We are 24 episodes into the Morgan Jones era on Fear the Walking Dead, and after providing the series with a much needed boost and new energy with his arrival, it’s sad to see how much Morgan is bringing the show down midway through its fifth season. When Morgan left The Walking Dead, it was meant to be a fresh start for the character, who had already cycled through his character arc a couple of times on the parent series: Nice, caring man loses his mind and transforms into a dangerous lunatic, regains his mind, and loses it again.
The thing about Morgan, however, is that he’s a far more interesting character when he’s in the midst of a downward spiral. Unfortunately, on Fear the Walking Dead, that brand of madness no longer suits the iteration of the series from co-showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. As spinoffs go, Fear — in its fourth and fifth seasons — is more akin to The Sarah Jane Adventures than it is Torchwood to The Walking Dead’s Doctor Who. It’s not exactly kid-friendly, but compared to The Walking Dead, it’s wearing kid gloves.
Morgan’s a good guy, but he’s a one-dimensional good guy. That’s suitable for a supporting characters — see Siddiq on The Walking Dead — but Morgan has become the Rick Grimes of Fear the Walking Dead, only he doesn’t have the shades of grey that Andrew Lincoln brought to his role. Morgan is tormented by his past and trying to make up for it, but his actions are on a straight line: They are morally clear. Rick Grimes continued to engage in behavior that occasionally tormented him, that required a moral calculus: He did bad for the overall good.
Morgan has none of those shades, and worse still, he’s not only the nominal lead of the series, but all of the other characters take their cues from him. Even Strand — the closest thing the series had to a morally conflicted character — has fallen in line. All the characters on this series are “good.” Fear the Walking Dead is as close as one can get to a “family” show set in the zombie apocalypse.