This season, every step Rick Grimes takes brings him one step closer to insanity. With every walker he kills, every friend he alienates and every phantom he chases into the woods, Rick is starting to make this fan think that a power-hungry, “lemme-ask-you-sumthin’” kind of guy like Shane Walsh wouldn’t have been a bad choice for leader right about now. I mean, Shane was a petty sane guy by comparison.
Well, except for that one time.
*Warning: There be spoilers lurkin’.*
In this episode, we finally see Rick snap out of his madness for a little bit. It didn’t come from a prolonged period of reflection, or a coming to terms with what he had gone through and lost. Rather, it came from the worn face of an old friend broken by a world that’s cruel and necrotic.
Morgan, the man who saved Rick’s life in season one, had been holding up in a little section of Rick’s former hometown in Georgia. It had been more than a year since the two last saw each other, and they were truly different men back then. Back then, Morgan had his son, Duane, to care for and protect, and Rick was struggling to come to terms with a world that was new and terrifying.
Now, they are both battling personal demons. After he manages to stop Morgan from killing him, Rick begins to hear the hell that Morgan had gone through since the two had last met. His son is dead, killed by his undead wife while he and his son were out on a foraging mission. As his way to mourn, Morgan took to hording weapons and mapping out an intricate system of booby traps and escape routes. He feels an obligation (and cursed) to stay alive long enough to make everything “clear,” whatever that means.
As the two men talk, you begin to realize something about Morgan’s character. Morgan, unlike any other character on the show to date, is Rick’s mirror. He is nothing more than a not-so-unrealistic view of what Rick can or could become if he lets himself go down the road of self-guilt and self-punishment. Morgan is a cautionary tale, and Rick is the target audience.
For the moment, Rick’s encounter with Morgan seemed to knock some sense into him. He left Morgan, after much pleading for him to join the group, will a new view as to what he must do. Rick knows that now that if he leaves The Governor to his own devices that he could one day return to the prison and kill them all. Rick knows now that if something isn’t done soon, he could very well be that man living in a booby trap kingdom, crazy and clinging to his guns for emotional support.