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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

'The Walking Dead' recap ('Here's Not Here'): Morgan in season 6, episode 4

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Sunday, November 1, 2015

I've returned from a long two-week vacation halfway across the world but was reading about Glenn's supposed "death" on my Facebook feed soon after it happened. We won't learn anything about Glenn this week because it's a special 90-minute episode about beloved Morgan.

After three rather frenetic, violent opening episodes, "The Walking Dead" producers slow the show down with a rather lengthy flashback.

He decides to explore how Morgan found peace in peace and not murder. Credit a goat-loving cheesemaker/psychiatrist/Aikido expert/tomato grower.

But first, we see Morgan after season 3's "Clear" episode continuing to go nuts, unable to deal with the death of his wife and don. He accidnetally burns down his little sanctuary and ends up in the open and exposed. He sets fire to dead walkers and uses sticks to catch more. He kills two people who might (or might not) have endangered him. He uses zombie blood to write sad lines like "Clear," "Here's Not Here" and "Pointless Acts" on rocks and trees. These are not fun times.

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He comes upon a tranquil home with solar power and is about to kill the owner's goat Tabitha. The man who goes by Eastman sounds friendly but Morgan shoots at him anyway. He then tries to convince Morgan to put down his gun but he won't. So Eastman knocks him out and places him in a makeshift prison. "Kill me!" Morgan yelps.

Instead, playing Mr. Miyagi to Morgan's Daniel, Eastman offers him a book "The Art of Peace." But Morgan isn't buying it just yet. He says he "clears" people and walkers. "That's why I'm still here," Morgan reasons.

"We're not built to kill," Eastman says. "PTSD occurs because we're not comfortable killing people. We feel. We're connected." Of the 825 people Eastman interviewed in his previous life, he believes he only met one truly evil person.

After a few days, he tells Morgan the prison door has been open the entire time. He offers Morgan two options: stay or go: "I will not allow you to kill me," he says. Of course, Morgan tries to kill him but Eastman fends him off.

Eastman explains he learned Aikido, which has helped him stay alive. The philosophy is to use the other person's aggression against them and to avoid death. "Where there's life, there's potential," he says, as he tries to make cheese.

Morgan decides to stay. He finds comfort being in the fake prison. But when Eastman takes a trip out to get some supplies, he asks Morgan to watch the goat. Two walkers try to corner the goat. Morgan kills them. He drags the dead walkers outside and finds a massive makeshift grave Eastman has built. Eastman makes sure they get the IDs of the walkers and he carves it into the cross.

Over a span of months, Eastman teaches Morgan how to use a spear with Aikido pointers.

"You have to believe your life is precious, that all life is precious" he says. He finally tells a story about the one evil man Crighton Dallas Wilton, one of the violent prisoners he evaluated. And when the charming guy realizes Eastman knew he was truly evil, he attacks him. Eastman hopes to keep Crighton in prison forever but he broke out for one reason: to kill Eastman's two kids and wife. Eastman says he built the cell in his home in hopes of placing the man in there and watch him starve.  Did he do it? At first, he "redirects." Morgan isn't sure.

At one point, they visit Morgan's campground. The guy who Morgan choked earlier but did not skull smash arrives and Morgan, once he realizes that, freezes. Eastman has to push him out of the way and while doing that, gets bit in the back by the walker.

Morgan is angry, realizing his friend will die. They fight. Morgan asks Eastman to kill him yet again. Eastman doesn't.

To make matters worse, a walker kills Tabitha the goat. Figures. As Morgan prepares to dig yet another grave, he notices Crighton's grave. Eastman tells the truth: he had actually captured, starved and killed Crighton.

But killing Crighton didn't give him any peace. He only got peace, he says, after he decided not to kill anything again. When he offered to turn himself in, the apocalypse had begun.

"Everything in life is about people," Eastman says, as he began to fade. "I'm ready." As in, to die. Before he goes, Eastman gives Morgan the rabbit's foot his daughter had given him.

We flashforward to the present and find out Morgan had not killed the Wolf dude after all episode two. Instead, he let the guy live in hopes that his story about Eastman might change the man's mind from kill, kill, kill. The Wolves are very much the way Morgan had approached survival before Eastman. Everyone... must... die. There is no hope here. The man had already been bitten and hopes Alexandria would have medicine for him. (Nobody does. Those bites are terminal). But Morgan keeps him alive... for now.

That will likely come to bite him in the back, so to speak, later.

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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