Losing Humanity


"You keep choosing this life, you will die." — Morgan, "The Walking Dead"

One of the most controversial characters this season has been Morgan. He returned in the Season 5 finale, and is here for good now. He was always a fan favorite after appearing in the pilot and sporadically throughout the first five seasons.

But the Morgan we see now is different than the Morgan we've met before. He is changed by his experience. He is changed by what he's experienced. He is changed because, as he says frequently, he believes, "all life is precious."

That shouldn't be such a strange thing to say, but it is in the world of "The Walking Dead." As the series has shown many times in the past, people are the greatest danger. Society has broken down. Violence is the way of the world and most have to adopt a kill or be killed mentality to survive. But Morgan wants to give people the benefit of the doubt.

We've seen that can go wrong. One of the Wolves he saved wreaked havoc in Alexandria. His unwillingness to take a life has been seen as a liability. But he's continued to preach his ideal, lately turning his attention to Carol.

One of the longest episodes of this sixth season was the Morgan bottle episode. Some complained that it was too dry and slow. It was a little of both, but it was a fascinating take on how Morgan had his perspective change. He realized that even though the construct of the old world was gone, there was still a place in the world for humanity.

Up to last night, though, it seemed as if his words to Carol had fallen on deaf ears. But while she was being held, Carol came across a woman that reminded her of herself. A woman who wasn't strong or brave when the world was whole, but who became a fierce warrior through loss and a will to survive. And there was something about seeing her lack of humanity reflected back that stirred Carol.

To this point, Carol has been the one to make hard decisions. She killed the sick at the prison to prevent the spread of disease. She killed Lizzie to prevent the girl from being a liability to the larger group. She goaded Rick into action when they first got to Alexandria because she believed that the people there were weak.

When challenges have come, Carol hasn't hesitated to kill first, to strike preemptively to make sure she and her people survive. But Morgan challenged that approach, and what she saw in Paula (Alicia Witt) made her question the path she was on.

Carol was shaken by how it went with Paula and her team, and visibly shaken by Rick's actions at the end. What she saw was a lack of humanity — her own — reflected back to her, and it finally clicked into place. The question is where she goes from here.

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