Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 4: Here's Not Here

Welp, I can see right now how this first half of Season 6 is going to play out. The whole "Walkers Attack Alexandria" storyline (which apparently takes place in a single afternoon) is going to be dragged out for eight episodes, ending with a cliffhanger at the mid-season break.

This week The Walking Dead takes a slow, meandering and unexpected break in the action, as we learn what happened to Morgan between the time Rick last saw him (in the third season episode Clear) and last year's finale, and how he got his awesome bo staff skills.

It was a well-acted character study, but it didn't tell us anything we absolutely needed to know about Morgan, or couldn't have guessed on our own. After the past few episodes, this low-key, introspective character study was honestly a bit boring. And the timing was positively atrocious! After building up an unrelenting and extremely tense momentum the past three episodes, did we really need to bring the show screeching to a halt for an origin story? I don't mind the occasional reflective and thoughtful episode, but WHY NOW? Surely there was a better slot for this episode?

It was also a very predictable story, mainly due to its flashback structure. We've already seen Zen Morgan the past few weeks, so we know he's going to find peace and redemption before this episode's over. And it's pretty easy to guess Eastman's fate, since he doesn't show up in Alexandria along with Morgan. There's also a lot of heavy handed symbolism, mostly involving Morgan and the various doors (both literal and metaphorical) he has to pass through on his journey to redemption.

I'm wondering why this needed to be an extra long episode? It was dull enough without stretching it into a ninety minute time slot.

Lastly, I noticed that Stephen Yuen (who plays Glenn) wasn't listed in the title sequence this week. So I guess that means he's really dead after all, wink wink.

Pulling his name from the credits is exactly what I would do if I wanted to make everyone think Glenn was really dead.

SPOILERS, I GUESS!

The Plot:
The episode begins with Morgan talking to the Wolf he captured but apparently didn't kill a couple weeks ago. Morgan proceeds to regale the Wolf with his recent history, starting with how he accidentally burned down his apartment back in the Season 3 episode Clear.

Morgan then stumbles through the forest for months, killing walkers as well as any humans who cross his path, including a father and son duo who pursue him. He mumbles incoherently to himself and uses walker blood to write cryptic messages (such as "Here's Not Here") on the surrounding rocks.

He eventually stumbles onto an impossibly well-maintained cabin with solar power and a live goat staked out in front. As Morgan attempts to steal the goat, he's knocked out from behind. He wakes inside a jail in the cabin, which seems a bit odd. The cabin's owner appears and says his name is Eastman. He was a forensic psychologist before the world ended, and now lives a peaceful life with his goat, Tabitha. He also practices akido, and refuses to kill as he believes all life is precious.

Morgan, who's little more than animal at this point, begs Eastman to kill him. Eastman feeds him and carries on a one-sided conversation with him for days. Eventually Morgan calms down a bit. Eastman tells him that the door to his cell was never locked, and he has two choices, leave or stay. Morgan opens the cell and attacks Eastman, who easily knocks him on his ass.

The next day while Eastman's out, Morgan hears walkers attacking Tabitha. He saves the goat and drags the walkers away. He discovers a vast graveyard near the cabin, where Eastman has reverently buried every walker he's ever killed.

As you might expect, Morgan and Eastman then form a bond. Eastman teaches him akido and how to use a bo staff through the power of a montage. Weeks later a walker intrudes on their practice session. It's the son half of the duo that Morgan killed a while back. Morgan hesitates, and Eastman steps in to save him. He's bitten in the back before he can dispatch it.

Knowing he's dying, Eastman then tells Morgan his story-- he refused to recommend parole for a murderer named Crighton Dallas Wilton, because he believed he was pure evil. Wilton then escaped prison and killed Eastman's wife and two children before calmly turning himself in. Eastman then abducted Wilton while he was on highway detail and kept him in the cell in his cabin. He starved Wilton to death, which took forty seven days. After he was dead, Eastman went to town to turn himself in and found the world had ended. He's since vowed to never take another life.

Eastman offers his cabin to Morgan, but advises him to set out and find other survivors. We next see Morgan after Eastman has died. He sees a sign advertising Terminus (remember that?) and heads off in the distance.

In the present, Morgan finishes telling his origin story to the Wolf, hoping it will inspire him to change his ways. The Wolf has either a huge gash or bite on his side, and says if he survives he's going to kill Morgan and all the other Alexandrians. Morgan leaves the Wolf's makeshift cell and locks the door behind him. He then hears Rick screaming for someone to open the gates.

Thoughts:
• So let's take a look at this episode's timeline, shall we? A couple weeks ago in JSS, Alexandria was attacked by the Wolves, who hacked and killed dozens of unprepared victims. Carol kills several of the Wolves, while Morgan drives the rest away. Then instead of patrolling the town to make sure they're all gone or checking the protective wall for holes, he decides it's the perfect time to sit down and regale a Wolf captive with his goddamned life story. Jesus Christ!

Who the hell would do that in the middle of a crisis? In First Time Again Morgan was helping Rick lure the walkers parade away from Alexandria. He heard the horn blaring and knows there's now half a horde of bloodthirsty zombies heading straight for Alexandria. Despite this, he does nothing about it and decides it's afternoon story time.

• I liked the use of the "throbbing" background during the "Crazy Morgan" scenes. As Morgan grew increasingly agitated, the edges of the background blurred and pulsed in synch with his heartbeat. It was a simple but effective way to show his descent into madness.

• During Morgan's crazy period, he burned the bodies of every walker and human he killed. Well, almost every one. He conveniently didn't burn the human male he strangled, so he could turn and come back to bite Eastman in the ass (almost literally!). 

• I'm not quite sure, but I think I may have picked up on some very subtle "door" symbolism in this episode. After Morgan's spent a few days in the jail cell, Eastman tells him the door has been open the entire time. Woahhhh! Why, it's almost like Morgan has been trapped in a prison in his own mind! And he has to "go through the door" in order to begin healing. Metaphysical, man! As subtle as a bat to the head!

• Was Eastman named after Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (one of whom wields a bo staff)?

• What are the odds that EVERY walker Eastman ever killed just happened to have their I.D. on them, so he could find out their names and write them on their burial crosses?

UPDATE! Reader DannX68 pointed out that a couple of the crosses were labeled "Jane Doe." I missed that little detail. So I'll give the writers this one.

• Eastman's story about Crighton Dallas Wilton doesn't make any sense. Wilton killed Eastman's entire family before turning himself in, but against all logic and reason is allowed to leave the prison on work details. I don't think so. Work detail is for prisoners who've committed minor crimes and can be trusted. There's no way in hell Wilton would ever have been allowed outside again, no matter how "charming and likable" he was.

I also don't understand how Eastman was able to abduct Wilton in his car and get away with it. He says he made sure "the right people" were guarding the work detail prisoners that day, but that's an awfully lame "hand waved away" non-explanation.

• After Eastman abducted Crighton, he locked him in the jail cell in his cabin and let him starve to death. Supposedly it took forty seven days for him to die. So... did Eastman give him water all that time? You might be able to go forty seven days without food, but you can only go about four days without water. Nice of Eastman to set a pan of water in his cell.

Also, once Crighton died, did Eastman not notice him come back as a walker? Or was his starved body too weak to move or even moan?

• There were several small references to previous episodes in Here's Not Here.

Eastman tries to cheer up Morgan by telling him that someday he's "gonna hold a baby again." Morgan did just that at the beginning of this season in First Time Again, when Rick lets him hold Baby Judith.

Also in that episode, Morgan cleans his bo staff with the same rag Eastman used.

In the Season 5 episode Coda, Morgan is tracking Rick when he finds Father Gabriel's abandoned church. He kneels down to pray at the altar, after setting out a series of seemingly incongruous objects, including a rabbit's foot, a Googoo Cluster, and a single bullet.

As we saw in this episode, the lucky rabbit's foot belonged to Eastman's daughter, the Googoo Cluster's were Eastman's favorite candy, and the bullet came from a startled young couple that Morgan decided to spare in this episode.

Did the writers really know who the rabbit's foot belonged to back in Season 5? How far out do they plan these shows?

• The end of this episode stupidly spoils Rick's fate. As Morgan locks the Wolf inside the house, he hears Rick shouting for someone to open the gate. So it looks like he got out of the walker-surrounded RV just fine. Way to go, episode!

2 comments:

  1. "What are the odds that EVERY walker Eastman ever killed just happened to have their I.D. on them, so he could find out their names and write them on their burial crosses?"

    At first I thought this too, but then noticed, that at least two of the crosses had JANE DOE written on them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah! Good catch! I didn't notice that little detail.

    ReplyDelete

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