(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you have not watched Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead”)
Sorry, “Walking Dead” fans, but you’ll have to wait at least one more week to learn Glenn’s fate.
Instead, this week delved into the backstory of Morgan (Lennie James), who is quickly proving to be one of the most fascinating personalities on a show with no shortage of complex characters.
The show’s executive producer, Greg Nicotero, believes that James’ performance all the way back in Season 1 set the tone for the entire series.
“I think it was one of the first indications the show was something different,” Nicotero told TheWrap. “It wasn’t about the gore. It wasn’t about the creatures. It was about the human emotion exhibited in this world.”
The episode begins with Morgan talking with the Wolf he captured at the end of episode two, explaining how he came to Alexandria.
In flashbacks, we see Morgan some time after Rick last encountered him in King County. A fire destroyed his safe house, forcing him out into the wilderness. Morgan wanders aimlessly, killing walkers and humans alike, driven only by his desire to “clear.”
He stumbles upon a cabin one day with a goat tied up outside. A voice tells him to leave the goat alone, but Morgan opens fire with his rifle. Suddenly, he is incapacitated by a man named Eastman (John Carroll Lynch).
Morgan wakes up in a cell inside the cabin. Eastman has left him with food and a bedroll, but Morgan begs that Eastman kill him and put him out of his misery. Eastman refuses, as he used to be a psychologist who worked with criminals. He recognizes that Morgan has been through serious trauma but has the potential to heal.
Over an unspecified amount of time, Morgan and Eastman learn to trust each other. Eastman even teaches his new companion the martial art aikido and how to wield a bo staff — a skill set that taught Eastman how to appreciate all life and eliminated his desire to kill, which is a philosophy that Morgan eventually adopts.
“Morgan is like a reformed criminal almost,” Nicotero said. “I think that he was at the deepest, darkest place in his existence and found a way to redeem himself and to find the good in life.”
Realizing they can not stay at the cabin forever, the two begin planning to leave. While gathering supplies for the journey, Eastman is bitten by a walker after Morgan suffers a mental lapse.
Back at the cabin, Eastman reveals that he has only killed one person in his life, a former patient whom he kept from getting paroled. The man subsequently broke out of prison and murdered Eastman’s wife and children. Eastman then kidnapped the man from prison and starved him to death in the cell at the cabin.
Eastman tells Morgan that he must leave and continue to live and that all good things in life involve being with other people.
The episode ends with Morgan again talking to the Wolf. The Wolf says that given the chance, he will still kill Morgan and everyone else in Alexandria, because that is who he is and the by which he lives. Morgan leaves the man tied up, but runs toward the gates when he hears someone who sounds a lot like Rick screaming for them to be opened.