Season 3 Episode 12 “Clear”
“Clear” is one of those amazing episodes that stands apart from the rest of the series. It is great all on its own. It’s so great that I don’t even need to do a “Best of the Episode” section this week. With only three of the main cast in the episode, and one surprise return, the focus is completely on the lives of these people. We get a momentary departure from our main story with The Governor, and really get to dive into who these people are.
Rick, Carl and Michonne set out to get supplies. The tension is clear when Michonne gets the car stuck in the mud. She gets glares from Rick and Carl. After getting unstuck, they arrive back at Rick and Carl’s hometown. I don’t know why it always strikes me as weird to know that after all this time they are still just a car ride away from the beginning. It feels like they should be halfway across the country. But anyways, what they come back
to is not a normal abandoned town. There is strange graffiti on the roads and buildings. And the center of town has been booby-trapped for walkers, and possibly people. The town is occupied but we’re not sure by who yet. As our group makes their way through the traps, they are introduced to the occupier when he shoots a walker behind them. The man is not looking for friends and tells them to get out. Michonne wants to go after his gun so a fight ensues. The man knows his way around the buildings and confuses them by disappearing and reappearing. Carl ends up shooting him. Tough little Carl, no qualms about it. They find the man is wearing body armor, so he is not dead. Rick gets a surprise when they remove his helmet to find that it’s his first apocalypse friend Morgan!
Morgan is clearly not the man who Rick had left behind. They bring him into his home, which is also booby-trapped. Morgan’s place is also covered in writing all over the walls. He’s got stockpiles of guns and ammunition. And there is no sign of Duane. Rick refuses to do anything until Morgan wakes up. Carl mentions getting a crib for Judith and Michonne offers to help him. Carl doesn’t want the help but ultimately they both go.
This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Michonne and Carl. Carl dislikes Michonne very much at this point, but that is soon to change. After he fails to lose her, we find out that Carl had an ulterior motive for this trip. He takes Michonne to a restaurant. The two work together to get inside the walker-filled restaurant and Carl retrieves a picture from above the bar. But as they are leaving, the distraction for the walkers falls apart and they end up dropping the picture as they leave. Carl wants to go back in right away but Michonne bargains with him to stay at the front door while she does something. She comes back moments later with the picture. It’s a picture of the Grimes family. Carl opens up to her at this point and says Judith should know what her mother looked like. Later on when they meet back up with Rick, Carl tells his dad that he thinks Michonne might be one of them. It’s a remarkable turn of events.
Meanwhile, Rick waits for Morgan to wake up and snoops around his place. He ends up finding the walkie-talkie and he appears to look regretful over it. He seems to be wondering if he might be responsible for some of what has happened to Morgan. It’s no happy reunion though when Morgan wakes up. Morgan has no recollection of Rick at first. They fight as Rick tries to make him remember. Rick ends up getting stabbed in the shoulder but wins the fight and ties Morgan up. Then they get to talk.
This talk is what really makes this episode. In fact, the dialogue between everyone is what makes this episode. There are all these one on one conversations that are very intimate and meaningful. But the Morgan conversation is the most emotional and revealing talk. Morgan fills us in with all that’s happened to him. He doesn’t talk like a normal person like he used to. It’s repetitive and almost child-like sentence structures. He has phrases he sticks to like the famous, “clear”, which is the title of the episode. It’s what he does. He goes on and tells us he lost Duane. Duane was bitten by his mother that Morgan had been unable to put down. Morgan also brings up the walkie-talkies and actually does blame Rick for not being there to talk back to him. Rick’s initial feelings were right and he is apologetic to Morgan trying to explain what had happened. Morgan has been alone ever since, stumbling into a greater and greater psychosis. Morgan appears almost jealous that Rick was able to find his wife and son when he has lost both. The saddest part of Morgan’s speech is when he tells Rick that his son is going to die and that everyone is going to turn except himself because he is weak. Good and bad people will die and he will inherit the earth because he’s weak. I think that sentiment sticks with him to this day. Morgan is not a weak person physically, he is in fact quite strong and capable. But he is weak in action. His love for his wife and inability to kill her resulted in his son’s death. He can’t even kill himself which it seems he wants to when he begs Rick to do it. It’s a sad state for Morgan.
Rick invites Morgan to join them at the prison but Morgan refuses to go. Partly because he picks up that Rick needs the weapons for a reason and partly because he is just incapable of being around people. As the three meet back up and go to leave Michonne asks if he (Morgan) is okay and Rick doesn’t pause at all and says no. Unfortunately, there’s nothing more Rick can do for his friend though and they leave. I am sad that they leave Morgan behind but it seems the only thing that can be done, he doesn’t want to be with anyone. You know a character is legendary when he’s literally only been in two episodes and you can’t stop thinking about them. All this time I’ve been wondering about what happened to Morgan, I thought we’d never find out. Now it seems they’ve wrapped up his story and it is truly tragic. Is this the last of Morgan, or will we continue to get these one offs with him? We’ll see.
Michonne and Rick also have a moment at the end of the episode. We actually learn something about Michonne. When she catches Rick looking off at something that isn’t there, she tells him its okay if he’s seeing things. She admits that she used to talk to her dead boyfriend. And in turn Rick admits that he’s seeing things. The three have bonded now and it’s clear that Michonne is sticking with our group.
One last thing to mention. Our story is bookmarked by a man with an orange backpack. In the beginning of the episode, they ignore him as he signals to them for help. On their return trip, they find his dead body by the side of the road and take his backpack. I wonder a lot about the cruelty of this decision to first ignore him and then steal his last possessions. The choice not to help this man and him ending up dead is another reminder of the brutal consequences of our actions. We heard a lot of that from Morgan and here we have another example. And then the taking of his backpack just tops it off. The man himself was not important but his belongings are. It doesn’t get more basic than that. Nothing warm and fuzzy here.