Marina Zombie Report: Rick Grimes Takes A Road Trip

300px-Walking_Dead_Season_3_CastWith the Governor of Woodbury knocking on the prison gates, Rick Grimes has decided to take his son on a road trip.  Michonne, Rick and Carl go looking for guns.  Rick seems entirely confident that they will find guns, which is confusing until we realize that Rick is remembering the guns back in his old hometown.  On the way there, the little band drives remorselessly away from a survivor who runs behind their car, screaming for help.  This ain’t no trip to the beach.

Not surprisingly, there are no guns left in the police station that Rick used to police.  On their way to check other places, Rick and company discover a compound festooned with junky booby traps.  It becomes obvious who took the guns when the compound’s occupant opens fire with an automatic weapon.  The surprise in the episode is that the gunman proves to be Morgan, the man who saved a bewildered Rick’s life during the first episode of the show.

Poor Morgan has had such a horrible zombie apocalypse that Rick seems absolutely lucky by comparison.  The walker wife he couldn’t bear to kill attacked his son, and Morgan was forced to kill them both.  Consumed by loneliness and guilt, he has become a kind of serial killer, except the victims he lures and traps are already dead. 

Rick invites Morgan to join his people at the prison, but Morgan declines.  Maybe he knows that the prison group already has their quota of nuts (Rick).  Maybe he knows that he is too nuts to fit in with other people.  His remaining skills seem to be killing walkers and writing crazy stuff on walls.

“Clear” is actually the best episode that The Walking Dead has offered us in a while.  We get some much-needed character development for Michonne when she tags along with Carl on his secret mission to retrieve the one photo that still exists of his shattered family.  Both Michonne and Carl have been little more than hard people doing hard things all season, and their budding friendship in this episode is a refreshing relief. 

We get a little of Rick back, too.  Morgan is his unflattering mirror.  Like Rick, he’s useful in a murderous sort of way, but crazy fuckers are terrible for group dynamics and morale.  And, they totally screw up situations that call for diplomacy rather than screaming crazy-talk.  Rick actually has a conversation with Michonne, before they return to the prison.  We haven’t seen Rick really talk to anyone who isn’t a hallucination in a long time.

The great part about “Clear” is that a little relief isn’t a cure.  These people aren’t going to go back to being who they were.  The old Rick would have knocked Morgan out and dragged him to the prison for his own good rather than leaving him in his lonely hell.  And that clear-eyed, selfish, survivalist cruelty is the last thing we see in the episode, when the survivors come upon the smear of blood that once was the man they didn’t stop to rescue.  This time, they do stop… to grab the dead man’s backpack.

Plus points for the episode’s subtle salute to Mayberry’s Deputy Barney Fife, when Rick goes around with one bullet in the pocket of his shirt.


5 responses

  1. Hmmmm. Still not gonna watch. However I’m not sure I like Rick’s ‘touchstone’ being de-humanized. There’s something deeply troubling about it, not that the entire premise of a zombie apocalypse isn’t deeply troubling all on its own. I believe there should still be one thing, one thing to hope for. If one thing doesn’t exist you may as well all kill yourselves right now.
    Also, do not tell me they’ve barely moved beyond day one- geographically speaking? Geez Louise! Go North! For crying out loud!

    1. Marina got me intrigued by a couple of plot twists, and surprise, surprise, this season offers some interest. I watched an episode, and now I want to see more.

  2. I’m not convinced, Jaye. Still pissed off. You see? Therein lies the danger of killing of main characters. Losing viewers – although as TWD continues to gain viewers I’m not sure it matters a lick. Except to me.

  3. Hi, Julia. I’m watching the Game of Thrones series on HBO and reading the books. TWD has nothing on GoT when it comes to killing off main characters. It’s shocking, but GoT is epic. The deaths are part of that tale.

    I can’t promise you that you’ll ever enjoy an episode of TWD, again. I’m sorry that it stopped being fun for you. However, i did really enjoy “Clear.” Yes, Morgan wasn’t what he once was, and neither is Rick, but there was hope in the episode in the form of Carl and Michonne. The episode was good story telling, even if the story wasn’t the happiest.

    The series isn’t perfect, and some episodes annoy the piss out of me. I barely watch network television because there are so few good shows. I’d rather get a kick out of reality television than be annoyed by the same old cop operas rehashed over and over with different actors in the leading roles. TWD has managed to remain something different, and it sometimes still impresses me.

    1. Oh Game of Thrones? George R.R. excels at killing off his main characters but, at least for the first few books, it works. Don’t want to steer you wrong – if you’re interested read the first 3-4 books and then hold off until he manages to finish this sucker. The two most recent books – great words/prose, lousy story – went nowhere at a snail’s pace. Well, might have actually gone backwards.
      Re TWD, I’m still all pissed. I don’t want it to be about Carl, despite the fact that the graphic novel is about Carl. I want more. Maybe I want too much. I don’t think Shane would have gone nuts like Rick has. His previous bout with insanity I chalk up to character assassination by the writers, not something innate in Shane.
      In a post-apocalyptic world those with certain sociopathic tendencies will survive. The Ricks will die off.
      Let me know if they day comes when Andrea regains her power and she’s worth watching.

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