Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Morgan and Eastman (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Morgan and Eastman. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

“Here’s Not Here” tells the story of Morgan Jones and his path to peace in one of the most powerful and beautiful episodes of “The Walking Dead.” The main story is put on pause in order to give viewers some necessary backstory for the character of Morgan. A cheese-maker and a goat named Tabitha become companions to Morgan as he slowly works his way to a place of relative tranquility about other people and the world around him.

The episode begins in the present time as Morgan speaks to one of the Wolves that he captured in an Alexandrian house. The narrative switches to the past as Morgan shares his story with the Wolf. Following his meeting with Rick, Michonne and Carl back in King County, Georgia in the third season’s critically acclaimed “Clear,” Morgan has what appears to be a nervous breakdown. Fans of the series will immediately recognize the setting as Morgan’s refuge with the distinct writing on the walls and the walkie-talkie that Rick gave Morgan in the very first episode. A knocked-over lantern sets the home ablaze as the camera pans over several of the phrases on the wall, including “Here’s Not Here,” alluding to the episode title.

Morgan is later shown wandering through the forest and killing walkers with no set plan or destination. He comes across two fellow survivors, a father and son, who he abruptly and brutally murders. This is critical for the rest of the episode and series as it shows how Morgan was completely capable of taking the lives of others which contrasts his current outlook. He wanders and eventually stumbles upon a cabin with a goat outside. A mysterious voice calls out to him and asks to leave the goat alone, but invites him inside for falafels. Morgan begins to hunt for the man, but is suddenly knocked out with a swift slash of a stick. He wakes up inside of a makeshift holding cell in the cabin where the mysterious man introduces himself as Eastman (John Carroll Lynch) and asks for his name. Morgan harshly responds by saying “Kill me” repeatedly; this harkens back to “Clear” where he asked the same of Rick.

Time passes and Morgan remains in the cell, closely watching the daily activities of Eastman, who appears to live a peaceful and normal life in the hellish apocalypse. Eastman reveals that he was a forensic psychologist before the world ended; he takes note that Morgan is clearly suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder and shares that humans are not built to kill. The character of Eastman is surprising and refreshing on this show as the majority of fellow survivors that our characters come across turn out to be malicious. The art of “aikido” is revealed to be the basis for how Eastman lives his life; the taking of any lives is to be prevented at all costs. Throughout the episode, this set of ideals is slowly passed on to Morgan. Eastman also shares the tragedy of his life: a prisoner named Crighton Dallas Wilton managed to kill Eastman’s wife and two children after being negatively evaluated. John Carroll Lynch performed these scenes with absolute heartfelt emotion and grace.

Eastman begins to train Morgan is the art of “aikido” and a friendship begins to form between the two men. The origin of Morgan’s signature staff is revealed to have been given to him by Eastman as a part of “aikido.” Tabitha the goat is also a major highlight of the episode representing the importance of having something to fight for. One scene shows Eastman head out to search for supplies, leaving Morgan alone. Walkers come and begin attacking Tabitha to which Morgan fights them off, showing a considerable change already in his character. Soon after, Morgan discovers a nearby cemetery where Eastman has buried all of the walkers that he kills. Eastman searches the bodies for identification and makes a grave-marker; this scene is incredibly powerful as it reminds viewers that the walkers were once people.

Tabitha the goat and a walker. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Tabitha the goat and a walker. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

A series of montages throughout the episode show Morgan’s progress. On a supply run, Eastman asks Morgan who he has lost, to which Morgan tearfully tells him his wife, Jenny, and son, Duane. A walker wanders out of the forest and Morgan walks over to kill it, but has a slight lapse of reality as he begins remembering the father and son that he murdered. Eastman pushes him out of the way, but is suddenly bitten on the torso. Angry at the fact that Eastman was bitten, Morgan lashes out and refuses to return to the cabin. Eastman heads back, while Morgan begins aimlessly drifting around again and stumbles upon a pair of fellow survivors; this touching scene shows Morgan spare the injured and frightened survivors as they graciously thank him. Morgan makes his way back to the cabin, but finds Tabitha being devoured by a walker.

Tabitha is buried by Morgan at the cemetery where he notices a very moving sight, a grave for Crighton Dallas Wilton. Eastman explains that after the murders of his family, he captured Wilton and brought him to the cabin’s holding cell where he was starved to death for 47 days. This action taken by Eastman leads him down a dark road and left him in a very similar state of mind as Morgan when the two first met. Slowly the virus weakens Eastman and he eventually decides to end his life, but not before telling Morgan to leave and find other people. A grave marker for Eastman is shown as Morgan gears up and leaves the property. The chilling final shot of the flashback shows Morgan walking down the iconic train-tracks with a sign for Terminus, a nice nod to some of the major storylines of season four and five. Back in the present time, Morgan tells the Wolf that he can change, but the Wolf responds by telling him that he will kill everyone. Morgan locks the Wolf in a secure room (paralleling Eastman locking Morgan in the cell) and walks outside. Just before the episode ends, Rick’s voice can be heard yelling, “Open the gate!” How did he get out of the RV? Is the herd right behind him?

The character of Eastman was a surprising and fantastic addition to Morgan’s story. He displays the fact that genuinely good and honest people still exist in the harsh world of “The Walking Dead.” Eastman was able to help Morgan come back from all of the misfortune and devastation in his life. Lennie James was absolutely stunning in his performance as Morgan in this episode; the emotion and heartbreak could be felt without any dialogue being uttered. The questionable actions taken by Morgan during the Wolves attack are more understandable to viewers after receiving this backstory. One of the best aspects of “The Walking Dead” is the uniqueness and depth that each character possesses and Morgan is a prime example.

“Here’s Not Here” felt almost like a short film rather than an episode of “The Walking Dead.” With the use of emotive and somber music, this episode took viewers on a journey of redemption, loss, sadness, joy and passion. This phenomenal episode helped to develop Morgan’s character, but also establish exciting storylines for the future. Will Morgan be able to pass his ideals on to the Wolf or will his ideals get himself or someone else killed? Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."


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