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Posted: 10:01 p.m. Sunday, March 3, 2013

"The Walking Dead" recap ("Clear"): season 3, episode 12 

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"The Walking Dead" Clear
Rick (Andrew Lincoln) meets up with Morgan, a man he hasn't seen in more than a year.

By Rodney Ho

Tonight rewards viewers who have been watching "The Walking Dead" since the very first episode aired in Octcober, 2010.


Because Morgan returns.

Who is Morgan?

I went on Netflix and watched a portion of the first episode to refresh my memory:

Morgan was the first human being to help Rick adjust to life in the zombie world.  Rick had awoken in a hospital after coming out of a coma induced by a gunshot wound before the apocalypse happened. It appears at least a couple of weeks had gone by and mayhem had overtaken the area. (I was never sure how Rick could have lived as long as he did, even in a coma, with no apparent sustenance once his fluids had gone dry.) Dead bodies everywhere. Rick doesn't quite get what's going on but finds a bicycle to get himself home to find his wife Lori and son Carl.

They aren't there. He is bereft and tries to wake himself up from what he thinks is a nightmare. He sits on his front stoop and sees a zombie. He doesn't know it's a zombie but is curious by its ambling walk. Then Morgan's son Duane, who is around ten years old, bops Rick in the head with a shovel as Morgan shoots the zombie dead. They see Rick's  bandage around his rib cage from the gunshot wound and are understandably worried he's infected. (I recall being on set to watch the actor playing Duane "whack" Rick in the head over and over again as "The Walking Dead" shot scenes in Grant Park in the summer of 2010.).

Once Rick convinces Morgan he's merely a victim of a gunshot wound, not a zombie bite, Morgan fixes Rick's bandage, feeds him and informs him about the walkers and how they operate. They also tell him how Morgan's wife Jenny got bit and is now wandering the streets.  They can't get themselves to leave the area just yet though they had heard Atlanta is a safe haven and even better, the CDC is based there.

This gives Rick at least someplace to go next. He wants to help out Morgan so he shows him the police station stash of guns and hands him one for him to kill his wife/zombie. He of course, stocks up a bit for himself.

Now friends, they make a deal. Rick would go look for Lori and Carl. He hands Morgan one of his police walkie-talkies. To conserve batteries, he promises to check in at dawn with Morgan and if they are close enough, they could reunite at some point.

"You're a good man, Rick," Morgan says that first episode. "I hope you find your wife and son."

The last time we see Morgan, he is trying to shoot his wife's zombie-like face but can't do it. (This inaction will come back and eventually bite him, um, where it hurts.)

During season one, Rick would occasionally leave dispatches to Morgan that Morgan ultimately never heard.

So now we go to episode 12.

This is the first self-contained episode of the season that isn't based at the prison or Woodbury. Rather, it's Rick, Michonne and Carl seeking more weapons and ammo in preparation for another showdown with Woodbury's denizens.

Michonne drives the two to his old hometown.

But they get stuck in mud after bypassing a desperate hitchhiker with barely a reaction.

Carl has an aside with his dad, questioning why they are taking Michonne. "I didn't want  to leave her at the prision with Merle," Rick reasons. "And we've got common interests. We have the same problems. We can work on them together. Just for right now."

They check out the sheriff's office but all the guns are gone. He says there might be a few guns at bars. He issued the permits so he knows where they're hidden.  Michonne is cool with that, handing him a spare bullet she found on the floor.

They eventually hit downtown, which appears to have been turned into a rag-tag array of defenses, packed with barbed wire and booby traps, such as caged rats and a caged bird.

Michonne senses danger, says they should leave. But then a man appears on the roof, covered head to toe, requesting their guns and shoes. He counts to 10 to give them a chance to leave. Instead, they shoot and hide. He tries to kill them but fails. Then he scoots. Michonne had run to the roof but couldn't find him. The man meets Rick on the sidewalk and is about to shoot him when Carl shoots the man instead.

Once they carry him up to his sancutary (after almost falling in a "welcome mat" booby trap and getting hit by a booby-trap wire attached to a hatchet), Rick discovers it's Morgan.

Morgan had taken the guns Rick had told him about at the sheriff's office and developed an impressive fortress. But Rick discovers, based on the writings on the wall, that Morgan's son Duane had turned. The world "Clear" shows up quite a bit, too. They also see a map he drew that notes Rick's home had burned to the ground.

Rick wants to talk to Morgan, says he's going to wait for the man to awake. (Morgan was knocked unconscious but had body armor that kept him from being seriously injured by Carl's bullet.) Michonne and Carl go for a run. Carl's excuse: to get a crib for his baby brother. He has another agenda that we don't know about until he enters a cafe/bar full of walkers.

He tells Michonne defiantly that she can't stop him. "I can't stop you," she says. "But you can't stop me from helping you." Michonne flanks Carl by  killing a few walkers as he grabs a photo of Lori, Rick and Carl in more halcyon days. When he drops the photo, she goes back inside to grab it.

As a result, Michonne and Carl bond. Carl realizes that Michonne isn't crazy and has a good laugh after she grabs a goofy souvenir cat from the walker-infested cafe. "That is too damn gorgeous," she muses, a rare moment of humor from Michonne.

Meanwhile, back at Morgan's loft, Morgan wakes up, alarmed that another human being is there. Rick keeps saying "You know me!" "I don't know anyone anymore," Morgan screams and attacks Rick.

He actually stabs Rick under the left shoulder with a knife. Finally, he breaks down. "Just kill me," Morgan pleads.

At one point, Morgan crazily thinks it's someone wearing Rick's face. He has been alone so long, he has a hard time figuring out what's real and what's not.

Finally, he realizes that Rick is actually Rick. Then he gets angry again, says he and his boy waited for weeks at dawn to hear from Rick but never did. "You weren't there," Morgan says plaintively. "You were never there."

Rick says he tried but found his wife and his boy. "I had people. I had to keep them safe," he says.

Morgan says how his boy died. They ran into the Jenny/mom zombie. Duane had his gun up but he couldn't shoot her. "I called to him," he says. "He turned. She was on him. And I see red. Everything is red. I do it. Finally."

"Finally was too late."

He blames himself for being selfish and weak.

Then he gets bleak. "People like you. They always die. The bad people do, too. The weak people? The people like me? We have inherited the earth."

That doesn't make any sense but Morgan is a little nutty in the head now and he hates himself for what happened to his son. I'm actually surprised he hadn't just killed himself already.

Rick tries to convince Morgan to join them. "You can come back with us. You can heal," Rick pleads.  But Morgan feels like his penance now is to just die at some point alone.  His life viewpoint now is nothing but negative. "You will be torn apart by teeth or bullets," Morgan says. "You and your boy. Your people. I am not going to watch that happen again."

Morgan's philosophy: "I have to clear. That's why I didn't die. I have to. I have to clear." (Clear his guilt? Clear his conscience?)

Later, before they leave Morgan be, Carl apologizes for shooting him.

"Hey son," Morgan replies. "Don't ever be sorry."

As they pack up to go, Carl gives his approval of Michonne to Rick in an aside: "I think she might be one of us."

Then Michonne does something else to seal that deal: she empathizes with Rick seeing apparitions. "I used to talk to my dead boyfriend," she says. "It happens."

A song that includes the lyrics "Lead Me Home" plays as they drive back to the prison. They see the hitchhiker, dead, ripped to shreds. They grab his backpack.

Eat or be eaten. That's the way of the zombie apocalypse.  But as long as Rick harbors hope... we have a show!


If that was too heavy, you can always watch "SNL" send up "The Walking Dead" and racial stereotypes this past Saturday night.

Rodney Ho

About Rodney Ho

I cover local radio and TV for both the print and online editions. I write a blog on the same topics.

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