For two weeks on AMC’s popular The Walking Dead not a whole lot has happened. Last week, it didn’t work at all. This week? It was fantastic. There were a lot of differences between the two episodes, but the big one was where the focus lie. Last week we spent a lot of time with Andrea, The Walking Dead‘s least likable character. This week we got to hang out with Morgan (played by the always outstanding Lennie James). Not only is Morgan a character that audiences have wanted to see again since the pilot, but his arc was legitimately interesting, with quite an emotional pull. Also, unlike Andrea, Morgan totally stabbed someone.
Since Rick left him with a rifle and a walkie-talkie, things have gone downhill for Morgan. His zombified wife killed his son, sending the man into a spiral of grief and paranoia. The result was a man whose collapsing mental state was on display to anyone who happened by his bizarre fortifications.
Once you get beyond the spears, barbed wire, live traps, knives, and numerous booby traps, you find an arsenal that would put most of the gun nuts (or firearms enthusiasts, if you will) of the world to shame. And that, of course, is why Rick and company are there. Having struck out at the armory, Rick decides to hunt down the guns he knows are around the community thanks to his memory of the permits he used to write. Why he didn’t just hit up a sporting goods store or a gun shop is a mystery to me, but I’m happy with where this episode went, so I won’t complain too much.
Once they arrive, they get ambushed by Morgan. The trio split up, and Carl manages to shoot him. Luckily for Morgan, he was wearing body armor. Rick stays with Morgan while Carl and Michonne set out on their own. Carl spins some excuse about getting a crib for Baby Asskicker, but he’s really after a photo of his mom so that his sister can know what she looked like. It’s an unusually tender moment for Carl, who spends most of his time scowling and shooting things.
I really enjoyed Carl and Michonne’s side mission, even though at the start I was ready to hate the sideplot. It gave both characters a chance to show a little much needed humanity. I’ve made no secret of my distaste for Michonne. The character seems to be little more than a personification of fan service. A beautiful, tough woman who kills zombies with a katana. Yawn.
Letting her smile and joke around was the best move The Walking Dead could have made. I can appreciate a badass as much as the next guy, but Michonne has never once seemed like a human being. This episode made up for a lot of that, but I hope it’s only the beginning.
Meanwhile, Morgan and Rick have a heart-to-heart, giving Morgan the chance to give us his painful history since we’ve seen him last. He’s scared, grieving, confused, and angry. He wants to die, but can’t bring himself to take his own life. Rick tries to bring him into the fold, but he refuses. The man might be losing it, but he’s not stupid. If Rick needs several bags of guns and ammo, things aren’t quite so warm and sunny as he’d like Morgan to believe.
When they leave, Morgan continues on as before. One day much like the next.
Beyond the strength of Lennie James’ acting and a rare moment of humanity for Michonne, this episode also benefited from its focus. While last week’s episode was primarily about Andrea, there were a lot of minor plot points that also had to be addressed. This episode was able to give us a much tighter story, with no side trips to the prison or Woodbury. The show can’t do that every week, but when it can, it works really well.
Looking at the preview for next week, I’d say we’ve reached the end of our character-building interlude.
I actually though this was one of the best shows since season 2. I just started to watch season 1 again in B/W and was wondering if we would ever see Morgan again. This really put the story on Rick and you get to see him have a chance to help out someone that saved him. My wife and I took bets if he would come back to the prison, I won.
Oh yeah, I was going back and forth on whether he’d come back. I’d love to have Lennie James as a regular cast member. That dude is awesome.
You notice how Chandler (Carl) is starting to react and even pose like Rick?
Oh yeah, I absolutely see that. Good call there.
Agreed! Morgan’s monologue about his wife and son was great. I was riveted and almost cried for him. Good job!
It was really great to see Michone finally lower her guard. And with Carl no less. That kid needs someone as messed up as he is to help him right now.
“That kid needs someone as messed up as he is to help him right now.”
I hate that they left that guy to die.. Bastards.
Oh, I should have addressed the backpacker. That was really bizarre.
I thought that was sad. But I guess it shows that they are so hard right now.
It was sad. I shows how much humanity these people had to trade in order to survive. I thought it was a good moment for the show, and another thing that made this episode so strong.
I was sad but they didn’t know if he was from Woodbarry and why would you drag a person into what is sure to be a war back at the prison (Prison? Come on in.). Although I would have stopped for the backpack too. Anyone else?
I think they did it to show that Rick is not the same person anymore, he’s still a good guy but has become a lot more pragmatic and is not willing to risk the safety of the group for some random guy, at least not at this critical moment.
Now the question is, what was in that bag??
The bag is full of people. Parts of them, at any rate.
That requires a like button.
They can’t bring in some random guy like that. Too dangerous! And he could have been turning anyway. The fact that he’s screeming shows how careless he is anyway.
Wow – finally an episode in the second half of the season I liked!
Nothing happened (As in storyline progression), but such a change! Ricks seen what he’ll end up like so has snapped out of it, Michonne finally should some humour and a hint of her comic book character awesomeness in the cafe, and the whole hitch-hiker thing just added to level of darkness in the walker apocalypse!
Best episode of 2013, lets hope the group have learnt a few of tricks for catching zombies from Morgan
This was a fantastic episode.
The thing about the backpacker, at least in my opinion, was used to show 2 things. ! it shows how hardend and wary the group is of other people. I suspect this to soften a little after their encounter with Morgan.
More importantly, it graphicly brought home the main point of this episode, that you can’t survive the world alone. part of me wonders if the guy had still been alive when they were coming back if they would have picked him up.
The whole Morgan incident made me think that they would run into him on the way back and pick him up, alas, they only picked up what was left, lol.
I don’t think they would have picked him up. Too much of a liability.
Possibly, but then they also need defenders at the prison. The Governor has an army, but right now there’s only a handful of people at the prison who would be helpful in an attack. At some point they will have to bring in some people to help defend, after some type of vetting process of course.
Yeah, and when they bring their armored personnel carrier, things will really get sticky…
The thing that puzzles me the most is that for a long time I have been wondering why they hadn’t gone back to Rick’s police station earlier. When he left it still had hot water, fencing, weapons, sound structure and apparently a washer & dryer (from Episode 1, towels). Not to mention he knows the town.
This is a very good point – they spent all winter wondering around aimlessly, surely if the police station was just a short trip away, they could have made it there instead?!
Did the 3rd season end?
Not yet. There was a mid-season break.
This season continues until the end of the month. March 31st is what AMC website says.