Check out William’s thoughts on this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, currently the most talked about episode yet. There are tons of spoilers for this one-off episode. Beware!
I have been patiently waiting for the return of Morgan to The Walking Dead and although he technically showed up a couple times last season, this episode truly felt like his return. We got a whole hour to see how Morgan went from clearing psychopath to peace loving ninja and it was pretty great. I had misgivings going into this episode knowing that it wouldn’t address the status of Glen, but after about five minutes I found myself asking “Glen who?”
So this week’s episode titled “Here’s Not Here” seems to pick up right where we left Morgan back in season 3 after his encounter with Rick and company. In a fit of rage, Morgan burns down his apartment (a sound decision during the zombie apocalypse) causing him to head out into the woods and make camp. Along his journey he finds a father and son following him who he kills without hesitation. Eventually, he stumbles upon a cabin in the woods inhabited by a man and his goat. Morgan, armed with an assault rifle, opens fire only to be beaten with a stick and thrown in a cell by the man in the woods.
We come to learn that mans name is Eastman. Eastman is a fresh face on The Walking Dead. He’s a vegetarian and a pacifist who uses aikido to protect himself from his attackers. He offers food, water, and a safe place to stay to a man who tried to gun him down and steal his goat. He doesn’t even lock the cell door! And when Morgan tries to kill him a second time, he still offers him the chance to stay and crash on his couch. What a nice fella!
Eastman is funny, charming, and instantly likable. How could you not love a guy who spends his time during the zombie apocalypse attempting to make goat cheese? But as much as I love his character, I find it extremely difficult to believe that he has survived in this world for as long as he has. This is a man who fights with a stick, and spends his time burying walkers and making cheese. I won’t say it’s not possible but it’s certainly not probable. One does not simply subdue a deranged, assault rifle wielding Morgan with a stick. But Eastman does! It’s also very convenient that he just happens to have a solar powered cabin in the woods stocked with a large supply of food and water and a large prison cell to put in anyone that he manages to subdue with his stick.
We learn that Eastman is a forensic psychologist from Atlanta who worked closely with some of the worst criminals you could imagine, and it caused him great distress. One night, his daughter found him crying and gave him a lucky rabbits foot in the hopes that it would make him feel better. The next day, he found a flyer for aikido. This essentially saved his life as he later used aikido to protect himself from a prisoner.
When Morgan questions him about the cell in his cabin, Eastman tells him about the only evil man he ever met. During his time as a forensic psychologist, he had denied the parole of a prisoner named Creighton Dallas Wilton. Creighton, much like Eastman, was apparently very charming and likable, but Eastman was the only person to see through it. Creighton realized this during an interview and attempted to kill Eastman knowing that he would ensure his parole would be denied. After having his parole denied, Creighton eventually escaped from prison and killed Eastmans entire family to get revenge. Pretty messed up.
Creighton turned himself in afterward and was eventually back to picking up litter on the side of the highway. Eastman built the cell with the intention of capturing Creighton and locking him up so he could watch him starve to death. Although he avoids answering the question of whether he did or not, we later find out that he most certainly did. After 47 days, Creighton finally died, and it didn’t bring Eastman the peace he was looking for. Instead it inspired him never to take a life ever again. He tried to turn himself in for his crime, but the world conveniently ended around the time he was heading to back to Atlanta.
Now along comes Morgan, another broken man who feels responsible for the loss of his family, and Eastman wants to help him. They’ve both been to dark places and done terrible things, but Eastman has managed to come back from it, and he believes that anyone else can too. Jeez, where was this guy when the Governor was around? Oh that’s right, he was in the woods making cheese. Regardless, Eastman is successful in rehabilitating Morgan and it’s really wonderful to watch. It’s very sad when we inevitably lose Eastman but it’s also beautiful in a way. Eastman may have had himself fooled that he was at peace, but it’s only when he succeeds at redeeming a lost soul that he truly finds his peace. Good job Eastman!
Now as cynical as I am when it comes to life in The Walking Dead universe, I really enjoyed how hopeful this episode was. It approached the theme at the core of the show in a refreshing light. The idea here is that people are capable of doing heinous things but that they aren’t doing them out of pure evil, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to The Walking Dead. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between characters like Rick and the Governor when you look at the things they’ve done. They’ve both lost loved ones, they’ve both killed to survive, they’ve both hacked people to death with sharp objects, but are either of them evil? Are either of them beyond redemption? Even the Governor seemed almost willing to listen to reason at times. Yes he chopped off the head of a man of God, but it was out of anger and fear of trusting others, not out of pure evil. He was certainly capable of redemption.
Right at the end of the episode, just like this show has done so many times before, it snaps us back into the reality of things. Morgan has been telling his story to the crazy Wolves guy that he met in the forest last season. Morgan hopes to redeem him in the way that Eastman did for him, but it’s not going to work. This guy is Morgan’s Creighton Dallas Wilton. He reveals to Morgan that he has an infected wound and is probably going to die. In his own words, if he doesn’t, then he will have to kill everyone in Alexandria. Just like Morgan has his code, the Wolf has his. Oh man, when Rick finds out that Morgan wants to keep this guy alive shit is going to hit the fan! Seeing as Morgan and Rick have sort of switched roles, I can see them having a huge power struggle this season.
Regardless of the ridiculousness of this episode’s setup, it was certainly one of the best Walking Dead episodes I have seen in awhile that didn’t involve Rick brutally murdering someone. It was a beautiful reminder that we need not forget our humanity in these trying times. No matter what we’ve done, no one is ever too far gone (or at least most of us aren’t). We can all come back from the terrible things we’ve done as long as we are willing to accept them and vow never to do them again. I like to think that The Walking Dead will eventually end on a positive note. Rick will probably die, but it will be in an attempt to somehow kick start civilization again. And when that time comes, people like Eastman, people who have managed to retain their humanity throughout this hellish time in human history, they will be needed more than ever.
Check out William’s other content at Dog and Wolf gaming.