(WARNING: Heavy Fear The Walking Dead spoilers below.)
“What we were doing out here it wasn’t just about doing right. It was about the future. We fought for the future. We made the hard call. For her. For all of us. So, Grace, if you’re listening to me, live. All of you, if you can hear me, just live.”
Those may or may not be the final words of Morgan Jones, a character who has been around since the pilot episode of The Walking Dead ten years ago. In this week’s fifth season finale, he may or may not have been killed off the series in the final moments of the episode. We’ll have the full recap of the season finale up later, but in short: Virginia and The Settlers, responding to a radio call from a desperate Morgan, come to Humbug’s Gulch with the intention of essentially taking Morgan’s group as prisoner in exchange for keeping them alive. Morgan sets one condition: That Virginia not kill anyone (Virginia’s ruling philosophy is to kill anyone who might prove to be useless). Virginia reluctantly agrees, but resents Morgan for making demands.
At the end of the episode, The Settlers retrieve all of Morgan’s group, breaking them up and moving them off to different settlements. Before she leaves, Morgan confesses to Grace that he may be in love with her, the first time he’s been in love with anyone since the death of his wife. Grace reciprocates his affection before she is taken away in a car.
After she leaves, Virginia decides to kill Morgan because he placed a demand upon her and embarrassed her in front of everyone else. She shoots him in the chest, and Morgan begins to bleed out. Virginia tries, again, to shoot him in the face, but the gun backfires. Virginia then receives a radio call from a doctor caring for Grace, who informs Virginia — and Morgan — that Grace isn’t suffering from radiation poisoning. She’s pregnant. Virginia laughs and leaves Morgan to die alone, as zombies converge upon him. In the final seconds of the episode, Morgan delivers what he believes are his final words (above) into a walkie-talkie.
Is Morgan dead? Or is this yet another The Walking Dead cliffhanger fake-out?
To be honest: Morgan is probably dead, although there is a crack left open just in case they want to bring him back for either Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead or The Rick Grimes’ movies. Virginia, after all, did mention the helicopters to Althea in the final minutes of the episode, and though it would be completely absurd, it’s not out of the question to think that someone in the helicopters hears Morgan on the radio and retrieves him and transports him to wherever Rick Grimes is located. It would be really dumb, but not out of the question.
I suppose it’s not out of the question to think that someone from the convoy — like John Dorie or Dwight or even Alicia — heard Morgan on the radio, broke free from their captors, and raced back to rescue Morgan. They’d have to hurry, because as the episode is ending, Morgan is bleeding out of the chest and is about 15 seconds away from being consumed by zombies. It’s not out of the question, but it’s also not realistic.
In all likelihood, Morgan is probably dead, and showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss simply had the decency not to show his death. It’s not uncommon. They didn’t show Madison’s death in the fourth season, and we heard — but did not see — Carl Grimes take his own life on The Walking Dead. (Likewise, we saw Carol shoot Lizzie on The Walking Dead, but we didn’t actually see her die).
Moreover, two weeks ago, when I predicted that Morgan would die at the end of the season, I predicated his forthcoming death on a quote from the showunners at Comic Con over the summer: “When you go back and watch it all, [what happens] might seem inevitable.” The only thing that seemed like it could be inevitable based on the events of the season was Morgan’s death. He was getting the most screentime. He was resolving all of his emotional problems. He got closure on the death of his wife and son. As I wrote then, if this was an episode of Lost, Morgan would definitely die at the end of it.
If he is dead, I can’t say it’s a particularly fitting death for one of The Walking Dead universe’s most revered characters. He did essentially save Grace’s life before he died, but for Morgan to die alone and be consumed by zombies is not exactly a hero’s departure. Painfully, the rest of the characters may not even find out until well into the sixth season. That said, Morgan definitely needed to at least exit Fear the Walking Dead because his repeating character arc was holding the rest of the series back, and now that he’s (presumably) gone, Alicia can take her rightful place as the leader of the group. That said, he is still one of the most beloved characters in The Walking Dead universe and, if he is dead, he will be sorely missed.
RIP (probably) Morgan Jones.