MASSIVE SPOILERS ABOUND
This is the end. That’s it. To quote T-Bird from “The Crow”: There ain’t no coming back. Since “Days Gone Bye” everyone has had some doubt in their mind that this is the end of the world. There’s hope. Maybe it’s not the end. We have to wait for it to end. We have to wait for it to blow over. We just have to wait them out.
No, “Clear” confirmed once and for all that this is the end of humanity, and the beginning of a new civilization. The dead come back to life to feed on the living, the living fight for the remaining resources left on Earth, and to quote Guillermo in “The Walking Dead” episode four, “Vatos”: The weak get taken. Civilization as we know it is gone.
“Clear” is the episode that finally has brought season three back from its lull. It’s that classic spiritual journey that Rick Grimes took in the comics, where he had to leave his group for a while to confirm something to himself about continuing to survive. In “Clear” Rick sees where the tide is turning, and Carl, should he survive long enough, is up for Rick’s position as the leader. And Rick now seems to be using this mission to see where Carl stands as a soldier, and what Michonne has in store for group.
When the chips are down, will Michonne really stand up and fight for the better of the group? She shows for the better that she doesn’t just care about living, but she really is growing to respect Rick and his goals as a leader.
For me, the return of Morgan Jones was a shock to the system, and exactly what Rick needed to bring him out of his funk once and for all and decide on cutting down this war. Focusing on Michonne, Rick and Carl for the entirety, “Clear” is an excellent return to form for the series, that shows where the trio of survivors stand and what they intend.
Carl, in spite of losing his innocence and all sense of sentimentality, shows that he really does have some prospects for the future, and his mission become re-claiming a part of his past to give to his sister, as Michonne becomes his unofficial guardian who ensures that he sees through to his goal.
Rick and Morgan finally meet after so much time has passed, and the parallels between Rick and Morgan have only grown stronger. Morgan lost his wife and kept his son, and somehow built something of an island for he and his boy to live on and wait out the epidemic, while Rick was alone looking for safe haven. Now that time has passed, Rick is the man with everything to lose, while Morgan has lost literally everything, and now wanders the Earth as a savage, preparing to trim down the undead population.
Morgan’s back story was always tragic, and Lennie James returns with a vengeance as the kindly soul who helped Rick get back on his feet and find his family. Now the man is a lone tortured soul in a zone he’s occupied, where he is set on atoning for his sins of sloth, ignorance, and denial by wiping the Earth clean of the red he sees every time he closes his eyes. The red that haunts him.
Morgan ultimately paid for the inability to move on with his life, and survive, and now he’s appointed himself “the clearer,” the individual who has to chop down the walkers and the human scum as best as he can until the day he dies, and that’s a grim terrible fate for such a kind individual. The final scene spoke waves in terms of living in this world as Carl shot the savage Morgan in self-defense and displayed a sense of sympathy to which Morgan mutters “Hey kid, don’t ever be sorry.”
The minute you’re sorry, you find it impossible to defend yourself and the loved ones around you. The minute you begin to feel sympathy and empathy for the new world, you will eventually be cut down by the ruthless and merciless nomads seeking to take what’s yours. I can’t praise Lennie James enough for his return performance as Morgan Jones, a man who took a very small supporting character and gave him a crucial importance to this world, and what it means to live in it.
Rick’s holding of the walkie talkie he gave him was a very tear jerking moment, and the recollection of the score from season one was also excellent. I adore the score from “Days Gone Bye.” It’s just an amazing score all around. And Morgan screaming at Rick for not keeping him to date on the walkie talkie was gut wrenching and soul crushing. Andrew Lincoln and James had a wonderful chemistry in “Days Gone Bye” and they don’t miss a beat here, as Rick tries to give Morgan a purpose and perhaps something worth fighting for, while Morgan has decided that everything he had that was worth fighting for is gone. There’s merely nothing for Morgan left.
He has been tasked with cleaning the world. He’s that individual with blood on their hands who will continue scrubbing their fingers until they’re sure the blood has all but disappeared. Rick needed to see Morgan and to resolve this thread, and Carl and Michonne needed to bond to discover where they stood as people in this world, and to find out what meant most to them. The bar scene was tense and creepy, and Carl’s own personal goal was touching in the end.
The final scene is also rather soul crushing, but an affirmation to everyone that the world has ended. As they pass the pile of guts and ooze that was once a lone hitchhiker begging for help, we know that the world is over. The weak get taken.
This article was first posted on March 4, 2013