Sunday, November 15, 2015

Holy Crap, There's A Goat Up In There

Episode the Fourth: "Here's Not Here," a.k.a. "I'm Not Very Good with a Gun" but I Wield a Mean Broomstick

I’ve got a feeling…that this ep is All Morgan (M). We know a little about what happened to him: his wife unfortunately joined the walking dead; she killed their son because M lacked the fortitude to kill her when he had the chance; M then promptly lost his shizzle.  He holed up in a second-floor walk-up apartment rigged with zombie booby traps. Cryptic writings about going “clear” adorned the walls of his charming abode. Morgan seemed like a badass to Rick when he and Michonne caught up with him, but Michonne rightly views him as an unhinged, unpredictable loose cannon who should not be trusted.

We now see Morgan through a Vaseline-smeared lense (petroleum jelly=Flashback), fending off zombies in the forest and then neatly piling them up in a smelly heap. Evidently, killing the undead is okay, because well, they are already dead. His pacifist stance only applies to humans, even murderous ones. Morgan burns the bodies until crispy. The following morning, he fashions pointy stakes, which he uses to stab more zombies in the head, and drag onto said heap of bodies…ad so on and so on. I’m beginning to question Morgan’s business model. Does he have an end goal? Is he simply warming up—so to speak—or practicing?

Morgan bumps into some actual humans running frantically through the forest. He promptly kills them. Ah so! What we are seeing now precedes the mushy version of Morgan. In this flashback, he is actually deranged and capable of senseless violence. We return to the burning body heap. Zombies are impaling themselves on his pointy stakes. Morgan gets creative with zombie guts and blood—zombie chum?—by using it to write on trees.

The countryside of rural Georgia remains quite lovely, notwithstanding the zombies. Morgan prances around a bit with a pointy stick. He encounters a goat, a real live goat, near a rural cabin. A voice calls out, offering falafel and talking about goat cheese. Of course, Morgan’s not in a mood to visit or eat Middle Eastern food; he shoots off his automatic. The voice is serious now: Step down, or else. Morgan gets clocked in the head by a tall, robed man when he refuses to join him for lunch. Maybe he should have listened.

Morgan wakes up in a small cell, with a plate of tasty looking food. “Kill me,” he implores to his burly captor, who wears a mustard-yellow baseball cap. Morgan munches on a red, ripe tomato slice. Has he calmed down? The goat, Tabitha, bleats in the distance. The man has left Morgan a little yellow book, entitled something about the Art of Peace.

Bald captor guy is named Eastman. He makes terrible goat cheese. He reveals more about himself. As a forensic psychiatrist, he evaluated offenders. Morgan shares that he kills everyone, and that’s why he’s still alive. Bald guy is not buying this logic.

Morgan soon plots his escape. No doubt he will kill the man and the goat, a scene I’m dreading. Bald forensic guy diagnoses Morgan: post-traumatic stress disorder. He points out that Morgan probably saved people, too, in addition to his random killing. Bald guy talks too much; Morgan’s not much for analysis or conversation. He just wants to get out of that cage, and kill Eastman. Bald guy claims Morgan can heal, with his help. Oh, and by the way: bald guy threw away the key to the cell. Morgan is free to leave, but he’s not doing any murdering of any bald guy or any goats, not today!

Morgan lunges, but bald guy is quite handy with the broomstick. Morgan tries to strangle him, but bald gets the upper hand and flips Morgan over into a submissive pose; back flat on the floor. I do this with my Jack Russell puppy, albeit in a more gentle manner, when he tries to steal my coffee, lick the sofa, nip my hand, etc.

Aikido is what “redirected” him, claims bald, and it’s just the cure for Morgan, too! Although this is a non-lethal form of martial arts, I suppose you could mess someone up pretty badly with it.

Bald is making progress with his goat cheese. He chats with Morgan as if they are old friends. Take a shower, please friend! You’re a bit ripe. Aikido is what made Morgan hate killing, we see.

Morgan leaves the cabin in a rush to kill some zombies. Whew. The goat is safe. Bald is off scavenging for supplies. Morgan approaches the goat and leads her back to the cabin. He resumes his little pile o’zombies, off in a clearing. He comes across a makeshift cemetery, which we can assume was created by Eastman.

Bald finds Morgan burying zombies; what’s the point? He thanks him for saving the goat’s ass. Silent Morgan carries on. He seems to be getting the hang of things!

Bald hands him a broomstick…ooh, shivers down the spine! Broomstick is to Morgan as a katana sword is to Michonne. The dawn of a new era in badassery. But life is not all about aikido. They garden, too. And bald and Morgan discuss the value of life, that it is precious. It’s nice to be reminded in the face of overwhelming death and loneliness that some people in the post-apocalyptic world are not in it solely for themselves.

This is bald’s credo: All life is precious. An escaped psychopath whom Bald had tried (unsuccessfully) to keep behind bars murdered his wife and two children. Instead of seeking vengeance, he became a vegan and adopted this belief. All life is precious. Hard to apply to the most degenerate, the morally bankrupt among us. It’s significant, though, that bald shared his story with Morgan, who also lost everything and everyone. Bald hopes to gather supplies and venture out further toward the coastal islands off of Georgia.

Morgan finally opens up about his wife and son. In manly fashion, the two start an impromptu aikido! Form (session). Bald gently corrects Morgan’s stance. The two bow to each other, but not before a stinky zombie staggers by to mess—uh oh, the zombie in question just happens to be one of the dudes Morgan killed a while back (formerly human). Morgan then gets a case of the freezes. Bald intervenes but is bit. Yes, technically Morgan’s fault, yet Morgan blames bald. You don’t just step in, he says. They fight, right after bald encourages Morgan to continue his journey of hope rather than hate (corny, no? But inspiring!).

Bald goes about his business as if nothing really bad just transpired. Yes, he’s bit, but life goes on. Another zombie has to be buried. What’s going to happen to the goat, for God’s sake? I can’t see Morgan leading a goat around; there’s very little return on a goat. A horse, maybe—you can ride them. Cows give milk, and they make pleasant “moos.” Goats are cute, but they smell horrible and aren’t really useful unless you have a number of them in a milk/cheese/soap producing scheme.

Morgan’s in the forest again. He kills a walker who was about to snack on two terrified backpackers, who offer him a can of food as a peace offering-thank you. He returns to the cabin. A zombie has killed the goat. Oh, well. A goat is not long for this post-apocalyptic world! Bald is already feeling the effects of the bite. Morgan offers him a sit-down while he buries the goat.

Along the way, Morgan sees a curious “headstone” (sticks and a flat piece of wood) with the name of the killer of bald’s wife and kids. So, bald is not immune to revenge? He lied to Morgan about ALL life being precious? Well, yeah.  I’m a vegan, but there was this ONE time when I inflicted pain, suffering and death on a fellow human. Let’s give bald a break, shall we? He put the killer in the cell, where it took 47 days for the monster to starve to death. It brought him no long-term relief (except maybe a little?), so he decided to never kill again.

Morgan affirms that the world is very much here. It remains a vibrant place, where it is still okay to express one’s humanity. Perhaps it is now even more important to hope. “Everything is about people,” says bald, who is now sweating profusely and ill. He passes along a rabbit’s foot keychain his small daughter gave him in another life. Morgan leaves the cabin after dawn. His existence has meaning again. He’s far from whole, but he is grounded, brought down to earth.

All this time Morgan has been addressing a Wolf whom he tied up in a home in Alexandria. The Wolf heard Morgan’s whole story, but he is unmoved. He is a committed murderer who claims he is compelled to kill every last person in the housing complex…if he survives the zombie bite he received. That’s his “code,” he brags. Morgan calculates: What will his next move be? He stands, leaves the chained Wolf, and locks him inside the house.  

We are NOT all capable of change, due to one obstacle or another. Bald brought Morgan back from the brink, but so much of his success was Morgan’s doing. He is a good man, and he had it in him all the time. It simply needed to be cultivated and strengthened. Wolves have no redeeming qualities. They were probably all assholes before the former world ended, and now they have the perfect venue to become even bigger assholes.

How do we contend with unrepentant murderers who prey on innocent people? We put them down, according to Carol. Morgan, on the other hand, simply shares his inspirational story, locks the door, and walks away. In today’s world, I want more Carols. Morgans are fine, but isn’t his philosophy more convenient if you are not under siege? You cannot afford to walk away. Sometimes, as Ruben Blades the Mad Barber is quick to remind us, doing the “right” thing will get you killed.

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