This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 4
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was fine. It’s the kind of trick Gimple and the writers are used to pulling after a big cliffhanger like last week’s. We get an episode almost completely unrelated to everything that’s going on beyond the gates so that we can learn how Teenage Mutant Ninja Morgan came to be. For all intents and purposes, the episode is solid, giving us that much needed backstory on Morgan while also setting up some of the conflict for the weeks to come. Will Morgan convert that Wolves maniac or will Morgan’s decision to keep him alive come back to bite him? I’m guessing the latter.
I think the big problem with the episode is its placement. Sandwiched between what’s sure to be two action-packed episodes with lots of bloody death, it just seems odd that we’re forced to have a breather now, when the show has all the momentum in the world. I wasn’t quite ready to exhale just yet. The conflict beyond the gates is almost over—there’s perhaps an episode’s worth of action left—so why not wait until then? It’s probably my impatience that made this episode a boring affair for me. This is just not what I wanted.
Like a good episode of The Walking Dead should, “Here’s Not Here” tackles the big morality question this show often pushes like apocalyptic propaganda: what kind of person do you ultimately have to be in order to survive in the new world? We’ve seen the question asked of Rick, Shane, Michonne, Daryl, and plenty other characters throughout the series. Now Morgan steps up to the plate, his turn to take a swing at the question.
We watch Mad Morgan out in the woods for the first few minutes of the episode, which is largely one big flashback, killing walkers left and right (and some people, too). He sets up a pretty impressive camp for himself, fit for a psychopath, the words “Clear” written in blood on rocks and trees. And some other ravings, too. Basically, the episode picks up where we left Morgan in season 3. You can see right off the bat why present Morgan hates killing so much and outright refuses to take a life now.
When Morgan’s captured by a man named Eastman (John Carroll Lynch) for trying to steal his goat, Tabitha, the transformation begins. You can tell right off the bat that Eastman isn’t your average survivor. He’s more interested in perfecting the formula for goat cheese than his prisoner. Locked in a custom-made cell, Morgan watches Eastman from the window, as he practices his aikido forms—the martial art that will eventually save Morgan’s life. Of course, it takes some convincing, but by the end of the episode, Morgan has found a new way, even if it’s at Eastman’s expense. But maybe it’s the way Eastman would’ve wanted. “Life is precious,” he would say to Morgan.
I have to point out how much I enjoyed watching Lennie James and Lynch on screen. They have great chemistry, and it’s a shame they’re not given more to do. But maybe that’s the point. For the most part, the little cabin in the woods seems like a surreal way station in Morgan’s path to redemption. There isn’t much in terms of a threat, except the walkers that want to eat Tabby the Goat and Morgan’s own waning sanity. But for the most part, it’s a peaceful episode, a rest stop where Morgan can meditate and read and bury corpses and plant tomatoes. It’s like survivor rehab.
Eastman’s death at the end of the episode is a bit lousy, isn’t it? I don’t know what I was expecting really, especially since I knew from the start that he would be dead by episode’s end. After all, Morgan makes it to Alexandria alone. But I guess it’s fitting: the quiet life of Eastman has a quiet end. I’m glad we didn’t have to watch Morgan put the bullet in Eastman’s head, though.
There’s not too much to chat about in this episode, really. It’s symbolism mad, especially when it comes to the opening and closing of doors. Eastman had left the door open for both Morgan and Tabby, in hopes that they would both figure out that they could escape from their prisons at any time. For Morgan, escaping that prison meant regaining his sanity, walking back out into the light to save others. Anyone can kill, Eastman shows him, but it takes a very good man to save. We understand Morgan’s mission. Still, I was glad he locked the door behind him after talking to the Wolves member. I don’t think there’s any saving that guy.
Stay tuned for our weekly reviews of The Walking Dead season 6! And don’t forget to listen to the new episode of our weekly Walking Dead podcast, Den of Geek Presents No Room in Hell: