Last night′s episode of AMC-TV′s ″The Walking Dead″, entitled ″Here′s Not Here″, gave viewers some insight into how the character, Morgan Jones went from being a raving lunatic to a man of peace. We begin with Morgan talking to the camera, telling somebody his ′story′. How he got ′here′, where he is now. The journey of Morgan is an interesting one, as he and his son were the very first living humans that Rick Grimes met after awakening from his coma. Morgan was the one who got Rick up to speed on the Zombie Apocalypse, and introduced the term ″Walkers″. The episode, the fourth in Season 6, was remarkable television. Basically a two-man performance on a single set. After all of the gut-wrenching mayhem and non-stop action in the season′s first three episodes, ″Here′s Not Here″ gave us all a break to ponder on psychological issues. So, once again, I declare, ″Spoiler Alert!″
Morgan begins his ′story′ at what must have been his ultimate low point in life. Some time after his encounter with Rick, Carl and Michonne in the episode ″Clear″. Clear comes up often. We see Morgan ranting and raving to himself in his fortress apartment. A kerosene lantern is knocked over and starts a fire. The walls, covered with bizarre words and phrases, burn away. Morgan manages to get out. Armed with an AR-15, he goes through the woods, clearing, or killing, anything in his path, zombie or human.
Morgan establishes a camp site, surrounded it with wooden spikes he carves from tree limbs. He drags his kills into the center of camp and burns the bodies. On several large rocks inside his safe zone, Morgan starts written strange phrases again. Like ″CLEAR″ and ″Here′s Not Here″. I think another rock had the phrase ″Unspeakable Acts″ written on it. Morgan is not only going totally insane, but has become suicidal. He is pushing his luck deliberately, seeking Death′s release from his nightmare existence.
After killing two humans, possibly a father and son, Morgan stumbles about and hears an animal. He finds a cabin deep in the woods along with a female goat. A voice from behind some cover asks Morgan not to kill the goat as he needs her to make cheese. Morgan hunts for the cheese maker but gets knocked out instead. When he awakens, Morgan finds himself inside a jail-like cell. I guess in Georgia, some folks build cabins with their own private jail?
The cheese maker is named Eastman. He was a forensic psychologist before the zombie apocalypse who had worked for the state reviewing violent criminals up for parole. Morgan gets lunch, a Goo Goo Cluster chocolate and a book, ″The Art of Peace″ by Aikido master Morihei Ueshiba. When Eastman asks Morgan for his name, Morgan answers ″Kill me!″ Eastman realizes that Morgan is not going to be a fun guest.
Eastman and Morgan begin communicating after a time. Morgan is still in his dark place, plotting an escape so he can kill Eastman. He tells Eastman that his job is to ″clear″. Eastman tells Morgan that all life is precious and he chooses not to kill anyone anymore. Out of some 800 or so criminals he′s dealt with, Eastman says he only met one who was truly evil. He offers Morgan a way out of his insanity. Eastman also tells Morgan that the jail cell is not locked. He lost the key long ago. Eastman offers Morgan two choices, stay or leave. After a brief fight, where Eastman′s knowledge of Aikido comes in handy, Morgan decides to stay, and returns to the jail.
Eastman is always busy. When he isn′t protecting his goat, Tabitha, he′s making graves and wooden markers for those zombies he puts down. Eastman even checks the bodies for ID to ensure a proper name on the grave markers. His conversations with Morgan result in Morgan calming down. Eastman teaches Morgan the art of Aikido, training him in the use of the staff as a weapon. The basic tenant of Aikido is to consider the well being of your opponent. You only use what force is necessary for defending yourself, not to kill your attacker. Well, at least not to kill a human attacker. Zombies are fair game, even in Aikido.
Eventually, Eastman and Morgan develop a friendship, or at least a civil discord. Eastman confesses to Morgan his own great sin in life. How he once prevented a maniac killer named Walton from getting a parole, even after Walton fooled prison officials with some flowers-for-hospitals program. Walton tried to kill Eastman in prison during their last meeting. Failing in this and denied parole, Walton escaped and murdered Eastman′s wife and two children. Turning himself in, Walton explains that his purpose was to ruin Eastman′s life forever.
This put Dr. Eastman into a very dark place. The cabin in the woods became his shelter from society as he plotted revenge. Thus the addition of the jail cell in the living room. Eastman′s plan was to kidnap Walton during one his his flower gardening excursions and starve him to death in the cell. The plan was carried out and it took 47 days for Walton to die. Eastman then went back to Atlanta to turn himself in, only to find that the world had come to an end. He barely made it back to the cabin alive running into zombies along the way.
The two men plan to head for the Atlantic coast in hopes of finding an island with survivors. Eastman tells Morgan that his one ambition now is to hold a baby in his arms again. Morgan tells him that some of the supplies they need for the trip are back at his camp. The two men hike through the woods and find the camp site much as Morgan left it. Eastman notices the rocks with the writing upon them. He also notices a zombie approaching and lets Morgan test his new skills with the staff on it. The Walker turns out to be the older human he had killed recently and Morgan freezes. Eastman jumps in to save Morgan and gets bitten in the process.
Morgan explodes in rage. He wanted to be bitten! He still desires suicide, death. The two men fight but even the wounded Eastman is still too skillful for Morgan to take down. He leaves Morgan to his madness and heads for home. Morgan prepares some wooden stakes and goes hunting for Eastman, but, instead comes across a Walker sneaking up on an injured man and a woman. Morgan dispatches the Walker and appears to be ready to kill the hapless couple. But the woman thanks Morgan and gives him a can of chicken soup and one bullet.
Morgan begins to regain his newly found peace of mind and rushes back to the cabin. Eastman is not there but Morgan finds a zombie munching away at Tabitha. Morgan finds Eastman at the grave yard and brings the zombie and Tabitha in a wheelbarrow. Eastman is sad to see his dead goat, he never did master the art of cheese making. But he knows that his time is short. Morgan helps him back to the cabin and Eastman settles his affairs, leaving Morgan the cabin and any possessions he wants. He also gives Morgan the lucky rabbit′s foot that his daughter had once given him on a bad day. Morgan helps Eastman to his bedroom where he has a pistol waiting.
The Sun sets as Morgan practices Aikido alone. He leaves the cabin after burying Eastman, carving a marker for his grave, and soon finds himself on the path to Terminus, and eventually back to his old buddy, Rick Grimes. Morgan completes his story and now we learn whom he had been talking to. It was the Wolves member we thought h had killed in Episode 2, ″JSS″. The Wolf asks Morgan if he could save him as Eastman had saved Morgan? Morgan says he might. But the Wolf, tied up in a home in Alexandria, has other ideas. He tells Morgan that under his ′code′, he will get free and murder Morgan and the rest of the Alexandrians. Even the children. Morgan departs and locks the gate door behind him. His moment of reflection is brief as a noise alerts Morgan to some new danger.