This past week’s episode was a slow burn to a so far punishingly fast season. Much like the Enid back story we watched a couple episodes previously (it feels like ages ago so much has happened!), now we get to see what brought Morgan to the here and now. This time it took a full episode though.
A nice twist to the start of the episode is the fact we can tell Morgan is telling his story to someone. Who that person is remains a mystery, but it is something that sticks in the back of your mind the entirety of the episode. The story starts with Morgan yelling at himself in his hideout that Rick, Michonne and Carl had last left him at in Rick and Carl’s hometown. He starts a fire, but he pays it no attention as he continues to yell. He obviously made it out and with some equipment as we next see Morgan wandering through the woods.
Lennie James, the actor who portrays Morgan, needs all the awards. As Morgan goes about life, he never speaks a word, but we can see through his body language and facial expressions, how hard it is on him. Being alone, the pain, the need to survive versus the want to die. It’s amazing. He comes upon two men in the woods and even though they are no threat, we watch Morgan kill them anyways. Not only does this show how much humanity Morgan has lost, it comes back later in the story too.
He then reaches a cabin. It is a nice setup with a fenced garden, solar power, a goat, everything one would need to survive. A voice tells him to leave the goat alone and asks him to leave. Morgan, in his current state, shoots around trying to kill the person connected to the voice. It doesn’t work and Morgan refuses to leave so the man knocks him out. When Morgan comes to, he finds himself in an old west style jail cell in this man’s cabin (Seriously how do you even get those things when the world hadn’t ended? Just curious). There is a plate of food for Morgan but he ignores it to look around. You can see it is a normal living environment and the man who had knocked Morgan out is trying to make cheese. It doesn’t turn out so great from his reaction.
The man speaks to Morgan, but Morgan just tells him to ‘kill me,’ over and over. It’s pathetic and sad and if you hadn’t understood just how much Morgan had lost it, you do at this point. Even though he has survived and made it this long, he has forgotten how to live. Sound familiar? He makes a joke to lighten the mood telling Morgan that kill me ‘is a terrible name. Dangerous. You should change it.” He then lets Morgan stay in the cell for a while longer and even gives him a book, The Art of Peace, to read (which by the way is a real book). Morgan ignores it. Finally the man tells Morgan he has two choices. To stay and there is a place on the couch for him, or to leave. There is no in between. If anyone missed that, he it’s another metaphor that you can choose to live or die, but can’t be stuck between that.
Another time he explains to Morgan that he has PTSD and that he can get better from it. If only he could sit Rick and co down and explain that to them too. He even tells Morgan that the cell door had never been locked; it had been Morgan’s own mind keeping him there when he tried to find no other alternatives out. I don’t think Morgan really wanted to be out. Still Morgan tries to go against the man again and tries to stay in that middle though and attacks the man. They have a fight and it goes back and forth for a bit, but the man eventually wins and Morgan goes back into his cell. The man leaves the door open, but Morgan shuts it angrily.
Finally Morgan starts to come out when the man tells them they’re going on a trip, Morgan wants to know where, but the man tells him he has no idea. Such is life. We find out the man is named Eastman and we find out his backstory too. He practices Aikido and nonviolence; he was a forensic psychiatrist, testing inmates to see if it was possible for them to be rehabilitated. He says out of the hundreds of people he saw, there was only one evil man out of them. He sent that man back to jail, but the man got out and killed Eastman’s family in retaliation. Eastman later kidnaps the man and brings him to this cabin that he had already outfitted with the jail cell. The purpose of it was to put the madman in it and let him starve to death. He did so and tells Morgan it took 47 days and when he went back, the world had already ended.
I liked that they explained all of this about Eastman and his views on pacifism. Eastman himself is not an innocent man, it takes darkness in ones soul to be able to watch a man die for over a month and be the cause of it. The fact that he came back from it though and that Morgan decided to also be a pacifist now shows it to be not just a ‘I’m better than you and not killing people’ but a way to save themselves as much as the others around them. You have to care about yourself to care about others.
Still we are in the middle of the apocalypse here, how can that continue to be practiced? It doesn’t stop either Morgan or Eastman from killing walkers. The dead are already dead, but Eastman still buries them, (which reminded me of the funeral home Daryl and Beth found with the walkers in coffins) because they were people. Eastman even tries to find ID on them and places a marker. Morgan slowly heals and he even saves a couple and lets them go in the woods instead of attacking them. Sadly, we never see what Eastman would do if confronted with many hostile people, but we know he was able to bring back Morgan. We never get to see how Eastman would deal with Alexandria because walkers come upon them (the same people that Morgan had killed earlier in the episode) and he freezes. Eastman pushes Morgan out of the way and in doing so gets bit himself.
Morgan has a bit of a meltdown then, but he calms himself down and finds out that Tabitha the goat is being eaten by walkers (did anyone think she was actually going to make it? Poor thing). He brings her and the walker to be buried which is where he finds Eastman trying to dig the new grave. Morgan makes him sit and does the work himself. He’s getting past that sin of killing those innocent people. Later Eastman tells him he’s ready to go and that Morgan can stay here his entire life if he wants to, but Eastman hopes he doesn’t. He wants him to leave and find a real life again. Later we see a marker for Eastman in the graveyard as Morgan is leaving, with the lucky rabbits foot he had given Morgan.
The final part of the episode is a really great twist. We find that Morgan has been telling this story to the same wolf he had knocked out the previous episode we had seen him in, the one he said, ‘sorry’ to (nice throwback to Eastman telling Morgan sorry when they first met).
The wolf, tied up, asks Morgan if he could really be like that too, but then backtracks and says he has to kill Morgan and everyone else here – that this is his way. Morgan leaves the man in the house and in a telling scene, locks the door behind him. We then hear someone (Rick?) yelling for the gate to be opened and the episode ends.
Overall I really liked this episode. It could have very easily gone down the drain of too much back information and what is up with this karate kid training montage, but it didn’t. Eastman became a very real and deep character in such little time and it explained in a show full of murder-murder-murder that there is room for peace and hope. It also shows though that tragedy is as much a part of life as the happy parts, but life still goes on. That you can’t trap yourself by those terrible events, you have to keep living.
I don’t know what they’ll do with Morgan’s character. Usually the moral center of the group ends up dead every season, but I’m hoping they’ll stop that this season. I don’t really want him to be the leader of the group, that is obviously Rick’s role and I want to see him become a good leader again. I know the next big bad guy coming up courtesy of the comics and I know now with Glenn gone (Steven Yeun’s name was out of the opening credits – I’m sorry guys) someone else needs to take the spot of that ahem ‘memorable’ scene and I’m guessing it’ll be Morgan. Although Daryl is up there too still, I think.
What did you think of this past week’s episode? Tell me in the comments below or find me on twitter @quietlikeastorm. I always love to hear from you guys. Also make sure to check out The Nerdy Girl Express twitter account @thenerdygirlexp where we cover all sorts of shows and other things we think you guys will love!
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