Fans of The Walking Dead certainly had a full week after the third episode of the season. While some were openly expressing their sorrow over what happened to Glenn, a vast multitude was gathered attempting to prove that, despite all appearances, Glenn made it out just fine. The amount of meticulous detail that was paid attention simply to the dumpster scene alone was pretty astounding. Of course, this is episodic television, and, even though there are multiple story threads, there’s no way that the show would leave us hanging for more than a week, right?
Yeah, about that. See, if you look back to the season opener, it followed Rick and his group as they carried out the plan to remove the walkers from the quarry. The second episode showed us what was going on inside the walls of Alexandria at that time, and the third episode took us right back to the fallout from Rick’s plan. It could have made sense to have the fourth episode return us once again into Alexandria’s walls, but it also was a perfect place, framing-wise, to tell us more about the man who was involved with both areas of the early going. Morgan is the bridge that connected the first two episodes more directly, so allowing his story to take up the spot between their further continuations made good sense. It also was the perfect place to put a quieter, more introspective episode. Don’t forget, this is all happening while Rick’s group is dealing with their problems, as Morgan is taking the time to relate his past, and his overall growth, to the captive Wolf. While the survivors are still dealing with some serious fallout, giving the audience a chance to catch their breaths is always good, especially in the age of binge-watching. As for more about Glenn, we’ll just have to keep waiting. It wouldn’t be surprising to have the culmination of that particular story held back for the mid-season finale. Of course their going to leave us hanging, and leave things in a somewhat vague “we don’t know, or do we?” type of position. Last week’s cleverly crafted statement from the show was compounded by a certain name no longer appearing in the opening credits. It’s being deftly handled, and teased just enough to drive the fan base rabid for more information. At the end of the day, though, Glenn isn’t the only one missing, because Here’s Not Here, either.
The episode opens with Morgan dealing with the Wolf that he captured during the Alexandria raid. Turns out, these two have a history, and Morgan proceeds to tell the other a story about his personal history. This is done in-universe to potentially try to convince the Wolf that he is in the wrong, but serves the larger purpose of filling in answers for the audience about what Morgan was doing before he was seen following the path to Terminus. The episode itself was quieter, and asked the audience to consider Morgan’s stance much more strongly than simply having him stand in opposition to the rampant bloodshed of the Ricktatorship ever could. It was also an episode that, to be truthful, had very few moments that were driven by stupidity. This is still The Walking Dead, so it’s unavoidable, but at least a lot of the moments that I’ll be highlighting feel almost like small errors anyone could have done. The pacing and the storytelling was strong, and watching the interactions between Morgan and Eastman really helped establish a deeper connection to both characters. Sure, we’ll get back to the running and gunning of the rest of the crew, but seeing what brought Morgan from his need to clear into his new life was refreshing. So how does this week’s list shape up, especially with a small cast? You’re just moments away from finding out.
You’ve been living in your cabin ever since the world went the way of the reanimated corpse. You’ve found a goat, so you’ve got a supply of some milk, and you’re working on making cheese. You also clearly have some knowledge of how to deal with the walkers, as you’ve created a fairly populated graveyard for the ones you’ve taken out. But you let your goat bleat away outside? While it’s possible that Eastman was just on the other side of the cabin, picking parsnips or cucumbers or something, it just feels off that a man who had done as much to survive as he had would allow a bleating alarm sit outside for any length of time, whether it needs to eat or not.
While still somewhat in the throes of his own insanity, Morgan decided that he wanted to get himself out of the cell that Eastman had placed him in. His escape plan? Remove the frame of the window, take the bars off, and get out that way. Honestly, it’s not a terrible plan, until we learn that Eastman never actually locked the cell door. Yes, you can say that Morgan would never have bothered to check it, simply assuming that the door was locked, and then looked for other options. However, this is a cell built into a cabin, not a prison block. It seems like, with those circumstances, looking for an escape would have at least prompted checking how strong the bars themselves were.
Speaking of Tabitha, the goat, at one point, after he has started coming around to Eastman’s ways, but before he has fully embraced the aikido life-style (or noticed how much of Eastman’s conversation is full of verbal aikido), there is a point where Morgan hears Tabitha outside, walkers clearly threatening. Our hero rushes to the defense of the poor, tied up goat, which is incredibly brave and a good beginning to his new path. However, he does it all completely unarmed. This wouldn’t be as glaring if the episode hadn’t made it clear that makeshift weaponry was able to be found inside the house, just outside of the cell that Morgan had been sitting in at the time. But hey, when you absolutely, positively need to punch a zombie, you should really take whatever chances you can get, right?
You’re gathering supplies to move on, because, as you point out, it can’t just be the two of you until the end of everything. You need to try to find other people, and you’ve assembled a list of the last few things that you really need in order to feel comfortable leaving your remarkably well-protected cabin. When Morgan piped up that he knew where those exact supplies could be found, it was clear he was talking about his campsite. However, Eastman, being the psychologist who apparently could read people like a book, somehow didn’t notice that Morgan wasn’t far enough along his recovery from PTSD to risk having both men take the trip? Morgan’s grip on sanity was tied to the cabin, and Eastman should have let him stay behind, maybe work on that cheese recipe, while he grabbed what was needed.
The moment that Morgan didn’t finish the two men who were chasing him, early on in the episode, everyone at home had to know something bad was going to happen down the line. Especially given that Morgan even knew at that point in the story that anyone who died turned, and that the only way to be safe was to damage the brain. So it should have been no surprise whatsoever that one of those two was the walker who came back and bit into Eastman, all because Morgan was frozen in place, seeing the results of what he had done, or, more specifically, didn’t do. Leaving them to turn almost felt like Morgan was laying a trap for himself, but, in true TWD fashion, the recurring character survives because a guest star has to take the fall.
This episode of The Walking Dead was a journey, and one that the audience really did have to take with Morgan, especially in light of recent events. It was also important for us to hear Eastman’s story, once he stopped redirecting the conversation away from the worst parts of it, to show how Morgan could find inner peace, and remind us that there is still some humanity out there, and thriving somewhat, despite the state of the world. The simple touches with the licenses and grave markers could have easily been glossed over, but they reflected a more sympathetic view of the walkers than what we’ve seen previously. This isn’t a delusion like Lizzie’s, or even a denial like we’ve seen from plenty of others; this is an understanding of what’s happened, a willingness to do what is needed against them to survive, and a desire to at least try to honor the memories of the people they were before. The story helps craft our own expectations moving forward, and there is still a lot of life left in this story as we creep towards the mid-season.