Carol leaves, meets some random Saviors on the road, shoots them all. Rick and Morgan, trying to find her, happen on the aftermath of this and, trying to find Carol, follow a blood-trail across a field for a while. Meanwhile, Daryl goes off in search of the armed group he encountered last week; Rosita, Glenn and Michonne follow; all end up captured by said group (and Daryl shot).
Such is "East," this week's installment of THE WALKING DEAD. As so often happens on the show, it's 15 or 20 minutes of actual plot packed with padding as plentiful as it is pointless. Anything to drag it out until it fills the contractually obligated hour.
As usual, getting it there involves a lot of stupid decisions.
There are groups of armed hostiles in the area who both know of the safe zone and have designs on it and our heroes are uncharacteristically concerned about it and looking to beef up their defenses but when Daryl leaves, no fewer than three of the top fighters also leave in pursuit. Their purpose isn't to help him track down and battle the baddies, which would actually be a somewhat acceptable excuse for such a force. They just want him to come back. They're obviously not going to wrestle him down, hogtie him and bring him back against his will, so why do three of them need to go? And when they do catch up, the writers have Glenn display a spectacular lack of self-awareness by making him try to guilt-trip Daryl for leaving the safe zone shorthanded. "We need you. And everyone back there needs us right now." Daryl is on the trail of an enemy that could be very near; deep in Injun Country, the others opt to loudly argue with him.
Last week, Carol left Tobin, a stranger, a Dear John letter as if they were involved in some sort of romantic relationship--she told him she was leaving town. At the beginning of this ep, the writers include a short bit intended to retroactively shoehorn into the series the relationship between the two they'd entirely failed to establish up to that point. Tobin apparently didn't get the memo that he was the retconned romantic interest; he doesn't go after her. Instead, Rick, learning that five of his best fighters (constituting nearly all of his muscle) have left town, displays some of those same keen leadership skills so often lauded on this blog: he decides the best course of action is that he and Morgan should also leave in pursuit of Carol. And yes, a little later, he repeats his "I don't take chances anymore" line.
While Morgan and Rick and trailing Carol, they talk about her having killed those sick people at the prison and Rick exiling her. Aware that this continues to be a real stain on Carol's character, the writers have Rick tell Morgan that if that happened today, he would thank Carol--probably the low point of this episode. Morgan prevents Rick from winging a fleeing fellow who could have provided them with some information then goes into an incredibly obnoxious "all life is precious" speech. It seems to go on forever but unlike last week with Denise, no arrow streaks through the air to put a merciful end to it. Morgan confesses he captured one of the Wolves and kept the fellow locked up, tells about Carol trying to kill said Wolf, the Wolf getting free, kidnapping Denise and rushing right out into the zombies outside. That Wolf, as he tells it, then ended up saving Denise from the zombies. This, he says, means people can change. And because that Wolf saved Denise, she was there to save Coral. "It's all a circle. Every thang gets a return." Of course, if Morgan hadn't imprisoned that Wolf, whose actions in protecting Denise were self-interested, Denise wouldn't have been in any danger in the first place and, in fact, would have been in the infirmary when Coral needed medical attention, but while such a gap in this logic can't help but be apparent to any reasonably intelligent viewer, it still manages to entirely escape Morgan.[see Update below] Earlier this season, I noted Morgan had been reduced to a one-note caricature and ever since, this "all life is precious" schtick has become Morgan's one note in his every scene. His character has been as thoroughly assassinated as any currently on the show--he can't die quickly enough.
When Rick and Morgan follow that blood trail off the road, one of the Saviors whom Carol had shot emerges from hiding and appears to follow them. A little later, Rick returns to his vehicle and drives back to the safe zone but he never encountering this fellow. Back in town, Maggie is having tummy pains, probably the start of a miscarriage. At the end, Daryl and Rosita are made to get really stupid, walk into an obvious trap and get themselves captured. Dwight, the leader of the thugs who catch them, then shoots Daryl. Blood spatters the camera and that would have been a good last image but the writers haven't the guts to make it even appear as if they're killing Daryl, so they have Dwight offer a final line, assuring viewers Daryl isn't dead.
"East" was a lousy, underplotted episodes full of scenes that go on and on but don't actually go anywhere. A delaying action to get to the season finale.
UPDATE (28 March, 2016) - Morgan's logically empty "circle of life" argument in this ep brought to mind something I'd written earlier this season in reaction to "Here's Not Here":
"Morgan, when he was introduced, was a fellow who just couldn't bring
himself to kill the zombie that had once been his wife. This made him
very human. It's the reason the character became so beloved. Later, in
'Clear,' it was revealed that he'd continued to put off killing the
creature until, one day, it killed his son. In last night's opus, he
senselessly murdered a fellow but didn't pike the fellow's brain. As
Lebeau notes, that was an entirely arbitrary decision and as I wrote,
the fellow Morgan murdered came back as a
zombie and bit Morgan's Jedi sensei. 'One can see this as being
fault for killing the fellow but given Morgan's recent actions, the
reading of it that screams to the viewer is that this was a situation
with which Morgan failed to properly deal and that came back with
consequences--if he'd have piked the fellow in the brain, his sensei
would still be alive.' Toward the end of last season, one of the Wolves
turned up at the now-'enlightened' Morgan's camp. He announced his
intention was to take everything Morgan had, including his life. Morgan
allowed the fellow to live; the same fellow later came back with his
Wolf buddies and carried out horrendous atrocities against the
Alexandrians. When Morgan faced those marauding Wolves, he stood around
like a naive idiot who had never lived so much as a day in this
zombified world and didn't know what to do, trying to reason with them
while they were committing gruesome murders he could have prevented.
When he faced down the final group of them, he told them to run away and
allowed them to escape. Minutes later, storytime, they attacked and
tried to kill Rick. In arbitrarily imposing this "all life is precious"
business, the writers have not only reduced this once-very-human fellow
to a one-note caricature--his one all-time-worst mistake repeated into
infinity--they've now made him ideologically committed to being nothing
more. Morgan, the dumbass who gets others killed because he can never
learn his one lesson."
When those Wolves attacked Rick, they had the gun they'd stolen and shot the RV Rick was using, rendering it inoperative. As a result, Rick wasn't able to lead away the zombie herd then marching on the safe zone. The safe zone was surrounded, the creatures eventually got inside and a whole hell of a lot of people died. Morgan is trying to make a case for a "circle of life," but his own life has become nothing but a circle of death for everyone around him--death for which he is responsible.