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Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 marks Lennie James' second year as a leading force within the Walking Dead spinoff, and the effect his character Morgan Jones has had on the other survivors can't be denied. He's taking on more leadership roles within the group for Season 5, and will try spinning things in more hopeful directions in the future. In order to get into that headspace, James' Morgan looked back to both Andrew Lincoln's M.I.A. Rick Grimes and John Carroll Lynch's Eastman.
Earlier this year, CinemaBlend and a few other outlets were invited to the Austin, Texas set of Fear the Walking Dead, where a pleasantly acerbic Lennie James talked about Morgan reaching a social and philanthropic crossroads that sets up the characters' mission-based lifestyle in Season 5. In his words:
When [Morgan] left Rick and Virginia, his focus very much was to be away from people, and not be anywhere near people, and to be on his own. Didn't quite work out that way, and now he not only finds himself as part of a new group, but also – partly because of his history – how he survived in a role where they are looking at [him as a leader]. He has to start to make a choice about if he's going to take that on, how he might [do that]. 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.
Though Morgan's wisdom-gaining time with Eastman was more opportunistic on a smaller scale for his then-current situation, Rick was far more prolific when it came to pulling Morgan back from the edge of complete disrepair. Their relationship is technically the oldest one on in The Walking Dead TV show, not counting Morgan and his son Duane.
Rick's more moralistic line of thought got radically altered by Negan's arrival, though it later got shocked back into place by Carl's death. In any case, the lessons he learned from both men amounted to the same thing: it's better to aid people than to hurt them. Here, Lennie James shares how Morgan aims to act on his former friends' guidance.
With the premise of Eastman's philosophy being 'All life is precious,' I think that Morgan has taken that on, but in this environment, it's that there's a positive thing to '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.
Season 4 introduced the character Polar Bear (real name: Clayton), who made it his mission to deliver packages of goods and supplies to certain highway mile markers. Despite the efforts of the villainous Martha to destroy the concept of goodwill and cooperative support, Morgan & Co. were able to move past them for a chance to rebuild hope and confidence in any other survivors they come across in the world.
Though Rick Grimes has often necessarily been suspicious about new faces showing up out of the blue, he often welcomed them in the end. So long as they didn't kill his friends in the name of Negan, that is. Eastman was clearly the same way, though seemingly to a much smaller extent. For Season 5, Lennie James' Morgan seems to be putting aside even mild suspicions when taking on these new missions. That's probably not going to go so well at some point.
Of course, after this many years into the apocalypse, and after all the things that Morgan has been through, perhaps the character deserves to have conviction in his sense of self-preservation. He's still here, after all, while billions of other people are not. Here, Lennie James talks about how living through the apocalypse has become an intuitive experience for Morgan Fear the Walking Dead's group.
They know how to survive, and that's one of the things I'm really enjoying 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 very much the survivors; 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 – you know, the obvious places to look. So we have a certain set of skills, as it were, and I suppose we're trying to figure out the best and most positive way to share that with others and start to rebuild this strange and interesting world.
Forming practical security checks and systems is also something that partly comes from the world of Rick Grimes and the other communities. In Alexandria and Hilltop, perimeters are still heavily monitored both for random walkers and for legitimate big bads, and procedures get way more complicated and stringent whenever the characters are in nature and outside protective walls.
In theory, coming across a group that utilizes practiced strategies and displays resourcefulness would be an ideal situation for a random survivor. The changing world hardened people in many ways, though, so it's also easy to be extremely skeptical about anyone freely offering assistance and supplies in the post-apocalypse. It doesn't help that Strand, Charlie and June have all shown various signs of untrustworthiness in the past, not that outsiders would know that right away.
Speaking of outsiders, Fear the Walking Dead will re-introduce Austin Amelio's Dwight to the franchise when he appears at some point in Season 5. It's assumed he'll still be looking for Sherry, though the details behind his arrival are still unclear. One thing's for sure, though: there's no way Morgan will be able to look at Dwight without thinking about Rick and everyone back at the Virginia communities, which will hopefully be like a philosophical perpetual motion machine.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 will premiere on AMC on Sunday, June 2, at 9:00 p.m. ET, followed by the series premiere of the new horror drama NOS4A2, developed from Joe Hill's novel by former Fear the Walking Dead writer-producer Jami O'Brien. Also, stay tuned for even more stories from our FTWD set visit.