I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you that there are SPOILERS in this article. I mean, you’re a smart person; you see the word “Recap,” right? So, you don’t need me to tell you something obvious. But, yeah…SPOILERS!
We got to reconnect with an old flame during “Clear!” And by “reconnect,” I mean almost die from an attack. And by “old flame,” I mean a guy that saved Rick in the first episode of “The Walking Dead.”
“Clear” followed Rick, Carl, and Michonne as they made a weapons run back to Rick and Carl’s hometown. It was a singular episode in that we didn’t have to jump back and forth between multiple groups and storylines. Seriously, sometimes I get dizzy by how many times we leap about between the prison and Woodbury. Last night was refreshing in its cinematic simplicity.
As they are traveling, Rick, Carl, and Michonne pass a man on the road. He’s alive and starts screaming and yelling for help. Shutup, dude! Don’t you know this is the zombie apocalypse? Gotta be quiet! Michonne, who is driving, doesn’t spare him a glance as she speeds by. The other two don’t look too affected, either. Even Carl, who is sitting in the backseat looks unmoved.
It makes me a little sad, but I suppose it’s a brave (cowardly) new world, eh? They have to protect their own, and who’s to say the guy’s not bait?
A bit down the road, several vehicles block the way, and Michonne goes off the road to get around them. However, the ground is soft, and she spins out next to a walker trapped under a vehicle who is doing its darndest to scrabble out and get them. Carl gives Michonne a death glare, and they all just generally looked cheesed off. The audience is supposed to be focused on the trapped walker, so we won’t see the cheap scare coming.
I totally saw it.
Suddenly, several walkers are clawing at the windows (which are wisely up). Again, everyone just looks bored and irritated at the interruption. The walkers are dispatched post-haste, and Rick sets about showing Carl how to get the SUV out of the mud. But, Carl, who is barely paying attention, is more interested in complaining about Michonne. Why did they have to bring her? She’s not even really part of the group!
Rick tells Carl that they share a common goal and that Michonne is a valuable resource to have with them. Carl looks disgruntled. Are we a moody teenager already? Ugh. Oh, and Michonne totally heard the exchange between father and son. Classy.
The man that hailed them for help earlier comes into sight and starts yelling. He’s running toward them, but Rick, Carl, and Michonne pay him no mind. They just get back into the SUV and leave. Heavy.
When they reach the town, they discover painted messages (vaguely crazy and warning) and arrows, and it looks to be generally deserted. After parking the SUV, Rick leads them to the sheriff’s department, where he expects to find a weapons cache. It’s predictably empty, but Rick seems to be surprised and angry about the lack of weapons. (Because, you know, they need all the weapons they can find for the upcoming war with The Governor.)
Rick decides to venture further into the town in search of more weapons. He knows some of the businesses had weapons and wants to get them. Michonne isn’t so sure it’s a good idea, and Rick, sensing dissension, calls her on it immediately. She backs down and gives him one of those soul-searching looks that she’s so good at. (You know the one, I mean! Where she looks at a character and sees right to his or her core! She’s really good at it.)
As the trio continue on foot, they come to what appears to be a main street. It’s blocked with barriers made of sharp implements, ropes, burned out vehicles, and various other bits of crap. There are even caged pigeons and rats scattered about. It quickly becomes clear what the road blocks are for as a walker gets trapped, and Michonne stabs it through the face. (Oooooh! The caged animals are to draw the walkers, right? They’ll eat animals, after all.) There are also more painted messages on buildings, fences, and banners warning intruders away. But, our intrepid trio continues on.
Suddenly, a man on a rooftop commands them to drop all their weapons and supplies and leave. He’s got a scoped rifle pointed at them, and he’s wearing a helmet. Rick, Carl (who is told to get away), and Michonne scatter, and the man (who was obviously trained by the Galactic Empire) fails to hit any of them. Michonne ninjas her way up to the roof, but the man is already gone.
Oh, no! Now, he’s on street level, shooting at Rick! Rick dives behind a series of conveniently placed vehicles and trashcans as the man moves closer, shooting as he comes. The man is only several feet away from Rick when Carl steps around a corner and shoots the man in the chest. BLAM at close range!
Rick lightly scolds Carl for still being on the street, but it’s plain to see he was glad his son was still around. However, Rick does feel a little bit of guilt that Carl had to shoot a “living” man.
But, the man isn’t dead! SHWEW! Rick pushes aside his shirt to reveal a bullet-proof vest, then removes the vest to reveal a giant bruise where Carl shot him. The man is still alive, but he has been knocked out. Rick removes the helmet to reveal…MORGAN! Remember Morgan? Back in the first episode of The Walking Dead, Morgan rescued a newly awoken Rick. He saved Rick’s life and let him stay with him and his son, Duane, before Rick left to find his family.
Unsure of how to proceed, Rick at least wants to get Morgan off the street. Plus, Rick knows Duane should be around somewhere. So, they find where Morgan lives and take him to his rooms, avoiding several quite nasty booby traps along the way.
Morgan’s rooms hold tons of guns and ammo, and Michonne and Carl set about looting what they need. But, Rick stops them, conflicted about the state of his former rescuer and friend. Morgan’s rooms are covered with writing, detailing people who have turned, supply lists, and other scribbling. Every so often, the word “CLEAR” is written, most often after names (I noticed).
Rick decides they will stay until Morgan wakes up. He wants to talk to Morgan, and see how he is. I kinda got the feeling he wanted to take him back to the prison, too. Having an ally and friend like Morgan around could do a lot to settle Rick’s mind and recent brushes with insanity.
Carl declares that he needs to go on a run to get a baby crib for Judith. There’s a baby store right around the corner, and Rick agrees to let him go when Michonne offers to accompany him. Rick stays with the unconscious Morgan, and Carl and Michonne head out. Carl tries to give Michonne the slip while she kills a walker, but she quickly catches up with him. He tells her that there’s something he has to get for Judith, and Michonne makes it clear that he won’t be going alone.
(A little aside, here. Okay, Carl, I get that you’re basically a grownup and able to take care of yourself. I mean, you had to shoot your mom, for goodness’ sake. But, don’t knock a willing ally! Someone to watch your back is ALWAYS a good idea!)
Carl leads Michonne to a restaurant. I still had no idea what he was after. At first, I thought he was going to go to the old Grimes house and get a teddy bear or something like that. I had no clue what he could be after at a restaurant!
The restaurant, called the King County Cafe (I think…something close to that, right?), was filled with trapped walkers. Apparently, they were all there, having a bite to eat, when the walker plague struck. Or maybe someone trapped them in there. Seems rather odd to me. Anyhow, there’s a ton in there.
Michonne helps Carl sneak in by sliding some of the caged animals in through the cracked doorway. While the walkers are busy trying to get at the terrified animals, Michonne and Carl dart in and back to the bar where a framed picture of Rick, Lori, and Carl hang. (Oh, it’s one of those hometown places! Ooooh!) Carl hops up on the bar to get the picture…and is grabbed by a walker who was on the other side! But, Carl keeps his head, and Michonne quickly stabs the walker…quietly. They start to ease their way back to the door when a scared rat runs toward them followed by the mini-horde! (I don’t understand how the rat would have gotten out of its cage and away from the walkers, but…okay.)
They have to fight their way out and manage to barely escape (of course), closing and leaning against the front doors, which happen to have nice big panes of glass that allow us to see the walkers pawing and trying to get them. Nice. But, on their way to the door, Carl dropped the picture. REALLY, Carl? He is devastated, explaining that he wanted Judith to have a picture of Lori, and that’s the only one he thought was still in existence. Awww!
Carl declares he has to go back for it, but Michonne tells him to stay put. He reluctantly agrees and she disappears behind the corner of the building. She’s a ninja, because moments later, she reappears with the picture and an ugly cat statue. Making a light moment, Michonne tells Carl that she had to go back in because the cat statue caught her eye.
And, poof, Michonne has won over Carl!
Back in Morgan’s rooms, Rick is looking at all the writing on the walls and feeling bad for Morgan. He comes on some script saying Duane has turned, and he knows Morgan’s son is dead.
Suddenly, Morgan attacks! Rick had zip-tied Morgan’s hands, but Morgan freed himself with a hidden knife. They scuffle and Morgan stabs Rick! All the while, Morgan is babbling and accusing Rick of wearing a dead man’s face. It’s clear that Morgan has had a rough time of things and is not all there.
Rick finally gets the upper hand and disarms Morgan, pushing him down. Morgan realizes who Rick is and basically goes to pieces. (In the first episode, Rick told Morgan he would be on a radio every morning at dawn. Rick kept his promise for as long as he could, but as his group moved farther away, the signal wouldn’t reach anymore. Apparently, Morgan kept trying.) Rick learns that Morgan failed to kill his walker wife, and that Duane had been attacked by her. Morgan blames himself and has decided he was left alive to “clear” things. It becomes apparent that Morgan believes he has to clear out the walkers from the town, hence all the walker traps.
Rick tries to convince Morgan to come with them back to the prison, but Morgan refuses, saying he must clear the town.
It’s a heart-wrenching scene, really, with powerful acting. Your heart breaks for Morgan and what he’s gone through. If you haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it; I count this episode as one of the best so far. It goes to a solitary place of despair and looks madness in the eyes, and as the character of Morgan looks back, you shiver. He’s justified in his feelings, in his emotions, but he decided on a task, on his form of redemption: to “clear.” It’s moving as he considers throwing over that task and equally moving as he remains steadfast in his choice.
When Rick leaves Morgan’s rooms, he finds Michonne and Carl just returning from their run carrying a baby crib (pack-n-play, actually). It looks like they found some other supplies at the baby store, too. As the trio pick their way back through Morgan’s clearing zone, they see the man removing walkers from spikes and strapping them (after they’ve been killed, of course) to a gurney. Carl calls out to him, apologizing for shooting him and begging him to understand that he had to do it. Morgan stops what he’s going and approaches, a little wild-eyed.
“Don’t you ever apologize,” Morgan tells Carl.
Morgan knows the consequences of hesitation and failure to “clear.” He wants to impress upon Carl the necessity of doing the necessary.
When the trio reaches the SUV, Carl tells Rick that his run had been successful and that Michonne was “one of us.” Rick looks a little surprised, but also somewhat pleased. (It seemed like he was looking for a reason to let Michonne stay, and Carl’s words gave him that needed push.) After Carl gets in the SUV, Michonne helps Rick load the rest of the supplies (Morgan let Rick take some guns and ammunition). She tells him that she knows he’s been seeing things (Uh-oh! Is there going to be a showdown?) and says it’s okay. Whaaa? Michonne confides that she spoke to her dead boyfriend for a long time, and that it’s okay to grieve.
Rick asks Michonne if she wants to drive, and she says yes, but asks why. With a smile, he says it’s because he sees things. Levity! How refreshing!
On the way back to the prison, they have to go around the vehicle pile up again. This time, Michonne goes around on the other side, and they don’t get caught. As they drive, they pass fresh blood and man bits. It’s the guy that was yelling for help…sad panda. Of course, he wasn’t being very smart by yelling, was he? Gah. They pass only to stop, back up, and pick up his pack.
It’s always about the resources!
So, what did you think of “Clear?” Hit me up in the comments!
[Featured image courtesy of AMC and found at http://blogs.amctv.com/photo-galleries/the-walking-dead-season-3-episode-photos/episode-12-rick-3.php.]