“Clear” – The Walking Dead Recap

walkingdead s3 title

As I’m watching the episode my heart actually wrenches with pity. The truth has never been clearer – people are cruel, and people are cold. Even if they have their own stories on who they have to protect.

Michonne is at the wheel with Rick beside her and Carl at the back. The tension is thick, and it isn’t the delicious kind. Just up ahead, a lone wanderer waves them down, then begs for them to stop and maybe pick him up. They completely ignore him. Carl looks back, as if to see if he could’ve been anything dangerous, but he seems to accept their decision. Ice cold.

They come across abandoned cars and slow down to survey the wreckage while passing through. Looks like walkers got to all these people good. Faces eaten away, overturned cars. Suddenly they find themselves literally stuck in a rut, and Rick and Carl give her disapproving looks. Conveniently, the zombies come a-hobblin’ from nowhere to see what’s up. None of them are phased – Michonne looks more annoyed than ever.

Rick tells Carl to cover his ears as he winds down the windscreen to blow out some walker brains with his magnum.



Cut to after clearing them out. The trio have scavenged some fabric and sticks to help get the car unstuck. “Wouldn’t have to do it if it didn’t get stuck,” Carl tells his dad grumpily. I guess he doesn’t like Michonne too much. He asks Rick why she was even allowed into their group in the first place, but Rick explains that it’s pure strategy. They needed to find a way around the Merle situation too. Right now they have the same problems, so the enemy of my enemy, and all that stuff. Carl agrees to tolerate her. And this whole time, she’s hearing everything.

In the far distance, the hitchhiker they seemed to have come across has found them again, screaming his lungs out for help. Rick taps the car and they drive away before they can even see his face in the rear view mirror. Credits.

All three end up at an abandoned police station. The abandoned police station, where Rick used to be an upstanding sheriff guy. The place has been totally stripped of ammo and supplies, and Rick’s super pissed about it. Michonne’s not too grieved though. She picks up a bullet off the ground – one bullet is better than no bullet.

Rick suggests that they could visit some of the places that he once granted gun licenses to. It’s always worth a shot to check it out, since they’re in dire need of weapons back at the prison. It’s about time too. Sometimes I wonder where they’re going to get the things they need after they’re done looting all these derelict areas. Guess there’s gonna be some hunting to be done.

He asks if Michonne has a problem with his plan, probably observing that she’s not responsive or enthusiastic about the idea. Michonne says no, and she’s completely aware of his opinion of her. Still, she’s ready to pitch in as a member of the team, and hands Rick the single bullet she collected. They leave the station.

This one's for you.

This one’s for you.

It’s a completely empty. Spray-painted banners and signs are everywhere; it makes for an unusual homecoming. Someone’s obviously been here awhile, telling from the live pigeons (or poultry?) in their cages and the bizarrely arranged cars and trash cans filled with hand-whittled pikes spread outward like an urchin. A zombie approaches the trio from behind and Michonne wants to go deal with it, but Rick urges for her to wait.

The walker hits the string and a clatter of bells fill the air, followed by the burst of a rifle.

A man yells from the rooftops that they should drop everything and leave. With their hands up in the air, Rick quickly briefs them on what to do. Michonne is bent on owning that rifle he’s using.

They scramble and try to confuse him as Michonne quickly makes her way to the roof so she can snag his weapon.

Carl shoots him down. We don’t know if he’s dead. Rick asks if he’s ok, but Carl is way past being traumatized. “I had to,” he says, and you can see Rick get a little upset that his kid had to do the necessary thing. Michonne on the other hand, regards Carl with respect for standing up for himself.

Rick checks on the assailant and finds that he’s decked out in kevlar. He’s still hurt pretty badly though. Maybe some bruised ribs. He’s still alive. “Do we care?” Michonne asks. Rick peels off his mask and is overcome with discomfort. “Yeah,” he replies.

Derp, I know this guy

Derp, I know this guy

Rick tells Michonne and Carl to keep an eye for booby traps. Michonne just wants to get in and out of the place. The less time they spend here, the higher chance they’ll leave in one piece.

Rick won’t have it though. Said attacker apparently saved his life before, and he chooses now to have a spark of loyalty, so he doesn’t just want him to leave him on the street to be vulnerable to zombies. He still believes in the goodness of that guy because he knew him once. And you knew Shane once too, buddy. Tough times change people. Ugh, I can already see it. He’s being set up for some huge disappointment. Please, no hallucinations at the end of this.

Rick remembers that his pal has a son, who may or may not be dead. He wants to check out his house, and is about to enter, but Michonne is quick to remind him about booby traps. Well, that welcome mat seems all too friendly, eh?

Sure enough, under it is a bed of very lethal looking spikes. Bleh. Sure don’t wanna slip on that. Rick thanks Michonne, but she just wants to get the hell on out of here.

Together, they haul the unconscious man up the stairs and Michonne nearly trips a wire  if not for Rick. Really liking that they’re looking out for each other now. I think after the whole Merle thing, Michonne’s really the lesser evil, and she’s proven to be useful. It’s probably easier for Rick to trust her to not kill anyone in his group than to receive Andrea with open arms. And I really like that, because I feel like Michonne needs to belong somewhere. She’s been a lone wolf for way too long.

Parting the sheets reveals an upturned axe perched precariously for unsuspecting intruders. Love that the handle says, “TOLD YOU” to match the “NOT SHITTING YOU” outside. Details like that are always appreciated. Rick warns Carl about the wire, and Carl takes a moment to stare at it before keeping up.

I axed you to leave!

I axed you to leave, boy!

They enter another room and they pause in awe of all the weapons around them for the taking. Grenades, flares, uzis, ammo boxes, pump handle shotguns, hunting rifles, everything. He’s probably the one that raided the station. As Carl and Michonne start stocking their bags, Rick finds an old chest stashed under his friend’s bed, but figuring that it’s private property, shoving it back where he found it. Then he realises the walls are filled with ominous chalk writings telling the story of what had happened.

Rick ponders for a moment and decides to continue looting the place for weapons, but he finds a walkie talkie. I don’t know why he’s getting emotional about it, but he is. And then he gets distracted again by one particular phrase on the wall: DUANE TURNED.

I’m assuming that Duane was the unconscious guy’s kid. Who’s a zombie now. Filled with concern, he asks that Michonne makes sure his friend is ok when he wakes up again. Of course, Michonne is against it again because she knows a thing or two about surviving. She thinks that he’s dangerous, not crazy. She can tell too, that he was probably a very different man from now, and that should be reason enough for all of them to leave as soon as they got what they came for. But Rick insists that they wait for him to wake up. He cable ties the guy’s wrists as a precaution.

Carl spots something on one of the walls in the other room – it’s a map of the town. His neighbourhood, in particular. His house is marked out with a pink cross. It’s not even taken, it’s been burnt out. Rick asks if Carl wanted to come because he wanted to see the state of their house, but Carl “just wanted to come”.

Cue a little comic relief as Michonne chows down on Unconscious Guy’s snacks. “Mat said Welcome,” she shrugs nonchalantly.

Carl pays particular attention to KCC on the map. Uh oh. Don’t back to your old wanderlust habits, kid! He bargains with Rick to let him go to the old childcare by himself, and surprisingly, Michonne chips in to help him out. She comes up with the excuse for him. Fetching cribs. Yeah right.

Signs of home

Signs of home

Rick isn’t an idiot. He can totally tell that his son is stringing him along but he seems to be impressed that Michonne would look out for Carl and treat it like no biggie. They leave for the centre.

Outside, zombies are gnarling and impaled on spikes. I get it now! Pigeons are bait, and zombies are hungry. They stupidly get themselves stuck on the spikes, and they’re just going to naturally rot away! That is so clever. I wish I thought of that! This Unconscious Guy deserves to be mayor of towns. He should be the one in Woodbury, doing the town planning. God knows that place needs help.

Michonne and Carl make their way through the mess; Carl doesn’t like to have babysitters around that aren’t Beth, but Michonne doesn’t care what Carl thinks. A walker is in range and he asks her to take care of it (which she does, very quickly), using the opportunity to quietly slip away.

Nobody escapes Michonne! She catches the tail end of him rounding the corner and she gives chase, asking him what’s his problem. But he just won’t let up. Bad bullshitter. Michonne lets him go do his thing because she’s cool, but she still trails behind.

Oh no you didn't, child

“Oh no you didn’t, child.”

Back at the house, Rick apologizes to the unconscious man, now awake and reaching for a weapon under the bed. Rick is busy feeling up some guns, but is alerted when he hears the drop of a bullet. The unconscious man is now Conscious! and dives forward to kill Rick, but gets the hilt of a rifle in his face.

His name is Morgan, and Rick struggles with him while trying to get him to remember who he is. They slam against a wall, roll around the floor. Rick is pinned and faced with a knife that plunges into his shoulder. OUCH. He has enough strength to roll Morgan over, get up and pull a revolver on him.

Then Morgan is extremely distraught. He begs for Rick to end his life. This is so sad. I wonder if Rick sees this as a possibility for himself.

Random scene of a zombie impaling itself on a spike to reach a rat in a cage. What now?!

Scene abruptly switches back to the house, where Morgan is still begging for Rick to kill him. Rick is patching himself up, and he’s still bent on convincing the guy that he knows him. He explains the walkie’s purpose – he would page him everyday at dawn so Morgan could find him. Yeah, that Morgan. Go rewatch the pilot of the series. He really did save Rick’s life.

Somehow, Morgan remembers this, and chooses to cooperate, giving Rick the full story of how he got here. It’s really tough to listen to because this guy pinned all his hopes on Rick, who was probably already at Hershel’s farm playing daily politics. He waited, and waited, and there was nothing for him. Just white noise and loss and having lost everything around him. No wonder this guy’s unstable.

Not feeling so insane now, huh?

Not feeling so insane now, huh?

I feel bad for Rick. As Morgan lashes out, he’s made to feel like he’s responsible for yet another person. This should be the turning point for his character. That you can’t save everyone, no matter how hard you try. There’s always someone out there who could’ve been saved, whose family would have survived could you have done something about it instead of just leaving.

It’s so crazy how this compares to the beginning of the episode when they don’t stop for the guy in need. Rick didn’t stop for Morgan either. And it only hurts him more now because he knows Morgan, who saved his life, who took him in, who showed him kindness and gave him a second chance at escape. For choosing his own family over Morgan’s. Way to lay on a guilt trip.

Morgan asks if Rick ever saw Lori turn into a walker, and wallows in great self-pity. Everything out of his mouth is a “my pain cut deeper than yours”, which I would be extremely annoyed with if this guy wasn’t suffering from deep neurosis and mental trauma. The way he tells the story of how his son shot his undead wife is just terribly tragic.

A chilling excerpt from his monologue: “The good people, they always die. And the bad people do too. But the weak people… The people like me, we have inherited the earth.”

The face of a lost man

The face of a lost man

Carl and Michonne arrive at a restaurant. He’s searching for something inside, but Michonne stops him from opening the door. It pisses him off, and he mouths off at her about her only being tolerated because they have common interests (namely, beheading the Governor), and aims to leave all by his lonesome. But before he can get a good distance, Michonne interrupts. “I can’t stop you, but you can’t stop me from helping you.” Awesome. I love that she’s teaching him about how everyone, not just him, has a right to make their own decisions and choose what to do.

They roll in the rat cage bait, which stirs tons of zombies to life. They sneak past them, but ergghhhhh they seemed to have missed out a zombie behind the bar. Carl reaches for a photoframe right at the top, and the walker grabs his shoe, but hey, Michonne’s husband Mr Katana saves the day again. She has to do it extremely quietly though. What, walkers have bat sonar hearing now?

Both quickly run to the exit but encounter a noisy rat – uh oh. The meal’s out and about and now they have to go. Like really run for their lives. It’s super intense as they barely slip out, and Carl’s freaking out about losing the photo on the way out.

“It’s the only one left!” Okay, I don’t want to be mean, but Chandler Riggs isn’t really great at playing strong emotions. His delivery often turns what’s meant to be tired frustration into a kiddy tantrum. Michonne doesn’t want him to recklessly dive back in there and risk his life, so she asks him to wait outside as she goes back in to get it. Sound the applause; Michonne uses her disciplinary voice to get Carl to listen. No bullshit! Exactly. Carl’s a lot like his dad, huh. Trying to prove that he’s got to do everything by himself, that his journey’s solely his own. Take off that damn hat first, then you can be a grown up.

He holds the door and pins his weight on the handles so that they don’t open. Aren’t they afraid that the arms will bust through and grab him?! In less than 10 seconds, Michonne returns with the photoframe. What a badass. It’s an old family photo from a long while ago, which he hopes to one day show Judith what Lori looked like. He thanks her, and she tells him that since they’re not going back there, she took a little souvenir for herself too – a rainbow cat thing! What the! It’s the most bizarre piece of paraphernalia I’ve ever seen someone be willing to steal on TV, but because it’s Michonne, it’s cool. She can hoard whatever weird cat-shaped goods she wants, as long as she keeps protecting with that samurai sword. You have eccentric taste, Michonne, I like.

Family Portrait

"It's too damn gorgeous."

“It’s too damn gorgeous.”

Rick is still trying to reason with Morgan. He explains his current living situation with his group, but Morgan harshly asks if it’s where Lori died. Wow, this guy. I really want to pity him, but his every waking moment is filled with bitter hatred. Every single thing that comes out of his mouth is just meant to pull Rick down with him. I’m miserable, so I’ll make everyone goddamned miserable. I get that he’s lost all hope, but I would totally punch this man, so I applaud Rick for having restraint.

In fact, Rick would like him to following him back, but Morgan is done having hope and being part of something, only to have it all taken away. He won’t ever put himself through that again. Really nihilistic. Oddly, after a moment’s thought, he gives Rick permission to take whatever guns he needed; Rick thinks that there’s still some part of his friend in there that believes in surviving.

It’s perfect how his experience with Morgan is opening his eyes to the path he’s currently on. He could end up the same way, and it’s great to see that he instinctively doesn’t want to be where Morgan has ended up. Alone, on the brink of insanity, in utter despair. I’m also marvelling at how quickly Rick has snapped out of his instability in order to put someone he thought he cared about at ease with their own mental and emotional struggles. Maybe it’s better for his character to have someone crazier be around him, eh?

Morgan refuses to follow Rick, citing having to “clear” as the reason to stay. I guess he means clearing the town of zombies? Either way, Rick quits, picks up his bag and leaves.

Fast forward to Morgan tending to a corpse outside and Rick meeting up with Michonne and Carl, who’re carrying a crib full of supplies. Michonne sees Morgan. “He’s okay?” she asks. “No,” Rick replies, “he’s not.”

Carl wants a last word with Morgan, to absolve himself for shooting him earlier. He apologizes, but Morgan tells him that he doesn’t ever need to be sorry for protecting himself and the people around him.

"Don't you ever be sorry."

“Don’t you ever be sorry.”

All three are loading up the last bags of supplies into the car boot. Rick asks Carl discreetly about how their journey was, and Carl responds with acknowledging that she could be part of the group after all. Woohoo. Really funny when Rick’s all, “Wut?” about it, but it’s extra nice to see the sheriff put on a smile and chuckle a little. He tells Carl to get in, then spends a moment pondering the day.

Michonne notices. She asks if he’s seeing things again. Everybody knows he does. Then she shares something quite personal and interesting – she used to have conversations with her late boyfriend. I suppose this warms up right with Rick because the next moment he hands the keys to her so she can take the wheel. You can totally see that Michonne is psyched to be finally accepted in Rick’s eyes.



The next sequence rounds off the episode by drawing a parallel to its beginning; they drive out of town with “Lead Me Home” as a closing vignette. The town’s See You Again! signs are instead Away With You, as Rick catches a final glimpse of Morgan setting a cadaver out probably as bait meat. I love how it’s all quiet silence in the car, where everyone’s just in their own thoughts. They encounter the same wreckage on the way back, and further down they come across the remains of the backpacker they’d left for dead earlier. Nothing but a bloody torso.

Cut to the car reversing to pick up his orange haversack – he’s dead anyway, so might as well grab what they can. Carl picks it up, and they return to the prison. Sublime! A great filler as all filler episodes go. Appreciate the writers trying to give Michonne a little more dimension. Glad it was with Rick and Carl, who both can be reasonably receptive towards an outsider. Depends on luck though, and she’s got lots of it in this episode. Pairing her with Carl gave her a cool big sister vibe and a tenderness that her character needed. I love how Michonne can now present her loyalty to a group that actually values it and will return the favour to her. And I hope this increased airtime/focus isn’t a  sign of impending doom…

Back it up, kids.

Back it up, kids.

Talky talk

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