AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 12: “Clear”
Directed by Tricia Brock
Written by Scott M. Gimple
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “I Ain’t A Judas” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Arrow on the Doorpost” – click here
On the road, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is with Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). They see someone on the road, somebody alive. But they choose not to stop. Carl doesn’t really understand, or he does and would rather not. Further up the road they find a bunch of smashed up cars, zombies inside, stuck under wrecks, and so on. The trio get stuck in the car, then they ‘re crowded by a horde of undead.
Rick shows his son a few tricks to get a car out of the mud, in case he ever finds himself in that situation by himself. The kid is a bit of a nag, though it isn’t for nought. Rick explains their “common interests” and that it’s all only temporary, as Michonne listens sitting in the car. The man from the road gets near, so they get going, leaving him calling to them in the road.
You can never be too careful. Each time is worse when Rick & Co. find other humans. Easier to avoid any new ones altogether.
They head into town and start looking for supplies. The armoury at Rick’s old station is cleaned out. Like, licked clean. Barely a single bullet rolling on the floor. They’ve got to figure out something else. Either that or they go up almost naked against the Governor (David Morrissey) and his army of men, women, and children at Woodbury.
The whole place is rough. Charred bodies and tanks of gasoline. Markings, warnings, mantras on the walls and arrows pointing along the sidewalks guiding a path. In the middle of town there are a number of obstacles setup, wooden poles fashioned into spikes, more warnings spray painted everywhere. Someone highly prepared, and maybe unstable, is camping out there, someplace.
From a rooftop someone fires at a walker, alerting the trio to his presence. He calls down and asks for them to drop their weapons and leave. Rather than that Rick fires, he and Carl hide, and Michonne, she makes her way up towards the roof flanking. The man, disguised in a helmet, comes after Rick then Carl drops him with a hard shot. Another bad ass Grimes in the family.
And who is the mystery man, covered in body armour? None other than Morgan (Lennie James). He’s booby trapped that section of town, including his hideout. Since last Rick saw him the guy’s gone crazy, that much is clear. The entire place is like a piece of tribal land, pitfalls and other nasty bits await. They make it through and put the unconscious Morgan in his apartment. Moreover, they find all the stuff from the armoury.
But Rick pities the guy who saved his life. His son isn’t around, that much is obvious; he turned. Morgan snapped somewhere along the way. The walls are covered in mad ramblings, as if the apartment is more a cell than a place to live. Remembering their past, what the guy’s done for him, Rick opts not to take all his things and leave. He wants to wait for Morgan to wake up. And so he isn’t a danger, they zip tie his hands and feet.
Poor Carl. Lots of people shit on him, and for a point when I first watched the series through as it aired I didn’t like his attitude. The more I watch, the more I realise he and other kids don’t get to be kids anymore. If you were a kid, no matter how serious the zombie threat, you wouldn’t just automatically become a ruthless killer of the undead. Not even after you’ve had to kill your own mom, either. Takes an adjustment. So what we see here, particularly after Carl looks at a map Morgan drew of the town – including their house, which is now BURNT OUT according to the drawing – is the loss of innocence, the loss of his childhood and his past. Not only is Lori dead, so are the memories of her, literally. The only memories of family which exist now for Carl Grimes is in his mind.
The kid and Michonne go off to find supplies, hopefully baby stuff. He tries to take too much responsibility while she is looking out for his best interests. Most of all, he’s trying to make that adjustment, he doesn’t want to be a helpless kid for others to save or take care of; this is a boy who wants to do his part. Even if he’s a bit stupid about it at times.
Back at the apartment, Morgan’s got a sneaky knife hidden under the bed and gets himself free. Rick fights him off trying to get through his psychosis. He gets stabbed for his trouble, but then Morgan begs to die. That’s fucking sad.
Rick: “You know me!”
Morgan: “I don‘t know anyone anymore!”
There’s a goodness we see here shine through more than ever in Rick. Despite everything, he still tries getting through to the crazy bastard. Once he holds up the walkie talkie Morgan remembers. He’s pissed Rick wasn’t there when he needed him.
Carl gets mouthy with Michonne, but she won’t quit. She’s determined to help him on his quest for whatever he needs. So they work together, using skateboard critters to distract zombies. When things don’t go as planned Carl lashes out. Then we see that snagged what he wanted – a picture of his family, with Lori, so that his sister will know her mother’s face. Plus, Michonne needed a multi-coloured cat statuette that looks hilariously awesome.
Then there’s Rick, who wants Morgan to come with them. Only the guy doesn’t want to go: “I have to clear,” he says, as if called to it by duty. He’s taking the death of his son, extrapolating, and then sort of letting the world rest all on his shoulders. Punishing himself, in a way. He wants to clear his mind.
The trio get back on the road again heading for home, some things for the baby, weapons, and a stab wound for Rick. More than that we find out he and Michonne have things in common; she used to see her dead boyfriend, just as he’s been seeing Lori. The start of a strong relationship, in many ways. On the road they see the man they left behind, now only a reanimated corpse
Rick (re: Michonne): “Everything okay with her?”
Carl: “I think she might be one of us”
Love this episode, and love Morgan as a character! Very important to the series, then, now, again in the future.