- Written By: Scott Gimple
- Air Date: 3/3/2013
- Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Scott Wilson, Emily Kinney, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker
- Guest Stars: Lennie James
Before I delve into this week’s episode, I must caution against the SPOILERS inherent within. It’s basically impossible to write anything useful or interesting about “Clear” without mentioning some of the spoilers that occur within the first 10 minutes of the episode. You have been warned!
It’s been almost three seasons, but Rick and Carl finally return home again, in this great, character driven episode that is “Clear.” Michonne is along for the ride, so Rick can keep an eye on her (and separate her from Merle, though I don’t think that’s as necessary as he may think). Along the way, we get more characterization for Michonne than we have since her brilliant arrival, allowing the fantastic Danai Gurira to showcase her immense talents. Part of me wonders why it took so long for Rick and Carl to venture back to King County, especially with the allure of the weapons storage that Rick left behind. That’s not to mention the fact that home is clearly about a half day’s journey (how crazy/sad is it that the group has come so “far”, yet they are apparently only about 5 hours from where Rick started?). The necessity for guns and bullets made a really good excuse for the journey, and the “distance” that they’ve traveled can’t simply be measured in miles, and the time passage makes the visit back home that much more poignant.
Some may have been thrown by this episode, desperately craving more Governor/Rick action, hoping for more ramping up to the oncoming war, but I think this interlude was needed, and showcased the writing talents of Scott M. Gimple. Gimple is the next showrunner on AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, taking over for Glen Mazzara in season 4 (the position is more tenuous than the Defense Against the Dark Arts position), and “clear”-ly (pun
unintended) we’re in strong, capable hands. That’s a relief, ain’t it? There are small, wondrous details surrounding the action that is pure bliss for the audience member that remains attentive throughout the hour. Examples include a sign written to an Erin on the side of the road, and a zombie wearing an Erin bracelet later in the episode, not to mention all of the manic written ravings found in town.
Along their journey, a desperate, lonely hitchhiker cries out for help, yet the trio drive past them, without a second glance. Part of me wonders how picky they can be, considering they need an army, but it is such an obviously dangerous prospect and highlights how far these characters have come (or fallen).
Rick, Carl, and Michonne arrive to find their former hometown a demented, zombie (and human) obstacle course, with spikes, trip lines, traps, spears and the like laid out along the streets. THE WALKING DEAD ESCAPE has its new stage. Soon, they find they’re not alone, as a man sprays bullets at them from the rooftops. Not Michonne, not Rick, but Carl is the one to bring him down, and when Rick removes his helmet, he finds himself face to face with an old friend. Yup, Morgan is back. And he’s off his meds.
Morgan has collected himself a helluva lot of guns, ammunition, and weapons in his fortress of crazy-tude, with frantic verbiage covering nigh every inch of the walls. He’s nuts. We’ve seen Rick become a little shaky himself, but this episode served to show how much worse it could be for our favorite survivors. Michonne wants to leave him then and there and steal his weapons, whereas Rick wants to wait, to talk to his friend, to bring him back with them. Carl wants to visit a baby store in town for Judith/Little Asskicker, and Michonne insists on accompanying the scamp, and there we have the two plotlines!
The rest of the way, only one fairly minor note of this episode felt off, but I was okay to chalk it up to Michonne’s brilliance (see if you can spot it). The rest was just a wonderful character driven episode that, instead of feeling like a waste of time or an hour of arguing, felt necessary, like a respite from the main story that is no less compelling and shines light on Michonne while providing more focus on the father/son relationship between Rick and Carl. Four episodes remain in this season, and something tells me this is the last break (a “break” still includes a stab wound, bullets and a near constant threat of death) in the action we’ll have for a while.