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'The Walking Dead' recap: The newest episode examines Rick's past and features an unexpected return

'The Walking Dead' delves into Rick's past as a conflict against the Governor and Woodbury approaches.

By Kevin YeomanScreen Rant / March 4, 2013

'The Walking Dead' actor Norman Reedus stars as Daryl Dixon on the AMC drama.

Chiang Ying-ying/Reuters

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With all the time The Walking Dead has spent milling around the prison, or in the streets of Woodbury, it’s nice to see the series get out of those settings and away from the immediacy of the various conflicts (life threatening and otherwise), and really concentrate on telling a story that is temporarily removed from the main thrust of the season, but still remains deeply rooted in the story at hand.

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To that end, ‘Clear’ winds up being a good episode that gives Rick, Carl and Michonne a chance to move around and exist (however briefly) in an adventure that seems to really show them off as more complicated characters.

From the opening scene on, there’s the feeling that the supply run will offer more than the chance to simply grab a few extra guns, supplies and rounds of ammunition. It seems everywhere they look, there is some sort of sign that shows just how desperately some past survivors attempted to get information out to one another, to tell their loved ones (or anyone, really) which direction they were headed. But there’s nothing to indicate any of these messages did any good – only a brief confirmation that an intended recipient had turned into a zombie.

The closer they get to their destination, the communication becomes more focused, but less optimistic; the words are harsh and sharp, warning of the unfortunate things that will befall those who continue down the path. The messages suggest it’s best for those reading to just turn around and go back to where they came. And that’s just what Rick’s plan is: to go back to where he started, and to loot his old armory so that his people can better defend themselves against the pending conflict against the Governor and Woodbury.

But that’s a far as the episode delves into the main narrative of the season. ‘Clear’ is more concerned with digging up a bit of Rick’s past, in order for him to get a glimpse at his possible future. And in order to do that, the episode brings Rick Grimes face-to-face with Morgan Jones (played by the fantastic Lennie James), the man who saved his life during the series premiere.

Initially, it’s not much of a reunion, as the group stumbles upon Morgan’s zombie traps and increasingly threatening signage and is then set upon by a man with a high-powered rifle and a motorcycle helmet. The scuffle is brief, but it disperses the group to such a degree that Carl winds up saving his father’s life by shooting the assailant point blank in the chest. Inspecting the body, Rick finds that not only was the man’s life spared by a bulletproof vest, but that the face underneath the helmet is one he distinctly remembers.

After dragging the unconscious Morgan back inside his cleverly booby-trapped house, they discover where all the weapons and ammunition of the armory (and then some) wound up. Michonne considers dragging someone who shot at them into relative safety to be the extent of her good intentions and votes to grab and go (guns and snacks, that is), while Rick once again goes against the desires of group – but this time for an understandable reason.

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