The Walking Dead Roundtable 3.12: “Clear”

Hosted by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

Image via AMCtv.com.

This week was basically an exercise in character development. Luckily, it veered away from one of those episodes where everyone is sitting around discussing their feelings–actually, I guess Rick and Morgan were talking about their feelings, in between the stabbing, the shooting, and the axe–but at least they were interesting feelings.

Kiki Smith, Jenn Kim, Carly Mitchell, and Nikki Urban join me to discuss this week’s happenings.

Joe: First, has anyone seen the SNL skit about The Walking Dead?

It was funny, but I really thought SNL could have highlighted the fact that they kill a black character every minute on that show. They have three black actors (including Kevin Hart, the host) to eliminate in rapid and hilarious succession over a four-minute segment. That particular skit would have been hilarious and actually applicable to something fans have been criticizing about the show. Can I write for SNL? I mean, call me. It can’t hurt, NBC. I mean, your ratings are so bad, Univision is beating you (and that’s not a joke).

Kiki: Haha. I hadn’t seen it, but it was great. But, I think you’re right, Joe. SNL missed a fantastic opportunity (being that the zombie was African American and they were talking about black stereotypes throughout it) for them to touch on that note. A little disappointed with that but the skit was funny nonetheless.

Jenn: I agree with Kiki, particularly because of Nasim Pedrad’s characterization of Carl. I forgive SNL’s missed opportunity solely because of Pedrad’s Carl stating, “I’m 12 now, so I’m totally ready to kill. I’m good at killing, and I feel emotionally fine after I do it.”

Carly: So while this was a generally feel-good episode (it’s relative I know–hey, we didn’t even have a super gross moment!), it was made even lighter by my husband’s comparison of the hitchhiker to Sweetums from the Muppet movies.

Kiki: Best comparison ever.

Joe: Give Ed a high-five for me.

Nikki: Awesome! I cannot believe they didn’t even stop for him though! The hitchhiker…not Sweetums. I guess they’re showing us how jaded and different Rick and Carl are–I’ve always fancied Michonne as a loner because of her “I have a Samurai sword and I’m quieter and potentially smarter than everyone” schtick. I hate that the hitchhiker met that fate, but inside I was all “this is the realness of the zombie apocalypse, stomach. Toughen up.”

Joe: I was telling Carly that it looked like the guy stepped out of an REI. He was so clean and seemingly prepared, and he also survived a year, so what was he doing wandering in the middle of nowhere with no weapons or anything? Like, it didn’t even look like he had a gun, or even a sharp stick. Was he on a cruise?

Nikki: Sadder than that? Morgan! Poor, sweet, dear Morgan! I so hoped that you would have been able to hold a tiny sliver of hope and will to survive in your heart! The story about Duane has to be the worst survivor tale yet. I also became enraged at Rick when Morgan called him out about abandoning the radio. Maybe that was his only lifeline to hope. Maybe he could’ve kept some sort of prospective and not sunk so far… I was secretly waiting for their reunion the entire series, and I was really hoping that they would somehow remind each other of what kind of men they were (as they knew them). Especially Morgan, considering he took a chance on sheltering Rick first. I would also like to say how much I absolutely love Michonne for picking up that tacky cat (which I instantly realized I would love to have in my home…wonder if I can find that online somewhere). I’m also a really large fan of the fact that she wouldn’t take Carl’s “I’m a man now! I go it alone!”

Joe: I’d check Home Goods for that thing; it seems very Home Goods-y. I really hope that completely impractical rainbow cat travels around with her forever and ever. But yes, regarding the Morgan: I think the world let out a collective:

when we found out his wife ate their son. Such sentences should never be uttered. But then he had to shoot his wife (and probably his son, too, since he’d be turning soon), and I was all:

I didn’t marry or create either of those people, so I can’t even imagine what seeing the people you love do that to each other would do to your mind. In Criminal Minds, this is what they call a trigger. From then on, all this “clear” business came to the forefront of Morgan’s head.

Jenn: I, too, was eagerly awaiting a Morgan and Rick reunion. If The Walking Dead (and every other mainstream television show) didn’t insist on making our protagonist a white man, perhaps we could have followed Morgan and Duane since their departure from Rick and seen firsthand what they had gone through in their attempts to survive. I know I’d watch the crap out of that show. But instead, Morgan and his heartbreaking grief have to serve as a cautionary tale for our “hero.” That being said, I did enjoy how the show finally acknowledged that there’s a bigger world outside of Woodbury and the prison. Plus, an opportunity for Carl and Michonne to bond is something I’ll always want to see.

Carly: Yes, it does appear that Morgan was a straight up sacrificial lamb for Rick’s continuing saga. I think that’s what most excites me about Daryl and Michonne getting a chance to meaningfully expand their storylines with the brother dynamic and Michonne starting to indicate she has a history (fingers crossed they don’t gloss over it)–it makes the show more than just the Grimes soap opera. Not that I don’t dig all that, it’s just time we got a little bit more.

I know we didn’t say this in the roundtable, but that is a really cute top.
Image via AMCtv.com.

Joe: Her back story could be its own episode. It is supremely engaging. Oh, I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

Carly: Speaking of Carl, as things started to go wrong in the bar I could not help but think, of course. Carl has just been waaaaay too competent of late–they had to at least give us one instance to remember that he’s still a kid.

Joe: I think his parroting exactly what his father told him ten minutes before to Michonne about how their “goals were the same” and such reminded me about how young he is. And also how he still idolizes his father.

Carly: Michonne talking and giving us some humor and…I want to say compassion? It’s like they’re finally giving her a chance to outside of her own inner turmoil. I know I’m projecting, but we were all running out of explanations for her all consuming silence.

Nikki: Carly, so well said!! I was starting to equate Michonne’s input to Nutella or cookies or other delicious things that I have to wait long and work for!

Joe: Michonne is in fact the Nutella of The Walking Dead. For me as well, Nikki. For me as well.

Jenn: And wasn’t it worth the wait? From Michonne’s comedic timing (her munching on Morgan’s food and shrugging, “What? The mat said ‘welcome’” literally made me chortle), to her empathizing with Rick over his Laurie hallucinations, I was literally pumping my fist and clapping my hands with each delicious morsel of Michonne we were awarded with.

Joe: Frankly I was, like, “It’s about time.”

Nikki: Agreed and agreed. I love the munching and the comic relief. And whodathunk it would’ve been from our most stifled character?! I do enjoy that she’s dropping her guard bit by bit, and I hope it’s because she’s feeling more that “the group” could be her semi-permanent home. I think they need each other.

Carly: I want to put it out there: this was my favorite episode in ages. I wonder if some people saw it as a fluff piece to put in before the big battle? I just so appreciated them taking a moment away from the mind games and subterfuge and hyper-gore to focus on some very human moments. It made people seem a little bit less like caricatures (or an SNL skit for that matter). Obviously the show can’t and probably shouldn’t do this all the time–what would Walking Dead be without exploding heads and spilled guts–but I want to thank the writers for this one small chance to see something a little fresh.

  • Jacob

    Best episode ever! So happy to finally get some character meat to dig my teeth into! The Michonne lines were great. Especially from knowing her in the comic. So happy to have her character back. And she mentions talking to her boy friend! And I did really dig the Morgan situation, even though I want his character in the show. I think he will return after Rick’s group loses the prison(which they will. They need to be on the road in the next season. I can’t see the show continuing stationary like this. They should do segmented episodes on the road, each being its own bubble of a show, kinda like Star Trek if that makes any sense. That way we can have a bunch of isolated awesome events, and no true bad guy to last the whole season. The next big bad doesn’t show up until issue 100 anyway.). But basically I think they’ll pick him up on the road to D.C. Or maybe they will be heading toward a different United States land mark in the show. Who knows?! Good One.

  • etoiledamore

    Regarding the SNL skit: I think it would have been much improved if the SNL writers poked fun at the fact that black characters are killed and then replaced almost instantly, but I think the SNL writers knew that people who don’t watched TWD would have been completely lost. The entire audience can laugh at Kevin Hart doing the Thriller Dance and SNL versions of Rick, Daryl, and Maggie trying to prove that they’re not actually racist.

  • Pellinore

    I feel it shouldn’t have taken this long for Michonne to receive some decent characterization. I think in this one episode she said more than T-Dog ever did in over three seasons. And while I like the stories for Morgan and Michonne in this episode they seemed to mostly supplement Rick’s characterization. In Michonne’s case she only spoke so that Rick would know he wasn’t the only one with such coping mechanisms. To help keep him sane and not really explain something about herself, which she is rarely given the opportunity to do. And she was essentially Carl’s nanny, and the way he vetted her to his dad seemed very odd to me. Almost like he wasn’t speaking about an adult woman. But just the vetting process in and of itself is very telling in Michonne’s case. Merle certainly didn’t have to do half of the shit she did, pretty much being a pack mule without getting proper respect most of the time. Merle gets bible chat with the father of the woman he held at gunpoint and kidnapped and nearly got killed.

    Carl’s attitude toward Michonne in the beginning of the episode annoyed me immensely as well as Rick’s justification for bringing her. For whatever reason they think a person who hasn’t done anything to them is less trustworthy being left at the prison than a person who nearly beat Glenn to death and held Maggie at gunpoint before kidnapping them and would have allowed them both to be killed b/c he was just “following orders.” And they continue to blame her for motherfucking Oscar. Like she was the one who shot him or she was the reason they even had to go to the prison in the first place. And Morgan was just a cautionary tale. We’re probably not going to see him again, so this very clearly deviates from the comics, which I believe offered him more story space. The only thing that surprised me was that they did not kill him immediately and that Rick was actually patient with him, even getting stabbed while trying to reason with him. I would say Morgan is the only black person Rick has ever received so understandingly.