Damn you, The Walking Dead. We didn’t need to hear Morgan’s back story. Okay, maybe we did, but not yet, not straight after an episode in which a major character’s fate is left in the balance (well, apparently – we maintain that Glenn’s pretty dead).
Post-Rick’s Season 3 visit, we see what Morgan’s been up to since then: namely wandering off and discovering himself, all the while he dispatches walkers and anyone foolish/stupid enough to think they can get the better of him.
Until he comes across Eastman.
Played with a detached sense of calm by John Carroll Lynch, Eastman practices the kind of existence that it doesn’t seem possible to live in this world: a peaceful one. He spends his days looking after his goat, practicing aikido, and attempting to impart his way of life onto the initially unresponsive Morgan.
We say initially, because anyone watching the show will know Morgan had to have got his skills from someone, and that someone is Eastman. He’s a funny kind of pacifist – the kind who’s capable of kicking the living shit out of you with next to no effort – but different to the kind of character we’ve seen thus far, and one who’s instantly endearing.
All of this only serves to make his inevitable demise all the more tragic. Granted, all we see is the bite, but we know how this plays out. And so does Eastman ultimately, who opts to have Morgan help him take the less painful way out.
Eastman’s beliefs do seem to have some relevance: according to him, humans aren’t built to kill, and can’t handle it when they do so. Pretty much everyone still alive at this point has blood on their hands, but they’re hardly the better for it. Suddenly, Morgan’s state of relative zen seems to make sense.
Even so, it’s a helpless situation. For every person like Morgan who’s willing to be swayed by reason, you have the wolf he has captive in the present day, who assures him that if he escapes, he’ll kill everyone in Alexandria. Morgan maybe pretty kick-ass with his staff, but he’s one man, and there’s a whole pack of wolves out there. As if it wasn’t clear enough already, the world of The Walking Dead is a dangerous place to be.
At the start, we were worried that this would be an unnecessary filler episode when it was the last thing the show needed. We’d still have preferred a straightforward follow up to last week, but moments of introspection like this don’t hurt either.