“You stay or you go, those are the choices. I will not allow you to kill me,” says Eastman (John Carroll Lynch). Eastman’s just opened the cell door to the cage in his log cabin where he’s been keeping Morgan (Lennie James) since knocking him out after Morgan tried to shoot him and take his goat in episode four of the sixth season of AMC’s horror/drama series The Walking Dead.
As the episode begins Morgan is looking right into the camera, obviously looking at a character that the audience is supposed to see this episode through the eyes of. He says, “You said you wanted everything I had before. All right, I’ll tell you everything.” The screen goes black with only a title card stating “Then.” Morgan is yelling about someone knowing something and that “they weren’t supposed to be there.” After that, the opening credits and creepy theme music start.
Morgan is walking in the woods eliminating walkers and writing in their blood and feces the words “CLEAR” and “Here’s Not Here.” When a father and son make the bad mistake to try to take Morgan on for the supplies he has, he kills both of them with his spear and his bare hands. At night Morgan builds a bonfire made up of the bodies of walkers he has eliminated and the fire draws more curious zombies into his trap. He destroys them and adds them to the bonfire.
The next day Morgan is again moving through the woods when he hears a goat. He approaches and sees the goat tied to a fence in front of a log cabin. Morgan is about to get the goat when he hears a man’s voice telling him to please leave the goat alone, she doesn’t belong to him. Morgan shoots at where he believes the man is, only to hear the man say he should put the gun down and they can work it out. Morgan keeps looking for an entrance to the log cabin when he finally hears the voice say, “This is your last chance. Put down the weapon and get away from the cabin.” Of course Morgan doesn’t and is hit in the head by a bo staff and knocked down. When he looks up he sees a big man standing over him. “Sorry,” he says to Morgan and knocks him out.
Morgan wakes up in a cage in the middle of the main room of the log cabin. The man enters the cabin with supplies and asks Morgan what his name is to which Morgan replies, “Kill me.” “That’s a stupid name; it’s dangerous. You should change it,” replies the man. He walks over and tosses small book titled The Art of Peace through the bars. “My name is Eastman,” says the man as he walks over to his bedroom and turns out the light.
Over the next few days Morgan watches his captor train himself in Aikido, kill the occasional walker who shows up at the cabin, and make horrible, inedible goat cheese. It turns out Eastman was a forensic psychiatrist in the world before the rise of the undead and he believes that Morgan is suffering from PTSD. Eastman shows Morgan the cell door isn’t locked. He tells him he has two choices: to leave or he can crash on the couch. Of course the minute Morgan steps out of the cage, he tries to attack Eastman who uses his Aikido training to subdue Morgan and leaves him lying on the cabin floor. Morgan goes back into the cell and closes the door. Eastman reopens the door and tells Morgan about Aikido, that it helped him and that it will help Morgan, too.
The next day Eastman asks Morgan to watch over Tabitha the goat while he goes looking for supplies. Sure enough two hungry walkers show up to try to make a meal out of poor Tabitha and Morgan comes to the goat’s rescue, destroying both walkers. Morgan drags the two walkers to where he has seen Eastman drag the walkers he killed and finds a graveyard. It seems Eastman finds each zombie’s ID and puts the name of who they were before they turned on the cross at their grave site. Each life is precious to Eastman.
Eastman returns to find Morgan finishing burying the walkers and thanks him for saving Tabitha, but also says he noticed that when Morgan fought the zombies he destroyed a perfectly good fence he’ll need to fix. He also shows Morgan that he fixed his spear. He encourages Morgan to instead take a bo staff and start training with him.
The two men spend the next few months training together, trying to get both Morgan’s body and mind clear and healthy again. They begin to become friends and bond, and one evening Eastman reveals to Morgan his story from before the apocalypse. During the time working as a forensic psychiatrist he saw 800 patients who committed unspeakable acts but he only found one person truly evil and beyond redemption. Crighton Dallas Wilton was a pure psychopath and a great conman able to fool almost everyone around him into believing he had been rehabilitated.
Eastman tells Morgan he saw through Crighton’s act and Wilton knew it and tried to kill him. Aikido saved Eastman’s life that day. However, Crighton wasn’t finished with Eastman and managed to escape only to find Eastman’s wife, daughter – who gave her father a lucky rabbit’s foot she won at school when he was feeling bad and has been his lucky charm ever since – and his son. After finishing murdering Eastman’s family, Wilton turned himself into the police admitting to the murders. Eastman tells Morgan he built the cell in the log cabin to bring Crighton there and starve him to death. Eastman than tells Morgan that all life is precious to him.
The next morning Morgan and Eastman head out for supplies for a trip Eastman is planning, and Morgan finally opens up about what happened to his wife and son. To help him center himself and deal with the pain he’s still struggling with, Eastman tells Morgan they need to spend a little time practicing Aikido. Things get dangerous when a walker shows up and Morgan freezes because it’s the young man who attacked him in the woods a few months ago. Realizing Morgan isn’t going to fight back, Eastman shoves him out of the way and in the process gets bit by the walker. Eastman then finishes off the zombie with his bo staff.
Morgan yells, “You shouldn’t have done that!” and tries to fight Eastman, showing signs of regression but Eastman won’t play into it. He just quickly knocks Morgan off his feet and takes the walker off to bury him in the graveyard. Morgan ends up taking on another walker and kills it, only to discover it was closing in on a young, wounded couple. Morgan doesn’t kill them but instead lets them leave and realizes Eastman’s teachings about life being precious have taken root in his mind. With that realization, Morgan heads back to the cabin to check on Eastman.
Morgan returns to the cabin to find a zombie eating poor Tabitha. It seems she figured out the cell door doesn’t lock and got out. Morgan kills the walker and takes what’s left of Tabitha to the gravesite. Morgan takes over digging the graves for the walkers and sees a grave marked Crighton Dallas Wilton. Eastman did succeed in kidnapping Crighton and starving him to death for what he did to his family. Eastman admits to Morgan it took 47 days to starve Crighton to death, but that killing him gave him no peace. Eastman tells Morgan he only found peace when he decided to never kill again. He went back to Atlanta to turn himself in and that’s when he discovered the zombie apocalypse.
Before Eastman dies he reveals to Morgan everything is about people. He tells Morgan he could stay in the cabin because there are enough supplies but that he shouldn’t. Eastman doesn’t want Morgan to live alone and before he goes into the next room where he has a gun, he gives Morgan his lucky rabbit’s foot.
Morgan trains some more, packs up his supplies, and heads out, passing the gravesite and walking by a new grave with a new cross with the name Eastman on it. Morgan reaches a road and sees a sign on the side of the road. He half smiles and begins walking down the road. The sign reads Terminus.
“That’s it,” says Morgan to the Wolf he fought but did not kill who he has now tied up. He’s trying to get the Wolf to see the error of his ways and that it’s not too late to change. The Wolf tells Morgan that he’s most likely going to die but if he ever gets free he will kill everyone in Alexandria because that’s what he has pledged to do with the other Wolves. The episode ends with Morgan leaving the room, going out the front door and locking it. Morgan turns when he hears a voice yelling to open the gates.
The Walking Dead “Here’s Not Here” Review:
Spiritual, profound, and enlightening, season six episode four titled “Here’s Not Here” slams the brakes on the intense and action-packed season and shows the audience the backstory of how Morgan went from being on the brink of self-destruction to the bo staff-wielding bad ass loner he is when he finally catches up to Rick and his group. This is a very different episode in both pacing and writing than what most fans of the horror/drama series are used to. It’s a performance-driven episode and constructed almost as a two man play between Morgan and Eastman.
Lennie James delivers one of his best performances to date as Morgan, portraying wonderfully the emotional arc his character goes through as a man lost on the edge of madness and destruction to being brought back to not just sanity but to finding a real purpose in his life and believing all life is sacred. It’s a performance that’s worthy of an Emmy nomination.
Guest star John Carroll Lynch (Fargo, Zodiac) has without a doubt the best, one episode only role any character actor could hope for on The Walking Dead as Morgan’s savior, teacher, mentor, and friend. His first name might as well be Obi-Wan as he trains Morgan how to fight, cope with tragic loss, and teaches him that all life matters and it is possible to keep your humanity and still survive in a zombie apocalypse. Both actors have such great chemistry in this episode and play off each other perfectly. The scene where Eastman tells Morgan about the psychopath who murdered his family and how Eastman came to finally believe all life is sacred is one of the most powerful and perfectly acted scenes in the series’ run.
The writing and dialogue is superb as both actors are given realistic, funny, and at times intense lines revealing their past and the struggles they’ve endured and the horrific loss of loved ones to violent ends.
With the episode ending with Morgan hearing someone yelling to open the gate, here’s hoping that episode five will reveal what has happened to Rick who we last saw being surrounded by hungry walkers in a stranded RV as well as the fate of fan favorite Glenn who may or may not be dead. Note: actor Steven Yeun who portrays Glenn on the show was missing during the opening credits of episode four…make of that what you will.