‘The Walking Dead’ Review: “Clear”
‘The Walking Dead’ season 3 brings to life its twelfth episode of the season “Clear,” as Rick, Michonne and Carl return to the Grimes' hometown in search of weapons and supplies, finding a long-forgotten friend who seems to have been driven mad over time.
Last week’s ‘The Walking Dead’ episode “I Ain't A Judas” saw Rick and the group debating their next move after the Governor’s attack, while Andrea observed Woodbury’s new police state and pleaded with the Governor to allow her to visit the prison and negotiate a truce, so what will the latest episode bring?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘The Walking Dead’ season 3 episode 12, “Clear!”
Out on the road, Rick, Michonne and Carl pass a hitchhiker begging them to stop, and come to a collection of overturned cars. Their own car quickly becomes stuck in the mud, as walkers surround the vehicle, forcing Rick to crack his window and calmly begin shooting. Minutes later, Rick finds a dress and some sticks from the abandoned vehicles in the small clearing, and sets them up to help their car get traction. Carl protests Michonne’s presence on the trip, but Rick assures his son they have common interests with Michonne, and her mistake with the car was an easy one. In the distance, the hitchhiking man continues running toward them, but the three speed off before he gets close.
Pulling into Rick’s old town of Kings County, the three find the police station Rick abandoned has been completely cleared of weapons, while a number of spray-painted arrows and warnings litter the town. Rick reasons that other spots in town he signed permits for might have guns, and the three slowly make their way through the elaborate obstacle course of spikes and barbed wire someone set up. When an errant walker gets close, it and the Rick’s group come under fire from a masked man on a nearby roof. The figure continues shooting at them, while Michonne makes her way toward the rooftop, only to find the figure gone. Down on the ground, the man nearly gets the drop on Rick before Carl shoots him in the stomach, knocking him out. Rick sees that the man was wearing armor, and unmasks him to reveal his old friend Morgan (Lennie James)!
Sidestepping a number of booby traps Morgan arranged, the three carry the unconscious man up to his living quarters, setting him down and finding even more guns and ammo that the station could have held. As Carl and Michonne load up, Rick observes the frantic writing on the walls, including the words “DUANE TURNED,” as well as the walkie-talkie he left Morgan. Rick resolves to at least wait until Morgan wakes up, as Carl finds a map of the town drawn on a nearby wall, one which suggests that the Grimes house burned down. Disappointed, Carl resolves to find a crib from a nearby baby store, as Michonne volunteers to help him carry it.
Outside, Carl attempts to ditch Michonne as she dispatches a lone walker, when she realizes Carl isn’t looking for the baby store, but rather somewhere else. Meanwhile upstairs, Rick observes the writing on the wall as Morgan attacks him with a knife, out of his mind and speaking jibberish. Fighting him off and taking a small wound to the shoulder, Rick desperately tries to get Morgan to recognize him, before the crazed man finally relents, and begs to be killed.
Shortly thereafter, Morgan begins to recognize Rick, bemoaning that Rick wasn’t there over the walkie-talkie when he and his son Duane finally decided to leave their house. Morgan remembers how Rick left him a sniper rifle to put down his undead wife, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The mistake cost him his son, as one day out searching for food Duane was unable to kill Jenny either, resulting in a deadly bite wound. Morgan teases that one day Rick’s son will die as well, for people as weak as he have inherited the Earth to be punished.
Carl peers in the window of the Kings County Café, but Michonne stops him from entering given the inactive walkers within. Insisting that he’ll go in with or without her, Carl reluctantly lets Michonne help, and together the two roll several of Morgan’s rat cages on skateboards to distract the walkers. Michonne and Carl manage to sneak past, as Carl grabs the only remaining photo of his family from the wall, attracting the attention of the walkers. Carl drops the photo in the scramble to escape, and Michonne once again refuses to let him inside, despite his pleas that Judith should know her mother’s face. Earning his trust, Michonne quietly slips back in to grab the photo herself, also grabbing a ceramic cat statue she found too gorgeous to resist.
Rick invites Morgan to return to the prison with them, but Morgan reasons they need the guns for someone who plans to take the prison from them, and that he won’t watch family and friends torn apart again, whether by teeth or bullets. In spite of Rick’s arguments that Morgan can come back from his current state, Morgan insists that he has to “clear,” and isn’t ready to join them.
Downstairs Morgan clears the bodies from his traps, while Michonne and Carl cart the baby’s crib toward the car. Carl apologizes to Morgan for shooting him, but Morgan insists the boy shouldn’t ever apologize for something like that. Packign up the car, Carl agrees to his father that Michonne could indeed become part of the group, as Michonne herself admits to Rick that she sometimes talks to her dead boyfriend, and sympathizes with his breakdown. Playfully joking that he sees things, Rick lets Michonne do the driving home, and the three take off.
Driving away, Rick watches Morgan burn the bodies of the fallen walkers, before coming back to the pileup, and ultimately the gory remains of the hitchhiker from earlier. Slowing down, Rick picks up the hitchhiker’s bag, and the three continue on the road.
There are those who bemoan slower, more exposition-laden episodes of 'The Walking Dead,' though fans of the series have been waiting to see Morgan's return since the first episode of the series. In that way, "Clear" flies leaps and bounds ahead of the average "quiet," episode, almost reclaiming the emotional resonance many believe to have been missing since the pilot. Not only to the parallels between Rick and Morgan make for some richly contemplative drama, but the episode lends some much-needed humanity to Michonne as well, both in her interaction with Carl, and admission to Rick of her own ghosts. We may not see any other characters from either the prison or Woodbury, but it's nice to be reminded that 'The Walking Dead' can reclaim its depth and humanity once in awhile, without resorting to the unrelenting misery its action-heavy episodes tend to leave in their wake.
Did you get your fill of thrilling zombie killing? What did you think about tonight's episode "Clear?" Check out all our other ‘Walking Dead’ season 3 coverage, and join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘The Walking Dead’ season 3.5′s “Arrow on the Doorpost” on AMC!