The Walking Dead: “Clear” Recap
In a simply incredible episode of The Walking Dead, Rick and Carl return to their hometown in search for guns – and find a tormented soul from Rick’s past.
With an “18 Miles Out” detour-ish vibe, and the feeling of being blissfully removed from the rambling wrongness of last week’s episode (which I didn’t get to recap due to being out of the country), “Clear” was magnificent. You could feel the love for both the TV characters, and their comic counterparts, in this episode, wonderfully written by (now NEW showrunner!) Scott Gimple. And whereas Season 2′s “18 Miles Out” was a strong episode, it still had its drawbacks; namely the fact that it was a powerful, confrontational chapter that, in the end, resolved nothing between Rick and Shane.
But “Clear” was able to not only take us back to the past, revisiting Morgan in a way that was similar to the comic series, albeit sooner, but it also worked to warm us to Michonne and give us a peek inside Carl’s new mad, independent spirit. This show, as with its nightmarish scenario, works best when it lets the sadness win. Sure, it’s cute to wrap insanity up in TV-packaged “he’s seeing people who aren’t there” bow, but most of the time it just works better to listen to someone’s tragic story.
Hearing what became of Morgan and his boy after Rick left, with the undercurrent of Rick spending most of Season 1 worrying about them back home, was enough to rip your heart out. Just hearing it. We didn’t have to see it go down. And so while Rick (or should I say Carl) has seen traumas that could probably match Morgan’s, in the end they still work to build Rick up as a hero. Whereas Morgan’s tragedy, happening to a non-hero, an everyman, worked to tear him down to nothing.
This also brings me to the poor hitchhiker, ignored by Rick twice, who met a grizzly end. Rick surely felt awful about it, but as this series goes on it’s become clear that there’s less and less time for grieving. For feeling guilty. Or for apologizing. Decisions need to be made quickly, and anything unknown, even if it seems banal, is now a danger. Even Morgan told Carl at the end not to be sorry for pulling the trigger on him. Because if Morgan had been quicker to shed his sentiment, his son might still be alive. I also appreciated the parallel of Carl taking down Morgan the way Duane once took down Rick. Morgan even had the post-coma Rick beard going. Stranger Danger indeed.
Also, nice callback to “I’m sorry this happened to you.” Should be the tagline for the series.
Carl’s walker-filled side adventure with Michonne works even better when you consider the fact that Rick will probably never know the full details of the dangers they faced. And also through this mission, to retrieve the last remaining photo of Lori from a diner, Carl was able to “vet” Michonne. And Michonne was able to reveal her love of rainbow-colored ceramic cats. And so after Carl told Rick that Michonne was good to go, Rick was able to actually share a moment of levity with her regarding his visions. And she, for the first time to anyone (even Andrea), opened up a little bit about her past. “Clear” was an awesome episode that gave us a welcome break from all the cooped-up, pissed-off drama back in the cell block. Plus, it really captured what those of us who’ve read the Kirkman comics love about that series.
Matt Fowler is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler