“I think that it was one of the things that was really important to me when speaking to [showrunners] Andrew [Chambliss] and Ian [Goldberg] and the writers about how we were going to tell this part of the story, because I think that it might not be as on-the-nose and kind of balls-out crazy and clear that he is not here.”
Two weeks later, and with no offense to Lennie James or the Fear showrunners, it seems to be going exactly as we expected. Grace is sick and dying, Morgan developed feelings for her, ran away to avoid confronting those feelings — as he always does — and then decided he wanted to embrace those feelings, only to learn that Grace is about to die, at least according to this latest episode, “Today and Tomorrow.” That seems about as “on the nose” as we could have expected. What’s left? For Morgan to reach Grace minutes before she dies, confess his affection for her, and then watch her pass, which will probably somehow give him the closure he is looking for in terms of letting go his wife, Jenny, and son, Duane.
Unless, there is something else at play. For instance, the “big change” at the end of season five that showrunners promised at Comic-Con over the summer, telling fans that Fear will “reinvent” itself and “when you go back and watch it all, [what happens] might seem inevitable.”
Based on the first 14 episodes of season 5, the only thing that seems like it could be inevitable based on the storylines all season long would be … the death of Morgan Jones. Looking at the entire season as a whole, it feels like a natural progression for the series. Morgan began season 5 hellbent on helping people, and by midseason, he realized that the group needed to not only help others but help themselves. He even found a protege, of sorts, in Alicia, who seems like the next natural leader for Fear the Walking Dead. Morgan trained Alicia on the stick, and Alicia even went through her own mini-Morgan phase, wherein she couldn’t bring herself to kill others. Meanwhile, for Morgan, the last six episodes have been about trying to close the book on what has essentially defined Morgan Jones since the pilot episode of The Walking Dead: The loss of his wife (and later, his son).
Look: Most of us have seen enough episodes of Lost to understand that death often comes for characters as soon as they have figured out their lives, as soon as they have exhausted their purpose as characters. With Andrew Lincoln currently out of the picture, Morgan Jones has technically been in The Walking Dead universe longer than anyone. He’s more than served his purpose on Fear the Walking Dead. He’s gone through the same character progressions a couple of times already. Maybe it’s time for Morgan to move on and let someone else, like Alicia, take over as the leader of Fear the Walking Dead. It would be “unexpected” in the moment, but looking back on the entire series, it might also feel “inevitable.”
I wouldn’t rule out the possibility, either, that Morgan does what he set out to do before the end of last season of Fear, which is to return to Alexandria. He has accomplished what he needed to accomplish on Fear. He’s built a group. He’s found them a leader. He left The Walking Dead because he couldn’t confront his feelings. If he finds closure on Jenny and Duane, maybe he can go back home and reconnect with Carol, who is suddenly single again.
It might also be worth noting that Lennie James is back in England now and working on the second season of his British series, Save Me, which he both stars in and writes. Would that preclude him from returning to Fear or The Walking Dead? Not at all (he shot the first season during a hiatus). However, it does mean that Lennie James obviously still has lots of options once he decides to step down from The Walking Dead universe.