Lennie James shares his personal thoughts on Andrew Lincoln's impending departure from The Walking Dead as well as how he thinks that will affect Morgan's story arc going forward. Earlier this summer, it was reported that Lincoln was planning on exiting the long-running zombie drama after leading its cast for nine years. Franchise creator Robert Kirkman later confirmed the news at San Diego Comic-Con, and shortly thereafter Lincoln explained the reason he was leaving the series. Simply put, he wants to spend more time with his family.
Since Lincoln has already wrapped his scenes for The Walking Dead season 9, it's believed that his exit will come sometime within the first eight episodes, most likely in the midseason finale. It's unclear, though, what will happen to his character, Rick Grimes. Given the situation, it would make sense to kill off Rick, but that might be seen in poor taste. Regardless of how the character is written off, it will be interesting to see the impact it has on the rest of the characters, including Morgan, who has been one of the most important people in Rick's life, especially in the apocalypse.
We asked Lennie James about his personal thoughts on Andrew Lincoln's exit as well as how he thinks that decision will ultimately affect Morgan's story arc when he presumably returns to The Walking Dead. He said:
"I think it will have a profound effect on Morgan. They still remain oldest friends. They are touchstones the way their stories have been told to a greater or lesser extent when their paths crossed. They do act as kind of options of which way to take, you know. Right at the beginning when Rick left to go to Atlanta and Morgan stayed, that was a fundamental choice between the two of them. And I think, as I've said before, when Morgan's lost everything, it's not by coincidence the person he went to find after that was Rick because Rick is the only other person that he knew still alive in the world. I think that connection will last for life between those two men, however long that life is.
"Should Morgan return to Virginia or should he cross paths with the people of Alexandria, or Hilltop, or the Kingdom, or Oceanside, or the Heaps again, I think him finding out that Rick is not amongst them will be a profound discovery for Morgan - and I'm not absolutely sure the effect that might have on him and what that might push him to do or be. On a personal level, I completely understand the decision that Andy made, and I support him 100%."
What's interesting about James' thoughts about Lincoln's departure is that he expresses uncertainty about Morgan meeting Rick one more time before Rick is written off. Considering that Morgan is currently headlining AMC's Fear the Walking Dead as the franchise's crossover character, it's unclear when or even if he will return to the flagship Walking Dead series. If he doesn't return early in the new season, then it may be some time before he finds out about Rick's departure. When he does, it will certainly have a heartfelt impact on the character's story arc and perhaps even his sanity. Of all the characters on either show, the one person who has struggled with mental stability the most is Morgan.
Given Morgan's decision to return to Virginia in the midseason premiere for Fear the Walking Dead, it does seem like he'll eventually make his way back to the East Coast. What's more, it would be somewhat cathartic for fans to have Morgan say goodbye to Rick. After all, he was the person who introduced Rick to the world after the zombie apocalypse, so it's only right that he's there when Rick leaves.
The Walking Dead season 8 releases on DVD and Blu-ray on August 21. Season 9 premieres on October 7 on AMC.