The Walking Dead recap: Torn Apart by Teeth or Bullets

Rick is haunted by yet another ghost from the past. But this ghost isn't dead yet. (OR IS IT?) (No.)
Ep. 12 | Aired Mar 3, 2013

ERRAND OF MERCY I don't usually go in for "shipping," the process of lustfully hoping that two characters on a show will hook up. But am I the only one who kinda wants to see Rick and Michonne get together? They're both clearly brutally damaged PTSD victims dealing with the zombie apocalypse in their own way -- Rick by developing a God Complex and trying to protect everyone, Michonne by shutting out everyone else and focusing on her own well-being. It would be like if a cowboy hooked up with a samurai. In other news, I'm pitching Cowboy Loves Samurai as a reality series to A&E.

Gene Page/AMC

Rick got him to calm down. He reminded Morgan that he had saved Rick from the walkers, all those months ago. He reminded Morgan about the walkie-talkie. That got Morgan talking. He turned on the walkie-talkie every morning for days, weeks, always at sunrise. There was never anything but static. "You were never there," said Morgan. It's unclear how to read that statement. We know for a fact that Rick contacted Morgan at least twice: Once when they set off for the CDC, and once when they left Atlanta. Did Morgan not have the walkie set to the right frequency? Was "sunrise" perhaps too vague an agreed-upon time? Whatever the reason, Rick definitely felt guilty about leaving walkie range when the Grimes Gang set off on their quest for Fort Benning.

Then Morgan told Rick what had been happening with him lately. This was Morgan's version of The Last 30 Episodes of The Walking Dead, and it was not a particularly happy spin-off. Morgan reminded Rick about his dead wife, whose walking corpse was still trying to get into the door of her old home. He couldn't kill her, no matter how he tried. Months later, Morgan was checking out a cellar, while his son Duane waited outside. Morgan emerged just in time to see that somehow -- madly, impossibly -- his wife was standing in front of Duane. Duane had his gun up...but he couldn't shoot her. And then she attacked. Morgan took down both members of his family -- and, in that moment, probably lost whatever sanity he might have had. (Props to actor Lennie James for really selling this monologue; a lesser show might have used flashbacks, but James made the horror explicit with the dead look in his eyes. Also, another note to add in the Morgan-As-Alternate-Rick theory: James, like Lincoln and like David Morrissey, is a Brit acting American.)

This weird little tale was, of course, an implicit sideways version of the saga of the Grimes family. Morgan tried to do everything he could to save his son, but he couldn't make the hard choices -- not like Rick, killing an apparently apologetic Shane in order to protect his family. Morgan's son, Duane, saw his dead mother and could not shoot her; Carl, conversely, volunteered to execute his mother, plugging a bullet in her head while she lay dead on the floor of the prison.

The message here seemed to be that Rick and Carl survived because they cast aside their old sentimentality, but Morgan actually offered Rick an even more despairing message. "People like you? The good people? They always die. And the bad people, too. But the weak people, the people like me: We have inherited the earth." Right now, Dead's America is in the Level 2 stage of the Post-Apocalypse -- call it "The Road Warrior Stage" -- when the survivors form into tribes and the strongest survive. Morgan seemed to be offering a vision for Level 3 where none of those tribes survive -- where the Morgans of the world become a new race of cavemen, lurking in the ruins behind elaborate security mechanisms, scavenging the declining resources of the old world, nothing to look forward to except maybe dying of natural causes.

Heavy stuff! Fortunately (or not), Michonne was helping Carl on a very Carl-esque mission.

NEXT: Michonne's no-look execution

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