After battling nuclear warheads, an idyllic settlement with a corrupt leader, a cult, some Vultures, and no small amount of walkers, the journey that began in King County for Morgan Jones (Lennie James) might well come to an end in Fear the Walking Dead’s final 12 episodes. Shockingly, based on the Season 8 trailer, the kindhearted survivor’s path could take him out of Texas and back to Georgia. Why? When? How?
We chatted with James about the trailer’s stunning “Morgan-goes-home” reveal, Fear’s upcoming seven-year time jump, and his character’s occasionally tumultuous mental state as the group faces another foe in the mysterious PADRE.
You’ve been part of the Walking Dead Universe, in one way or another, for a long time. How are you feeling as Fear draws to a close?
Lennie James: I’m feeling good, actually. I’m feeling, as you say — it’s been a long time, and all good things must come to an end. I think the way we’re bringing it to the end is a testament to the work we’ve done so far.
What can you say about Morgan’s mental state this season? He’s kind of been all over the place with killing, with not killing — where is he at in these last 12 episodes?
He is strangely optimistic. Strangely — or not so strangely — pessimistic. But he is looking forward. Although there are echoes and reminders of his past that keep trying to trip him up, he is, in his heart, at least, trying to look forward. I think, over the years—I suppose it’s just a convenient way of expressing it, but over the years, Morgan has been split into ‘Morgan Who Kills’ and ‘Morgan Who Doesn’t Kill.’ It’s a shorthand for something I feel is much more complicated and nuanced. Whether he does or he doesn’t [kill], it’s symbolic of the life we are living at any particular point in the Walking Dead Universe.
When he chooses the way of the peaceful warrior, as I call it, he’s doing so because they have space and time to think about not just how they survive, but how they live. When he’s back to being willing to take other people’s lives, that’s almost always because he’s been given no choice. It’s not by his choosing, more often than not. It’s circumstance. It’s in the protection of people he loves. He’s forced to make a decision, and that’s the decision he’s made.
And even “Clear” Morgan, way back when, was a version of altruism in his mind. He felt that he “had to Clear.” So that’s really interesting.
Yeah, yeah! He’s always been guided by circumstance. It was his way of dealing with the final loss of his family. He already lost the world, and then he lost his particular world. He was able to end his wife’s life, but it was only after his wife had ended his son’s life.
It’s also interesting that you mention echoes of Morgan’s past, because in the trailers, we saw some walls painted in what I can only really describe as “Clear”-style, and we see Morgan headed back to King County. What can you tease about that? I’m sure it’s very exciting for the fans.
I was very surprised they put that in the trailer! I thought that was something I wasn’t going to be able to say anything about because no one was going to know until it happened. Again, there’s not much I can say about it. Someone’s bound to get it right, but most people will probably not see how it’s coming or why it’s coming, and what it will amount to. There’s no point in going there unless it offers something to Morgan now. It’s not just a stroll down memory lane. What’s important is the why. Why he’s there, and not necessarily how he ends up there.
The showrunners confirmed there’ll be a seven-year time jump during the last season. What are you able to talk about? What can you say about who Morgan is after seven years?
It’s interesting, really, because it’s not just who Morgan is after seven years: it’s who Morgan has been during those seven years. Even though we don’t necessarily see those seven years, who he has been, and therefore who he is when we first see him again in Season 8, is fundamental to his journey in that final season. Morgan kind of highlights it—he is the sum of his choices. Morgan, over those seven years, has made some fundamental choices that will come back and bite him on the backside this season.
Fear the Walking Dead, Season 8 Premiere, Sunday, May 14, 9/8c, AMC