Review of “The Walking Dead” 312 “Clear”
Talk about jerking on our heartstrings. This episode was chalk-full of teary moments. We really need a warning before the episode airs, along with the violence warnings, telling us to grab a box of Kleenex before emotional episodes. For the first time since Rick’s group arrived at the prison, the entire episode took place outside the prison gates nor on the streets of Woodbury. Most notably, there were only four main characters involved. However, the ghosts of many others lingered at the edge of every conversation taking place.
**As usual, there are spoilers below. You’ve been warned.**
In “Clear,” Rick and Carl come full circle as far as their travels go. They’ve been on the run for over a year, yet when things are dire and they need a hand up to get ahead of the Governor’s scheming and army-building, they go home to King County, Georgia to find what they need. The only problem is, the sheriff’s station has been completely cleaned out. There’s nothing left, save a single bullet for Rick’s Colt Python.
Before they even reach King County, Carl questions Michonne’s motives about every single thing she does. At one point, I expected him to ask why she breathed the way she did. Carl is hyper-vigilant. All of the betrayals they’ve suffered warped his growing mind. He’s paranoid, watching everyone they encounter for signs of malice. His paranoia makes him ruthless. He is becoming more and more like Shane, Carl’s mentor before he was forced to put him down like a rabid dog after Shane’s violent encounter with Rick. Carl takes the tough shots and is beyond taking orders from Rick, who he no longer views as a viable leader for the group. However, Carl is young. His emotions range from cold to molten rock at the drop of a hat, much like his father’s. He is still ruled by a child’s lack of impulse control. It could land him in serious water. Again. Hey, is Carl in the house?
Thankfully, Michonne has the presence of mind to keep an eye out for Carl, despite knowing his misgivings about her intentions toward the folks living in the prison. For the most part, we only hear Michonne speak when spoken to, or when she’s laying into Andrea for everything wrong she’s done since walking into Woodbury. However, with Carl she speaks up and gives him someone to connect to when he’s obviously so, so lost without his parents. Daryl did something similar right after Lori died. Why is it the most broken people know how to treat an emotionally fragile child better than his father? We get to see a softer side of Michonne here, not only because of her time alone with Carl. You know what? She’s got a sense of humor on her. The woman is also apparently a ninja, as they observed on Talking Dead after “Clear” aired. It took her seconds to climb a building and just as long to walk around the restaurant to recover the item Carl dropped. Forget rednecks and their prowess with crossbows and automatic weapons, I’ll take Michonne and her sword for the Orange Brigade.
At long last, the number-one question asked by Walking Dead fans can be put to rest. Morgan didn’t end up a footnote lost in the madness of everything that happened after Rick met up with his family outside of Atlanta . . . and there was much rejoicing. Kinda. See, Morgan is nuttier than a basket of kittens. When someone makes Rick and his hallucinations of Lori look sane, there needs to be some serious medication put to work ASAP. Possibly shock treatment. Something, anything to recover Morgan’s wits. It is painfully obvious early on that Morgan is alone. His son Duane’s death is revealed in a scrawled note on the walls of his home, “Duane turned.”
The walls of Morgan’s home are as chaotic as his mind. One word is scribbled over and over again amongst the rambling, “Clear.” We could spend days discussing what this word means to him. Morgan doesn’t use it in a normal sense—all’s clear. The word haunts him, taunts him. He failed to clear the dead from around his house, namely the reanimated corpse of his wife, and it cost him dearly. “Finally was too late,” he says. His failure to clear the way destroyed Morgan’s life as he sees it. He is trapped in King County, not by the dead walking the street, but by the dead walking around in his mind whispering, “Clear.” Was the word one of the last things he said to Duane before he went on the ill-fated search for food? We may never know why everything and everyone must be “cleared” in Morgan’s mind. His lucid moments are few and far between.
Rick cannot cope with Morgan’s mental breakdown. He sees too much of himself reflected in his one-time friend’s eyes. Rick works himself into a panic as he watches the snatches of sanity Morgan regains slip away. If Morgan cannot overcome the grief consuming him, does Rick have any chance at all of resuming his life or is he doomed to wait for the day the rest of his family perishes, slowly losing his mind? His grip on reality and the interpersonal relationships keeping him grounded are slipping. He has no control over Carl, though they have begun speaking to each other again. Rick leaves Judith’s care to the women in the camp for the most part. Carl is the one to think of finding something as simple as a collapsible crib to bring back to the prison. Morgan’s insanity is proof there are depths to which Rick can fall if he doesn’t start fighting to keep his mind in check now.
Morgan claims weak men like him have inherited the earth. With everything happening between the prison group and Woodbury, it’s easy to see what he is talking about. The powerful men, the ones who know how to take charge and organize others into action, make it pretty far in the apocalyptic lifestyle. People need someone to listen to sometimes. Someone who thinks rationally and quickly. But for all of the power the leaders wield, they want more and get caught up in mad power struggles to prove they are the only one worth following in a time of dire need. Rick had this problem with Shane when he joined the group at the quarry. Shane stationed himself as the leader and in walked Rick, doing what he always does—helping folks in need. Shane couldn’t let that stand. He started an emotional war with Rick. What did it cost Shane? Several pints of blood and a huge portion of his skull. And now Rick finds himself embroiled in another war, this one with Phillip. The new war is violent and will consume everyone in its path—including the two powers driving it on. Morgan may have a point. The weak can hide. They hunker down, gather supplies, and fortify their safe haven. For the weak, the only power struggle comes when they must venture out amongst the dead to forage for food. And if they are as well-prepared as Morgan, they have all the power in that war.
Was this broken shell of a man what you were expecting when Morgan finally returned to the show? Let us know what you think in the comments below.