The best episode since the pilot is, I hope, a preview of what next season will be like. The writer of this week's episode, Scott M. Gimple, is taking over as showrunner next season.
I know... who the hell is Scott M. Gimple? His middle name is Milhouse. He's from New Jersey. He's written five episodes, including "Save the Last One" (where Shane shoots Otis) and "Pretty Much Dead Already" (where they kill all the walkers in the barn, and find Sophia). Those are two really good episodes, and along with this one, I'm really encouraged about next season.
If you hate Gimple's writing, well... just give it a little while. Walking Dead showrunners have about as long a lifespan as hitchhikers on this show.
I felt bad for the hitchhiker, and of course we all would like to think that of course we'd stop for the poor guy. There's an empty seat in the back, after all. But if there's one thing Rick has learned, it's not to be nice to strangers. As I pointed out last week, if you're a latecomer to Rick's crew, you're better off finding the Governor. Rick isn't going to let you join.
But if you think about it, how many times has Rick survived because strangers took him in? Morgan... Jenner... Hershel. What ever happened to "pay it forward"?
The highlight of the episode was Lennie James as Morgan. The guy is just electrifying on screen. You really felt his horror and anguish as a man damned to live in Hell on Earth. Of course I wanted Rick to bring Morgan back to the prison, even though that means (given the show's strict "one black man at a time" policy) that Tyreese would be permanently on Team Woodbury. But you knew Morgan wasn't going to go. He survives while everyone he cares about dies around him, not because he's brave but because he's weak.
Does anyone else feel the last three seasons would have been awesome if it was about Morgan and Duane? Season 1 ends with Morgan, realizing he and Duane are in over their hands, finally turning on the walkie-talkie. Season 2 ends with Duane getting eaten by his mother. And Season 3 ends with Rick's return.
Not in this universe.
In the real Walking Dead, Michonne finally emerges as they give her something to do other than glower. She even gets the line of the night:
Rick: We're eating his food now?When Carl gets annoyed and stomps off by himself, she does the smart thing and follows him at a distance -- letting him know she's there but not crowding him for space. Close enough to keep an eye on him but not so close that he runs away. Wow, she's already a better mom than Lori "Where's Carl?!" Grimes.
Michonne: The mat said welcome...
There were a few stupid moments in this episode, though. I get that Michonne is a bad-ass, but now she can teleport? She bamfs up to the roof to go after Morgan, and then bamfs into the restaurant to get the picture (and the weird cat sculpture). Pretty impressive.
I also liked when Carl is told to stay outside the restaurant, so he stands with his back to the doors (with windows) as a horde of zombies inside pounds away. That sounds like a smart idea.
But this was by far the best since the pilot. I'm looking forward to more of Gimple's work.