The Walking Dead: 312 “Clear” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead showcased everything that is so great about this show. Clearly.
We all know where this season is going, Woodbury Vs the Group, which is an exciting prospect but also means we’ve got to wait 3 or 4 episode until the battle commences. So we’d be expecting some filler episodes of small one on one conversations between characters exchanging stories or expressing their feelings, which is all fine and well but doesn’t really get your pulse racing. This is something the show did in Season 2 as it tried to figure out what to do with a season twice as long as the show’s first outing.
Season 3 has been extended again to an eye-watering (or gauging if you’re the governor) 16 episodes. Which is fantastic – if you can fill them with both entertainment and slower yet appealing pieces of drama. Some fans complained that the 2nd season’s problem was that it didn’t have enough action and for the most part I agree with them. But what Season 2 did contain was the episode “18 Miles Out” which fans will recall was centred on Shane & Rick as they tried to remove and unwanted guest from the farm.
“Clear” was this season’s “18 Miles Out”. It’s no surprise that the same scribe, Scott Gimple, wrote both of these brilliant individual stories that both contained a similar setting and character set. What Gimple does so well is to take a small set of characters, drag them away from their typical environment and generate a fantastically well-paced and engaging story. These two episodes stand apart from each of their respected seasons by some distance and help bridge the gap between the mid-season premier and season finale.
At the start of “18 Miles Out” Shane was focused on a lonely walker that was staggering through endless fields. Here we saw the same except it was an isolated hiker who was actively begging for help. In each episode’s closing scene was saw the result of each – the walker kept on walking, the hiker didn’t hike anymore. This shows just how far the series and characters have developed in this apocalyptic world, Rick has become more Shane-like as season 3 has progressed and now that Lori is gone there’s no time for being a Good Samaritan.
The only thing that really bugged me about this episode was the “previously on…” sequence at the start which might has well have just flashed up the text “Morgan’s Back”. Not all of us need to have everything spelled out, but I guess that’s more a problem with the show’s marketing team than writers. Other than that it was brilliant to have Morgan back in the mix, it’s hard to believe he was only in one episode before this, the phenomenal Days Gone Bye series premier, yet he seems to have made a much bigger mark on the show.
The idea of him being held up on a lonely street full of Home Alone-esk traps was quite appropriate in illustrating his deliria. His interaction with Rick and stubbornness to remain in the town was unexpected and in many ways refreshing. However, I expect him to be back at some point in the future, otherwise I doubt we’d have seen him again.
Another positive thing to come out of this episode was Michonne. Finally we’ve seen the real Michonne, yes she’s tough as a coffin nail and as closed off as a box containing a Tesco lasagne, but she’s got some real quality about her manner and has so much to give this show. Getting back the picture alongside Carl was a perfect way of getting her to open up and actually speak more than the average amount of words she’s been saying recently (which is on a par with what T-Dogg’s regular input was). It also feels a lot more comfortable for Danai Gurira, who’s doing a great job bringing such a predominate character to the small screen but has just about ran out of frown variations to pull.
Chandler Riggs deserves a lot of praise for the way he’s grown up both in and out of the show. He’s maturing incredibly as an actor and character and the two seem to be feeding off each other. It’s now at the point where you genuinely believe he can shoot a person, living or dead, compared with the episode in Season 2 when he failed to kill the swap zombie, which later resulted in Dale’s death (and more importantly the death of that hat).
Overall, this was a really well thought out episode that contained some touching and provoking moments. Morgan’s situation and mental state have deteriorated drastically and it’s a sorry way of life for a human to be living. If every ‘filler’ episode until the season’s finale as is like this then we’ll have nothing to complain about when the show ends it’s third instalment. And even better – we had a week off from Andrea.
Scene of the Episode: “You Know Me” – This was the show at it’s core, aside from the 1001 ways to kill a zombie which Daryl seems to be working his way through successfully, there is a real story underneath that deals with the devastation of this global disaster. Morgan’s mental health has declined heavily after the death of his son and the story he told about killing his wife was truly horrific.