Thomas Crawford: The tale of Morgan. We see how Morgan went from being a caring father hiding in a house and helping Rick, to an off his rocker thief who ambushed Rick, Carl, and Michonne in Season 3's “Clear”. Then he was shown to be a quiet wanderer trailing after Rick, and finally to a man of peace who can take out anyone with a simple staff. It was actually good to finally get to the question a lot of people have been asking. Where has he been, and where did he learn to use that staff? One you might have, "Why isn't he killing any Wolves?"
This was actually a very good back story. It felt like all the needed answers were given. Thinking about it, this might have been the most complete back story done on the show. The majority of characters usually get some flash backs, or discuss in a few conversations the past. Morgan got to tell his whole since the last time Rick saw him.
I bet there is a lot of foaming at the mouth from some fans. Three action packed episodes ending with a cliffhanger, to a supporting character development story. The rhythm does throw you a little bit, even though there was still quite a bit of action.
We learn that Morgan went from taking people's things and killing walkers, to just killing everything. He, "clears", or kills everything, human or walker. This was made extremely clear when two people were following him. One got a spear through the throat, the other got strangled.
The fact is that the view that we were given, it seemed like they were tracking Morgan. Were they harmless? Perhaps, however one had a gun and they seemed to be following him for a reason. Morgan's kill first and ask no questions seem to make sense in TWD where anyone and everyone can be an enemy.
Morgan also seemed smart, setting up pikes and trapping walkers. He killed them and burned the bodies. This too seems rather smart for TWD world.
However, the mumbling to himself? The using ash and blood to write, "Clear" anywhere it seems he killed a lot of walkers and people? It is obvious Morgan was in the darkest of places.
It was actually a nice change of pace I think. The fact is that the past few episodes have even started to make me wonder about Morgan. The refusal to take lives that are obviously going to kill him seems strange. In TWD world it seems downright stupid to think that there can be peace. This episode really showed how far Morgan had sunk into his rage. It also showed how he managed to climb back out of it.
A goat named Tabitha and a balding pacifist vegetarian named Eastman were all it took. Well, it took some time as well. I do like the fact that Eastman was a criminal psychiatrist who had also lost his family. They were murdered by one of his patients.
The whole peace and pacifism is actually not something that bothers me either. Though I will admit I think Eastman may take it to extremes. The man kills walkers, buries them, then puts up names on their tombstones he gets from their licenses.
I know I'm the one that has been vouching for Morgan and his humanity. I have also been the one saying he is probably going to either butt heads with Rick or be Rick's conscious. However there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. At least he doesn't lie down and die when attacked; there are those pacifists that say that is true pacifism.
The use of Aikido and the staff were interesting choices. Obviously, Morgan learning the staff was pretty cool. Michonne has her Katana, Daryl has his crossbow, Carol has her knives, and Rick has his revolver. It is cool to see a new signature weapon in TWD world. Yes, they all use different weapons, but when you think the character you see them with a certain one.
Anyways, the teaching of Aikido really does fit, as it is heavily influenced by Buddhist ideas, and believes pretty much everything that Eastman talked about. It is about preserving life, though not letting anyone harm you. Overall, a decent philosophy.
My one tick about this is the character that played Eastman. This isn't serious; however the man looks like he used to play football. Bigger guys tend not to go towards a discipline like Aikido.
It isn't that it is bad. However, the use of footwork, quickness, and balance are of the utmost importance Aikido. It is actually not the best suited form of self-defense for those of us that are big and tall, and tend to have a lot of natural strength.
I seriously wasn't surprised it was Aikido. I think it was just the person that was teaching it didn't seem believable. I really expected it to be a smaller person, perhaps even a woman. That would be my biggest hang-up on the martial art Morgan was taught.
I'm going to throw it over to you. Any initial thoughts about the episode? Perhaps I'm being too harsh with my judgment of the size of the character that played Eastman? Did you like this story told here after the cliffhanger? What do you think?
Kelen Conley: I have to say that I didn’t care for this episode. While it was nice to see Morgan’s back story finally, it felt really heavy handed and overly long. I really needed this episode to tell me what Morgan had been through but also in a normal sized format.
I went back and watched it again though and I was floored. This episode was brilliant and I’d like to think that the show’s creators have sense enough to submit this episode for Emmy consideration for both Lennie James and John Caroll Lynch. What a story. While most of the TWD’s detractors can complain about how boring and mundane they think most of the episodes can be, there is no way they’d be able to say anything here. I feel like an idiot for writing it off at first.
I hadn’t even considered anything about Eastman’s size when it came to Aikido. While I think you make valid points, I find it believable because of the way he ran across the discipline. While he may not be the ideal candidate for Aikido, he discovered it after his daughter gave him the rabbit’s foot. He took that as a sign and stuck with it. I also don’t think the show did him any favors as far as showing what talents he has due to the martial art either, he looked like a bigger man performing a martial art that was meant for a smaller man. I’m sure that someone pre-apocalypse may have mentioned to him that Aikido would be difficult for Eastman to learn due to his size but he stuck it out. I personally like that fact.
I’m about to do another 180 on another subject too: I see where Morgan is coming from now. Yes, by not killing the Wolves, he left Rick to be attacked in the RV, Alexandria to be attacked when the two Wolves from last season found Aaron’s pictures, etc. It’s not going to be easy to find Morgan faultless in his beliefs. But like you mentioned, Morgan was in the darkest of places.
He slaughtered those two guys in the woods without a thought. They may have been tracking him but more than likely, they were trying to help him. I know I’m a big advocate on shooting first and asking questions later (like when an unknown group breaks into your home and starts killing innocents) but these guys just picked the wrong person to mess with. And those killings came back to haunt Morgan when one of them turned and bit Eastman, eventually killing him.
I think one thing Morgan didn’t take away from Eastman was his ultimate solution for Crighton Dallas Wilton. Eastman tried to do things by the book (The Art Of Peace way) and Crighton still escaped prison long enough to murder his family, then had the balls to TURN HIMSELF BACK IN. The ultimate form of rubbing it in Eastman’s face. While Eastman said kidnapping him and killing him brought him no peace… I think it did a little bit. Crighton seems to be the exception to the rule of “all life is precious” and if Eastman was alive to see the horrors that Alexandria was facing, I think he would agree with killing the Wolves as well.
Morgan can’t see the forest for the trees and now, I truly, truly understand where he’s coming from but his short sightedness isn’t going to hurt anyone else anymore… it’s going to hurt him. I don’t think he makes it out of Season 6 alive unfortunately.
Seeing how Eastman and Aikido changed Morgan for the better is amazing though. To see how far he had fallen even since “Clear” to before he tried to kill Eastman and then to watch him literally find his way back to the right path (a path that led to Terminus, I would’ve liked to see how that would’ve went if Queen Carol hadn’t razed it to the ground. I believe Gareth said they give everyone a choice right? Either eat the meat or become it? Something like that?) was a beautiful piece of work. I have to say that this is one of my favorite episodes of the TWD ever now.
It’s a shame that we lose Eastman but I guess we can’t have too many people running around shouting about peace now can we? It’s nice to know that his teachings are alive with Morgan and I wouldn’t mind seeing Morgan start teaching another member of the group Aikido before his time on the show is completely done. It would be a nice tip of the hat I think.
I am completely okay with the fact that we got this after the show killed Glenn off (I’m not believing different until I see it and Steven Yuen’s name wasn’t in the credits! Did you see that? It doesn’t mean anything but did you see it?). Last week was emotional for any long-time fan of TWD, I think it’s okay that we break away before we learn what Glenn’s ultimate fate was (he’s dead) down the road.
I don’t think Morgan will be able to save this Wolf though. He’s definitely met his Crighton Dallas Wilton and Carol and Rick will try to explain to him that there are more Crighton Dallas Wiltons in the world that need to be dealt with regardless of his beliefs. I just hope Morgan realizes it before it’s too late.
TC: Well put. I think you are right: a lot of detractors hate episodes like this. You said it yourself that you took the episode for granted at first and then had another look. This was well done for both actors involved. I will say that if this doesn't even get a nod for a good award then there isn't much in the way of justice for television awards. Then again I'm pretty biased and totally dig this show.
I'm trying to do this spot without talking about Glenn, what is going down with Rick, and the massive swarm, horde, whatever you want to call it, coming at Alexandria. Again, I love the spot of this episode. It just makes me angry in a good way, at the same time soothing that itch for the questions about what the hell happened to Morgan.
I might be being a little harsh with Eastman's size and his use of Aikido. It was more or less just something to nitpick about this episode. I could have easily complained about how there is a perfectly good goat that survived so long in TWD world without being walker chow. Yes, Eastman puts the goat in, but we see Tabitha out by herself more than a few times. It seems she is one lucky goat until the end.
I could even nitpick about Eastman's death. However, we knew it was going to happen. Morgan was wandering alone. We also know that Eastman talked about preparing for a journey, just not sure where. Considering he and Morgan weren't together, his death wasn't as much of a shock as it could have been. I guess the actual point was to instill Morgan with that last bit of lesson about humanity. While Eastman was dying, they finished burying the dead, and Eastman made his peace.
I think it was actually pretty classy that he said he was ready and said he had a gun in the garage, but didn't show the actual event. They tended to gloss over the part where he took his own life. Again, that really was sort of known from the get go I think. It was just sort of a final lesson for Morgan before he started out on his own.
There is that one scene, where the walker that Morgan created got to Eastman. If I really wanted to be cynical, I could comment on the obviously well placed timing of it coming out of the woods and freezing Morgan up. Again, this seems to have been rather well done. Many people, myself included, would look at this scene and think for the most part how wonderfully convenient. The one thing that could trip Morgan up, actually shows up, and leads to Eastman saving his life. Eastman dies for it; giving Morgan the reiterated lesson of life is precious.
How it was pulled off though, actually seemed more a coincidence than clever writing ploy to tie everything together. It just seemed like one of those moments in any life that sort of spring up, and can shape many things about a person. I won't say I was surprised that it was the younger man Morgan killed and left to transform into a walker. It was just done in a way that again, didn't feel like a storytelling technique. It felt more like that bad choice that people make that comes back to bite them. Pun intended.
I'm going to wrap this up because overall I really enjoyed this episode. I think it was a nice change of pace and gave the fans a breather. Again, it answered a lot of questions about why Morgan suddenly changed from a borderline animal to someone who doesn't want to kill. I also am starting to agree with you. I think it isn't going to hurt the group. I think it is going to end up getting Morgan killed. I would be surprised if Morgan makes it to the next season. I hope he does, but I’m not sure his views can coincide with TWD world. I'm going to throw it back to you for final thoughts.
KC: It was convenient to have Morgan’s victim turn and be the reason for Eastman’s death. It could’ve been any walker that showed up (it’s not like they are in short supply) but I think it was important for Morgan to see his actions from earlier catching up with him. He actually left Eastman for a while and went back to clearing everything because he was so distraught. It wasn’t until he spared the couples’ lives once he saw their meager, yet generous, offer that he came back to his senses and went back to Eastman.
I’m glad that they didn’t make us sit through Eastman’s death. After all the good he did in this 90 minutes, to see him to take his own life or to turn for Morgan to finish him would’ve been pushing it. It was nice that they had that last conversation in the graveyard and that was it.
I thought the goat was a nice part of the lesson as well. Sure, Eastman really just wanted cheese but the fact that he was able to keep Tabitha alive for as long as he did was just another way to show that all life is precious and it showed his great patience now that I think about it. Keeping Tabitha safe must have taken up a large amount of his time every day when he was home. Most people would have thrown in the towel (and the goat) in place of self-preservation but not Eastman. It’s just another nod at how great this character was in his one and only appearance on the show.
After all the action of the first 3 episodes, this character driven episode about Morgan and Eastman was needed to change the pace. If TWD tried to do nothing but action all the time, the show wouldn’t be as big as it has gotten over the years. I think we can put to rest the idea that certain people don’t like the slower episodes; if that were truly the case, they wouldn’t watch them at all. But like most of the fans of the show, whether they admit it or not, they love these quieter episodes just as much as the next person. Without them, TWD is just a low budget SyFy show (that’s not a knock, any network that gives us a new Sharknado yearly is okay in my book).
I recently reread the first compendium of TWD comics and I found there were tons of slower moments in those first 49 issues as well. I read it so quickly the first time that I didn’t notice but Kirkman is great and building suspense between big moments this way. Of course the walkers (roamers or biters or zombies in the books) are a constant threat but the group spent more time fighting with each other than they did dealing with the Governor and Woodbury. The concept of the slow story is necessary for both mediums of TWD and coincidentally, my favorite Fear The Walking Dead episodes were the slower late season episodes. You know, versus the early season slow episodes where everyone was trying to help the walkers because they didn’t know better and the concept of zombie doesn’t exist in their universe and I’m supposed to be okay with that idea so that I can buy into the show… but I digress.
On a final note, I know why Morgan left Eastman’s cabin. Eastman told him he could live out his days there but he suggested he find people and that it would be best for Morgan. This is kind of true considering where Morgan was after Duane died, what we saw of him in “Clear”, and for most of this episode. Morgan doesn’t do too well by himself. But the Aikido lifestyle can’t be applied to all situations and Alexandria is the prime example. The community must be defended, no matter what. Morgan wants to defend the community while sparing life, which is why he has a Wolf locked in that random basement (probably his own basement). There’s no saving that Wolf but Morgan will never see that in time.
I compare it to when Michonne was about to kill the Governor but didn’t when Andrea interfered (Andrea from the books is way cooler than the show. I think they pretty much gave her bad ass-ery to Carol). If Michonne kills the Governor, the group more than likely remains at the prison. While I don’t know how the show would survive to Season 6 without leaving the prison yet, it’s just bringing up a possible what if. So what if Morgan hadn’t just taken this Wolf prisoner? That remains to be seen but I guarantee the results won’t be good for Morgan Jones or for Alexandria.
Or maybe the power of Aikido is strong enough to save the day.