The Walking Dead, Ep. 3.12: “Clear” a devastating character study

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The Walking Dead, Season 3, Episode 12: “Clear”
Written by Scott M. Gimple
Directed by Tricia Brock
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

“Clear” breaches new dramatic heights for The Walking Dead Season 3. This is a very strong episode, and stands with the best yet. For only the second time in the show’s history, The Walking Dead takes Rick Grimes and a couple of others away from the rest of the group for the entirety of the episode. “Clear” doesn’t really further the plot and features very little action, but it is a refreshing break from the shenanigans going on at Woodbury and at the prison. This episode is brimming with great writing and character development and is a much needed change of pace, especially for viewers tired of Andrea hogging the spotlight. Much like Season 2’s “18 Miles Out“, “Clear” is essentially a side-trip episode, as Rick, Michonne, and Carl venture out in search of supplies and ammunition and eventually leading to a reunion long in the making. And much like “18 Miles Out”, this episode was written by Scott Gimple, who is taking over as showrunner for Season 4. Call me crazy, but this may help reassure fans that the future of the series is looking bright.

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The re-introduction of Morgan Jones (Lennie James) was long overdue – 30 episodes long, to be exact. For the unfamiliar, Morgan made his first appearance in the series premiere “Days Gone Bye,” which remains by far the best episode of the entire run. Morgan is a character many fans have been hoping to see again since he and Rick parted ways. The last time we saw Morgan, he was a strong man, mourning the recent loss of his wife, and fighting side by side with his son Duane. His character not only saved Rick’s life but actor Lennie James gave one of the show’s best performances to date. Here James delivers another outstanding performance as a distressed Morgan, a man broken from the loss of his son and wife. His alone time with Rick is one of the most thought-provoking and enlightening scenes of the series. “Clear” is a powerful character study of two men we met at the very start of it all, and how they’ve changed since. On one hand we have Rick Grimes, who we’ve followed every step of the way. On the opposite end, we have someone who we haven’t seen in nearly two years. Yet without needing to see what hell Morgan has endured since, we are able to understand why he is the way he is. In retrospect, the Rick Grimes we first met would have stopped for the hitchhiker; but the Rick of Season 3 won’t bother to lend a helping hand, as made evident in the opening and final scene – a bleak, twisted and depressing sequence, leaving a man left to be roadkill.

The episode’s highlight has Morgan say to Rick, “You will be torn apart by teeth or bullets.” The man has a point. Rick and co. are holding on to hope that the prison is a safe haven, and want to believe it will provide them with shelter and happiness. But deep down inside everyone knows it is what it is – a prison. As Darryl mentioned last week, the prison is a tomb, and you can’t blame Morgan for not wanting to tag along. I doubt very much that the group will remain there come season four. Eventually they’ll have to make their way elsewhere. Until then, we still have Andrea and The Governor to deal with. With only four more episodes left, let us hope they finally put a rest to that mess.

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It is a big relief to see Michonne finally have some dialogue written for her. We all know that Michonne is a misanthrope and is always on guard, but the deadly silent and unhelpful version of Michonne is downright frustrating. As I mentioned in previous reviews, her character is far more interesting in the comic, but “Clear” gives us hope that the writers will eventually do her justice. Rick finding comfort in Michonne and opening up to her about his tour of insanity was a nice touch – especially when she confides in him by confessing that she, too, spoke to dead people.

Episodes like “Clear” should remind everyone, including the show’s writers, that small but powerful character moments make for incredibly strong installments. Here’s hoping for more stand alone episodes in the future which will allow certain characters to grow both within the group and with us, the viewers watching from home.

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After Thoughts:

Michonne got her hands on a nifty new crossbow, but I doubt she’ll trade in her katana for it. Most likely, she’ll be delivering a present back for Darryl.

This is the third episode in which a majority of the cast does not appear. The first being the aforementioned “18 Miles Out,” and second being “Walk With Me.”

You got to love the various booby traps and wonder if Rick, Carl and Michonne will take inspiration and create their own back at the prison grounds.

I love the sign that read “Erin, We tried for Stone Mountain,” which of course followed with the little touch of seeing a Walker wearing an “Erin” bracelet.

One has to question Rick’s decision to make a run for supplies. Yes, he needs ammunition, but what if the Governor returned during that time, and why take Michonne and Carl over Merle and Darryl?

Away with you.

Rick: “You think he’s crazy?”

Michonne: “I think he’s dangerous.”

Using those rats for Walker bait was a smart idea

Does Michonne have superpowers that we don’t know about yet? How did she get that picture back so fast?

Carl: “I just wanted Judith to see what her mom looked like.”

Dear Carl, Judith won’t live long enough to care

Did The Walking Dead feature a jump cut or was that my horrible cable service acting up? If so, we welcome it back.

I don’t know if this is the last time we will see Morgan, but at least he knows where to find Rick and Rick knows where to find him.

Don’t forget to listen to our Walking Dead podcast. New episodes are dropped every Monday night.

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