OK, okay, you win, The Walking Dead. After this week’s revealing 90-minute Morganpalooza, I have no choice but to feel crappy about hating so hard on the live-and-let-liver during “JSS,” and I imagine a few of you probably feel the same. How did we get from there to “Here’s Not Here”? And how on earth did a goat figure into our change of heart? Read on…
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS | After opening in the now, with Morgan informing an unseen someone, presumably one of the Wolves who jumped him in “Conquer,” that he was going to give them what they wanted — in other words, everything he had — we flashed back to bygone days when he was still nuttier than a Snickers bar and “clearing” the woods by spearing walkers and humans alike. In that state of mind, he wasn’t even able to accept a cabin owner’s gracious offer of falafel. Instead, Morgan opened fire and wound up knocked out and locked up in a cell inside the cabin. (More on that peculiar design feature later.)
Upon awakening, Morgan found food, soap and water in his cell. But he was too far gone to appreciate any of it. When his host asked Morgan’s name, he answered, “Kill me.” “Well, that’s a stupid name,” replied the cabin owner, whose own name was Eastman (and who was played by the great John Carroll Lynch, aka Twisty the Clown). “It’s dangerous. You should change it.” Likable as the fellow was, Morgan remained the surliest houseguest ever. Nonetheless, Eastman wasn’t giving up. He gave Morgan a copy of The Art of Peace and asked him nicely not to hurt his pet goat, Tabitha (from whose milk he was trying to learn to make cheese).
THIS COULD BE THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP | In hopes of breaking down Morgan’s walls, Eastman disclosed that, before the zombie apocalypse, he had been a forensic psychiatrist — basically, the guy whose job it was to determine whether violent criminals would commit more violent crimes if they were released from prison. In turn, Morgan said, “I clear… anything [that] gets near me.” Well, okay, then. After deducing that Morgan was suffering from PTSD, Eastman revealed that the door to the cell wasn’t locked and never had been. Unfortunately, rather than choose from the options that Eastman gave him — stay or leave — Morgan attempted to kill his benefactor and, as a result, got his ass kicked.
Later, Eastman explained that aikido had enabled him to take down Morgan. The shrink went on to say that one day, his little girl had found him crying over the horrible things that the prisoners he evaluated had done, so she’d given him a rabbit’s foot for luck. The next day, he’d found a flyer for aikido, and it had changed his life. Now, “I don’t kill, but I’m not giving up on chocolate anytime soon,” clarified the vegetarian but not vegan. And when he went out scavenging, leaving Morgan to watch over Tabitha, it appeared that Eastman might actually be getting somewhere with his reluctant buddy. Morgan not only opened The Art of Peace — discovering a handwritten note inside that read, “We try to completely avoid killing, even the most evil person” — he saved Tabitha from walkers.
‘WHERE THERE’S LIFE, THERE’S POTENTIAL’ | After the housemates buried the walkers’ bodies in Eastman’s makeshift cemetery (complete with wooden “gravestones” with the deceaseds’ names on them), he presented Morgan with his “fixed” spear — with the sharp tip cut off — and began teaching him aikido. “You have to believe that your life is precious,” Eastman said. “All life is precious.” And little by little, Morgan emerged from the dark place in which he’d been trapped for so long. (He even snuck Tabitha a treat when Eastman wasn’t looking. As Eastman would say, progress!)
Now that the duo were on real speaking terms, Morgan asked about the cell. Eastman confessed that he’d built it for a prisoner named Crighton Dallas Wilton, a charming psychopath who, upon realizing that the shrink saw him for what he was and would therefore prevent him from ever being paroled, broke out of prison and murdered the shrink’s wife and children. Eastman intended to lock up Wilton and watch him starve to death. And did he? “I have come to believe,” he said, “that all life is precious.” As Morgan noted, nice redirect.
BACK TO THE FUTURE | Preparing for a journey to who-knows-where, Morgan led Eastman to his old campsite to pick up gear. There, Eastman challenged his friend to say the names of those that he’d loved and lost, and go through his aikido forms. Morgan didn’t want to, not there, but Eastman insisted, adding, “Here’s not here.” Alas, what was meant to be a moment of catharsis went to hell in a flash when a walker intruded — and not just any walker but the zombified version of a kid Morgan had “cleared” before discovering Eastman’s cabin. Morgan froze, Eastman intervened to save him, and what are the odds? He got bitten. Freaking out, Morgan attacked Eastman, and when his pal knocked him down, he went right back to saying, “Kill me.” He wouldn’t even accompany Eastman home, preferring to sharpen a new stick and run around the woods like a feral animal.
Luckily, Morgan’s breakdown was short-lived. After saving a young couple from walkers, he returned to the cabin… only to find Tabitha, poor Tabitha, being eaten by a walker. While helping Eastman bury his goat, Morgan noticed a grave marker for Wilton. WTF? Turned out, Eastman had indeed starved his family’s killer to death. But, he noted, “It didn’t give me any peace.” That only came from never killing again. As Eastman prepared to die, he gave Morgan his lucky rabbit’s foot and encouraged him not to just hang around the cabin. “Everything’s about people,” he said. So now we know exactly what set Morgan down the tracks to Terminus in “No Sanctuary” and why he was so dead-set against killing in “JSS.” As this episode concluded, we returned to the present to learn that Morgan had been telling his story to the Wolf who jumped him at the end of “JSS.” Too bad the yellow-toothed monster wasn’t getting on board with the program. If the Wolf’s wound didn’t do him in, he vowed, “I am going to have to kill you, Morgan” — and everyone else in Alexandria, even the kids. Still, Morgan left him tied up rather than put him down. (Tyreese and Martin, Part 2, anyone?)
So, what did you think of the episode? Did it change your feelings about Morgan? Hit the comments!