The Walking Dead - S03-E12 - "Clear"

The Walking Dead
Season Three, Episode Twelve.

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Rising from the ashes of turdville like a phoenix, The Walking Dead comes out of nowhere with “Clear,” a focused bare-bones episode that cuts out all of the main cast except for Rick, Michonne and Carl. This gives us a much-needed break from the prison of misery, Woodboring, and Andrea’s eye-roll-inducing moral quandaries. I am very happy that Michonne is one of the three main characters in this episode and after whining about her character being tragically undefined, we finally get a little bit to work with. It’s not the flashback episode that I pined for in last week’s recap but we get some warmth, a joke and a smile out of her. I’ll take it.

Michonne’s episode arc begins when she overhears Rick and Carl talking about how neither one of them is all that keen on having her around but that she could be useful while they have “common interests.” Michonne spends the rest of the episode doing her usual badass things but also making an extra effort to show those Grimes jerkfaces she’s worth a damn.

The reason for this road trip is to return to Rick’s former place of employment and collect all the guns and ammunition they can find. They only find a single bullet, however, as the guns have been cleaned out by Rick’s old friend Morgan, last seen in the series premiere. Unfortunately, Morgan is another resident of the now thriving metropolis of Crazy Town, having lost his son in addition to his wife.

After a friendly shootout, Rick and Morgan have some catching up to do, so Carl and Michonne turn into a bizarre Calvin and Hobbes and go on a little adventure that includes rats on skateboards and a multi-coloured cat. Carl is slightly annoying here but it is age-appropriate and not overdone (like last season where he wandered off constantly). Michonne does an admirable job melting the icy shields Carl’s constructed. Rescuing the photo of his mother for Judith was a touching gesture. I think Carl wanted the picture just as much for himself and it is nice to see that he misses his mother and isn't just a stone-faced soldier.

I found the conversations between Rick and Morgan less interesting but still important. Rick, dealing with his own crazy spells, is forced to talk someone else off a ledge and vocalize all the rational things he needs to be hearing. By attempting to convince Morgan to be rational and come back to the group, he is also convincing himself to rejoin the sane world. Morgan is having none of it however, saying that it is the weak people like himself that inherit the earth and essentially that he is afraid to connect and make new friends that are just going to die and bring him more pain. He won’t be coming back from the pain of losing his wife and son. Rick accepts this.

So Rick, Michonne and Carl grab a bunch of guns and head back but not before Carl tells his dad about his new katana-wielding friend and Rick and Michonne share a moment about “seeing things.”

This moment between Rick and Michonne is probably my favourite of the season. It’s light, a little bit funny, reveals something about an enigmatic character and makes both characters a little bit more likeable. Warmed the cockles of my heart, it did.

Did this episode touch your cockles like it did mine, Steve?

It did, Blair, maybe below the cockles, maybe in the sub cockle area.

Walking Dead has this way of doing things. They will grind to a halt until the viewer is ready to give up entirely on the show and then all of a sudden you will get an episode come along where Sophia walks out of the barn. All of a sudden all your faith is restored and you are hooked again.

It was actually really was nice to get away from all the dreariness of the prison and the hustle bustle of Woodboring. I'm wondering what would have happened at the prison. I assume Rick would have left them with chores to upgrade their defenses. At least I hope he did.

So they drive all the way back to the Grimes' home town? That is quite a trek to take on in one day, as it has taken Rick 2 seasons to get to the prison. Anyways, all that aside, it didn't seem like the most exciting trip either. The silent Michonne, the stone cold Carl and day dreaming Rick. At least the silence is cut by the intrepid solo adventurer. Sorry dude, if only you had met Rick a few month earlier, you might have had a chance at a ride.

It was a little odd that those walkers managed to sneak up on the group, gotta watch out for those ninja walkers. I think after Rick got the emotional slap in the face from Carl he realized he is the main reason he has to live and tries to have a little bonding time with Carl. Even if it is a quick chat about how to get an SUV unstuck (Wish I knew that little tip in high school) and a quick chat about why Michonne is with them. I don't think that was the whole reason she was with them, I think there was more to it but maybe I'm just digging a little too much.

I found the Rick/Morgan scenes strong. First, Rick having to crack Morgan and bring him back to reality. The discussions about each other wives and sons, hopefully making Rick realize that he has it bad but not that bad. Rick finding the walkie, having Morgan break down about how he wasn't there when he turned on his radio. He needed Rick and he wasn't there for him. What if Rick had been on the other end one day? Would Morgan be at the prison with them? More importantly would Duane? Maybe that is how Morgan feels and that is why he seems to blame Rick so much. I do hope this was a healthy group session for Rick and he has worked out his own issues and has returned from Crazytown.

The Michonne/Carl duo was a good chance to learn a bit about Michonne, and get some lengthy dialogue out of her. They seem to be a good duo, even though Carl still has some things to learn about killing walkers. All that work for a picture of Judith's mom? What about a picture of her dad?

I'm also convinced that Michonne has mutant powers. She's on the street with Rick -BAMF- she's on the roof looking for Morgan -BAMF- she's on the street after Carl shoots Morgan. Cut to the bar with Carl, "Wait here, I'll get it." Runs around the corner - BAMF- gets picture (which I was sure was right by the door...and all those walkers) and a ridiculous pinata -BAMF- back outside with Carl.

The final scene of the unfortunate hitchhiker, or what's left of him, and his bag is a dark reminder of how bad things have gotten. No idea what was in that bag, but if he was hauling it you can be sure it was all useful, and he sure doesn't need it anymore.


Bonus Content! 
After reading Blair's comment about Carl and Michonne's adventure a la Calvin & Hobbs I had to share the idea with my buddy at work....the very talented Mr. Tang. You can head over to the Waterfall Cave to see more of his work

-The desperate hitchhiker reminded me of Ralphie’s little brother Randy in A Christmas Story. “C’mon guys, wait up! Wait up!”

-A small but fantastic detail in this episode was the sign at the beginning of the episode (“Erin, we tried for stone mountain” – J) and the brief glimpse of one of the walker’s bracelet that read ERIN. It reminds us that there are other people out there, other groups, with their own stories that could be just as interesting as the ones we’re watching. It reminds us that there is a bigger world out there than just the prison and Woodbury.

-I felt a slight tingle in my heart when I saw Erin, I even let out an audible sigh. That sort of detail does make you think about other groups, or lone hitch hikers for that matter. What is their story? What happened to those people? Did they make it to the mountains?

-Back to the messy chaos next week, I assume?

-We are in the home stretch, 4 episode left, things are going to start to heat up. What will happen in the mean time? Will we see an epic battle sooner than the last episode? Will the group move on? Take over Woodbury? What kind of losses will we see in the coming episodes?

Blair’s Episode MVP: Michonne
Steve's Episode MVP: Morgan
Blair’s Episode Grade: A
Steve's Episode Grade: 2 thumbs up
Blair’s Deadpool Pick: Andy and Ben
Steve"s Deadpool Pick: Andrea