The Walking Dead 3.12 – Clear

We’re all in agreement that this was an outstanding episode, right?  The full circle? The parallels between all the families, choices people have made, and how one bad decision can completely change your outcome?

And seriously, this has to be the stinkiest car ride in road tripping history.

And seriously, this has to be the stinkiest car ride in road tripping history.

We see a battered sign with strips of cloth flapping in the breeze, a note for someone named “Erin” – her people have tried for Stone Mountain.  I am actually surprised we’ve not seen more of these.  Well, this episode more than made up for the lack of messages on walls, didn’t it?

Michonne is driving Rick and Carl; they’re on their run for supplies.  They see some dude with a pretty sweet pack (except for the color, come on, man!) who takes off running and yelling after them to pick him up, he’s “okay!”  Uh, they’re just supposed to take your word on that, broseph?

Carl looks back at him as they pass by, then looks to his dad.  This is who they are now?  Roger that.  (This is some The Road stuff here, but darker.  When you’re darker than Cormac McCarthy, you are pitch black.) They slow down as they near a pile up.

Inside cars are people who have been snacked on, ripped and torn, and one guy is pinned under his flipped car, reaching for braaaaaiiiiiins.  Michonne slows to look at him and gets stuck in some mud.  Everyone is being momentarily stupid for a minute, looking down in their laps and now the car is surrounded by Walkers.  Rick tells them to cover their ears, sighs as he rolls the window down just enough to stick his gun out and start blasting.

Nice continuity touch: one of the Walkers has on a bracelet that reads Erin.  Guess she didn’t get the message in time.  Rick then shows Carl how to get a car out of the mud by laying down some clothes, gravel and sticks.

Protip: Also try rocking your car back and forth by switching in and out of Reverse and Drive.  Or wedge Walkers under the tires for traction.

Raise your hand if you were irritated (like I was) that they didn’t search the vehicles for necessary supplies or siphon off gas?

Carl, because he’s getting all of his cues from his dad, doesn’t like or trust Michonne, and tells Rick as much.  Rick explains that for now, they just have common interests and enemies, so they’re tolerating each other. (Um, I think you mean that with regards to Merle, buddy.)  He smiles and tells his boy that it’s just for right now.  And because they’re already helping her out, they don’t have any room for Backpacker, who runs up on them again, begging and pleading for them to help him.  They don’t.  Again.

Raise your hand if you expected a herd of Walkers to fall out of the woods and devour this guy right then and there? (Oh, such lovely suspense! And foreboding!)

They park and enter a small town, walking RIGHT PAST a Medical Supplies building without looting the hell out of it. (There could be Stimpaks in there! Mentats! Or you know, bandages and rubbing alcohol.) They do, however, enter the Sheriff’s Department.  Rick’s old place, in fact, and it’s cleared out.  Well, there’s a single .38 on the ground that Michonne picks up and hands over to Rick, but other than that… (I mean, I assume there’s nothing in all of those boxes that they didn’t even shake to double check.)

Rick knows of a few places in town that had permits for guns under counters, that sort of thing.  Like the Winchester (named for the Winchester hanging over the bar), which they will go to after they get Mum, kill Phil – sorry – grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all of this to blow over.

Rick asks Michonne if she has a problem with that plan, meaning a problem with him, and she responds that she doesn’t have a problem with that plan, meaning  problem with him.  And she’s all sassy and long-suffering about it, which is why she’s awesome.

They leave the building and walk into Raider Territory Extraordinaire. I cannot tell you how many times I paused the screen to read all the signs, to check out all of the pathways and booby traps… holy smokes, it’s awesome.  (Did you see that there were color-coordinated pathways of arrows and ladders?)

Bamboo - excellent zombie deterrent! It's like tinker toys for grownups.  Deadly grownups.

Bamboo – excellent zombie deterrent! It’s like tinker toys for grownups. Deadly grownups.

There are rats and pigeons in traps, surrounded by bamboo spike-traps, barbed wire is draped everywhere.  It’s awesome.  It’s like someone watched Goonies and took it seriously (as one should. That movie is gold.).  They  get deeper in the maze of traps when a Walker comes up behind them and gets stuck on the barbed wire.  And her head is blown off. Sniper! Take cover!

Some dude is on top of one of the buildings in riot gear taking shots at them, ordering them to drop their weapons and get the aitch out of Dee.  Because Michonne is Nightcrawler and a ninja, a shadowy whisper of death, she slips away and gets right up to the top of the building in three seconds and it’s broad-ass daylight.  This is why she is better than everyone. But sniper guy is nowhere to be found.

That’s because he’s on the ground, firing, and quickly gets Rick pinned down.  Because Carl never listens to what he’s told when it involves taking cover, he didn’t leave when the shots started and is therefor able to take the guy out at point blank range.  Damn.  Didn’t even bat an eye.  Yep, he’s learning everything from his daddy: shoot first, deal with the guilt later. If at all.

The guy isn’t dead, though, because he had Kevlar on.  As Rick peels away his face mask, we see it’s Morgan from Episode One and holy moly, is that some awesome continuity, or what? (Remember, I’m not reading the comics to stay “pure” and untouched. Just like my god commanded of me. )  They’re going to stay and help the guy because Rick owes him his life.

They head inside, mindful of all the booby traps.  Michonne catches the first one – a Tarzan-esque spike-tiger trap, and damn it, it bugged me that they had tigers on Tarzan, because there are no tigers in Africa! – and Rick catches the second, a trip wire to a bloody ax.  Cool things: the sign telling you that Morgan is “Not shitting you” about traps, and the words on the ax itself: “Told you.”

They get into  Morgan’s stronghold, and promptly salivate at the sight of all the weapons cached there.  Grenades, boxes of ammo as far as you can see, guns of all kinds, gear, crossbows, food.  And on the walls is a sort of crazy-person retelling of what has happened in that town, every expedition,  every hunt, every kill cataloged with precision in chalk.

Some of the signs in town and in the room, and read these with the mindset that Morgan is saying this to himself:

  • No Guilt. You know that.
  • Just listen
  • Turn Around and Live. (except you see that this is wishful thinking in a minute, Duaaaaaaaanne!)
  • Same Ending
  • You know. Tell them what you said.
  • Everyone turns.
  • the doorknob. you have the knife you had the gun (my favorite)

As Rick searches the room (and Michonne snacks — “Hey, the mat said ‘welcome.'”) he comes across the walkie he’d given Morgan.  The one he said he’d turn on every dawn.  Well, he tried? [wonky gold sticker]

I said Channel 4, this is on Channel 2!

I said Channel 4, this is on Channel 2!

And then Rick sees “DUANNE TURNED.” And “clear” is written next to it.  Morgan’s son.  This is when Rick snaps out of his crazy, this is when he becomes a person again.  His guilt and his gratitude that his son is still there, it’s all on his face when he sees that.

Michonne says the guy is still alive, so he’s had a good day.  She doesn’t want to wait for Morgan to wake, just take and go.  Rick tries to explain that Morgan wasn’t like this.  He took Rick in, believed in him, nursed him back to health, helped him.  “He wasn’t like this then,” she says, and she is so crystal clear on what life is now, she can’t understand why he’s not.

Carl finds a detailed map of their neighborhood on one wall and gets an idea.  He’s going to go for a run for a crib for Judith, and Michonne volunteers to help. They go outside, Carl distracts her by asking her to dispatch a Walker, and sneaks off.  …past the baby place, oho! Michonne rolls her eyes and catches up with him easily.  Whatever, kid, she’s coming along because she promised to help.

Back inside, Rick tells Morgan he’s “sorry this happened to you” (an eerily reminiscent speech Rick said to Bike Girl Zombie back in the beginning, too).  Morgan slips a hand under the cot to grab a hidden knife, springs up and tries to attack Rick.  Rick puts him down on the ground, trying to get through to him, to say who he is.  Morgan screams, “YOU DON’T CLEAR!” and gets Rick pinned down, the knife bearing down on him.  He repeats himself, “You don’t clear!” and stabs Rick’s shoulder.

Lenny James is AMAZING.

Lenny James is AMAZING.

Rick throws him off and to the ground, getting a gun on Morgan who begs for death.  Morgan repeats “Just kill me,” over and over, freaking Rick out.  Rick, the man who didn’t clear his debt to Morgan.  See, Morgan now knows who Rick is.  And Rick didn’t do what he said he’d do, didn’t turn his radio on every day at dawn.  Morgan and Duanne listened every day, but every day was the same: static.

Well, Rick was dealing with a Merle, a Shane, a barn of zombies, a prison to take over, he was busy doing thangs, Lori. Er, Morgan.  Yeah?  Well, like Rick taught Carl how to do the hard things in life, Morgan was teaching his son how to avoid them.  Morgan couldn’t shoot his wife, couldn’t help how he sat in that upstairs window teaching himself to shoot, refusing to do it to Jenny.

And his son paid attention to him.  One day they were scavenging for food, Morgan in the cellar and Duanne on point.  And Jenny was there.  Duanne couldn’t do the hard thing, couldn’t kill his mother (oh, Carl.) and as a result, she ate Duanne up.  Morgan saw red (“Everything I see is red.”) and not only had to kill her, but Duanne, too.

And now Morgan’s ledger is in the red, way in the red.  He has some big debts to pay, debts he can’t clear.  “Good people always die. And the bad people, too. But the weaker people,” Morgan says, agonized with his fate, “the people like me? We have inherited the earth.”

[Well, that explains ol’ Asthma McClubFoot in Woodbury.]

Michonne and Carl head over to a cafe for who the hell knows.  Carl probably remembers the cool skis on the wall and a neat-o tin sign. Inside he sees a four-top that has been waiting for refills on ice tea and their goddamn awesome blossom for a year, now.  (That Yelp review is probably rough.)



Carl and Michonne skateboard some rats in (I felt terrible for the rats in this episode) to distract the Walkers, er, Waiters, as they sneak around inside to get a picture of Carl’s family.  Aw, that’s nice.  Stupid, but nice.  Stupid because Carl didn’t look to see if Ye Olde Barkeep was rotting away with the Dekuypers peppermint schnapps.  Which he was.  They have to scramble their buns out of there, and of course Carl drops the picture. Of course he does.

Michonne plants him in front of the doors (why didn’t the windows break? I mean, seriously?) to act as bait while she turns into smoke and slips inside, yoinking the picture.  ….nd a paper maiche cat that is ugly, but she finds beautiful.  I love that lady, I have to say.

Really?  That?  Not the rusted out train or pair of old skates?

Really? That? Not the rusted out train or pair of old skates?

Carl just wants baby Judith to have nice things.  Like an idea of who her mommy was.  Not important in the post-apocalyptic world, Carl!  Besides, Beth is gunning for the job as it is.

Back inside, Rick is trying to beg Morgan to come with him, because they’re safe.  Oh, really?  So safe that you need to get an arsenal of guns?  It’s a lot of guns you’re taking, Rick. (Really? Doesn’t look like it. And I am hoping and praying that the man has been making trips down to the car, you know?)

Morgan knows that if Rick has something good, people will come to take it. Besides, Morgan doesn’t do human attachment anymore.  Lost the stomach for it, what with the whole shooting his dead wife as she was eating his son, thing.  That…would definitely do it.

Rick realizes that they started off in the same place, in a manner of speaking. And it went horribly wrong along the way.  He went horribly wrong along the way.  He asks Morgan over and over to come back from this, he has to be able to recover from what’s happened.  (Oh, Rick, you’re trying, you crazy knucklehead.) “This can’t be it.”

That’s why Rick is going to make it, that hope and determination, the desperation that who he is now isn’t it for always.  Well, he won’t be as long as nothing happens to Carl.  Carl dies and all bets are off.

Rick is forced to leave Morgan there.  He does carry down several bags of supplies, though, meeting Michonne and Carl – and their crib.  Michonne asks Rick if Morgan’s okay.

“No, he’s not.”

Carl sees Morgan and says, “I had to shoot yo, I had to.  I’m sorry.” He’s still a good person, just like his mom hoped he’d be.

“Hey, son,” Morgan calls out, his voice shaking. “Don’t ever be sorry.” Don’t be sorry for what you have to do to survive, don’t be afraid to do what you have to do to survive because you think you will be sorry.  Because you’ll be sorry.

They load up and Carl tells his dad that Michonne isn’t so bad after all.  “I think she might be one of us,” he says.  I think Rick’s glad of that, you know?  I don’t think he wants to send someone he’s getting to know off to who knows what, especially not after seeing Morgan.

Michonne asks if he’s okay because she gets that he sees people.  Hey, she did, too.  It happens.  Rick hands over the keys for her to drive since he sees people, and they’re joking now! They’re friends!  Let’s have a bad ass show of them and Daryl being bad ass together!  Oh wait, we already have that, cool.

They drive off as Jamie Commons’ awesome song ” Lead Me Home” plays.  They pass Morgan, who is “clearing.”  Dumping the dead Walkers into a pile to burn.  Clearing the streets, clearing his conscience, and for him it will never be enough.  What’s a family worth?  How many Walkers is a wife, a son?

They pass the wreck from earlier and see a freshly ripped up body on the side of the road.  And a backpack, nice and bright and orange and easy to see from far off.  They come back for it, and drive away.  Guess the backpacker wasn’t one of them, either.

Bedroll, camping gear, pretty sweet find. At least they ransacked SOMETHING at the wreck.

Bedroll, camping gear, pretty sweet find. At least they ransacked SOMETHING at the wreck.

(Fun thing: Michonne’s top is both white and orange.  They’re keeping her, too.)

GOD DAMN I LOVE THIS SHOW. Come talk to me, people, let’s all fawn over the amazingness that is Lennie James and his stellar job as Morgan. *chinfists*