If you’ve not seen Season 6, Episode 4 of The Walking Dead entitled Here’s Not Here, then stop reading now. Consider this your one and only SPOILER ALERT.
Things had to slow down for The Walking Dead and my goodness, did they ever do just that in this episode. If Episode 3 was a necessary downshift from the previous two, then Episode 4, Here’s Not Here, basically went to idle.
It did, however, accomplish its primary objective of telling us how Morgan went from batshit crazy in Season 4’s Clear to the staff-wielding pacifist we’ve grown to
love tolerate in Seasons 5-6. The change agent was a man named Eastman who was portrayed by John Carroll Lynch. And there was much we learned in this episode. But before rattling off 7 such things, let’s do a quick, global recap.
The episode begins with the caption NOW. We find Morgan speaking emphatically to someone off camera. Possibly himself. Very unclear. Nearly immediately, we shift to THEN to find nutbag Morgan killing any and everything, alive or dead, that has the misfortune of crossing his path. Like this dude.
He comes across a goat standing outside a cabin. His instinct is to kill the goat and the cabin’s occupant (Eastman), but he instead winds up on the short end of the stick <– see what I did there? and is incarcerated in Eastman’s makeshift jail, just inside his modest cabin. Turns out Eastman is a forensic psychologist whose job was to evaluate super-crazy, pathological, homicidal types to determine if they could ever be reformed.
Peanut butter to Morgan’s jelly.
Slowly but surely Eastman rehabs Morgan through a combination of Aikido, a book called The Art of Peace and by sharing his own personal experiences. Through Eastman’s counsel, Morgan comes to believe what Eastman believed. That all life is precious. Hence the obsession with Aikido, the literal definition of which is to not kill. The martial art form redirects the energy of an aggressor to (a) ensure the potential victim’s safety, (b) disarm the aggressor while (c) never putting the aggressor’s life in jeopardy.
And we see the metaphorical long-form version of Aikido as Eastman takes Morgan, a man who literally tries to kill him (more than once), and redirects his energy to convert him into a peaceful man who values all life in a world where killing abounds.
Which is kinda like going from Phillip Fulmer to Lane Kiffin. Or Bruce Pearl to Cuonzo Martin. Huge overcorrection, but I digress.
Eastman’s global rehab of Morgan takes a sad twist when he’s bitten while trying to save Morgan from a walker (ol’ Spearneck’s buddy who Morgan had strangled to death with his bare hands). Eastman saved Morgan’s mind, then he saved Morgan’s body. His good deeds cost Eastman his life.
The episode goes back to NOW and we learn Morgan is in fact talking to someone. The Wolf with the shitty teeth we thought (hoped?) he’d killed a coupla episodes ago. Morgan told the guy the entire story we just sat through and the Wolf is like “Wow, that’s awesome, but if I ever get out of this house you’ve locked me in, I’m gonna kill all y’all, including your kids.”
We’re unsure as to how he may do this, but early returns suggest he could just breathe on them. With a grill like that, he’s clearly got significant and chronic halitosis.
7 more things we learned:
1. Never Camp With Morgan
It’s like a nature rave on acid with mounds of rotten, burning flesh. Most folks go fishing or hiking as a side activity. Morgan uses a stick to draw semi-circles in zombie guts much like a child in dirt.
Plus, he’ll deface your campsite with abstractly morose snippets written in blood on various natural surfaces. Which would really bug me as I, personally, like to stay tight in the woods.
But worst of all? His little zombie bonfires? He goes with the log cabin approach which is fine if you’ve got a proper fireplace with a good, sturdy grate. But in a campfire environment you gotta teepee that shit. There’s no way around it.
2. Tabitha the Goat is the GOAT
Tabitha was interesting for a coupla reasons. First, she seems to be Eastman’s only companion before Morgan. Maybe even his savior.
Because Eastman once locked a man named Chrighton Dallas Wilton in his prison and watched him die of starvation. Took 47 days. Wilton was one of the prisoners Eastman was chartered with diagnosing. He escaped from prison and killed Eastman’s wife and two small children before turning himself in. The sole intent of his actions was to destroy Eastman’s life.
So Eastman kidnapped Wilton one day from his shift of prion work along the side of I85 to do the dirty deed. But it didn’t bring him the peace he’d hoped, instead finding a place similar to Morgan’s at the beginning of the episode. Eastman tried to turn himself in, but during the 47-day execution, the world had turned unbeknownst to him. Eastman then turned, too, deciding to never kill anything again. He even went so far as to become a vegetarian. Tabitha and her cheese-yielding goat milk, served as a symbol of his peace-finding transformation.
But second, she’s a goat, so go nuts on that. And if her goatness wasn’t enough, consider her name. Tabitha. It’s strong. And I’m a sucker for a good farm animal with a compelling name. I once knew a llama named Piecrust.
3. The Zen Stuff
One of the first things we learn about the new Morgan is that he’s a staff ninja. Eastman taught him everything he knew alongside a flowing tributary of some sort.
It’s more transformation stuff as Morgan begins the episode handy with a stick, only his are fashioned as spears at the end and have presumably doubled as zombie-gut stirrer.
But midway through Here’s Not Here, Eastman presents him with an ornate stick (sans spear) that’s far more befitting of an Aikido man. A hand-hewn deal which is maybe like oak or something. And the scenes of them practice fighting with their sticks, for me at least, conjured up the following image:
It also brought the whole Daniel-Mr. Miyagi relationship to mind. I’m pissed because I was hoping to have that reference all to myself, but Josh Gad stole my Miyagi joke on Talking Dead.
What a dick.
It’s okay though because I knew I couldn’t be the only one thinking it. I mean, as campy as the whole deal was, I half expected Eastman and Morgan to trim Bonsi trees along the tributary’s muddy banks.
4. Fun With Doors
Fun fact about me: I’m a dime store shrink. So when I found out Eastman was a forensic psychiatrist, I knew I was in for a treat.
Eastman tells Morgan he’s got PTSD. He explains the process as trying to get distance from a horrific scenario by using a door that presents itself. Only once you go through it, you find yourself in the exact same place. But Eastman encourages Morgan to not loose faith because one of the doors will finally lead the way out. For Eastman, it came when he got handy with a stick and shacked up with a goat.
Which I’m totally not judging him for.
A day or two after his incarceration, Morgan tries to escape with the help of a zipper pull. Eastman informs him, however, that the door is open. That it’s always been open.
This is obviously another door reference, one which Morgan never even bothered trying to go through. At this point, Morgan is far, far away from transformation. So sick in the head that he’s completely given up on doors altogether. He’s at where he’s at. He walks around, indiscriminately kills, rinses and repeats.
When Eastman tells him about the unlocked prison door, he also tells Morgan he has two choices. He can walk out and stay with Eastman. Or he can walk out the cabin door and leave.
Ever the contrarian, Morgan tries to kill Eastman. But Eastman redirects Morgan’s aggression and whoops his ass. (This is the second time. He’ll do it once more before everything’s said and done with.) After this bout, Morgan walks back into the prison and slams the door. Which turns out to be Morgan’s true choice. To be a literal prisoner, as well as the figurative one his mental state has rendered him.
Stuck in a spot. Refusing help. Clearing because there’s nothing left to do.
Once he’s fully rehabilitated into pacifist, we finally see him take a door. The one out of the cabin that leads to a world of people. Ones whom he won’t kill.
Then, yet another door. The one he takes down the tracks to Terminus. Which we all know turned out to be another false one. But that’s okay. Because at least Morgan’s walking through them again.
5. Wolf Chatter
There are several differences between Eastman’s reality and the new one which Morgan faces, however. Eastman was basically on his own. So his approach could work there. But it would never work if he suddenly had a leadership position in the stronger segment of a society trying to make it in the post-apocalypse world.
Plus, the prison Eastman held Morgan in was secure. The Wolf is in a house with a screen door, for crying out loud. Bound by some flimsy rope that would likely be no match for his own breath were the dumbass to do some simple math.
Much bad is going to happen. And it’s because Morgan is embracing his new way of life too literally. The need to check his evil has blinded him to the greater good. He’ll have to find a middle ground. For his sake, and for his crew’s.
6. Rick’s Good, Glenn’s Who Knows
Or at least I think Rick’s good as I believe it was he who yelled OPEN THE GATE right as Morgan walked out of the Wolf’s quarters. But, predictably, we know nothing of Glenn.
7. This Episode SUCKED. Or Did It?
When I figured out the entire 90 minutes was going to be a story that focused on tragedy, transformation and two dudes stick fighting, I was like “Wow, this sucks.”
But you know what? My kids thought it sucked when Caroline and I put them down an hour earlier than normal last night. They’d had a Halloween bender coupled with a huge Sunday and they were spent. Factor in the time change and a sugar-crash that bordered on the spectacular, and, yeah, man. Early bedtime. They needed it.
But they weren’t into it. Much like I didn’t fully embrace this week’s 90-minute emo-extravaganza. Any news on Glenn? What about this zombie parade that began in Episode 1? I mean, when did this thing turn into Orange Is The New Black where everyone gets his or her own backstory spliced into the timeline?
But I’m gonna trust TWD on this one. That they know what’s best for their viewer here. My hissy fit is just because they got me hooked on this zombie crack they’re selling. So I trust them that it’s best to wait a bit for my next hit of pure dope.
Just please let it be next week.