‘The Walking Dead’ Review: ‘Here’s Not Here,’ or ‘How Morgan Got His Groove Back’
We’re a quarter of the way through The Walking Dead Season 6 now, halfway through the fall run, and each episode has made for some intriguing experimentation. We spend the first 90-minute premiere dipping back and forth through time with an impressive scale, while the second hour did the exact opposite, staging the Wolves’ assault on Alexandria in real time. The third hour leaned toward a more traditional approach, though the apparent death of Glenn obviously calls into question a great deal of what we were seeing, and still afforded some major surprise.
It seemed reasonably clear that “Here’s Not Here” would stick to its promoted focus on Morgan, rather than provide any answers on the Glenn situation just yet, and I’d expect at least some frustrated outcry from the fandom as such. Still, were The Walking Dead to divert so vastly from its most pressing questions midway through the half-season, and for another 90-minute outing at that, I’d have at least expect greater urgency in tonight’s mission.
Don’t get me wrong, I like that The Walking Dead Season 6 has broken with the usual format so often, and this past week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can also attest that TV series tend to shake stagnation with more tightly-focused outings. What I don’t know, is exactly how much we really learned about Morgan that needed to be shown, or wasn’t made implicit in his last four appearances. John Carroll Lynch is a great get for a guest role as well, though Eastman’s matter-of-fact delivery prevented the character from popping off the screen in any meaningful way, or generating any great surprise by his inevitable end.
The Walking Dead has historically struggled with exploration of complex philosophy, and Morgan’s conversion from “Clear” to Aikido master doesn’t go in-depth enough for a practical application in the modern context, at least yet. We saw very clearly that Morgan’s decision to spare the two Wolves last season preceded an attack on Alexandria that took dozens of lives, and his second refusal to kill the blonde brigand directly put Rick in jeopardy minutes later. Those who suspected Morgan yet again spared the shaggier or the two proved correct, though even after hearing his captor’s parable of redemption, the lone Wolf insists he’ll kill again. Eastman may have seen his error in killing even the most evil of men, but at what point does killing become unquestionably pragmatic, for the greater good?
Obviously, the moment was tabled by Rick’s panicked approach at the gates, though at best, Morgan’s captive might set us up for some later moment of redemption, or more likely pointed conflict between Morgan and Rick. There’s nothing wrong with building out a later payoff, but considering the urgency still ongoing in the present, it’s hard to read into tonight’s events as anything worthy of such extended focus.
I hesitate to bemoan anything about “Here’s Not Here” as unrealistic or uninteresting, it just doesn’t feel particularly necessary to the story, at least yet. It’s still refreshing to see The Walking Dead willing to take bigger swings, but Morgan’s road to redemption suffered a bit from prequel-itis. Unless you have something of interest to say beyond filling in blanks we could extrapolate ourselves, best to keep moving forward. At least we got to see a goat! Goats are always fun.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Did every walker Eastman killed manage to have their ID on them?
- Morgan killing the father and son was directly followed by the image of another fire; were we not to presume he burned their bodies, as with any other?
- Did anyone else expect to find Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart laying in that sunlit field of flowers?
- So, was the Wolf bitten on the side, or wounded through some other means?
- Could anyone really decipher what crazy Morgan was babbling about, or what “Here’s Not Here” was really supposed to mean?
The Walking Dead will return next Sunday night on AMC with “Now.”
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