Warning this review contains spoilers!!!
When The Walking Dead isn’t giving us breath-taking zompiepocalypse mayhem, it delivers character driven episodes focused on the personal journeys of our favourite band of survivors. These episodes are quite inconsistent: most are way too much of a slow burn and can drag down the momentum of a series while some have enough genuinely riveting drama to make you not need to see zombie-killing action for another week. This episode – titled ‘Here’s Not Here’ – belongs to the latter category as it’s truly gripping storytelling.
‘Here’s Not Here’ revolves solely around Morgan who, on his reintroduction to the show, has become one of its most fascinating characters. Despite his likeability, his refusal to kill other humans even if they’re trying to kill him is often frustrating, as you get the sense that the mercy he shows is going to come back to haunt him. Still, in this episode we learn how Morgan became the stick-wielding pacifist we now know.
The episode starts with Morgan talking to one of the captured Wolves who tried to attack him before he made his way to Alexandria. It then flashes back in time to Morgan on his own in the woods. He’s not the calm soul that we’re now used to – instead he’s a deranged hunter who ruthlessly kills both humans and Walkers at will.
Morgan comes across a cabin with a goat outside and attempts to make the animal and whoever lives inside the cabin his next prey. The cabin’s occupier, Eastman, has other ideas as he thwarts Morgan’s plan and places him up in a cell.
Unlike the majority of capturers in TWD, Eastman doesn’t have any sinister intentions as he seeks to rehabilitate the delusional Morgan rather than harm him. With the help of the former forensic psychiatrist, Morgan slowly begins to lose his irrational bloodthirst and develop some sanity. Eastman also teaches Morgan the martial art of Aikido which uses an opponent’s force against them.
Morgan’s journey to redemption is wonderfully written and equally brilliantly acted by Lennie James, who carries the weight of the episode on his shoulders with ease. James has you firmly hooked into the episode as he displays Morgan’s gradual change is utterly compelling.
John Carol Lynch is also excellent as Eastman who adds a refreshing dose of humour. Eastman’s backstory is slowly revealed throughout the episode and Lynch’s performance makes learning about his pre-zombiepocalypse life very intriguing. Of course it’s sad seeing him bitten by a Walker, but you never really expect to see Eastman make it out of the episode alive.
As well as some amazing acting and well-paced storytelling, this episode has some small but striking moments. The fights between Morgan and Eastman are expertly staged as Morgan’s feral rage up against Eastman’s relative calmness produces some tense scenes. Morgan lurching at Eastman also provides a genuinely shocking jump scare. There’s a flaming Walker which was cool to see and as far I can remember, something not done before in the show. This episode deserves the most props for making me care about a goat for the very first time in my life – I was a wreck when poor Tabitha died. RIP Tabby!
In all seriousness, in a show about people slowly losing their humanity in the face of the zombiepocalypse, it was nice to see someone gradually regain their humanity for a change. Morgan has weaved his way in and out of previous TWD seasons but this episode firmly establishes him as a character you’ll certainly care about. Something gives me the feeling though that he won’t make it past the end of the season.
I didn’t expect to a see a resolution to the did-Glen-die/did-he-not hoopla in this episode but I did expect to see the aftermath of the Wolves attack on Alexandria. Still, after three insanely intense episodes it was inevitable that season six would have a change of pace sooner rather than later. I do hope the writers don’t carry on with leaving us in limbo throughout the season as the extended waiting for loose ends to be tied will become annoying very quickly.
It’ understandable that some TWD fans may not like ‘Here’s Not Here’ very much, especially after a trio of terrific episodes, but I found the emotion and drama of the fourth instalment of the season to be quite enjoyable. I’m prepared for some slower episodes of TWD down the line but hopefully they share the same high quality of this one. ‘Here’s Not Here’ scores an: