Reviewing the Dead: ‘Clear’

luke kalamar gives the all clear sign…

reviewingthedead

Plot: To prepare for war with The Governor (David Morrissey), Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Carl (Chandler Riggs) look for guns in their former town. Their plan is derailed when Rick runs into an old friend and Carl reveals he has some plans of his own.

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In the ever-expanding world of zombie fiction, what sets The Walking Dead apart from everything else is its ability to balance emotion and action. All mediums The Walking Dead has appeared on have greatly succeeded in this. Season 3 so far has been all about action and there hasn’t been much time to explore the true emotional turmoil that would happen in this type of environment. “Clear” takes a different approach, and in many ways succeeds in becoming one of the stands out episodes of this spectacular season.

The main focus this week was obviously the surprise return of Morgan Jones (Lennie James). In case anyone forgot, Morgan is the reason why Rick survived leaving the hospital way back in the very beginning of the series. It’s been nearly two full seasons since Rick left Morgan and his son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner) and their fate has been unknown for fans of the series. Fans of the comics surely already knew Morgan would come back eventually, but his arrival was much sooner in the show and was still unexpected for even the most dedicated reader.

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Rick discovering that Morgan was alive and the shock of what happened after the two separated was one of the most heart wrenching moments of the show to date. It all started when Rick found the walkie-talkie he gave to Morgan to keep in touch. Rick’s silent revelation that Morgan has been waiting for contact for over a year was powerful and very well-acted on Lincoln’s part. It only snowballed from there when Morgan woke up and Rick found out how crazy he had become and what lead him to that state. I mean, watching your son get bitten by your zombie wife that you couldn’t bring yourself to kill earlier will ruin even the toughest of people. Plus, Morgan really hammered on the guilt when he blamed Rick for their lack of connection, and possibly even his son’s death. Rick did try at times to get in contact, but it’s clear now that Morgan desperately tried for much longer. The entire scene was very intense and I’m sure drove some viewers to tears.

The comparison between Rick and Morgan is worth noting too. Both characters were the patriarch’s of their respective families and both have suffered unimaginable loss. Morgan however has gone completely over the deep end while Rick is currently walking down the same path that will lead to a very similar outcome. Rick seeing how lost Morgan is now was obviously an eye opening moment for him and I fully expect this to snap Rick back into his senses. It’s either he does that, or becomes a crazy hermit himself.

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Carl’s personal mission was an excellent touch as well and a solid indicator of how much he has grown since he first left the town with Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Shane (Jon Bernthal). His desire to do the mission on his own and his ability to nearly succeed on his own devices is a great example of this. Sure, he still needed Michonne to actually get what he wanted, but the message is still there. Carl’s reasoning for risking his life to get a photo (so Judith can see what her mother looked like) was also an emotional part of the episode and a great subplot in itself, but not enough attention was given to the actual photo for it to trigger a stronger response.

Michonne’s personal growth was very welcomed. For the first time all season, she finally lets some of her guard down and we can see a more human side of her. I even chuckled when she took the multi-colored cat statue out of the bar because she liked it so much. It looks like we’re actually going to get that tight Michonne/Rick friendship that has become such a staple of the comics. The two characters have only had a completely antagonistic relationship so far in the show with Rick even saying this episode that the two are only together because they share a common enemy. This is in stark contrast to the comics where the two characters are the closest of companions and one can always rely on the other. If the conversation at the end of this episode is any indication, the two should start growing closer in the coming episodes. I’m really excited for that to happen.

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Rick, Michonne, and Carl leaving the panicking stranger on the street was a nice, though gruesome, bookend to the episode. I felt bad that the guy was left alone to die, but I was obviously not surprised when it happened. Picking up the stranger’s backpack off his devoured body was a good touch too, and shows that Rick would prefer a pack of supplies over a potentially dangerous person any day. I mean, who wouldn’t in this type of world?

What disappoints me a little bit about this episode was how Morgan did not leave with Rick, Michonne, and Carl. Not only did Morgan leave with Rick in the comic series, but it’s extremely clear that Morgan was armed to the teeth and could be a massive asset in the war with The Governor. His MacGyver-esque ability to create elaborate traps alone could turn the tide. Who else would think to have a trip wire installed which would cause a fire ax to swing and hit someone in the face? I want to say that I know this isn’t the last we see of him, but I can’t say that for sure considering how much the show differs from the source material. All I can really say is I hope Morgan comes back and this wasn’t just a one time thing.

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Overall, this episode was incredible and a definite increase in quality after last week’s Andrea-centric episode. I don’t know about you, but I think it says a lot when a character who hasn’t been around since the very beginning can deliver a much stronger episode than one who’s been in almost every episode since. Also, please come back again, Morgan!

Rating: 9.5/10

All Photos Credit: AMC