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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Walking Dead 6x04: Here’s not Here


Can complete and total pacifism work in a zombie apocalypse? Is everyone worthy of life? Can pretending to be Donatello cure you of insanity?

These are all the big questions raised in The Walking Dead episode, Here's Not Here. We get a flashback of Morgan going from the insane man we saw in Season 3 to the bad ass pseudo-monk he is now. The answers to these questions, according to the episode, are I don't know (but probably not), I don't know (but probably not) and YES!

The episode starts with Morgan talking to “someone” and begins to describe how he became the man he is now. We flashback to Morgan leaving the town where he “cleared” zombies. He sets up a camp in the woods where he will clear zombies.

Soon enough Morgan meets a man named Eastman and his goat whose milk Eastman would like to make into cheese. Us viewers know that after this story Morgan was wandering on his own. We also know that this show is The Walking Dead. So the entire episode has an air of inevitability as far as the fate of Eastman and his pet goat are concerned.

Anyway, Eastman takes his cue from The Eagles and locks Morgan in a cell in Eastman's cabin. Unbeknownst to Morgan, the cell door is unlocked. “Often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and never even know we have the key.”

Eastman is a psychologist (psychiatrist?) and attempts to help Morgan. Eastman eventually becomes Morgan's mentor and, with the help of aikido (pacifist staff wielding), Eastman brings Morgan from the brink of insanity.

So, Eastman and Morgan pal around and meditate. Two pacifist, vegetarians living in the zombie apocalypse. Naturally, this can't stand for long in The Walking Dead, so Morgan freezes when a zombie he was responsible for creating attacks and Eastman, of course, can't save Morgan from the zombie without martyring himself. That's what mentors in the hero's journey are supposed to do!

I suppose that bring up the question of how The Walking Dead view Morgan. Is he a hero? Or is will he a misguided man with a flawed perspective on life? Somebody Rick and Carol need to change?

Now, I lean towards pacifism personally, but even I recognize the need to kill in the zombie apocalypse. But I think someone who has a life philosophy against killing and refuses to do so no matter how tempting it is to break that code could be an interesting hero to watch. Hell, it worked for Trigun. But that working on The Walking Dead will all depend on how much the writers of The Walking Dead respect this philosophy. If they do then the struggles Morgan will go through to adhere to this philosophy could be fascinating (and frustrating on occasion) but if the writers just view this philosophy as silly idealism that needs to be mocked and then destroyed then this plot line will only serve to infuriate me.

Other Thoughts:
I like how The Walking Dead likes to use "Now" and "Then" to denote flashbacks since time is very...fluid...in The Walking Dead universe.

Morgan is very adept at survival for, reasons? Like, where did he learn how to purify water?

I think Carol would've liked the old Morgan.

When Morgan first heard the goat squeal I figured he'd let the goat get eaten. To my surprise, Morgan saved the goat but, well, we all knew he was just delaying the inevitable.

I'm not a big fan of burying people when there's an apocalypse afoot but if it helps you find peace I get it. Just so long as it's not actively putting you in danger or using up valuable resources.

The real crux of this episode is what happened between Eastman and Crighton Dallas Wilton. Crighton callously and maliciously killed Eastman's family. So Eastman tortured and kill Crighton. Eastman didn't find the peace he was looking for. It's an interesting look at how murder for the sake of revenge may not be the salve people desperately seek. However, none of this addresses killing when a person a is too dangerous to keep alive, resources are scarce and guarded prisons aren't a realistic option.

Was the Wolf Morgan was holding captive bit by a zombie or just cut?

I love pacifism in general and have a soft spot for bad ass pacifists but not killing at all is pretty difficult during an apocalypse. You can't waste your own resources on people are psychotically hell bent on killing you.

As I said above, I like Morgan and all, but I'm not sure this needed to be a ninety minute episode. Heck, we didn't even need a whole sixty minute episode for this story. It could've been done in flashback form while still moving the current plot forward and still could've been effective. Making this episode ninety minutes felt self congratulatory and put artificial gravitas to an episode that, while good, really didn't warrant the added time.

11 comments:

  1. One of the worst episodes this show has given us.

    Then again, I might be biased, since I think Morgan sucks and never saw what it is that made fan boys and girls squee.

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    1. Speaking as a fan of Morgan (though I hesitate to say I squee about him...), the character initially left a strong impression on me thanks mostly to Lennie James haunting performance in that premiere episode. Especially as we met more and more regular characters that were pitched either as "bland" or "hugely over-the-top", his more measured approach to the character lingered, making me wish we were watching him instead of many of the other characters.

      If they had just left him as a one-off character, he probably would have ultimately faded from my memory, but they continued to tease his return, building up the character such by virtue of not showing him - where is he? When will he appear again? Why are they teasing his return? "Clear" didn't really do much for me, because Crazy Morgan wasn't an iteration of the character I was interested in - he was so compelling in that first episode because he was uniquely pragmatic about the situation; crazy, we'd seen plenty of by then.

      But when he came back the second time, once again measured and now wielding a bo staff (which is right up there with Michonne's katana as cool-yet-probably-not-as-effective-as-they-are-cool apocalypse weapons), I was much more interested. Once it became clear they were positioning him as a counterpoint to Carol (who I grow to dislike more with each passing episode), I was rooting for the character (though I still don't think he needed a 90 minute slow burn episode devoted to his transformation).

      Basically, in a show where pretty much everyone now takes a "KILL THEM ALL! KILL EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING THAT MOVES! NO QUESTIONS ASKED! IT'S THE ONLY WAY TO SURVIVE! KILL! YOU'RE DUMB IF YOU DON'T! KILL!" attitude, Morgan is engaging just for sounding a different note amongst that cacophony.

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    2. Ah. The high price of Carol's antics. :)

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    3. Well, obviously I liked this episode more than you did, but you'd still have to admit that some of those Season 2 episodes were way worse than this one. Remember when the argument about who washes the dishes?

      Also, I didn't have much of an opinion of Morgan either way until his return. If his only appearance was the first episode then I wouldn't have minded. But I do enjoy bad ass pacifists so when he came back as one, well, it's hard for me NOT to like him.

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  2. I kind of liked it. The episode fits nicely there with the other episodes around it that are happening more or less simultaneously, and I don't know if it brings anything worthwhile to anything but gotta give thumbs up to the producers essentially saying by a then-episode that what's going on in Alexandria isn't too interesting, or alternatively re-using the old South Part trick of putting a nonsense Terrance&Phillip episode in middle of a continuous story arc just to piss off the viewers.

    I still have zero interest into Morgan, but it's nice to see someone fighting the show ethos nevertheless.

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    1. Coming on the heels of the "OMG is Glenn dead?" ending of the previous episode, I did somewhat wryly also appreciate the Terrence & Phillip-ness of this one.

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    2. Yeah, I didn't mind the placement of this episode after the Glenn(?) ending. There'd never be a great spot for this and it does keep people wondering.

      It is amazing how little time is actually passing in these early season episodes but they're at least keeping things fresh.

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  3. Like you, I enjoyed this episode, but also felt that making it 90 minutes was a little...self-congratulatory. Certainly unnecessary. I think I paused it at one point to go to the bathroom and was shocked to see there was still, like, 40 minutes left in the recording at a point I felt was nearing the end.

    Some of that feeling probably comes, as you mention, from the inevitability of it all. There's nothing wrong with presenting us with a character like Eastman (and his goat) that we know is doomed - HOW a character dies can be as suspenseful as whether or not they live or die - but that tension maybe isn't enough to fill an extra-sized episode, so I spent most of it thinking "yeah, yeah, get to the point where Eastman dies and Morgan gets to where he was when we first re-saw him".

    Also like you, I find Morgan's pacifistic philosophy compelling (even while it's a tad too unrealistic for this world), but am also worried that the show is setting him up as a flawed example, whether than someone we should be rooting for, by making him SO pacifist. Like, I think there's a happy medium between Carol's "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" mentality and Morgan's "I won't kill anyone even to protect my own life or the lives of others" approach, but I also think the show is pro-Carol and is maybe setting up Morgan to be, essentially, laughed out by the show.

    Then again, they didn't NEED to spend an extra-long episode setting up Morgan's philosophy if they only wanted to ultimately dismiss it out-of-hand as stupid, so maybe (hopefully?) the show has more respect for it than I'm giving them credit for.

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    1. The Greek tragedywrights certainly did get enough mileage from the material even with the audience knowing not only IF it was going to end badly but also HOW it was going to end badly. But in this case effect may depend on how invested you are with the Morgan character. I want to like the idea but the delivery was kind of boring and kind of obvious. The Greek tragedy approach doesn't seem to work when you don't know for sure but are familiar with the cliches.

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    2. Compromise is, so far, something this show never seemed interested in exploring despite the fact that, more often than not, it seems like the right answer.

      As you said, isn't there a middle ground between Carol and Morgan? Or between Alexandria and Rick's group? So often this show seems focused on "who's right" and "who's wrong" instead of showing us people who learn from each other, come to an understanding and both are better for it.

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    3. Also, in hindsight, probably the biggest failing of this episode is the fact that both Eastman and Morgan have an goals. They're just sitting around an talking. We know Eastman is going to die but there isn't even an objective he needs to complete before he does so except maybe make sure Morgan isn't crazy?

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