The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 4 Recap (Spoilers)
“Here’s not here” gives us a chance to catch our breath and decompress from the action packed, super intense start to the season. The Walking Dead is no stranger to characters evolving in surprising ways from when we first met them. The difference with Morgan is that unlike Rick or Carol we haven’t witnessed his gradual transformation over the years.
The few and far between times we have caught up with Morgan, namely Season 3’s Clear and Season 5’s Conquer, his state of mind had distinctly changed. As much as we are wondering what’s happening with Glenn and the rest Rick’s gang in the present day, the timing aside, we needed to eventually have a Morgan centric flashback that fills us in on what happened to him.
As expected, Lennie James is fantastic here, he has a great ability to convey, particularly through his eyes, Morgan’s post traumatic breakdown. There’s an emotional gravitas to his performance that when Morgan cries out, “kill me, kill me”, there’s not a sliver of inauthenticity in his voice.
Before Scott Gimple became the show runner, one of his best written episodes was “Clear”. Gimple has a great handle on Morgan and in general the psychological makeup of characters. While Morgan’s no kill rule is not going to work in the many life or death situations that are bound to occur in the post apocalypse, Gimple did a great job of showing us how this belief saved Morgan. Essentially, Gimple had to convincingly transform Morgan from a lost, broken man who “cleared” everything into a peaceful minded, believer in life.
I imagine another challenge in writing this episode is that Morgan, at least this mentally distraught version, isn’t very talkative. So a lot of Morgan’s shifts in mindset has to be conveyed through his actions, in most scenes this worked for the better. For example, rescuing Tabitha the goat from the walker signaled Morgan first step towards regaining his mental state.
Conversely, when he froze upon realizing the walker was the same man he strangled it represented his regression to his old self, although I didn’t quite like the fuzzy camera perspective. But arguably the best visual representation of Morgan’s psyche is the unlocked jail door he didn’t know he was free to walk through at any time.
Perhaps the scene which is a little harder to put together at first is when the metaphorical light bulb goes off in Morgan’s head after the lady he inadvertently saved says “Thank you”. For the most part, I think this moment works but could have benefited from a few lines of dialogue when Morgan returned back to Eastman’s cabin. “Thank you” also happens to be a nice callback to Nicholas’ famous last words to Glenn.
As for Eastman, his affable nature was a good counterpoint to Morgan. If I were to nitpick, Eastman was way too trusting of a stranger nevermind one who tried to kill him more than once. I guess his “Art Of Peace” mentality helped to explain why but had it been anyone else it’s possible Morgan could have been put out of his misery as requested.
To a certain extent, I can subscribe to the idea that the right people can come into our life at the right time and in terms of script writing it makes sense for there to be parallels between Eastman and Morgan. However, some of it is a little convenient, for example, Eastman happens to be a psychiatrist, exactly what Morgan needed. But at least the jail cell inside the cabin was explained and formed the crux of Eastman’s backstory.
It could have been an interesting twist if Eastman turned out to be the charming psychopath Crighton Dallas Wilton, although it wouldn’t have made sense story and character wise. But in an episode which needed to go through a check list, ie. how Morgan got his no kill policy, learned how to use the staff and establish the character who taught him all of that, some sort of twist could have added more tension to an otherwise foreseeable ending. It was pretty clear from the beginning that in the present day Morgan was talking to the wolf he knocked unconscious in episode 2.
“Here’s not here” is well written and well acted. Morgan’s flashback is handled with a lot of thought. This was also a slower, drawn out episode which eases up on this season’s momentum. Some might consider this one to be relatively dull compared to the the first three episodes. At the same time, it’s nice when a show can take these off-course detours, a redirection if you will, from the main story, to further develop a character which is hopefully going to pay off as the season goes forward.
What did you like or dislike about this episode? What do you think was going through Morgan’s thoughts when the couple he rescued said thank you?