So, after 3 weeks of a relentless pace, The Walking Dead treated us to a ‘nice’, calm episode. It was interesting, really well done but…it could have waited! I wanted to find out what happened to Glenn, or at least Rick, before I was taken down memory lane by Morgan. Right, that said, I’m not really complaining because it was a fascinating episode, I just wasn’t expecting it at this point!
This was a really deep one: pacifism, the sanctity of life…etc…Now we know why Morgan is so intent on “not killing”: because he was saved from his post-traumatic stress nightmare by Eastman, who basically helped him recover (how darn lucky was it that Eastman just happened to be a forensic psychiatrist?) AND taught him how to fight like a ninja (Aikido actually, but you know what I mean).
I admit to being torn when watching Eastman: was he some sort of saint or an annoying fool? A mix of both? When we found out he buried the walkers and made sure their names were on the graves, I kinda got the “idea” behind it, but I couldn’t help but think he had appointed himself with a ridiculously pointless task. There are better things to do with your time, like, helping real live people!
Also, for such a good fighter, that bite from the walker he was trying to protect Morgan from was pretty avoidable really. I mean, it was obvious from the beginning we were going to witness his demise at some point so it wasn’t surprising…and to be fair, he didn’t even seem surprised himself by his impeding death…or bothered… so maybe that explains why I wasn’t really either. When he got bitten, all I could think was: “you fool, that’s where your silly ideas got you, are you happy now?” (sometimes the voice in my head sounds like a petulant child) I didn’t find the whole “sacrificing myself for Morgan” moving, and I’m quite sure it was meant to be.
And yet, I’m someone who’s quite emotional, who cries easily, sometimes at cute kittens who haven’t even been abandoned or anything but are, just, cute, and small and defenceless, you know? (Okay, yes, I’m exaggerating for effect)
So, yeah, I found it hard to warm up to Eastman but I did get choked when that poor little goat ended up as a walker’s meal. What does that say about me?
Maybe Eastman could survive all alone without ever again taking another human life, but Morgan is in a community of people, it’s a different ball game here. Morgan could live with his principles while he was out in the wild and on his own, but he’s got other people to think about now. That episode was so good because, after taking us on ‘Morgan’s journey’, it ended with the wolf asking him if he could be saved also. Morgan says yes. And then the wolf gives us that evil snarl and states very calmly that, given the chance, he will murder everyone in the community. Did anybody else wish very hard for a gun then so they could shoot the little s**t square in the head? Or next best thing, shoot at the TV? It can’t have just been me. But I digress again.
Morgan was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder when he was found by Eastman, he wasn’t an evil man – he was a traumatised man doing evil things. That wolf on the other hand is clearly an evil guy, full stop. BIG difference. For me, that was the point of the episode: to painstakingly explain to us why Morgan will not seriously harm people, seemingly making a good case for “all life is sacred” — but then ending on the wolf, proving that sanctity of life is great and everything, but in certain cases it just doesn’t work.
This is a post-apocalyptic world, there are no prisons, no law enforcements officers, no psychiatrists, no hospitals, no asylums. If another human being comes up and tries to stick a pickaxe in your brain, you can’t just restrain them and call 911. So, what else can you do?
Eastman said that after letting the psychopath who had killed his wife and children starve to death, he didn’t find peace, that he only found peace when he made the decision “never to kill again”. That, I can believe. But, again it was a different situation in a different world: a world with jails where psychopaths could rot for the rest of their miserable lives, a world where you didn’t have to take the law in your own hands because, there was a Law.
How would Morgan feel if the wolf he refused to kill somehow escapes (it’s not exactly a high-security jail Morgan left him in) and makes good on his promise: killing everyone and even the children? Even if he just managed to kill 5, 3 or even 1 single person, wouldn’t Morgan’s sanctity of life principle become a total joke then?
Isn’t holding on to your principles at all costs incredibly selfish if you think about it? When the cost can be countless other lives? I’m all for integrity, in fact there’s not much I prize higher than that…but there comes a point when you have to ask yourself: should I relent for the sake of others, or keep true to who I am, what I believe in… and fuck everyone else?
If you’re going to choose the latter rather than the former, then I’m sorry to say that you’re not a very nice person even if you are a highly-principled one.
Only a very narrow-minded person refuses to bend the rules, to adapt to different situations, to change and grow. I do get that in Morgan’s mind, his mental recovery is tied to the “sanctity of life” principle he espoused at the time, so it’s got to be hard to shift his views even just a bit on this. Hard, but not impossible. After this latest episode, I understand Morgan a lot better, I still don’t agree with his choices though, even if I now know where they’re coming from.
Morgan’s principles are admirable but they are also foolish, putting the whole of Alexandria in danger. I’m predicting something truly shocking and horrific will happen to make him realise that. And so we go back to Glenn: Rick is now too devoid of empathy, Morgan is caught up in his own personal crusade…Glenn was somewhere between the two, humane but able to pull the trigger on another being if needs be…I want him back just for that. But with Steven Yeun’s name now removed from the credits, his return doesn’t look as likely as I thought it might be – I’m still clinging on to hope though…as stubbornly and pathetically as Morgan is holding on to his damn principles.