On March 3, 2013, AMC aired The Walking Dead episode “Clear.” This was the twelfth episode of season 3, written by Scott Gimple and directed by Tricia Brock. This episode sees Rick (Andrew Lincoln) desperate to increase their firepower to take on the Governor (David Morrissey). During his expedition, he comes across a familiar face.
This episode features Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), and Michonne (Danai Gurira) on a supply run to look for more guns. Viewers will also see the return of a season 1 character, Morgan Jones (Lennie James). An orange backpack is introduced to the series at this time; this object will be seen numerous times in future seasons.
Knowing the Governor and his people outgun them, Rick knows they need to beef up their weapon supply. They head to the Sherrif Department, where Rick previously worked, to see if anything remains, but the weapons locker is empty.
The Walking Dead season 3
It’s hard to believe that it has been ten years since AMC debuted this episode. In March 2023, Lincoln and Danai are filming a spinoff of their own; Summit, James is wrapping filming on the final season of Fear the Walking Dead, the spinoff series he crossed over to. Sadly, Riggs’ character Carl died in season 8 of The Walking Dead.
On the way to their destination, they pass a hitchhiker with an orange backpack who begs them to stop. This orange backpack will appear many times during season 4 and again in season 10 when Virgil is in possession of it.
Carl is still very cautious of Michonne and her intention within the group. Rick tells him they all have the same problems; perhaps they can work together. Carl and Michonne head on their own mission to get a crib for Judith, but he first wants to get something else for his baby sister. They head to a cafe where a photo of Rick, Lori, and Carl hangs. After fighting off some walkers, Michonnne goes inside to retrieve the picture. Carl says he thought Judith would like to know what her mother looked like. Michonne also grabbed a cat statue she thought was “too damn gorgeous.” Michonne proved herself to Carl by returning to get the photograph for him.
Knowing what we know now, it is very interesting to rewatch this episode as we see the relationship between Carl and Michonne grow. Viewers know that Carl will tell Michonne that she was his best friend on his deathbed. The main focus of this episode is Rick’s encounter with Morgan and the bonding between Carl and Michonne.
While Carl and Michonne take care of their business, Rick must deal with Morgan. In the plot episode, Morgan saved Rick’s life, and the pair, along with Morgan’s son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner), were to reconnect in Atlanta. But things in an apocalypse never go as planned, and this is the first time Rick has set eyes on Morgan since that episode. Morgan has undergone severe trauma during that time, is erratic, and doesn’t recognize his old friend Rick.
Morgan could not shoot the reanimated version of his wife Jenny (Keisha Tillis). This would prove a vital mistake as she would eventually set upon their son Duane and kill him in front of Morgan. This puts him on a downward spiral into the man Rick finds in this episode.
After much discussion with Morgan, Rick is able to break through his mental state. Morgan gives Rick the guns he has and declines the invitation to live at the prison, stating that “you will be torn apart by teeth or bullets.” He believes if Rick needs all of the guns, the prison can’t be as safe as Rick makes it out to be.
After Carl and Michonne return, Rick asks Carl about Michonne; he tells his dad that he thinks she might be one of them.
They head back towards the prison as Morgan prepares to burn the bodies of the walkers in the street. They pass the devoured body of the hitchhiker but stop to retrieve the orange backpack. The episode shows a new side of Morgan that will be vital as the series continues, and Morgan will reappear off and on in The Walking Dead until his crossover to Fear the Walking Dead.
Robert Kirkman has stated that this is his favorite episode.
Many viewers thought Morgan’s comment about people wearing dead people’s faces was a callout to the Whisperers that would eventually appear in the series. Scott Gimple stated it was pure coincidence and added: “That definitely predated my knowledge of the Whisperers because they were not at all in the book yet.”
This episode gets its name from Morgan’s attempts to clear the neighborhood of signs of the apocalypse but also from Rick’s mind finally becoming clear after losing Lori. Seeing Morgan gave him a glimpse of where his mind could have gone if he allowed himself to continue to spiral downward after her death.