So you’re about to watch a very anticipated episode of The Walking Dead, probably the most anticipated in a long time. The fates of several characters have been left painfully hanging on the verge of potential death. Just waiting seven days has felt like seven months. The show starts; all other things in your life will have to wait for 90 minutes. Then you notice all the flashbacks in the Previously On segment have to do with Morgan, and you realize “…..ho boy, we aren’t getting those answers tonight, are we?”
We DID get answers of another kind; the show finally explained what transformed Morgan from a raging PTSD lunatic into a peaceful pacifist. People have wanted to know about this for some time. But probably not right after they were shown Glenn appearing to get eaten alive and then Rick surrounded by the same mob. If you wanted to know Morgan’s deal, you got everything you needed last Sunday. If you were looking for answers about anything else, like the title warns, “Here’s Not Here.”
The titular proverb was incoherent because Morgan thought of it while he was Crazy Man. After Rick and his friends left with his guns, Morgan went into a straight-jacket-worthy hissy fit that resulted in the complete destruction of his former fortress. From that point forward he wanders the forest as a thoughtless killing machine, murdering everything in sight (friendly or hostile) and marking “CLEAR” on a rock when he’s finished with an area.
Eventually Morgan runs across…..a goat. While he’s mulling over in his head whether this counts as something to be “cleared” or not, he hears a voice warning him to put down his weapons. Morgan does the opposite and heads toward the voice, which belongs to a middle-aged man named Eastman. Morgan is prepared to do the same thing to Eastman that he’s done to who knows how many before him, but Eastman is quicker and knocks the dude out. When Morgan comes to, he finds himself inside the man’s woodsy cottage, trapped in an iron cage.
I was prepared to point out how implausible it is that Eastman just has this professionally made jail, complete with bars, in a remote cabin in the middle of the woods. Other than holding Morgan, what other use would it have? Later on, though, Eastman DOES explain why the jail is there, and not only is there a perfect explanation, it’s one of the highlights of the episode.
Eastman turns out to be a criminal psychologist, capable of delivering exactly the help Morgan needs right now. He keeps him in solitary confinement, feeding him vegetarian meals, denying Morgan’s request to “KILL MEEEEE!” and suggesting he read something called “The Art Of Peace.” After several days of this, Morgan attempts to escape by prying the wooden frame off the barred window, but before he can get very far, Eastman returns. It doesn’t look like Morgan’s going to ever get out of here.
Then Eastman tells him, “Guess what? The door’s been unlocked this entire time. I lost the key!”
Morgan isn’t exactly happy to hear that. The ensuing fight results in Eastman’s near-strangulation, but he flips Morgan over and gains the upper hand. By the time the fight is over, the only real damage is to a child’s drawing on plaster that was hung on the wall. Unfortunately, it looks like that was Eastman’s favorite thing. He nearly strikes Morgan as he lays on the ground, but then reiterates his offer of “door, or couch.” Morgan picks “couch.”
You know someone’s telling a good story on TV if they need no extra visuals or flashback scenes to illustrate it. Eastman tells Morgan the origin of his prized plaster….as well as the one man he said was “evil,” and he needs nothing but his voice. The only man he couldn’t rehabilitate was named Crichton — an inmate who was deceptively charismatic and friendly on the outside but was a “true psychopath.” Eastman and Crichton got along well until Eastman diagnosed Crichton’s socipathy and recommended that he remained imprisoned for life. Eastman had now become a threat, an obstacle to Crichton’s goals, which brought out his true self. He turned on Eastman and attempted to take his life right then — but Eastman was able to fend off the attack and escape.
So did Crichton, eventually. He busted out of prison for the purpose of finding and murdering Eastman’s family, and the moment he did so, he walked to the nearest police station and turned himself in. He didn’t take advantage of one other moment of freedom. He had escaped solely to torment Eastman and ruin his life.
In response, Eastman quit his job and retreated to a hermit’s life in the woods, with the eventual goal of building a jail, grabbing Crichton, throwing him in there and watching him slowly starve to death. But while Eastman was away tending his crops and raising his goat, the zombie apocalypse hit. He had no idea until he went back into town to retrieve the plaster illustration Morgan just broke. He said he considered doubling back, but decided he had to brave the entire journey to get that drawing.
Morgan is beginning to regain his sanity at this point. Eastman lets him stay in his cabin for a while. They both eat veggies and drink goat milk, and Eastman teaches Morgan Aikido, a non-destructive form of self-defense. It’s a real practice, and the polar opposite of Shaqido, an extremely lethal martial art form.
One afternoon Eastman and Morgan are training when a Walker approaches out of the woods. Morgan attempts to take him down with just the stick, but he’s still new at Aikido and has some trouble. That’s when Eastman steps in for him, and winds up getting bitten. Morgan becomes so mad he nearly reverts to being crazy again, attacking two survivors in the woods. He manages to stop himself before he does too much damage. They leave a can of soup and a large piece of ammo to pacify him, and split.
When Morgan comes back to the cabin, he finds another Walker eating the goat, as if things couldn’t get worse. Eastman seems to take it well, but he’s not going to need her anymore anyway. Then as Morgan is wheelbarrowing the goat’s body to the graveyard, he notices one of the graves is marked “CRICHTON.” He looks at Eastman. Eastman knows he’s going to die and might as well admit it: “Yes, I really did it. I eventually found Crichton, dragged him to my cabin, and I watched him starve to death. I’m not proud of it, but I did it.”
One time cut later, Morgan buries Eastman and sets off on his journey a changed man. Finding the sign that directed people to Terminus (before it was vandalized), he decides to look for Rick’s posse, and we cut back to the present. The entire episode is framed around Morgan telling this story to the member of the Wolves that he captured in episode 2. Morgan intended to imprint a lesson on this guy, the same lesson he learned, but it doesn’t stick and the man reiterates his intent to kill everyone. What will Morgan do now, if not kill HIM?
He’ll lock the dude in the basement, that’s what. Let someone else sort this out.
The Walking Dead Recap