'The Walking Dead' Episode 14: 'Still Gotta Mean Something' (RECAP)
He knows what it is. Lennie James as Morgan Jones
[Spoiler Alert: Do not read even a little tiny bit ahead unless you've watched the April 1 episode of The Walking Dead, "Still Gotta Mean Something." You have been warned.]
Truth: I really wanted to call this recap “Bat. S**t. Crazy.”
But, you know, not good for little eyes, even if it’s wholly appropriate. Also, I should probably start mourning my Walking Dead boyfriend Steven Ogg right now, because you know Simon has a date with the only memorabilia Negan has left of his wife. If we can actually believe the tender tale he told Jadis (I personally would have named my bat Barbie, but I’m not an ol' softie like Negan, at least on the inside).
Either way, we are survivors, Walking Dead fans. So, let’s find out who else is and isn’t this week.
We start out by learning how Jadis survived the junkyard massacre, which is basically that she staged her own death and the Savior who happened upon her wasn’t tuned into the whole “get the corpses in the head” deal. Also, she has a safe room decorated with a mattress, a suitcase, a bookcase Negan’s bat and not much else.
Negan himself is in storage, strapped to one of those little gurney things you use to slide yourself under your car to do some maintenance. He has a two-pronged question for Jadis: “What the s—t? No really, what the s—t?” We’ll have to wait a minute to find out.
Back at the Hilltop, Carol is being a special Maggie helper when Ezekiel—who, lest we forget, spent days pouting in solitude when his own stuff went bad—shows up to give her the business about not wanting to go outside the gates and search for Henry.
Seems he thinks the impulsive little bugger handily survived a nighttime woods full of walkers and Saviors, but Carol insists her time is best spent chopping wood. Ezekiel heads off to save the day—and the kid—by himself, except no he doesn’t. That’s apparently a job for girls.
Tara meanwhile shows no sign of the zombie cooties despite her injury from episode 813's epic battle. Ah. Here’s why. Though Simon raised his ax, Dwight actually delivered the wound via an arrow—and she’s the series version of Rick, who took a clean arrow from the double-dealer in the comics and lived to tell the tale.
Tara sees this as further evidence of Dwight’s allegiance, but Daryl wants to know why he didn’t warn them of the impending attack. I’ll take “he didn’t know about it, what with just being chased back into the Saviors arms by Tara" for a thousand.
“Do what you gotta do,” Tara tells him, before spinning on her heel. “But know it’s just for you.”
In the house, Michonne has the weepies while rereading her letter from Carl. Does Rick want to read it? No, Rick does not. He doesn’t want to share his own his letter either. He wants to go look for food. Or anything that doesn’t involve letters. Or feeling anything but rage.
Michonne—widowed with a dead child, herself—tries empathy: “I did it too when it happened to me," she tells her man. "You keep moving to move away from it. Andrea stopped me ... and now I’m stopping you. Carl wrote that because he wanted you to read it. It is one of the last things he ever did. You’re staying.”
Morgan, on the other hand, is going. But he’s not looking for Henry, either. He’s about a thousand percent sure that what he is supposed to do is kill folks, at least the bad ones, because look what happened when he didn’t. Carol decides she'll go with him.
Inside the main house, Rosita, Dianne, Maggie and Daryl discuss the plan for a possible follow-up attack. They don’t have as much manpower to sound the alarm or ammo to seal the deal, so now what? Daryl suggests hand-to-hand, since the Saviors have to be low on ammo, too. Then Rosita remembers: Eugene. Time to pay their duplicitous pally a visit.
Back in the Heaps, Negan negotiates with Jadis, who’s still holding Lucille. He wasn’t a part of the attack that killed her people, he knew nothing about it, but he’ll take responsibility for whatever dimwit did it. He can—he will— help her rebuild her community. She swings, but stops inches from his head, because, like Morgan, Negan doesn't die.
Out in the woods, Carol spots a turnip and Morgan spots a person, but these days is hard to know if the people Morgan spots are actually people or not. In this case, not. It’s the specter of a freshly killed Henry who repeats Gavin’s message, because nothing’s more charming than a parroty kid.
Morgan doesn’t buy it this time. “You are not here!” he bellows as Carol races up to see him yelling at nothing. She tells him that’s really why she’s here and tries to talk the sense back into him, but he isn’t having it. He tells her she’s a savior (not the Negan kind), but she still can’t save the dead.
"You're not dead," she tells him, but that’s not what he means. He’s doomed to being surrounded by death, whether he does the killing or not. So why not be proactive, I guess.
Rick’s ability to be a stay-at-home dad is predictably short-lived. He eyeballs Carl's hat, grabs a gun and pays a visit to Baby Heath Ledger. Rick demands to know where the escaped Saviors might be headed and BHL supposes the Sanctuary.
But they may have stopped at a nearby abandoned dive bar along the way. One more thing: If Rick finds them, bringing them back to the Hilltop alive would be a nice step toward proving that an impulsive, bad decision to run is redeemable and earn their devotion. Oh, Baby Heath Ledger. You are adorable. And have known Rick for not nearly enough time.
Back at the Heaps, Jadis leaves Negan unattended because apparently she's a moron. Sure enough, with just a few scoots, he somehow frees his arms enough to grab a wildly handy flare, a gun and some photos, but not something sharp enough to cut through the cords she used to bind him. Thus, he looks like the most ridiculous avenger ever. #FlatOnMyBackMan!
Meanwhile, Jadis has wheeled in the latest accessory in her plans for Negan, which I will call Pilates Walker on Wheels. It’s sort of like a lawnmower, only for mowing down people. Even Negan finds it hilarious.
Back on the road, Carol and Morgan encounter a zombie herd. Carol wants to let them pass by, but Morgan says they’ll drop the Saviors’ trail if they do. Then a lone walker wanders toward them, run through by Henry’s staff. Oh oh. The boy, if he lives, is now weaponless.
It’s a quandary. The walker came from another road—not the one the Saviors are likely on. So, do they go in pursuit of naughty Henry? Or the naughtier enemy? Clued in to the error of her ways—or maybe to try to reignite Morgan's own hope and compassion—Carol wants to save the boy. Morgan stays on message: She is the savior; he’s supposed to watch people die.
Lecture time. Carol reminds him that he saved her. That he knew she could come back from despair. Confession time. Morgan watched Henry make his terrible mistake. He could have prevented the deaths, the escape, Henry getting lost. But he didn’t. So now he must redeem that. Carol opts for the one who can possibly be redeemed, parts ways with Morgan and heads off to find Henry.
Since Negan isn’t taking Jadis’ peoplemower seriously, Heapster Let’s Make A Deal has turned into True Confessions, too. Negan wants his bat back, not to scramble her brains, but because it’s the only tangible reminder of his dear departed wife Lucille. She got him through normal life. Her dangerous namesake gets him through this one. What say they trade—the flare and the snaps for the bat?
Fight! Flare down! Mystery helicopter! Flare not re-lit in time to signal mystery helicopter! Despair!
Negan tries again. He hates what happened. He can settle her score. Mmmm. Yes. Jadis is an idiot. Overlooking the part that his bit of memorabilia can cave in her head, while hers will make a nice scrapbook, she doesn’t drop the bat into the fire. I’m sure that will turn out to be a fine, fine decision.
Out in the woods, Morgan almost attacks Rick who snaps him out of it in the nick of time. “I’m not right,” he tells Rick. Not-right pot, meet not-right kettle. What say they go kill the daylights out of some people?
The pair get distracted by a neatly severed forearm and leg. But before it computes, Rick is knocked senseless and comes to, along with Morgan, as the runaway Saviors’ captives.
Jared and Co. discuss their ailing and slightly disassembled buddies, the perils of “pooching it” and what the plan is next. Jared says delivering Rick the Prick to Negan will salve all wounds and they can just go right back to making pickles or whatever else it was that Negan had them doing.
Rick tries Baby Heath Ledger's wisdom and offers to schlep everyone back to Hilltop, all kumbaya-like, if they untie him and meekly submit. Everyone but Jared is about it. Jared, on the other hand, is incredulous. He aims his gun at Morgan, who just grins. Save your bullets. You’re going to need them. The herd is coming. And he needs them alive long enough for him to kill them. “Everybody turns!” he hollers. And here come some prime examples now.
Er, so much for people being resources. The Saviors free Rick and Morgan to help take on the herd, one Savior pegging a walker that was about to snack on Rick. The good sheriff rewards him with an ax to the neck before he and Morgan completely clear the decks of the living and the dead.
Jared tries to sneak away, with Morgan in pursuit. A tussle ensues, but Morgan traps the longhaired loudmouth on the other side of a gate then stands nose-to-nose with him as the zombies do Henry’s work for him.
Oy. Neck man isn’t dead. “You said,” he stammers. “You said.” “I lied,” says Rick. Neck man’s final words before Rick shoots him: “We could have lived after this.”
Morgan’s still very much about his point that everybody turns, but now I’m wondering if he doesn’t only mean "into the dead." Is he talking about himself, and Rick, too? Peaceful men turned rudderless, merciless killers? Let’s explore.
Rick asks Morgan why he saved him long, long ago. Morgan didn’t know Rick. Rick was defenseless. Morgan isn't up for the chat, but Rick is undeterred. Why would Morgan save a stranger when his son was in the house? "Because my son was there," says Morgan. Oof! The boys made the men. Let's just ignore ignore the hokey fractured-mirror shot that follows.
Negan is now upright, with his bat and his leather intact. Jadis thumbs through her photos and ignores his offer for her to come along and witness his new path. It’s a standing offer. He'll drop by later to see if she’ll take it then.
As darkness falls, Carol stumbles upon evidence of Henry and then Henry himself, trapped in the stream by some walkers and wailing for help. She rescues him and they both sob their apologies. Carol calls him a fine little survivor and they make their way safely back to Hilltop.
D’aw! Time for a fireside chat for Carol and Ezekiel, harkening back to the one they had so many moons ago, when Ezekiel confessed he didn't descend from royalty and Carol wandered off on her own. E declares that Carol was afraid but is no coward. Punch him, Carol! Ask him where he was in the search party!
Or just tell him a story. She talks about losing Sophia and how she was reduced to nothing, except what the people around her built her back into. She’s always afraid that it will all go away again, but maybe it won’t. And if it does, she’ll find herself all over again. What a fine, fine time for Rick to reappear.
But the moment is Morgan’s. He heads for Henry and for a moment, I’m scared witless that he’s going to swing at him.
He doesn't. He ascertains the boy is real with a couple of pats, then tells him he killed the man who killed Ben. Henry apologizes for going rogue. “Don’t ever be sorry,” Morgan tells him. Then he heads off for a think and a cry.
Meanwhile, Dianne and BHL see the gore that covers Rick and ... know. Jadis returns to her safe room, her suitcase, her photos, her solitude. Negan drives home, stopping only when he spots someone he knows by the roadside whom he describes as thus: “If s--t could s--t it still wouldn’t look as sh--ty as you. Get in.”
By the time he arrives at the Sanctuary, his passenger is either gone, hiding in the back seat or possibly in the trunk, because Negan has a plan. He instructs the Sanctuary guards to say nothing of his arrival. Surprises await.
Surprises await for Eugene, too. Rosita and Daryl spy on his bullet making operation. "We don’t take out the machines," says Rosita. "We take out the men."
Back at the Hilltop, Rick showers off the evidence of his no good, very bad day, looks mournfully at Michonne … and then reads.
So, what do you make of "Still Gotta Mean Something," TWD fans? Is Eugene about to get an offer he can't refuse, which will allow him to return to the fold, slip on some short khakis and start tending the baked apples? Or will he be offed himself?
Are Henry's killer tendencies quelled by Jared's death and his solo time in the forest? Does it evidently take one to not know one, where Ezekiel's assessment of cowardice is concerned?
And could Jadis' connection to the people in the copter possibly be connected to Georgie, what with her "rebuild a thoughtful society" mindset? And Jadis' apparent inability to kill a living being by her own hand?
Honestly, I can't conceive why she would allow Negan to not only live, but leave after what happened to her people and a tiny dab of cajoling.
And speaking of that, who do you think Negan collected by the side of the road? Dwight? Gregory, who was not among the massacred at the abandoned bar (and my vote)? Or perhaps someone long ago—and much more intriguing—like Sherry? And what's about to go down for Simon and the other mutineers?
We already suspect that Morgan is off to seek better fortunes on Fear the Walking Dead—but what of Rick? His apparent lack of satisfaction in what happened at the bar leads me to wonder if his killing of possible helpers in the name of mourning Carl, coupled with his finally reading Carl's letter, might possibly turn "Dud" (yay, boy-penmanship!) back into Dad. And Rick into the leader that Carl would have become, had the series hewed closer to Kirkman's comics.
Next week on The Walking Dead—and with an epic Season 8 finale (that Scott Gimple says will wrap up the season and the war, while setting up a fresh story for Season 9) just one more episode away—Aaron continues searching for allies, while Daryl and Rosita get down to business with Eugene.
The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c on AMC