Season 3 has been somewhat bipolar. The first half of the season was a flat out sprint with characters dying off at a break neck pace. Since the second half of the season started things have slowed down to the pace that plagued Season 2 – an ok first 5 minutes, 45 so-so minutes, then an amazing final 10 that sucked you in for the next week. But despite the slower, more deliberate pace this past week’s episode “Clear” may have been my favorite of the season.
In the very first episode “Days Gone By” Rick meets a man named Morgan and his son Duane. Morgan saves Rick’s life but doesn’t travel with Rick when he tells Morgan he is headed out of the neighborhood to find his wife and son. In “Clear” Morgan returns (actually, Rick returns to where Morgan is) but is a lot different. He is a shell of the man he was. Duane was lost after he had been attacked and turned by Morgan’s wife whom he couldn’t bring himself to kill after she had turned in “Days Gone By”. Since then Morgan had begun to clear the neighborhood systematically extending a “safe zone” as a way of atoning for what happened to his family. To hear Morgan tell the story of Duane was gut wrenching. Again, at the end of the episode Morgan refuses to travel with Rick and his group.
In a small side story the traveling trio of Rick, Carl, and Michonne pass by a lone hitchhiker with an orange backpack who pleads and chases after them for them to stop their car. They don’t. On their way back to the prison we see a shot of blood stained pavement and the orange backpack lying on the ground. The group stops just long enough to pick up the backpack before continuing on without a second thought.
It was a powerful episode morally, emotionally, and spiritually.
As I thought about the episode I kept coming back to how when the outbreak first occurred it seemed that everyone was quick to trust and pick up other survivors. They were in this thing together. Glenn was quick to save Rick in Season 1. All strangers were welcome. But at some point, that changed. Certainly by the time Rick, Herschel and Glenn run into the two strangers in the bar in Season 2’s “Nebraska” episode new people are no longer friends, but outsiders and they are considered a threat.
There are two truths that are very apparent in Season 3: you can’t survive alone (you’ll either die like orange backpack guy or go crazy like Morgan) and if you don’t already have a group, it’s going to be next to impossible to get into one now, just ask Michonne.
The spiritual side of this is strong and I want to look at that first point for a minute.
God never intended for us to live alone. I’m not talking about marriage and finding “the one” but I’m talking about community – living and experiencing life with a group of people. This is displayed in God Himself as He lives in perfect community as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We have been created in His image and because of that, we are people who need to live in relationships with others because we are not wired to be able to do it all on our own. We need others to work with, share with, experience with, mourn with, and rejoice with.
A perfect example is how Rick has almost cracked but because of Michonne in this episode telling him essentially “it is ok, I’ve talked to dead people too” then Rick has found a friend. That “me too” moment will save Rick from the brink of turning into another Morgan.
It is in the “me too” moments of life that God can begin healing and putting our lives back together. When we know that we’re not the only ones wrestling with a feeling, an experience, a bad habit or addiction and we see that someone else has those same battles then we are on our way to victory.
I pray that the church I pastor, the Pursuit, would be a church where people feel genuinely connected and feel that they are surrounded with “me too” stories of people who have tried it on their own but are now trusting God and living in a community together because living on our own is just too hard. I pray that you can find that same kind of church community.