The Walking Dead: Clear
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands. That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“Hey son–don’t ever be sorry.”
The Governor is hellbent on making Rick’s life even more miserable than it already is. He’s fired a return salvo in the burgeoning war; a salvo that Rick realizes is just a glimpse of the full onslaught the prison is about to face. To that end, Rick finds it necessary to venture out and ammo up with the hopes of finding enough to even the odds. Joined by Michonne and Carl, the three of them set out to Rick’s old town, hoping to find some semblance of ammo stockpiles for their war against Woodbury.
Most of the episode focused on Rick’s reunion with Morgan. Obviously, a lot has happened since their paths last crossed. Rick has gone down a path where he’s had company almost the entire time, whereas Morgan has gone down a path of solitude. That solitude turned him into someone similar to Rick in terms of coldness, but with zero compassion. Rick and Michonne are especially cold to the possibility of innocence in the world they live in. They’ve been burned one too many times, which has hardened their compassion into something better resembling self-preservation. That being said, Rick still finds it in him to wait for Morgan to awake since they share a past. In essence, Morgan is a downtrodden, pessimistic mirror image of Rick as they exist in the world full of walkers.
The conversation between Rick and Morgan is very, very telling. Morgan is shattered and broken, forced to confront his wife attacking his son, thrusting him into a depressed, psychotic spiral downwards. Morgan felt a sense of loyalty from Rick stemming from Rick’s promise regarding the radio; a loyalty that Morgan feels Rick failed. The fact is that the world intervened, causing Rick to break his promise in a sense and further push Morgan away from society. Morgan is remorseless and almost heartless, accepting of the new world he lives in and showing little desire to have any impact at all.
It’s great that Carl is getting more dialogue and becoming less of a liability. It doesn’t make sense though why Rick is still trying to shield him from the terrors of the world. It’s wholly possible that it’s just Rick’s fatherly instinct taking over or maybe Rick has just been so out of it he hasn’t noticed Carl growing up. He wants to go out on his own, returning to his childhood stomping grounds for Judith, much to Michonne’s babysitting chagrin. Carl has grown a lot over the course of three seasons, a growth that hasn’t necessarily been readily obvious to viewers.
Pairing Michonne with Carl was actually quite refreshing. All season, Michonne has really been a mistrusting warrior with a sword, but pairing her Carl humanized her a bit. Carl was mimicking the sentiment of Rick in saying that Michonne has a common interest. Michonne flipped the script on that a bit though by legitimately offering to help Carl get the picture he was after. Sure, she could be playing at some other end game, but Michonne hasn’t really been that type of character.
Sure, she’s proven she’s more than capable when it comes to combat. Other than that though, she really hasn’t had much time to allow her personality to surface. On separate occasions with both Rick and Carl, facets of her personality do come through, affording the viewer a glimpse into someone who fits in perfectly with Rick’s group. She’s lost like they’ve lost and she finds joys in little things in life as well. Having the survivors warm up to Michonne makes her more of an integral part of the operations at the prison; a part who clearly has value.
The episode opened and closed with a hitchhiker. Those two scenes probably offer the most succinct worldview currently held by Rick. He no longer trusts strangers, yet are perfectly willing to take advantage of others when they’re no longer a threat. What’s more is that the entire episode didn’t feature the big bad in the Governor, but the episode still held its own. Morgan proved his point to Rick that death would come by bullets or teeth merely due to Rick’s resolve; what he failed to mention is that solitude can be equally as fatal.
Nothing is pleasant in <I>The Walking Dead</I> and “Clear” made that abundantly, well, clear. Rick and the survivors continue their march towards Woodbury, newly armed and now replete with ammo. Morgan continues his march towards a complete psychotic break, but hey, Rick’s been there before. The episode was really more of one that helped advance the plot forward, with the added benefit of giving Michonne and Carl some time to show off their growth as characters. It positions everyone for quite a face-off with the Governor, which kicks off next week.
For this week though, “Clear” provided the ever so stark reminder that life is a shell of what it used to be before everything fell apart. Families are ripped apart, yet friendships manage to form. Rick and Morgan are two men who were in very similar positions at the start, but ended up on opposite ends of the spectrum in the present. Carl proves he’s making emotional decisions and can protect himself when necessary. And Michonne gets a chance to actually talk and just ups her awesomeness quotient. All in all, one of the best (and most poignant) episodes of the season.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars