'The Walking Dead,' Season 6, Episode 4: Redirecting
Towards the end of The Walking Dead season 3, Rick is reunited with Morgan, the first person he saw after waking up from a coma. Morgan saved Rick's life and explained how the world ended. They were both husbands and fathers of sons. But unlike Rick, Morgan cracked.
The loss of his wife, Jenny, and son, Duane — and his lack of ability to kill them — led him to where he is now: psychologically damaged, alone and without hope of any positive future. We see Morgan's ruined soul in the 12th episode of Season 3, and then his transformation into a staff-wielding warrior for peace in season 6's fourth episode, "Here's not here."
Morgan was beyond saving. He traveled alone, scavenged for food, was constantly on edge and took out any zombie — or human — who crossed his path. That's what he does, Morgan explains to his Aikido trainer, Eastman, he "clears."
In Sunday's episode, we see Morgan almost immediately after Rick left his boobytrapped home in King County back in Season 3. He talks to himself and stumbles around the woods scavenging for supplies and taking out anything and anyone who gets in his way. Two young men try to stalk him, but Morgan stabs one in the throat and strangles the other with his bare hands. No words, just killing.
Just like his fortress, he sets up a spiked branch perimeter fence then burns walkers in piles. The next thing he hears is a goat bleating. Creeping around the log cabin where the goat is tied up, he tries to take out the owner, a man named Eastman, before Eastman knocks him out with his staff.
He wakes up inside the cabin inside a barred cell with a plate of food next to him. Eastman tries to talk to him, but Morgan just yells "kill me" repeatedly. Eastman leaves him alone for the night, and we find out the goat's name is Tabitha.
Side note: I may be wrong, but Tabitha seems like the one animal in the show that lasted the longest. Spoiler: she gets eaten by a walker at the end of the episode. THANKS, AMC.
Eastman tells Morgan he was a forensic psychiatrist before the world ended. His job was to evaluate hardened criminals to see if they should be eligible to reenter society. Out of the 800-some people he interviewed, he only met one evil person. He tells Morgan he has PTSD; it's written clearly on his face. Eastman describes Morgan's condition as constantly being thrown back into horrible moments, like the deaths of his wife and son. That's why Morgan "clears;" it's why he's still around.
Eastman tells him he did save people. "Pointless acts" Morgan calls them. "Everybody turns," he says. But Eastman says we aren't built to kill.
He then reveals Morgan's cell door has been unlocked the whole time and gives him two options: the couch or the door. Morgan makes the mistake of trying to kill Eastman when his PTSD/blurry vision returns. Eastman uses Aikido to "redirect" Morgan's attack.
The Art of Peace
Aikido means "not to kill … even the most evil person." After Morgan chooses to stay, Eastman begins teaching him his ways of peace.
Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art form that teaches people how to defend themselves while at the same time trying to protect their attacker from injury.
In between digging shallow graves for the walkers they've killed and attempting to make cheese out of Tabitha's milk, Eastman teaches Morgan Aikido and how to use his new whittled staff. It's like The Walking Dead: The Next Karate Kid edition. Lots of quick, stiff movements and staff strikes in the air.
Aikido changed Eastman, and it quickly changes Morgan. Good thing, too, because a therapist is pretty hard to come by in postapocalyptic Georgia.
Eastman first learned Aikido after a particularly hard set of prisoner evaluations. Down in the dumps, his daughter gives him a lucky rabbit's foot. The next day he found a flyer for Aikido. The one prisoner he evaluated as pure evil was Crighton Dallas Wilton, a textbook sociopathic charmer. After Eastman puts Wilton back in prison, Wilton breaks out, slaughters Eastman's family then turns himself in to police. Eastman planned his revenge by building the cell in the log cabin where he hoped to bring Wilton to watch him starve to death.
Eastman admits to Wilton's starvation murder when Morgan sees Wilton's makeshift grave amongst the others. But Eastman said killing Wilton didn't give him any peace.
"I put him in that cell, I let him starve to death; it took 47 days," Eastman says. "I found my peace when I decided to never kill again."
"I've come to believe all life is precious."
Morgan tests his new skills while he and Eastman are scavenging for supplies back at Morgan's old spear-fenced stomping grounds. The walker that finds them happens to be the same young man Morgan strangled. He panics, and Eastman has to step in. Unfortunately he gets bitten in the process of saving Morgan.
Though Eastman's condition quickly deteriorates, he and Morgan still bury the walker they just killed (and Tabitha). Eastman knows what's coming, and he's prepared with a gun in a lockbox. His last advice to Morgan is to keep himself surrounded by other people. His last gift is his daughter's rabbit's foot keychain.
Don't ever be sorry.
After Morgan buries Eastman, he sets out as a new man and finds the train tracks leading to Terminus. We all know the rest of the story.
Morgan has been telling this backstory to the Wolf we thought he killed in Episode 2. We thought this Wolf would be the one Morgan would kill since he tried to attack him and steal his coffee last season. But no, Morgan is truely adopting the Aikido way of not killing anyone or anything.
The Wolf shows him he's already been bitten/scratched/has an infection of some kind. He will probably die, but if he doesn't, he promises to kill Morgan and every last soul in Alexandria. "I'd say I'm sorry," he says. "But like you said — never be sorry."
Just great. Morgan is a peaceful, passive Aikido master who all but takes a solemn vow not to kill another human being ever again. Walkers may not count, but the people of Alexandria are facing the blood-thirsty Wolves and have yet to meet the sadistic monster that is Negan. AND MORGAN DOESN'T WANT TO KILL ANYONE.
This is not going to end well.
Final thoughts: No sign of Glenn, dead or alive or zombie. Here's to another week of fan theories.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @chelseatatham.