03/04/2013 08:59 am ET

'The Walking Dead': Rick And Michonne Bond, Morgan's Return Explained

"The Walking Dead" shuffled the chess board a little bit with "Clear," the episode that saw Rick, Michonne and Carl return to the Grimes' hometown. In addition to the bonding between Rick and Michonne, the AMC series also brought back Morgan (Lennie James), a character not seen since the first episode of Season 1.

But Morgan's been through a lot since Rick last saw him. In fact, this meeting served as a little bit of a wake-up call for Rick and his fading sanity.

"We really wanted to frame this episode as Rick encountering this twisted mirror version of his possible future self," series executive producer and comic co-creator Robert Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter. "In Morgan, we wanted him to see, 'Oh, this is the path I'm going down. This is where I'm going to end up if I keep behaving the way I'm behaving.' Hopefully these are lessons that he will keep in the back of his mind during the coming conflicts with the Governor."

While it did open his eyes a bit, Rick's troubled times are not quite over. "Seeing that is like a mirror held up to him of where he could potentially go," series star Andrew Lincoln told Believe it or not, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd promised the character hasn't hit rock bottom yet. "It's coming soon. It will be how his actions have affected someone he loves," she told

According to James (Morgan), there had been plans to have his character return earlier than at the end of Season 3. However, Kirkman said at this time, the story was right. "Lennie’s fantastic. I’ve got to hand it to him. He was such an integral piece of the pilot, which made people invest in this show so quickly," Kirkman told EW. "To have him back as Morgan is really cool. But I ought to say he’s really playing a completely different character and doing completely different things in this episode and is just as amazing doing it. So it was a lot of fun having him back and also having him do things that were so different from what he had done before."

Besides reintroducing Morgan, the trip back to Kings County also served as a way for Rick to get to know Michonne a little better.

"[W]e’re going to have Rick and Michonne and Carl in a somewhat closer position now that they’ve bonded over this trip. They’re going to get back into the prison and start preparing for the coming conflict with the Governor," Kirkman told EW. "So we get right back into that. And we’ve only got a few episodes left to our finale. So there’s going to be some pretty explosive things happening pretty quickly."

"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays, 9 p.m. on AMC.

The Walking Dead