So, has Glenn been torn apart by the walkers that were piling on top of him and Nicholas’ corpse last week? Is Rick going to escape the walkers headed straight for his RV? What are the Wolves even up to? Instead of finding out the answers to all these questions, this week we were given a 90 minute episode explaining Morgan’s backstory. This was always going to need to be told at some point, but following such a thrilling episode, this really wasn’t an opportune time to tell it.
Before his hiatus from the show, Morgan was nothing more than a mad man who had completely given up on life after losing his son. This week’s episode documents just how he got so good at martial arts and where he developed the “all life is precious” philosophy that he has been preaching to Carol over the past few weeks. As much as I’m pleased that they managed to contain his transformation to one episode, I can’t help but feel that the explanation was a little thin.
The introduction and swift exit of Eastman, a vegetarian who has somehow managed to survive so long in the zombie apocalypse meat-free, only served to facilitate Morgan’s transformation. He had some good personal characterisation surrounding the loss of his family at the hands of a sadistic psychopath, but on the surface he was basically just the Morgan we see in the present but at an earlier point in the show’s timeline. He teaches Morgan aikido and the philosophies of peace that surround that martial art, but when that task is through and he is no longer useful for the plot of series six and he suddenly gets bitten by a walker. The death made very little impact on the audience and just felt like a convenient way to write him out of the show. It’s a sad situation when the death of Tabitha the goat hits you harder than a living person.
Furthermore, the actual rehabilitation of Morgan felt unconvincing. It is hard to believe that a couple of weeks of martial arts training and some psychological assessment from Eastman would be able to turn a man so far gone into the pacifist we see today. Aside from the scene where Morgan attacks Eastman when he is offered to stay on the couch, there wasn’t really enough conflict between the two. Morgan sulking in a field doesn’t count as resistance to change. That being said, this may have been intentional and perhaps we will see Morgan snap back to his old ways at some point before the series is out, even if momentarily. Don’t get me wrong, the approach taken in ‘Here’s Not Here’ was probably one of the better ways to explain Morgan’s change, but it still didn’t feel quite right.
What I did like about this week’s episode was how it addressed what steps Morgan took right after Rick’s departure. His psychotic belief in “clearing” all life (or reanimated life) in the surrounding areas had its own peculiar sense of logic. By removing all threats in an area, he was ensuring that future passers-by (assuming that they don’t encounter Morgan himself) would be safe from danger, unlike his late son Duane. He clearly felt regret when he killed the survivors, so perhaps those deaths were more the result of fits of rage, but his mass extermination of walkers did make some sense.
Despite producing a quite scathing review of this week’s episode, I did enjoy it for the most part. It gave some much needed character development to a fan-favourite character and hopefully the curse of the one-character-episode won’t mean that Morgan will be meeting his untimely fate soon. The biggest problem with this episode was where it was placed in the series. Had fans not been left on such a massive cliff-hanger last week, perhaps they would have been more forgiving of ‘Here’s Not Here’.