The Walking Dead, S6 Ep4 – Here’s Not Here

“Everything’s about people. Everything in this life that’s worth a damn.”

After the action packed frenzy of the first few episodes of the season, in “Here’s Not Here” we got to catch our breaths for a bit and spend time with Morgan, one of the most intriguing characters of the show. He’s changed a lot since Rick last saw him in “Clear” back in season 3 and watching how the deranged, paranoid Morgan transformed into this lucid, stable, anti-killing warrior was always going to be a fascinating journey. And this episode did not disappoint on that front.

The timing is very sneaky on the writers’ part. They knew that we would all be eager to find the resolution to last week’s cliffhanger and the real answer to the question of Glenn’s death (I’m still not convinced he’s dead, and I am not alone in this line of thinking.) But instead of offering us any kind of answers, they diverted our attention and kept us distracted with a Morgan-centric episode. Which would have been more frustrating had this not been a really powerful episode.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep4 - Here's Not HereWe first see Morgan as Rick last saw him, in his obsessive “clear” mode, isolated and constantly muttering to himself. He wanders through the woods, viciously killing everything that crosses his path, be they walker or human, convinced that this is the only way he can survive, if it is even worth it to keep surviving. He is in an almost feral state, not so different from that of the Wolves, and he has no regard for human life anymore. He drags the walkers he’s killed to a large funeral pyre and watches them burn with empty eyes.

This Morgan is dead to the world though he continues to live and breathe. He constantly writes/paints “clear” or “pointless acts” on stones and tree barks, as if reminding himself or warning others that life has no meaning anymore. He cannot even appreciate the beauty of flowers in a field, so lost is he to his despair. Everything changes once he stumbles upon a cabin in the woods with a goat in a pen and a man living on his own.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep4 - Here's Not HereAt first Morgan is determined to kill this stranger, despite the latter’s requests for him to put down his gun and invitation into his home. Morgan is easily overpowered by the owner of the cabin and he finds himself imprisoned in a cell in the house. The stranger introduces himself as Eastman, a former forensic psychiatrist who now lives a quiet life of making salad, oatmeal burgers, and attempting to make goat cheese.

Morgan insists that Eastman should kill him but the latter ignores this and instead shares more about his life, particularly his dedication to not killing. He’s an expert at aikido, a martial art form that deals with redirecting the moves of one’s opponent and never killing them.

“I have come to believe that all life is precious,” Eastman says, despite having encountered true evil in his life even way before the world became overrun with walkers. He had let a criminal named Crighton Dallas Wilton starve to death in the cell in his cabin after Wilton murdered his wife and children. After this murder, Eastman vows never again to take a life. The horrors he had seen made whatever came after somehow easier to bear, and he was even able to walk through 30 miles of walkers to get a drawing his daughter made.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep4 - Here's Not HereEastman is a fascinating character in his own right and brilliantly portrayed by John Carroll Lynch. It is his performance and the excellence of Lennie James that makes this episode truly compelling. Eventually, Eastman is able to coax Morgan out of his shell of bleak despair and the latter begins to change his point of view. Eastman trains Morgan in aikido every morning and together, they protect Tabitha the goat, and discuss life philosophies and cheese in the evenings.

Eastman says he is preparing for a trip to find more people, because he believes that other people are the only thing left worth anything in such a world. As they search for supplies, Morgan suggests returning to his old camp where, in an unfortunate twist of events that is so characteristic of The Walking Dead, they encounter a walker who was someone Morgan had previously killed. Paralyzed by guilt, Morgan is unable to kill the walker, forcing Eastman to step in and then be bitten, another incidence of a person being punished despite their noble intentions.

R.I.P. Tabitha. You were too good for this world.

R.I.P. Tabitha. You were too good for this world.

Morgan is clearly upset by this and storms off. He eventually returns to see poor old Tabitha being devoured by a walker. He brings the goat’s corpse to Eastman’s mini cemetery where the latter has buried all the walkers he has killed, making sure to write their names on the grave markers, restoring some of their humanity to them even at the very end. He and Morgan say their farewells, the latter leaving with a renewed sense of purpose and some hope in his heart. We don’t see how Eastman dies, but we do get a glimpse of his grave marker after Morgan leaves the cabin in search of other people. He eventually finds the signs leading to Terminus and the rest is history.

The end of the episode reveals that Morgan has been sharing his story with the Wolf he captured during the attack on Alexandria. As compelling as the story was, the Wolf is unmoved by it and even threatens to murder everyone in Alexandria should he ever get free. With a heavy heart, Morgan leaves him imprisoned in one of the houses, disappointed but not surprised. Not everyone can embrace the humane mindset Eastman adhered to, but Morgan is determined to try to keep his humanity despite all the chaos.

Then, we hear a familiar voice shouting, “Open the gates!” and we know that we’ll be jumping back into the action next week.