This Fear the Walking Dead feature contains spoilers.
To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long strange season it’s been for Fear the Walking Dead. Indeed, Season 5 has been a tumultuous one, alternating between serious drama and unintended camp.
Through it all, the one constant has been Morgan’s mission to bring a bit of optimism to the end times. Fans may not have always been on board with the show’s altruistic turn, and yet, it’s admirable how showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg remained committed to a kinder, gentler zombie apocalypse.
We sat down with Chambliss and Goldberg to discuss the aptly named Fear the Walking Dead season 5 finale, “End of the Line.” MAJOR SPOILERS coming up, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet, we strongly recommend you stop reading now. Okay, you’ve been warned. Another warning: if you’re hoping to get a clear-cut answer about Morgan’s fate, you may not find them here. What you will find, however, is a candid, honest assessment of Morgan’s journey in the Walking Dead universe. More importantly, they discuss what Ginny’s intervention means for the caravan in Season 6.
DEN OF GEEK: Back at San Diego Comic-Con, you mentioned that there would be a game-changer at the end of this season. Is it fair to conclude that Morgan Jones’s death was said game-changer?
IAN GOLDBERG: It could be. But we can say definitively that the game changer is what you see at the end of the episode, which is our group being separated from the people they care about, who they’ve formed a family with, and being sent to live under Virginia and in her settlements and apart from each other. It’s going to drastically change their lives, their missions, and their relationships. So that’s a definite game-changer. And Morgan’s last words to them are to just live. As far as that goes, we’re going to have to see if he’s able to follow his own advice.
I guess we’re not really hurting for potential game-changing moments. Before we move onto the Ginny of it all, let me continue to kind of pluck at this Morgan thread.
IG: Pluck away.
Is Morgan dead or will he be soon?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: I’m going to say, as we leave him he is not dead, but he’s got a gunshot wound to the chest. We’ve got walkers encroaching on him. I think the thing that we love so much about that moment is that you can really sense the way that Morgan has come full circle. When we met him in the pilot of The Walking Dead, he had a son he was trying to protect and he was clearly broken by the loss of his wife. We’ve seen them go on a great journey as he dealt with the tragic loss of his wife and the loss of his son. He’s had a lot of ups and downs along the way.
And you know, his journey on Fear The Walking Dead was really about him coming back to people, and then this season about attempting to redeem himself for all the very terrible things he has done as a result of the trauma he’s sustained. Not only that, but getting to a place where he could open up himself to the possibility of an emotional connection again. I think we get that sense when he delivers that final message to the group, or at least hoped that they can hear it. He is in a place where he’s proud of the journey he’s done and what he’s been able to give to everyone around him. So again, who knows what his faith holds for him? But I think Morgan is very content in the journey he has made and where he finds himself right now emotionally, at least.
I guess death or not, it does seem like an ending for some version of the character. What were conversations like with Lennie James in preparing for this finale? How did you speak to him about Morgan’s journey through this season and the end of this episode?
IG: We talked a lot to Lennie about the finale as we did for Morgan’s entire journey over the course of the season. Obviously it’s a very bittersweet end for the season for the character because this season has been about Morgan spearheading this incredible mission of hope and benevolence and helping people in the world, bringing people closer together, and that’s met a serious roadblock in Virginia.
They’ve endured loss and heartache, and now they stand to lose their connection to each other, which was something that we saw them building the entire season. In that sense it’s pretty devastating for Morgan. But I think there are so many huge steps forward for that character that we talked to Lennie a lot about. It started even at the beginning of the season when we told him that we wanted Morgan, by the end of the season, to open himself up to the possibility of relationship with someone. And Lennie, rightfully so says he’s carried the ghost of Jenny and Duane with him since we met his character on The Walking Dead, and for him to even acknowledge that there could be something with someone else, is such a seismic shift for that character.
That moment outside the church when he acknowledges to Grace that he felt something at the mall and that he sees the possibility of a future with her, even if that future never comes to pass, that’s a massive moment for the character. The same goes for when he learned that Grace was pregnant. That’s a huge moment, in terms of validation of the mission that the group was doing, they were fighting for a future they didn’t even realize that they were fighting for. I’s a direct refutation of Ginny saying that their way has no future. So you know, whether this is truly the end of the line for Morgan or not, it’s a pretty dramatic conclusion to the season in terms of the journey his character’s been on.
Ginny splitting up the caravan like that into different settlements – what was it about that that made it feel like it was both the right conclusion to this season, and how was it going to set up season six?
AC: I think that if they had agreed to join her when she first confronted them at the oil field, she may have kept them together. But it was seeing how hard they fought for each other, how much their philosophy meant to them, that she realized the way to break them would be to really have them separate from each other, to keep it impossible for them to do the thing they’ve been trying to do, which is build lives beyond just survival. It’s going to be very hard for those characters to do that when they’re not in the same places.
We’re also very excited about that going forward. The fact that our characters are in all these different settlements will allow us to see these different worlds that will have different flavors (in season 6). We really look at Ginny as someone who almost franchises settlements. She comes into places that aren’t doing well and essentially colonizes them. But each of those settlements still really holds on to a little bit of the flavor of what it is and what makes it different from other places. So we’ll see a lot of that.
The other thing that we’re very excited about is having the opportunity to tell very tightly focused stories on smaller groups of characters. Some of the favorite episodes that we have done on the show are the ones that are kind of deep dives – Laura with John and June in the cabin, Charlie and Alicia together in the house during the hurricane, Al and Isabelle on their journey to get to the top of the mountain to get fuel for the helicopter. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of that, as we’re building this much more expansive world that was very close to our characters yet they didn’t even know existed.