Aikido means not to kill. All though nearly all creeds have a commandment against taking life, most of them justify killing for one reason or another. In Aikido, however, we try to avoid killing even the most evil person.
“You said that you want everything that I have…every last bit, well here it is…every last bit,” states Morgan Jones (Lennie James), direct to camera, the screen dissolves to black and the word ‘Then’ appears. After three consecutive weeks of both gaining and losing characters, the writers hit pause on the action onslaught, to do a character study. Episode four, Here’s not Here, chronicles Morgan’s journey from his appearance in Clear (3×12) to his reveal in A (4×01). My one complaint towards this episode is that it really didn’t need to be an extended episode, some sequences could have been cut to tell a more concise story. Although there’s a sense of wonder captured within this vignette that truly separates itself from the rest. Often in this universe characters talk about how quiet this new world is in comparison to the old one. While watching, I couldn’t help but notice all the ambient sound found in this episode. The additional noises serve as a constant reminder that the world may have ended, but it didn’t die. “You know you were supposed to…you know you were supposed to,” cries Morgan as he paces his room like a caged animal, yelling at his ghosts, as everything burns down around him. He leaves his ghost town behind and heads into the wilderness. Then, Morgan violently murders two living men, “I clear, walkers, people, anything that gets anywhere near me…I kill them,” then burns all the lives he’s taken (living and the dead). Morgan clears a small section of the woods, the camera pans to reveal the words, ‘pointless acts, here’s not here, and clear,’ all written in walker blood on stones. Anyone else hoping that one stone would have Enid’s inspirational survival mark ‘JSS’? The tone shifts as Morgan wanders through a clearing, preserved from toxic bloodshed that scrounges this new world’s Earth. He’s about to meet a goat and a new friend.
“Your body’s here, but your mind’s still there…There’s a door and you want to go through it.” –Eastman
Morgan wakes up in an actual cell, after being knocked out by a stranger. Meet Eastman (John Carroll Lynch), a former forensic psychologist, husband, and father. A man quietly living alone in his cabin, with a jail cell built in his living room, and practices the non-lethal art of Aikido every day; essentially, Eastman’s our heroes’ Yoda, sense, mentor, and savior. “Vets…they didn’t come back with PTSD, because we’re comfortable with killing, we can’t…we’re connected,” explains Eastman to Morgan. Trauma causes us to disconnect from the world, as our distorted reality plays on repeat, always returning us to the heartbreaking moment that changed everything. Eastman’s not only psychoanalyzing Morgan, but Rick, Carol, and Michonne too; characters who continue to walk the divide between the land of the living and the dead. “The door’s been open this whole time. You stay, or you go, those are your options…I will not allow you to kill me,” explains Eastman. Morgan ultimately decides to stay, after Eastman continues to deny him death’s comforting peace. The true test comes when Eastman leaves Morgan in charge of Tabitha, the goat. He protects her from some unsuspecting walkers. Then realizes, there are no walker fire pits on Eastman’s property…”You have to believe that your life is precious, that all life is precious.” Eastman buries all the men he kills. Morgan walks on to Eastman’s property as a hostile beast with no respect for the lives of others, much less his own. This cabin in the woods becomes a sanctuary for Morgan, a place of rebirth.
“I have come to believe that all life is precious…I have come to believe that all life is precious.” –Eastman
Eastman and Morgan return to the primitive clearing from the beginning of the episode. Morgan freezes as a walker approaches, because he’s the reason why this man is longer alive; calling back to his murderous acts prior to meeting Eastman. Remember Eastman is literally Morgan’s savior. He heroically pushes Morgan out of the way, but gets bit in the process, “that wasn’t for you to do,” cries Morgan. The men go their separate ways, because Morgan still doesn’t believe that he chose to ‘walk through the door.’ He takes his boa staff and turns it back into a spear, then begins to stalk his prey. This sequence mirrors the beginning, as he kills a walker and then stumbles upon two unsuspecting survivors. Morgan choses not to kill these innocents, because “all life is precious.”
Morgan buries Eastman, alongside all his victims, including the life he took before the world ended. Morgan, gathers his things, walks through the graveyard, and then wanders through the woods, only to come across an all too familiar railroad…the road to a false sanctuary, known as Terminus. Fast-forward to present day and Morgan’s direct to camera. “You think that it can work out that way for me?” asks the wolves’ leader (Benedict Samuel), I guess Morgan didn’t kill him in the previous episode. Morgan leaves his foe, in the ransacked home, and locks the door on his way out. This goes against Eastman’s teachings, because the cell door was always open. Now we may understand Morgan’s pacifist nature, but will it come back to burn down Alexandria’s…the group’s newfound sanctuary? Will the wolf leader escape and kill Morgan before the season ends? “It’s all a circle…one, everything gets a return,” now back to your regular program.