This week, we have an episode that talks about two important subjects in the Walking Dead series--recovering from loss and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It's great to see a series-defining character like Morgan get his own episode, and it ranks up there as an important detour from the current story line. We are being dragged to a conclusion that seems pretty ominous to me. What happens if Alexandria is destroyed? Where does everyone go?
Here's Not Here has some great dialogue as well as a significant exploration of how people can come back from severe personal trauma. It's a therapeutic episode as well as one that accomplishes a great deal in terms of explaining how a person moves on from deep, deep tragedy. Can you depict insanity with dignity? If so, this is your template for doing just that.
Treating PTSD in this way allows us to see how Morgan has healed without being cured of anything. He still carries doubt, fear, pain, and loss around with him as well as a lucky rabbit's foot. This luck is transferred from the man, named Eastman, who takes Morgan from his own demented hell and makes him a person again. The feral version of Morgan we saw back in Season Three when Rick, Michonne and Carl had a chance encounter with a heavily armed but disturbed version of Morgan gives way to a character not unlike Caine from the 70's series Kung Fu.
This is Morgans's journey and it appears where it does in order to further frustrate the viewers while giving them essential backstory. He goes from a man out of place with no purpose to one who will now walk the Earth and look for people to be with. Everything is about people and everything worth living for involves being with other people--that's the lesson I took from this. You can see the therapeutic results for yourself in the montage where Morgan learns Akido from Eastman. This is how Morgan will live his life, deflecting and redirecting the horror around him with a bow staff. This is a weapon designed not to kill, and this defines the peace that Morgan has made with the world.
This deviation from the imminent walker attack on Alexandria heightens the tension of Season Six. Who will die when the Alexandria safe zone is overrun? Glenn is dead, but is he really? Will we have to wait until Episode 8 to find out what happened when Glenn crawled under the dumpster and fell asleep? Will we have to wait until next year and Episode 16? Holy cow, talk about being put through the ringer. If you haven't already guessed, we're going to be subjected to a lot of this from now on. It's like trying to get through the last two seasons of Breaking Bad--every week, just enough happens to keep you on the hook for more, and those weeks are few and far between.
Did anyone yell "son of a Gunderson" when John Carroll Lynch appeared in this episode? I had to look it up, too. Yes, the same actor who played Marge Gunderson's husband in Fargo makes his single episode debut in the Walking Dead franchise (whether he comes back for flashbacks is anyone's guess, but I suspect we have seen the last of him. This will go down as one as the most significant appearances in the history of the series, and Lynch deserves an Emmy. I mean, the entire cast has a solid body of work to draw from and it is further proof that you will see some of the best actors and actresses out there when you watch this show. For the Emmys to ignore The Walking Dead remains a travesty of the highest order.
This is an episode that defies recapping and analysis. To be honest with you, I've already said more about it than I thought I would.