THE WALKING DEAD Episode Recap: “Clear”

     March 3, 2013


Last week’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead was a bit on the dull side, but tonight’s ep really made up for it!  New locations to experience, interesting relationships to explore and even a surprise reunion.  While it wasn’t the most action-packed of episodes, there was just something about tonight’s hour that took the franchise to a whole new level.

Starring Andrew Lincoln, David Morrissey, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Laurie Holden, Danai Gurira, Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Scott Wilson, Dallas Roberts, Emily KinneyChad Coleman and Lew Temple, AMC’s The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9.  Hit the jump for my review of “Clear.”

walking-dead-season-3-michael-rooker[Spoiler Alert: All reviews and recaps come with a general spoiler warning from this point onward.]

Tonight’s episode departed from this season’s pattern of splitting the story between characters in Woodbury and characters in the prison.  In fact, we only get scenes with Rick, Carl and Michonne for the entire run, with an additional surprise character thrown in for good measure.  We don’t even get to see Woodbury or the prison, which came as a welcome breath of fresh air.

Instead, Rick takes Carl and Michonne for a jaunt back to his home town to scare up some weapons and ammunition.  Finding the police station and other familiar haunts picked clean, they happen upon a strange stretch of road decked out in creepy phrases and booby traps.  Who’s waiting for them on the other side of the barricade?  None other than Morgan (Lennie James), the man who saved Rick from certain death in the first episode!  It’s been a long time coming for the reunion of these two and it was certainly worth the wait.

“Clear” was one of those strong character-building episodes I’ve been longing for this season.  There are a few bits of action scattered about, but even our heroes appear to be bored with the same old method of dispatching the undead.  What was really interesting were the dynamics between the characters, be it Rick and Michonne, Rick and Carl, Michonne and Carl or, most interesting of all, Rick and Morgan.  While the things that happened to Morgan are every bit as gruesome and debilitating as the events that have befallen Rick’s group, Morgan had no support group to catch him when he fell and has since descended into a bit of nihilistic madness.  At least he has a shitload of guns that he’s more than willing to give away!

While Carl is walking the line between upstart teenager and outright douche, I appreciated his sentiment to make sure that little Judith at least grew up knowing what her mother looked like.  I’ll only dock this episode a point for that bit of the story coming across as a little more silly than sweet, but Michonne finally gets to shine a bit more this time around.  And that callback with the hitchhiker at the very end?  A perfect touch!

Rating: 9/10


Zombie Kills: 8

Casualties: 0

Human/Enemy Deaths: 1 hitchhiker

Best Kill: Michonne’s backward katana stab.

Best Effect: A tie for set design between the car crash scene and the booby-trapped domain of Morgan.

Musings and Quotes:

  • Sign: “Erin, We tried for Stone Mountain. -J.” I loved the little touch of seeing a Walker wearing an “Erin” bracelet.  There was just something about this episode, perhaps the attention to detail, that jumped the dramatic level up another notch.
  • There was a nice bit of father/son conversation between Rick and Carl in this episode that never felt forced or contrived.
  • Away with you. / No guilt, you know that. / Just listen.
  • “Keep an eye out for booby traps.  Looks like he’s been pretty creative so far.” – Rick on Morgan
  • “Carl! Watch the wire!” – Rick.  Carl was about a half-step away from getting his skull split.
  • Rick to Michonne: “You think he’s crazy?” Michonne: “I think he’s dangerous.”
  • “You said you would turn on your radio every day at dawn and you were NOT THERE!” – Morgan
  • Morgan’s story of how he lost his family was absolutely heart-breaking.
  • Did Carl and Michonne return to the same place that Rick shot the little girl in the first episode?  Or was that at a gas station…either way, it looked familiar.
  • Using those rats for Walker bait was much smarter than how the gang dealt with the Well Zombie, even if they did steal the idea from Morgan.
  • There was a welcome bit of levity between Carl holding the door, Michonne doing whatever to get that picture back and then coming out with that hideous looking cat statue or whatever it was!
  • “I just wanted Judith to see what her mom looked like.” – Carl
  • “You will be torn apart by teeth or bullets, you and your boy.” – Morgan
  • “I have to clear.” – Morgan
  • Michonne on Morgan: “He’s okay.” Rick: “No, he’s not.”
  • Happy to see Michonne being welcomed into the fold, especially because she wins over the Grimes boys in one fell swoop…which probably means she’s going to die soon.

Be sure to tune in next week for our continuing recaps of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

And if you missed our recap of the Paleyfest Walking Dead red carpet, click here.  We got some new info on season 3 and 4.


  • tee

    I really felt for that hitchhiker. He was all alone and desperate.. then he got eaten.

    • Bb

      That’s the point. This world has changed.. The glen than found Rick episode 1, is not the glen we see this season, same goes for Rick. That hitchhiker could somehow be tied to a person in the camp but they don’t take those risks anymore

  • Zachrifice

    This episode was definitely a breath of fresh air. It had the same vibe as the pilot and obviously the return of Morgan was a big reason for that but it was more about the underlying theme in general The end scene with the hitchhiker was perfect. This was a prime example there doesn’t always need to be a ton of action for it to be a good episode.

  • Aproposofthewetsnow

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVED how the show delt with that hitchhiker. I thought they had done it perfect at the start of the episode, then them taking his backpack at the end was just the cherry on top.

  • Rob

    Lennie James should be considered for an Emmy as outstanding guest actor in a drama. Very well deserved for his performance.

  • NoSpoiler

    We will also see Lennie James again in episode 16 of The Walking Dead, “Welcome to the Tombs,” where he has a gruesome death.

    • 2 Dimensional Mr Kippling

      cheers dick head!!!!! pretty sure your full of shit tho just like your comment ;)

    • LEM

      IMDB does have him listed for that episode but I really hope he doesn’t die because he’d be a great addition to the show.

  • LEM

    Damn, Lennie James put on damn acting class in this episode. Now that’s how you play straddling the line of crazy. I really hope he shows up again but I doubt it, it was probably just to show the contrast and similarities between he and Rick.
    It was great to see Michonne actually come across with some personality and integrate into the group further through her bonding with Carl. I just didn’t get why Carl did what he did because I’m sure Rick still has his picture of Lori so it really made no sense to risk their lives like that.

    • k

      They left with nothing but the shirts on their backs when the farm was overrun at the end of season 2 – Carl got what was left in his home town because he saw the house burned down – maybe they will return to the farm a bit (like in the comics) and get some personal belongings then but I can buy the idea that Carl really thought it was his best bet…..

      • LEM

        I thought Rick always kept that picture he had in his pocket but you’re probably right and obviously it was good way to have some zombie action in the show.

  • Cryder555

    Is everybody crazy? This was the worst episode ever of a show that goes nowhere slowly. How many “place-holder” episodes or “character building” episodes do we freaking need – nothing happens within the narrative, its just vignettes and zombie killing. It’s the least fulfilling show on television.

    • Louis

      don’t watch it then!

      • Cryder555

        You’re an idiot.

  • Cordell

    Lennie James OWNED this episode, he was absolutely phenomenal, I plan to watch it again, he is probably the most underrated actor

  • Mr.Rich316

    Am I wrong or is Rick and family from Kentucky ( Cynthiana ,I believe)? The prison is in Georgia. It may be a small thing,but it seems like the writers just desperately wanted Lennie James back and cranked out an episode when they knew he was available. He is a great actor,but they just magically changed the lead character’s backstory.

    • Leo Spaceman

      I have never once heard mention of Kentucky. I had always assumed that Rick was from Georgia. That is the only state that has been mentioned really, except for maybe possibly taking a trip to Nebraska right after Sophia was found in the barn. Rick was the sheriff of a small town near Georgia (the town that they went to yesterday) and it fits with how Lori Shane and the funky bunch tried to flee to Atlanta during the outbreak but didn’t make it and decided to camp out in the mountains instead. There was a flash back in Season 2 before the title credits where Lori and Shane met Carol and Ed that makes it seem like they were somewhere between Atlanta and Ricks town.

  • dogg

    Great episode…but:
    It totally reinforced my criticism that cars are ridiculously ignored by the series. They get into a worst case scenario–an immobilized car surrounded by walkers–and they’re protected enough to take out the whole herd from inside with no problem. Cars would be EVERYTHING in this world. You would never want to be more than 5 seconds from their safety and killing potential. I’m still waiting for a scene where someone “clears” a whole town with a truck–the OBVIOUS method. I don’t mind suspending disbelief to a point, but It’s the writers job to HELP ME DO IT and not just ignore the whole issue.


    T-dog ran over a bunch of lame brains when fleeing from the farm in the baby blur pick-up.