Frustratingly, “Here’s Not Here” took a step back from Alexandria and the Glenn issue to tell a smaller scaled story. We all wondered how Morgan went from being a lunatic killer in season 3’s “Clear” to being the peaceful zen master he is now. After last week’s major shocker and general dismal tone, maybe episode 604 was a needed break for fans to catch their breath. Though we want to rush into the conclusion of what really happened to Glenn, “Here’s Not Here” is a fantastic episode on its own.
The episode begins in the same place “Clear” left off – Morgan’s heavily fortified and heavily armed town. In a crazy yelling match with himself (and maybe a hallucination of Rick) heaccidentally burns down his home. He begins on the road to kill and burn every last zombie, something that obviously is a fool’s errand at this point in the apocalyptic world. Morgan believe his mission is to clear every area he passed through, staying out in the wild until he finishes his mission. Rarely using his assault rifle, he kills zombies and humans alike with a sharpened stick, furthering his feral, almost caveman-like disposition.
Morgan stumbles on house in the middle of the woods. Eastman (played by the wonderful John Carroll Lynch) is an almost mythical man, living on his own with only his pet goat for company. This is the man, Morgan’s friend who he spoke about earlier, you taught him how to handle his stick. The man is like Yoda to Morgan’s Luke Skywalker.
Of course, when Morgan arrives at Eastman’s house fun drawn and fully on edge. It’s interesting to note, when Morgan is on edge like he is in this instance, the picture is sort of blurred around the perimeter. This is fantastic in showing Morgan’s tunnel vision and perfectly displays his ferocious, animalistic personality when he’s in this heightened state. He fires a few rounds to scare Eastman, but being the perfectly serene man that he is, Eastman overpowers Morgan with one swing of his stick.
Eastman took Morgan “prisoner,” keeping him in a small jail cell in his house. He never wants anything from Morgan, only the chance to speak peacefully. When Eastman asks for Morgan’s name, he madly replies over and over “kill me!”
He sits in Eastman’s cage for days, unaware that the door was never actually locked. Morgan observes Eastman going about his daily activities like building things out of wood, trying to make cheese, gathering food, and practicing his aikido – the key to his personal nirvana. Eastman feeds Morgan and tries to extend pleasantries towards him, something Morgan wants no part of. Before the world ended, Eastman was a forensic psychologist. He worked with very bad people in his line of work, and knows he can reach Morgan. Eastman concludes Morgan suffers from PTSD and aims to rid him of his demons.
A lot of the peaceful vernacular we’ve heard from Morgan in the last episode of season 5 and through season 6 we also hear from Eastman. When he reveals to Morgan the door is unlocked, he gives Morgan two choices – stay and be peaceful with him or leave and never come back. He tells Morgan, “I will not allow you to kill me. I will not allow that.”
Sure enough, the moment Morgan leaves the cell, he violently lunges at Eastman aiming to kill him. A struggle ensures, but Eastman takes down Morgan again. Peaceful as ever, Eastman gives Morgan the options again – stay or go. Morgan, feeling ashamed for what he did, stays, but remains in his cage, a visual metaphor for his mental anguish that he suffers.
Little by little, Morgan comes around to Eastman. He stars to read the “Peace” pamphlet Eastman tossed him at the start of his stay. He learns that aikido means “not to kill.” Eastman explains to Morgan that all life is precious, even the most evil people. Looking at the current timeline, we know that this ideal conflicts in a major way with Rick’s kill or be killed mentality. Eastman gifts Morgan with his own aikido stick, constructing it out the spear which he killed another man with.
A montage begins showing Eastman and Morgan living and working together through farming, aikido, and making cheese. The images shown are overlain with the voice of the two men reciting their aikido creed:
E: “It’s about redirecting, evading, and actually caring about the well-fare of your opponent.”
M: “So you have to care about yourself.”
E: “You have to believe your life is precious; that all life is precious.”
M: You have to redirect those thoughts; the history that tells you otherwise.
E: “What we’ve done, we’ve done.”
M: “We evade it by moving forward with a code to never do it again.”
E: “To make up for it.”
M: “To still accept what we were.”
E: “To accept Everyone.”
M: To protect everyone.”
E: “And in doing that, protect yourself.”
M: “To create peace.”
Though we only see Eastman as the harmonious being his is now, he does reveal to Morgan a dark moment in his life. Before the apocalypse, a man named Crighton Dallas Wilton, who has met Eastman before during a psychological evaluation, escaped from prison and killed Eastman’s wife, son, and daughter. Putting aside his aikido lessons, Eastman captured Crighton with the sole purpose of watching him starve to death behind the bars of the cell he built, which he did. Eastman was so ashamed of himself that he threw the key to the cell in a nearby river so he would never imprison anyone again.
Eastman gets bitten during an outing with Morgan. As he dies, he give Morgan another set of options – stay in the cabin and survive the rest of his life there, or go find new people. Eastman pushes the second option reasoning that now, more than ever, people are the most important thing in life. Morgan begins his journey through the woods again, this time a lot more level headed then when he left his town.
Eastman was a fantastic character. His life loving, ever optimistic personality was such contrast to literally every other character we’ve seen in TWD thus far. I put Eastman right up there with Joe from season 4 as the best short-lived characters in TWD history.
As the episode resumes current time, we see Morgan is speaking with the original Wolf, the first Wolf we came to know back in the final episode of season 5. He sits there with Morgan tied up, listening and genuinely enthralled by Morgan’s story. Just as Morgan thinks he’s reaching him, the Wolf explains that, keeping with his code, he still has to kill everyone in Alexandria. In actuality, the story had little effect on him. And, like the psychopath Crighton Dallas Wilton, the Wolf smiles as Morgan as he explains his plan to kill everyone. Morgan doesn’t kill the Wolf, instead leaving him in Alexandria’s holding cell for later.
This episode didn’t do anything to set up the current season 6 plot, however, it did give us a look into the head of Morgan. Is the crazy fully out of him? Maybe not; I didn’t feel like after he left Eastman he was a fully Jedi Master just yet. With all the death and destruction around Morgan recently, he’s done well keeping his cool, but I bet the time will come when he relapses, going back to full killer mode, which may turn Morgan into the soldier Rick needs.