This week brought on some mixed feelings. It was an odd and disappointing choice to stick in a standalone episode at this poing in the season. I’m invested in the larger story. Last week they spun the wheels a bit on that story. And now, we get away from that story entirely for the entire episode. We don’t see Woodbury at all. And so I wonder–are they out of story beyond the climactic confrontation? Do we have two or possibly three more episodes of waiting? Ugh..
On the other hand, it was a pretty good standalone episode (unless you’re a hitchhiker.) So Rick drags Carl and Michonne on a random macguffin hunt so this other story can be told. It’s a story worth telling–what happened to Morgan who saved Rick back in season one before he found the group? That brings up the second downer of this episode: it takes place in Rick and Carl’s home town. This creates a really small world syndrome. They’ve been traveling for a year or more, and they’re a short drive from where they started? Wouldn’t that make the town of Woodbury and the prison familiarish places to Rick? I know where the prisons, towns and other major landmarks around me for a large radius. It feels a bit retcon to place them so close to home for the convenience of telling this story and not structure this as a larger, more critical, trip.
Back to the plot, Morgan has set up a really inventive kill-zone for zombies and (equal opportunity) any humans that stumble on him. I loved all the cool little touches like the warnings and the color-coded escape routes. They make Morgan’s lone wolf survival seem plausible. So our heroes stumble into Morgan’s trap and things aren’t looking so good until Carl saves the day with a point blank shot. Carl’s a stone cold killa even if it’s a human. But Morgan survives thanks to body armor and we learn soon enough that he’s three cars ahead of Rick on the crazy train. We get a nice moment where Rick is talking more to himself than to Morgan about how you can come back from crazyland–the trains run both ways. And I get the sense Rick has turned the corner while we learn that it’s too late for Morgan. I hope we’re done with ghost Lori. That’s a good step forward if it sticks.
Meanwhile, Carl and Michonne are off on Carl’s secret mission for Judith. And we get another quality character moment among the zombie killin’. Michonne finally gets slightly humanized. Her relationship with Andrea at the start of the season hinted that this side of her existed, but the writers have done a really lousy job of showing any hint of it in the screen-time she’s been given before this episode. Honestly, nothing before tonight has really lived up the the amazing intro she got at the end of season two. But tonight was good. She’s built a small bond with Carl, and with the audience. More progress. Don’t regress to brooding stares next week, please.
So, in the final analysis, not the episode I wanted to see, but an episode which told a story well and provided some nice character work for the few that appeared in it. Can’t complain about that.