The Walking Dead – “Clear” (season 3, episode 12)
Why can’t every episode of The Walking Dead be like this week’s? Seriously. Part of me does not want to give this episode such a high rating, but it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t. Sure, the entire season 3 does not deserve a five, but this episode does.
First off, it doesn’t take place in either Woodbury or the Prison, and that’s such a great move. Now, what makes it an ever better move is that it takes place back in Rick’s old hometown. The last time we saw that town was in the pilot, and I don’t think we need a reminder of how amazing that episode was, and part of that has to do with the constant feeling of dread and uncertainty, which is what “Clear” is about. Also, it doesn’t center on too many people. The main characters of this week’s episode are Rick, Carl, Michonne, and (get ready for this) Morgan. That’s right Morgan from episode one. This is another great move, mostly because we finally get more of Michonne actually interacting with another character (beyond the scowling), and Morgan’s (Lennie James’) performance is astounding, like top-notch.
It’s a character study episode, mostly for Rick and Morgan. It’s a study on these two men, and the changes that they’ve gone through since the beginning to now. Basically season one Rick would have stopped for the hitchhiker, season three Rick just keeps driving and on the way back takes the dead man’s things. Morgan was a caring man, but now he sees the world for what it is, and more obviously he sees who he is, a weak man: “The good and the bad people die, but the weak are the ones that shall inherit the earth.” These are hard words to swallow, but Rick does because he knows it’s true, and that’s why he doesn’t argue when Morgan turns down his offer to go to the Prison. It’s honestly one of the best dialogues in the show.
Now, on to Michonne and Carl, although at first I thought this was going to be another one of those Michonne not being anything but a walking sword and glare (she got the car stuck in like the first five minutes, come on!), turns out Michonne is actually a human being. I’ve mentioned that I like when two characters that otherwise wouldn’t interact actually do interact, well, that’s the case with Michonne and Carl. Carl coming back home with Rick wasn’t just about seeing his hometown again, he has a goal, he wants something. So, when he says he has to go do something in town, Rick says no, but Michonne offers to look out after little Carl. Cool, will Carl be the person that Michonne opens up to, not completely, but it’s a start.
Carl right away calls Michonne out on her not being a great person, but then she says and does things that make her sound and appear like a human being. Woah, could this be true? Is Michonne an actual character now—yup, she is! Sure it’s pretty late in the game, but better late than never, right? With Carl she acts like someone who wants to help, genuinely. Also, in the bigger picture we learn a lot about her: she doesn’t like bullshit, which we can all relate with, she has a sword and she knows how to use it, she thinks rainbow paper mache cats are gorgeous, oh, and she used to talk to her dead boyfriend, totally normal here.
Even though this episode is a stray from the Woodbury/Prison story arc, and nothing in it will probably follow when our stragglers return back to that arc, it’s still amazing. And good news, the guy who wrote this episode, Scott Gimple, will be the showrunner for season 4, which give me a bit hope for the fourth season. I mean there probably won’t be anymore episodes like this for the remainder of this season, but even so this episode is a reminder of what makes The Walking Dead such a interesting show. In the end it’s about people surviving amongst the midst of a ruined world and the choices they make, either choosing to lose or keep their humanity.