout season 6 so far have been bloody, loud and intense – wolves dismembering residents of Alexandria, Walkers feasting on the living and gunfire galore. Now we come to just Eastman and Morgan with only a few walkers here and there in the 90-minute episode and we’re presented with one of the best episodes in the Walking Dead to date. The acting here by Lennie James and John Carroll Lynch is also superb.
Everything is this episode will tie together by the end. Why does Eastman have a cell in his cabin? What happened to his family? How did Morgan transform to the character we see today? As the episode draws to a close we cut back to Morgan in current time Alexandria. We see him speaking to the wolf we thought he may have killed at the close of last week’s episode. He has kept him alive in accordance with his code and that fact is hidden from the rest of Alexandria. While Morgan talks to the wolf about being able to help him the way Eastman helped him, it becomes immediately clear that keeping this man alive was a dangerous act. Morgan locks the door to the residence and we hear Rick’s distant voice screaming to open the gate. This is a potential answer to the question of what happened to him in last week’s episode.
Did you like this week’s episode of the Walking Dead? Is Morgan’s transformation a good thing for the group or will it put everyone in danger? Let us know in the comments below.