Here’s Not Here Plot Summary:
Morgan (Lennie James) is a mindless wreck after Rick, Carl, and Michonne left him for the Prison. He eventually burns his shelter down and lives in the woods with the dead. It isn’t until he stumbles upon Eastman (John Carroll Lynch) that he finds new purpose.
Tragedy is a fact of life on The Walking Dead. People have died so many times on this show and there’ve been enough tears to fill a water park. Death has typically lead to angry revenge too, as we have seen many times within Rick’s group. A significant reason why Rick is now a heartless bastard is because of the many people he’s lost over the past several seasons. It’s enough to make a viewer wonder what would have happened if Rick instead kept a more level head throughout all this madness. Would he actually turn out better? Would he actually be…happy?
In an extra-long episode, we watched Morgan explore this first hand in his personal evolution. It’s unsurprising that all of this started completely unwanted. When Morgan was left way back in Season 3, he definitely lost any shred of sanity. The death of his son Duane had broken him in countless ways. Rick understood this after losing Lori and tried to pull Morgan back from the brink, but “Here’s Not Here” proved that was completely unsuccessful. Why exactly Morgan decided to live in the woods is unknown, but his tragedy addled mind probably couldn’t justify him being in such a stable shelter any longer. His constant exclamations of “kill me!” were proof that all he wanted was death, though those spikes also showed that part of him wanted to keep going.
Obviously, without Eastman, Morgan wouldn’t be alive right now. The two happened to cross paths at the exact right time. Morgan needed someone to pull him back from the brink and Eastman wanted to spread his mantra of a peaceful life through aikido. Both started off on the wrong foot with Morgan clearly wanting to harm this new addition, but perseverance and good will eventually brought these men together. Their partnership was a definite highlight of the night, and bringing in John Carroll Lynch to act as Morgan’s own personal Yoda was an incredibly smart move. His nearly unbreakable calmness was a stark contrast to every other character on this show and it really helped push the point of him being a very unique soul. We all knew Eastman was going to die, so the fact that it was still a sad event is definitely worthy of praise.
It’s easy to compare what happened here to what Rick’s gone through since the show began. We learn through conversation that Eastman’s wife and daughter were murdered by the “only evil man” he ever met. The twist reveal that he had actually captured and starved Crighton until he died 47 days later mirrors what Rick and Morgan did after they lost their closest loved ones. The only difference here is that Eastman was able to get the revenge he wanted, and he learned that it solves nothing. He even went to turn himself in to the police but a certain apocalypse stopped him. Instead of twisting into the murderously practical psychopath that Rick is now, Eastman used that opportunity to start living his life peacefully. He moved on from his previously horrific actions and embraced a new future.
And dammit, it worked out really well for him. Eastman was happy! His only problems were his goat and the occasional walker. This is something that Rick can’t even say. Sure, Rick’s been through a lot more shit, but the fact that he’s still around doesn’t seem to please him in the slightest. He’s just going from shitty situation to shitty situation and watching everyone die around him. Eastman? He wanted to make goat cheese. This is exactly what Morgan gets into as well. As he walked out of Eastman’s house and past his grave, Morgan was unquestionably content about this new worldview. He had found peace, and it’s very likely that he searched for Rick in an effort to get him onto a similar path.
Lennie James once again stole the show with his own episode. “Clear” was such a great hour because of him, and “Here’s Not Here” was a stellar hour and a half for the exact same reason. Giving this night some extra time was smart too. Bringing Morgan back from where he was couldn’t have been done with only 40 or so minutes. James’ acting truly showed how deep in despair this man was. Even when Eastman revealed that Morgan’s cell was never locked, Morgan refused to leave because all he wanted was to stay in a self-imposed prison. The evolution from that point rightfully wasn’t rushed, and when Morgan left that cabin with a smile on his face, a stark contrast from his crazed murdering at the beginning, it felt natural. He was definitely a changed man.
So changed that he didn’t actually kill that wolf a few episodes back. I’ll admit, I was a initially upset that the guy was still alive, but I soon realized that it works better this way. Morgan doing that after this hard fought but well warranted peaceful turn wouldn’t have felt right. Even the wolf is seemingly bought into the idea that he can be saved. He might have been too…except he’s infected through a scratch and will die on his own anyway. Even Morgan knows this isn’t worthwhile anymore. Yet Morgan doesn’t attempt to put the guy out of his misery. He leaves him there to die on his own. Clearly, aiming for a peaceful world doesn’t mean that everyone has to see it come about.
The timing of this episode is really unfortunate. It needed to be told, without a doubt, but with this season boasting edge-of-your-seat intensity, a more toned down night like this one wouldn’t have fit properly at any time. Except at this moment, we’re now stuck in main character limbo. Glenn’s “death” is painfully ambiguous, and we last saw Rick getting surrounded by an entire herd of walkers. Was that him yelling at the end of the episode, or maybe Michonne? We might need to wait until next week to find out. Hell, we might need to wait even longer because the preview makes the next episode look like an all Alexandrian focus (presumably during Morgan telling the wolf his story). The mid-season finale is likely where we’ll get the follow up we want.
“Here’s Not Here” was an excellent episode. It was a solid self-contained story that took a step away from last week’s insanity and gave us a character focused night where we learned what happened to Morgan. He was a man on the brink, and Eastman’s aikido lessons were what brought him back from the edge. James and Carroll Lynch were incredible throughout, really using the extra time to sufficiently document Morgan’s personal evolution. My only real complaint, if you can call it that, is that there was no way for this episode to fit in properly this season. Intensity abounds and this was a massive reprieve that stands in contrast to everything else around it. Then again, so did Eastman, who was the first person we’ve seen on this show to actually be happy with his current life. Accurate shooting and bullets will let you survive, but also having inner peace will let you live. Looks like Rick can learn a thing or two from Morgan.