The group are looking towards a hopeful future, but not everyone feels the same about their altruism.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 4: “Here’s Not Here”
Directed by Stephen Williams
Written by Scott M. Gimple
* For a review of the previous episode, “Thank You” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Now” – click here
This is an episode I’ve looked forward to, unlike some – a nice long look at who Morgan Jones (Lennie James) has become, where he’s been and how he got back to Alexandria.
We open with him talking to the unseen leader of the Wolves (Benedict Samuel), but then quickly it transitions from NOW to THEN. Back at the house where Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) last saw him before their reunion.
Morgan is having a fairly animated conversation with himself. He’s pissed, ranting, raving. A fire starts and burns the place down. So out into the world he goes, once more. Honestly a lot of people complained about this episode because it’s so Morgan-centric. Me, I dig it. You can’t just explain away a guy going from a lunatic to zen so easily as to re-introduce him; they had to do this episode. I think it’s actually keen of the showrunners to do it this way. Everyone is dying for answers about Glenn (Steven Yeun). Me too, I can just wait – I like the slow burn.
Also, something many people forget: Morgan is the one who saved Rick’s life, all those seasons, all those days ago. So why wouldn’t we get to see more about him? I get it, the timing is what threw people. Again I say it’s a smart move on behalf of the show. Much as people will complain and gripe, which they already did all over social media last night/today, they’re going to hang in there, they’ll talk about it constantly, until the next episode come Sunday.
For the first little bit while Morgan is out in the woods, it’s zombie effects time. A couple real nasty looking customers wander out of the trees, another right through the fire. But then we see him murder two men, who seemed to be following him. He screams at one, strangling him with bare hands: “You know, you don’t!”
Yet there’s still a reasonable aspect to him, under the madness. He builds himself a protective cocoon of trees whittled into spikes. Morgan survives somehow, on his own, all alone in the wilderness. He waves a big stick around at the voices in his head. There’s some tragic stuff happening. Lennie James is someone I’ve enjoyed long before now. He really does great stuff with the character of Morgan.
After a little while, though, Morgan comes across a cabin. Refusing to put down his gun – like you and I probably would in his situation, be honest – a man named Eastman (John Carroll Lynch) whacks Morgan a good one across the back of the head. Thus begins the cruel tutelage of Eastman.
Something I wondered ever since Morgan first started to reappear, almost right at the heels of Rick & Co. – why does he all of a sudden fight with a staff, like a ninja or a samurai or whatever? Well, now we start to get some explanations.
I’ve long enjoyed John Carroll Lynch, ever since The Drew Carey Show. Always found his character on the show to be fairly progressive, in a way; say what you will. He’s been awesome in other things, most recently American Horror Story (playing Twisty the Clown in Season 4 + John Wayne Gacy in Season 5 for an episode) and he had a nice turn on Carnivale near its finish. So it’s pretty fun to have him here, if only for a one-off episode in Morgan’s storyline. Either way, he’s important, and he was absolutely the right fit for this character.
The exchange between Eastman and Morgan, once things settle down, is fairly interesting. Eastman happens to be a doctor, specializing in mental health. Such an intriguing perspective to see out of during the zombie apocalypse. Plus, Eastman is so damn chill. Even with all the shit Morgan ends up giving him, starting a fight when the guy’s only trying to be a good man, Eastman continues to give him a chance. Essentially what this man provides Morgan is a way to recognize the humanity in himself again. Much like Rick lost a lot of his humanity, Morgan has gone off the deep end. Worse than Rick ever did; seeing the ghost of Lori, and more, Rick still held it together when it mattered most, he still retained his foundational human spirit. Morgan is a broken man. What Eastman provides is a way to start admitting that, as well as the possibility of coming back from it and living again – some way, somehow.
Eastman: “That was Aikido. That’s how I kicked your ass earlier. Well, that’s how I redirected your ass.”
Through the teachings of Aikido, slowly Morgan begins to learn “all life is precious” again. Like it was before. It’s naturally a part of the post-zombies world, to begin feeling as if life means nothing any longer. So many of the survivors still on the show and living have fallen into the despair of this line of thinking. Morgan just happens to be the epitome of that feeling, he lost himself completely after his son died.
But it’s the story Eastman tells Morgan about his family which really breaks the heart. It’s right then I feel Morgan truly switches his mindset, he sees how vicious the world was even before and remembers that it’s human beings who are the worst of all, not even the zombies. It is us. And maybe he does not want to be that us anymore. This scene between Eastman and Morgan at the dinner table, the low light, the soft spoken dialogue, it’s one of my personal favourite scenes on The Walking Dead out of its entire run; definitely at the top. There’s so much going on within this scene and the situation between these two, a great bit of writing.
Very sad to see Eastman take a bite, stepping in to try and help Morgan after he begins to trip out while a zombie shambles towards him. Then, they have a fight with their staffs, which is pretty damn bad ass. Morgan is not fully in the zen zone as of yet, after he falls in their scuffle he once more begs Eastman: “Kill me – kill me!”
Even after the bite, though, Eastman continually keeps in the zen perspective himself. Morgan heads back over the edge a bit, or totally, yet the big guy just sticks to his Aikido guns and doesn’t seem to be worried much about his current predicament. But DAMMIT – right as I was starting to love Eastman, he goes and has to get bit. Not like I expected him to be more than a one-time character, I just wanted more of him and didn’t want to see him go out like that.
However, it’s through this event Morgan finally comes back around to himself. He briefly encounters a couple, one of them wounded, and he doesn’t kill them, or attack them, as he would have before meeting Eastman. Then he rushes back to his teacher. Eastman also reveals he starved the man who killed his family to death – it gave him “no peace“, putting him Morgan was all alone and raving mad, so then he vowed not to kill again. Touching stuff, really. So many well acted scenes between these two.
The episode closes with Morgan again talking to the leader of the Wolves, who has a fairly nasty, infected wound. He believes he’ll die, but if not plans on killing Morgan, killing everyone in Alexandria even the children. So will Morgan continue with the all life is precious mantra? Or how will it work? He already let this guy live once and look what happened. If Morgan can’t break with the idea of killing another person, it could mean much more trouble than has already come down.
Very much excited to see the next episode, “Now”. We’ll get back to all the main action in Alexandria, but there’s no guarantee we’re going to immediately find out about Glenn. Though, I have a sneaking suspicion he is very much still alive.
See you again for another one next week, Walking Dead-ites!