This Fear the Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
If you’ve watched Fear the Walking Dead’s season 6 premiere, “The End is the Beginning,” you’d be forgiven for experiencing a bit of déjà vu during Morgan’s return. Fear the Walking Dead is fond of killing off its protagonists—Madison, Nick, and Travis immediately spring to mind. So it was reasonable to assume that the events of last season’s finale, “End of the Line” spelled certain doom for Morgan.
But as it turns out, being grievously wounded and left for dead as walkers slowly drew closer was not enough to end Morgan’s journey. Not that there weren’t red flags pointing to his possible survival.
First of all, AMC made a very big deal when Morgan crossed over to Fear the Walking Dead to become its new star back in season 4. It just didn’t seem likely that an actor of Lennie James’s stature would be killed off after two seasons, especially when so much of the show’s new direction has focused on Morgan’s mission to help others.
Another red flag was how cagey showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg were about Morgan’s “death” at the end of last season, which ended on too obvious a cliffhanger. Despite promising a true game-changing moment, the showrunners seemed to back away from this when we spoke with them last September.
It’s also no secret that The Walking Dead universe tends to pull its punches when it comes to big character deaths. One only has to look to Glenn’s fake death in The Walking Dead’s sixth season as a prime example. In the episode “Thank You,” Glenn is standing atop a dumpster surrounded by walkers, and when he’s knocked into the waiting horde, it sure seems like he’s being torn apart and killed. As we later find out, though, Glenn survived the hungry horde by hiding under the dumpster. Fans and critics cried foul at this—myself included. While I love Glenn (and Steven Yuen), this felt like the worst kind of cheat. And who was to say the shows’ creative teams wouldn’t eventually pull something like this again?
Which brings us back to Fear. Season 6 wasted no time in revealing that Morgan had survived his last encounter with Virginia. But how exactly did he manage to not only survive a serious gunshot wound but also those hungry walkers? The episode, penned by Chambliss and Goldberg themselves, is a bit light on details. We learn that Morgan’s last message over the walkie-talkie was heard by a mysterious stranger who tracked him down to Humbug’s Gulch. If not for this Good Samaritan, he would have most certainly perished.
Given how he was incapacitated and without his staff as the walkers closed in, it’s reasonable to assume that whoever saved Morgan had to be relatively close by. I’d even wager that perhaps this person was keen to join the group and their altruistic crusade before everyone was unexpectedly separated by Virginia. Whatever the case may be, they were able to reach Morgan in time. More importantly, they were able to either fix him up on the spot or bring him to a nearby home base where they patched him up. Again, this suggests that this stranger was somehow familiar with the group and their mission, and came prepared to help in some way.
The episode divulges two other clues—that whoever stitched up Morgan isn’t a doctor, and that they know how to handle a firearm. Obviously plenty of survivors fall into the center of this post-apocalyptic Venn diagram, which is why it’s so difficult to identify this Good Samaritan.
From watching Fear since Chambliss and Goldberg took the reins in season 4, it’s reasonable to assume that all will be revealed about this mysterious figure by season’s end, if not sooner. A little bit of mystery is all well and good, as long as the payoff is worthwhile. In the meantime, the note they’ve left behind for Morgan offers one last interesting clue: “You don’t know me, but I heard your message,” it reads. “You need to do the same. You still have things left to do…”
Taken at face value, this note carries a lot of weight, especially when you consider this stranger was inspired by Morgan himself to be the change they wish to see in the world. After all, isn’t this why Isaac, a onetime field medic and one of Virginia’s former rangers, ultimately completes the stranger’s work by finally removing the bullet fragment?
So, now that Morgan has been granted a new lease on life, he’s trying to understand his purpose. If it’s not to build a safe haven for the person who saved his life (and who wouldn’t want to live out the zombie apocalypse in a tracked-out water tower), then perhaps it’s shepherding Isaac back to his pregnant wife. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that simply existing is not reason enough to be alive. Indeed, just because he’s survived a gunshot wound doesn’t mean Morgan’s life isn’t in danger. Living with an open wound for six weeks has led to gangrene, and Morgan’s rescuer is nowhere to be found. Which is why he’s so insistent on staying tethered to one place, repaying kindness with loyalty.
Morgan’s motives are a moot point by episode’s end, of course, given that Emile destroys the water tower. But I’d like to think if this person found Morgan once, they’ll find him again. Until then, if you ask me, Morgan’s return is not another DumpsterGate, but that’s just me.