‘The Walking Dead’ Recap: Morgan Finds Himself in ‘Here’s Not Here’

The Walking Dead, The Leftovers Challenge
Courtesy of AMC

Spoiler Warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “The Walking Dead” episode 604, titled “Here’s Not Here.”

For viewers hoping to get some closure for Glenn’s ambiguous fate, “Here’s Not Here” might’ve felt like the “Walking Dead” equivalent of Lucy with the football (a bait-and-switch made even crueler by the omission of Steven Yeun from the opening credits) — but for folks who are just along for the ride, the extended Nov. 1 episode proved to be one of the show’s most compelling to date, simply by following Lennie James’ Morgan as he relearned how to be human. (The Television Academy’s ongoing refusal to recognize the show in the above-the-line Emmy categories remains baffling, but it’ll be a travesty if James doesn’t earn a nomination for carrying such a punishing, visceral episode with so much nuance and restraint.)

Back when we encountered Morgan in season three’s “Clear,” he begged Rick to kill him, but seemed unwilling or unable to take his own life; this week, he did the same to Eastman, a generous pacifist who took him in despite Morgan’s attempts to kill him (multiple times) and steal his goat.

The episode gave us some insight into why Morgan recently told Rick “sometimes you’re safer when there’s no way out,” since he spent much of the episode locked in a cage (both physically and mentally) of his own volition — comforted by the lack of options those bars gave him.

He expended a lot of energy trying to devise a way out of the cell Eastman put him in, without realizing the door was unlocked all along, and once he found out, he chose to stay inside – an elegant illustration of exactly why Morgan (and arguably many of our other characters) can be his own worst enemy. Eastman expanded this theory by trying to help Morgan understand the cycle of grief he’d been trapped in since losing his wife and son.

“You saw it happen, that’s how this started, right? It’s all happening right in front of your eyes, over and over again. Your body’s here, but your mind is still there. There’s a door and you want to go through it, to get away from it, so you do, and leads you right back to that moment. And you see that door again, you know it won’t work but hell, maybe it’ll work, so you step through that door and you’re right back in that horrible moment every time. You still feel it every time, so you just want to stop opening that door, so you just sit in it. But I assure you, one of those doors leads out, my friend.”

Rick and his group remain stuck in that cycle of violence, trying different doors that have at various points led to Hershel’s farm, Woodbury, the prison, Terminus, and Alexandria, but somehow the outcome is always the same – death and destruction and shattered peace. While they’re often not the instigators of violence (although sometimes they are), the end result seems unavoidable — and with the Wolves and walkers descending on Alexandria this season, it’s easy to wonder if there will ever be a way out for our heroes. But as long as there’s one person who still believes that there’s hope — that “it’s all a circle and everything gets a return,” as Eastman tells Morgan — then humanity isn’t lost and the world hasn’t ended, which is why Morgan’s new belief system is so important for him as a character and for Rick’s group as a whole.

Morgan gave Eastman multiple excuses to kill him, but instead of allowing Morgan to take the easy way out, Eastman slowly chipped away at his walls of isolation and trauma, at first simply refusing to allow Morgan to paint himself as a bad person, even after killing every human and walker he came across (“I clear; walkers, people, anything that gets anywhere near me, I kill ’em… That’s why I’m still here,” Morgan told Eastman) and later teaching him the “Art of Peace” and the practice of Aikido, a martial art that focuses on redirecting an attacker’s momentum and using it against them, to immobilize them without injuring them. In the shoot first, ask questions later world of “TWD,” the concept seems entirely foreign, but as we discovered later, Eastman’s “all life is precious” mantra was hard-won, after his own personal Hannibal Lecter broke out of prison solely to murder his wife and children, leading Eastman to capture him, lock him in his cell and starve him to death over 47 days.

“I was gone — I was where you were, and I wasn’t trying to open up the door anymore either,” he told Morgan. “What I did to him, it didn’t give me any peace. I found peace when I decided never to kill again.”

After learning that, it finally seemed to dawn on Morgan that there’s no act of darkness you can’t come back from, as long as you want to come back — or, as Eastman taught him, “You have to care about yourself; you have to believe your life is precious. What you’ve done, you’ve done. We evade it by moving forward, with a code to never do it again — to make up for it. To still accept what we were. To accept everyone. To protect everyone, and in doing that, to protect yourself. To create peace.”

It’s a noble goal, but as the last two episodes have proved, it also might be untenable in such a harsh and brutal new world. Morgan’s decisions to put peace ahead of practicality have undoubtedly left all of his allies at Alexandria in danger, with the Wolves he allowed to escape very nearly killing Rick in the RV last week.

But Eastman didn’t even seem angry when Morgan froze up at the sight of a boy-turned-walker he’d killed a few days before and inadvertently got Eastman bitten, sealing his fate. He seemed far more exasperated by Morgan’s subsequent guilt-ridden meltdown and backslide than he was by his own impending demise. In the end, Eastman still got to die on his own terms, and he got to help a man who otherwise would’ve been trapped in a life of misery and self-destruction: That’s progress.

In the episode’s final moments, we also discovered that Morgan didn’t kill the Wolf he knocked out at the end of 602 — instead, the hour closed with him trying to reason with the Wolf by telling him the story of his redemption — but some seed fell on stony ground, since the Wolf refused to listen, much as Morgan did in the beginning: “I know I’m probably going to die, but if I don’t, I am going to have to kill you, Morgan. I’m going to have to kill every person here… Those are the rules, that’s my code. I’d say I’m sorry, but you said it, right? ‘Don’t ever be sorry.'”

Morgan made a similar (if less ominous) threat to Eastman and was prepared to back it up earlier in the episode, but Eastman still let him live, and Morgan followed that example with the Wolf — although he at least made one sensible choice and decided to lock the Wolf in his makeshift cage, recognizing that his threat wasn’t just against Morgan but against all the inhabitants of Alexandria.

Many installments of “The Walking Dead” take time to remind us of the beauty of nature amid the decay, but few bask in the peace of the untouched woodland the way “Here’s Not Here” did, offering shots of lustrous sunrises and pristine fields of wildflowers (even if Carol kind of ruined flowers for everyone thanks to the events of “The Grove”) courtesy of Stephen Williams’ artful direction. Those tranquil vistas helped create a tangible feeling of hope and possibility throughout Morgan’s journey, even when presented alongside the frenetic, disorienting energy of Morgan’s more emotionally volatile scenes.

The episode also featured plenty of callbacks to past episodes that neatly positioned Morgan’s arc within the larger narrative: we revisited Morgan’s shelter in King County where Rick, Carl and Michonne ran into him (and Morgan first told Carl “don’t ever be sorry”); Eastman made him a poignant promise that someday, “you’re gonna hold a baby again” — which added context to the beautiful moment when Rick offered to let Morgan hold Judith in the premiere; we got a different perspective on Morgan coming across the Terminus sign on the train tracks as he began his quest for Rick last season; and Williams even visually paralleled Eastman apologizing to Morgan before knocking him out with his staff with the way Morgan knocked out the Wolf in 602.

A few simple touches helped add depth to an already evocative episode; there was something deeply affecting about Eastman’s decision to dig graves for every one of the walkers he killed, complete with grave markers that bore the names of the dead, gleaned from their driver’s licences. It’s easy for our characters and the audience to lose sight of the walkers’ humanity unless it’s a character we’ve loved and lost, but each one was someone’s parent or child at one point, and it’s nice to be reminded of that between the carnage sometimes. Likewise, Eastman asking Morgan his wife and son’s names — probably the first time he’s had reason to speak them out loud in months.

Despite being an extended episode, “Here’s Not Here” felt far shorter, sharper and more impactful than many regular episodes, proving that well-written character drama (this week courtesy of showrunner Scott Gimple) is every bit as compelling — if not more so — than adrenaline-pumping zombie mayhem. Still, it feels exceedingly callous (if not at all surprising) to interrupt the momentum of the first few episodes — especially after the producers chose to engineer Glenn’s fate into a cliffhanger — with an episode almost entirely made up of backstory, which will doubtless make some viewers turn against an otherwise beautifully crafted episode.

“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

What did you think of “Here’s Not Here”? Were you frustrated by the lack of answers about Glenn’s fate?

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  1. John says:

    This episode was the worst and morgan is a lame character shame on the reporter for trying to make this episode seem like some emmy winning bs. You suck donkey balls writer of this article

    • Justin says:

      I thought that at first after being like wow more backstory…. but after finishing it, I thought it was honestly one of the best episodes I have seen on this show in a WHILE. Finally some good acting and emotion…

  2. This was a thoughtfully written article. The section about the group entering doors that led to Woodbury, the Prison, Terminus, etc… is definitely a recurring theme. And the Television Academy not recognizing The Walking Dead for an above the line Emmy is ridiculous! Anyway, if you loved the beauty of “Here’s Not Here” with it’s sunrises and orchids, in the midst of the decay… I have a video that I just uploaded about the subliminal symbolism in “Here’s Not Here”. Please, take a look when you get a chance!

  3. Marilyn says:

    It was an awesome, perfect episode. Can’t understand why anyone would not like it.

  4. Bill says:

    Forget the direction of the episode. Im surprised no one mentioned this.

    How does a aikido zen master allow a zombie bite him in the back? He had his bow in hand and threw himself in between Morgan and the zombie. IMO they could have made that bite a little more dramatic. That was horribly scripted.

    • Panko1 says:

      That was clearly suicide. He wasn’t just trying to save Morgan. He just ran to give his back so that zombie could have a bite from him first, another great lesson from the zen master. He was actually a psychologist who got depressed after having his sweet revenge for losing his family and decided to suicide with a zombie bite and save Morgan his patient who was distracted or maybe trying suicide as well, at the end he was as seek as his patient.

  5. Jamison says:

    People who thought this was boring are are either too dull to understand significance or they were simply not paying attention. In my opinion this was the most esoteric episode of the series thus far, and it adds greater complexity to the world these characters exist in both retroactively and moving forward. Its theme was thoroughly complex in its simplicity and left me with many philosophical questions. It honestly has me questioning if eating meat is really necessary and if our increasing indifference to life on this planet in the name of consumerism and war is what will inevitably lead to our own destruction. Is our humanity hanging by a thread like Rick or are we too far gone like Shane? Can we regain our humanity like Morgan?Or like the captured wolf are we eerily calm and at peace with our own destruction? The importance of this episode’s theme especially as it relates to the world in which these characters exist cannot be understated. Ostensibly, this show is a zombie apocalypse thriller but underneath the surface exists a character study with great emotional depth that laves one with some profound questions about life and death. The writing in this episode was thoughtful and intelligent, the visuals were vibrant and striking much like life itself, and the acting was as subtle as it was superb. My favorite episode of the series.

  6. Data1001 says:

    This was an outstanding episode from start to finish. Great writing, great acting, and even a fair amount of z’s for those people who need that fix.

    Yes, of course I’m interested in Glenn’s ultimate fate (though he’s most likely a goner), as he’s one of my favorite characters on the show. But c’mon, people, you can wait a little while longer to find out. Don’t take your frustration out on the powers that be for giving us such a strong story this week. I’m willing to wager that had this fallen outside of the current storyline, it would be getting universal acclaim. It’s definitely Emmy-worthy.

  7. Tony says:

    So boring. Who cared about where he came from. You go from a exciting show to the most boring 5 minutes of my life. Why 5 minutes you ask? I could not take watching another minute of it.

  8. Sean says:

    This episode was incredibly boring… -ZZzzzzz. I think the actors did a fine job, but the writers should be culled for this garbage.

  9. Dawn Turchek says:

    I was soooo bored. Did not like it at all…. to view that episode of nothing waiting to hear about Rick and Glen and wondering why so much time was wasted on it! It’s the apocalypse… people do all kinds of things or do not and no one is judging. So now he can stick to his principles and be killed!

  10. Jose Roth says:

    So a calm and kind white guy taught Morgan how to act like a civilized person. Mhmm. I see what TWD is saying.

    • Muki says:

      Seriously? And a kind black guy teaching one of the (WHITE) wolves to act like a civilized person at the end of the episode? That’s not what this episode or show is about, so please stop making it out to be so.

  11. Field says:

    Episode was mind numbingly boring. We weren’t all that interested in knowing why Morgan is a zen vegan…that backstory really should have been a regular length episode done after closing up last week’s episode. We wanted to know what happened to Rick and company. This is TV, not brain surgery, and guess what? If we want to be frustrated and annoyed, we can do that in real life!!! These types of stupid gimmicks is why TWD is quickly losing interest for me, and my other friends have stopped watching all together.

  12. This was a fantastic episode. It links to what is going on right now and explains Morgan’s actions and why he still has that Wolf alive. My assumption is that they placed it 4th in this season for an important reason- something will happen in the next episode or two and we will need to know why Morgan is the way he is and what caused the change since “Clear”.
    We will find out what happened to Glenn soon enough. At the end of the day, Glenn was a moron- Nicholas was given too many chances. If Glenn is dead, he deserved it. If not, he’ll be back soon enough.
    Morgan is critical to the story. Without him, Rick dies and we have no show at all.
    He is also a fan favorite and has been awesome in every episode he was involved in.

  13. Timmy says:

    Eastman has no place in a ZA. lol Him or his yarn held philosophy. What a wasted 90 minutes.

  14. PsyHawk says:

    Like everyone else, I was looking forward to getting answers on Glenn & Rick. My wife speculated that they may TEASE us not giving us an immediate answer. Obviously she was right. Grrrr.

    However, accepting that, I sat back and enjoyed the episode. It hit on points that Talking Dead guest
    Yvette Nicole Brown tied together – nothing earth shattering. But how will Morgan’s backstory tie into future episodes remains to be seen. We’ve already seen that his actions nearly cost Rick his life (and we’re still hanging on that).

    The producer’s non-answer on TTD is a huge tease (and I believe this is all once big well orchestrated tease). If Glenn dies not only will people be upset but it will mess up something coming down the line.

  15. ericscheirerstott says:

    Excellent thoughtful episode with depth and fine acting- and of course Instagram exploded with THIS SUCKS.

  16. Mary Jean Dean says:

    Totally mad at the show taking off on something else and not addressing glen and rick. And took an hour and a half of my time to watch this rambling nonsense. It was a huge distraction from being able to get into this other story line. Did not care. or have appreciation for it because of the problems left hanging from the week before. Bad move from the powers at be. Only wanted to know about glen and upset that he might be gone from show. I got texts from fam saying how mean this was. Agreed. For the first time I actually questioned why I was watching this show. Now I understand those who left it a few seasons ago.

  17. Dan No says:

    get over yourself

    • Sandra M says:

      I felt disappointed that not even five minutes was dedicated to Rick or Glen..Morgan has continuously gotten people killed even his own son by not accepting the rules of survival.. Rick saves lives not get people killed…if Rick ,Michonne, Darryl or Carol go my viewership goes..my foot is already half out now…

  18. Dan No says:

    unfortunately this series suffers from lowest common denominator viewership and trolls who just want to be fed while dealing with heady subjects and story lines that need character development and rich background to advance the best possible drama for those who can follow. Tell your story and be true to your characters. Paraphrase: “I don’t know the secret to success, but I’m sure the path to failure is try and please everyone…”

  19. Betty Griffin says:

    I am confused. TWD gives us entertainment and an insight into what could happen. Last nights episode was not all zombies and heart racing blood and guts but it still kept my attention. Sometimes we need to open our minds and listen to the message instead of waiting to find out about the fate of others. Yes, I like Glenn and all the regulars on the show. I am worried about Rick and who is left at Alexandria. But I try to take away more than “just survive somehow” amidst all the madness and chaos.

    • ketrmit Kermit says:

      Betty, bless you. The writers decided to take a vacation this Halloween. Your input is valuable. Maybe the dorks who write this program will take a message from it’s viewers. and get back to their jobs before they get fired by the viewing public and run out of Georgia.

  20. Hermit Kermit says:

    “He’s not Here”

    What a horrible piece of crap!

    First of all Morgan has never, ever been a central character to this TV story. Why spend the time. Nothing else to write? Go get a new job, dweeb.

    The character of Morgan has always been a happenstance, a side character. Nothing to write about. Quit your job and move to Toronto. TV in Toronto always sucks. You’ll do great there.

    Never once, in my view of this horror show, has Morgan ever surfaced as nothing more than a sideshow to Rick’s odyssey.

    Jesus, how poorly can your writers write? (You Illiterate, ignorant, uneducated, hillbilly, redneck, stupid, producers and writers who went to USC.) Write a real script for once.

    Why does Morgan suddenly earn an entire Friggin episode to explain why he sucks so badly?

    What a waste of time TWD!!! Jesus Christ, Damn You, I pay to watch your shit assholes!!!

  21. Alan says:

    People on here are retarded!!!! If you didn’t like that episode then your not a true fan of twd. Yes they left us hanging on Glenn, but that’s kinda what the show is about. Build the anticipation up more and more to help make the knowing even more rewarding. If you don’t like the waiting to know what happens then wait till the season is over and just binge watch it on netflix or find another show to watch that doesn’t have any kind of real story line. Also, someone said the rules of zombie keeps changing and the way I see if rules of human changes all the time as well so why don’t have the rules of zombie change. Different circumstances calls for different action and while the world of the zombie apocalypse is still young the rules are going to change as humanity learns to live again.

  22. Really? says:

    Interesting episode, but so tangential to the story flow. Who cares right now about Morgan’s backstory? And there was really nothing here we couldn’t fill in ourselves creatively in terms of Morgan’s mental states. The manipulation of viewers through episode ordering and ambiguous announcements does not do the series, characters, or comic justice. Might be time to let it go as a too-self-indulgent toy of the producers.

  23. what a yawner says:

    worst episode ever.

    • Hermit Kermit says:

      Absolutely. I guess that AMC owed Lennie James a chuck of money after “Low Winter Sun” failed so miserably that they had to give him a whole episode to assuage his ego.

  24. Johnny says:

    These are some stupid comments. LOL. Lennie James is great. This show is great. This is all. Go watch All My Children.

  25. Madam P says:

    Excellent recap of an excellent episode. The acting was top-notch and Emmy nominations should be in order. But as noted in the last sentence, the beauty of this episode is lost in the ridiculously stupid timing of its airing. We did not “need a break” from the pace. This stinks of arrogance — “Nyah, nyah. We’re gonna make you wait.”

    • Hermit Kermit says:

      Lennie James is one of the worst actors on the planet earth, buddy.

      • Panko1 says:

        I disagree with that. He is the most experienced actor from the show. But unfortunately his character Morgan is the most inconsistent from the show. To act as person like Morgan who was okay at the beginning, have gone mad and crazy when lost his entire family, then became kind and peaceful after meeting a psychologist. That’s a hard task even for a great actor. Morgan is a crazy character who likes to kill his friends then help his enemies. I don’t think even Lennie James could ever understand Morgan’s insanity.

  26. Tdot says:

    Worst episode ever. Not only was it boring but there was a major plot error. Eastman said his daughter gave him the rabbit foot and the next day he found his peace and never killed again. So how is it that his dead daughter gave him the rabbit foot because Eastman killed the prisoner after the prisoner killed Eastman’s family

    • PsyHawk says:

      He learned aikido when he was still interviewing prisoners. Eastman even said what move he did to stop the guy (who later killed his family) who was trying to kill him when “his mask slipped”

    • red poppies says:

      the next day he found a flyer for an aikido class. there’s nothing wrong with the timeline.

    • Josh says:

      is that an error in the plot or is it that people are sometimes fallible and don’t tell the entire story right away to strangers who made their intentions to kill them known?

  27. C B says:

    Sorry. I like Morgan and am delighted to have him back on the show, but leaving the fate of much-loved (and original) character, Glenn, to dangle another day was a huge disappointment. I might have really been interested in a great story of how Morgan returned from the emotionally dead, played by
    two incredible actors, had I not been waiting anxiously after every pause or commercial for the answer to Glenn’s fate. Instead it was a grueling 90 minutes that I felt like let me, as a faithful fan, down.

  28. katinhars says:

    Despite Morgan’s backstory be interesting … have a WHOLE episode to tell it, and on top of all an extended episode?? And after an episode that ended in a cliffhanger?? NO, just NO!! It just made us don’t appreciate as much as we could if it were shown in another way! Unfortunately, hands down the most boring episode of the entire series for me!!

  29. Notes From The Inside says:

    So often I wonder to myself, “Why am I still watching this show?” The acting is usually sub par (complete with most actors going in and out of their southern accents randomly), often NOTHING happens in several episodes in a row, and the zombie rules change continually. Still, I persevered. But with episodes like tonight’s (proving the show runners are high on their own sense of self as opposed to having respect for the legions of fans who have buoyed their ratings) and the fact that Glenn is clearly still alive (given the producer’s panic-induced words that we will see Glenn again immediately after the internet uproar) might just be finally be giving me a reason to stop watching. So thanks for that.

    • Dana says:

      I think the producers show incredible respect for the “legions of fans”. They made the assumption we are intelligent, adult, patient people who understand the ebb and flow of good story-telling.

      While I want to know what happened to Glen and Rick, I can wait until next weeks show. At the start of the episode, I was kind of disappointed that answers wouldn’t come until later, I found myself being caught up in this story thread.

      I’m grateful for this relatively quiet episode after the high voltage of the preceding three.

      It was an amazing episode.

    • ketrmit Kermit says:

      Today was the first absolute reason to stop watching. What a bloody mess.

  30. Michael says:

    Worse episode in the shows entire history.
    90 minutes of Crazy Morgan learning to fight with a stick, and hone his skills at getting people killed, is not exciting storytelling. That flight 362 teaser for Fear The Walking Dead, pissed over this entire episode.

  31. Goodbyenoway says:

    I love TWD but this reviewer must be on some pretty strong weed. This was easily the most boring episode the show’s ever done. I thought I’d fall asleep. They also left Steven Yeun’s name off the credits. What does that mean?

    • Laurie says:

      I love twd. But I was bored. Not a terrible episode, maybe just at the wrong time…..maybe would enjoyed better after a major death and beginning of a new story line. (We don’t know for sure if glen is dead) Not put smack dab in the middle of intense cliffhangers.

      • lethargytartare says:

        for you and the rest of the dimwits who called this episode boring, might I suggest you switch to watching SyFy’s Z Nation and leave TWD to the grownups? kthxbai

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