Lennie James discusses Morgan’s future and the chance for more optimism in season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead. The new season of the zombie spinoff is set to premiere in early June, and it comes off the heels of what is perhaps the most hopeful ending in any Walking Dead series to date. The season 4 finale, ‘… I Lose Myself’ featured plenty of the zombie franchise’s patented violence and human on human struggles, but it also placed the series’ main cast (radically changed though it is) on a path toward something other than nihilism.
The change in attitude and the shift in pointing characters like Morgan, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Victor (Colman Domingo), and newcomers, John (Garret Dillahunt), June (Jenna Elfman), and Althea (Maggie Grace), toward an existence that goes beyond simply surviving each day as it comes has been in place since Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg took over as co-showrunners at the beginning of season 4. Change wasn’t without its difficulties, though, as much of the show’s original characters were killed off (somewhat contentiously), affording the series the closest thing to a fresh start the end of the world could possibly offer.
During a recent Fear the Walking Dead set visit attended by Screen Rant, James discussed the series’ recent shift toward optimism, and what role Morgan’s appearance on the show played in facilitating that transition. He also spoke about how the characters will be putting their know-how to test in season 5, attempting to help rebuild the world:
“I think Morgan's walked a very long way, spent a lot of time on his own. He's had a lot of time to think, and when he left Rick and Virginia his focus very much was to be away from people and not be anywhere near people and be on his own. It didn't quite work out that way, and now he not only finds himself as part of a new group, but also kind of in a... again, partly because of his history and how he survived, in a role where they are looking at him, in some way, to lead. And he has to start to make a choice about if he's going to take that on, how might he take it on.
And I think the way that he's decided to take it on is by learning from the two obvious men that happen to be in his life that have taught him anything, and that's Rick and Eastman. And the premise of Eastman's philosophy being 'All life is precious,' I think that Morgan has kind of taken that on, or he's already taken it on, but in this environment there's a positive thing.
If we're going to be alive, let's be alive adding something positive into the world because we don't know how much longer we're going to be here. Everybody in this group is aware of how immediate death can be, and he wants whatever is in between today and death to at least be them trying to walk in a positive direction, to help folk.
They know how to survive. That's one of the other things that I'm really enjoying about and looking forward to this season. It was true in The Walking Dead and it's true here: we've now been alive and made it. We're the survivors, very much the survivors. It's no long... We now know, if we didn't know before, how to kill the walkers, how to walk amongst the walkers, what to do at night, what your checks are first thing in the morning, where to find food, obvious places to look. We have a certain set of skills, as it were, and I suppose we're trying to figure out how best and most positive we can share that with others and start to rebuild this strange and interesting world.”
It will be interesting to see how the spinoff attempts to maintain this shift toward optimism with the inherent gloominess of the series’ initial conceit. Both entries in The Walking Dead franchise are beholden to certain expectations with regard to tone, so while the characters might be reaching toward hope, don’t expect the story to play along and make it easy for them.
Fear the Walking Dead season 5 premieres Sunday, June 2 @9pm on AMC.