What a fun trip we all had this week with Morgan at the wheel. A few times there it felt like the wheels might come off, but we made it through. Morgan made it through the roughest of patches, and that gives hope to other characters in a show where hope is hard to come by. All it took was a little Aikido.
1. Since we first saw Morgan, he been through some shit, and had to deal with it (mostly) alone. This episode we got to see him come back from beyond the brink. A big theme of last season was whether we could come back from that dark place, and Rick seemed like he was right on the edge. The end of last season and the first few episodes this season show that Rick has embraced the edge, but he’s still right there.
Last episode ended with Rick realizing that leaving Alexandria to fend for it self might have been a foolish move, what with that Wolf having the apple sauce from his house and all. Cracks were starting to show through that tough facade he was putting on. There’s hope that he can come back.
The story of how Morgan came back from his state in Clear is a road map for Rick to regain whatever humanity he has lost so far. Morgan was normal, until Dwayne died. but not only did Dwayne die - his walker-mom was the one that did it, because Morgan wasn’t strong enough to do what he had to do.
So he compensated. Morgan made it his life’s purpose to clear the world of Walkers and people alike. It got so bad, that it didn’t matter to him who he cleared - living or dead. Morgan’s shift from somewhat normal person to terminator with a mission was quick. Rick’s change has evolved slowly since Lori wouldn’t stop calling him on that damn phone.
After Rick ditched the phone, he calmed down some, but the whole drifters trying to have their way with Carl and Terminus put him back over the edge. In order to survive and keep his family alive, he had to be ruthless. For Morgan - in order to clear the world, he had to be ruthless.
The only difference between Rick now and Morgan before he met Eastman is that Morgan was alone, and Rick has a family that keeps him somewhat grounded. They provide a dissenting voice when it’s needed, and for the most part he actually listens to it. But when his mind is made up, they stay out of the way or help. Morgan was alone.
If Morgan’s trip were a scale from one to ten, with one being Clear Morgan and ten being Aikido Morgan, Rick is probably at a three (I’d call that return to the scene of the strangling Morgan) only because he has a support team from keeping him from going further.
Eastman, as a criminal forensic psychiatrist, taught Morgan that he could overcome the horror that was his past, and use it to make himself into a better person. He remarked that with his PTSD, no matter what he did, he was right back at that horrible moment. There is a way out, even in this horrible world. It took Morgan a while to listen, but he eventually did, and was able to find his way back from over the edge.
The same can be done for Rick, and Rick is actually better positioned to recover than Morgan simply because he is not alone. Rick is going to need some catalyst to pick up what Morgan is putting down, and I feel we may have already seen it: His realization that his choices get people he love killed. He doesn’t know about Glenn, and he has worries about Carl and Judith. He’ll find out next week that they are alive (based on the teaser for the next episode), and Morgan will be better able to help bring him back from the edge.
Rick isn’t going to be using a staff any time soon, but he’ll be more compassionate, and after this eventual herd of walkers gets cleared from Alexandria, he’ll be open to the idea that even in this horrible world, he doesn’t have to live in the past, and can come back from the edge, and rejoin humanity. To make up for what he did, and to vow never to do it again.
You know, until Negan comes along.
2. Runner up for line of the night:
Eastman: “What’s your name?”
Morgan: “KILL ME!”
Eastman: “That’s a stupid name.”
3. Did you notice that when Clear Morgan was in the moment and murdery, things got all cloudy? Every time Rick got in the same state, the music changes and gets more intense. You can almost see the wheels turning behind Rick’s eyes right before he mercs someone or eats their throat or shoots up the inside of the RV. I think this similarity is on purpose, but using the same cloudy effect would be too on the nose. Expect a conversation between Rick and Morgan in the near future where Rick explains that things go hazy and he just “reacts.”
The quiet and calm of nature snapped Morgan out of his haze. Maybe Judith’s voice or crying will be Rick’s way out of the haze.
4. As soon as Eastman got done telling the story of his family, I knew Creighton Dallas Wilton starved in that cell. I didn’t need the bite-induced confession or grave cross to confirm it - and neither did Morgan. Eastman really was good at deflecting.
5. In the 75 minutes we got to know Tabitha she was 100% more useful than Gabriel up to this point. For being a cheese maker, Eastman wasn’t very good at making cheese.
6. Morgan is going to be forced to kill that Wolf he has holed up in the house, and he knows it. Eastman never locked the doors in his cabin, and yet Morgan locked that screen door. Eastman told the story of interviewing 825 people and only meeting one truly evil person. I feel that Morgan has met the first of many truly evil people in this brave new world. Creighton Dallas Wilton had to put on a face to live in the world of old, but this Wolf (and many like him, like the Governor and the Termites and some people we will meet in the coming seasons) have no reason to put on a face. They can be their true selves out in the open. The Wolves (what I think are a TV analog for the DC Scavengers) are just a concentrated group of these people. I hope there is no driving force or reason behind these Wolves other than they are some basic cult acting out their base evil instincts.
7. At the very end of the episode, Morgan heard Rick yell “OPEN THE GATES.” When we last saw Rick, he was sitting in the RV while Walkers swarmed past him. This means they are only a few minutes behind him if he made a break for it and sprinted to the gates. Next week is going to be bonkers.
8. Line of the night: “Step away from the goat.”
9. Prediction: Glenn has a coming to Jesus moment much like Rick had a coming to Glenn moment in the first season. DON’T THINK WE HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN ABOUT GLENN, SHOW RUNNERS.