SPOILER ALERT: Read only after watching the Fear the Walking Dead midseason premiere, titled “People Like Us.”
Lennie James’ character, Morgan, finally connected the two TWD universes when he crossed over from the mothership of The Walking Dead to Fear the Walking Dead this spring. But could he soon be crossing back?
At the start of Sunday night’s Fear midseason premiere, Morgan announced his intent to return back to Virginia and his buddy Rick Grimes. He even arranged for transportation back up north courtesy of Althea and her S.W.A.T. mobile. “I never should have left,” Morgan explained to John Dorie. “My friend, I think he was right. It’s where I belong. It’s where I should be.”
But will he ever get there? A massive storm was already starting to wreak havoc, and Alicia had some choice words for Morgan about the folks he would be leaving behind here if he bolted yet again. So will Morgan make it back to Alexandria? (Or the Heaps? Or the Kingdom? Or wherever he plans to call home?) We spoke to Fear showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg to get the scoop on this latest development as well as all the other happenings in the midseason premiere.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the storm because you begin this episode with flying zombies, essentially. How did you all put this together? Was it all CGI, was it stunt actors on wires? How do you make zombies go airborne?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: It’s a little bit of everything. I’d say all of the above. That shot that we opened the episode with is a very careful combination of a bunch of shots. We did a lot of the storm practically with rain bars, giant fans, and performers on ratchets that pulled them out of frame, and then we did a lot of enhancement, digital elements, and combining kind of some different plates and layering some digital rain into it to really make it feel like it was a hurricane. The idea started with wanting to see a walker kind of come up into frame and then get blown away, and we got that more than once. We were super excited with the results at the end of the day.
The biggest headline for me coming out of this episode happens early when Morgan says he wants to go back to Virginia. What is it that at this point has led him to that decision that he should be heading back?
IAN GOLDBERG: As we saw in the first half of the season, Morgan’s been on a pretty big journey. He started out as someone who ran away from Alexandria, from everyone he was close to because he believed that the best way for him to live in this world was to be on his own. He didn’t want to be around people. That changed over the first half of the season, and by the end of the half of our season 4, He’s sitting around a campfire with people — some of whom were friends, some were foes that became friends. It was an unexpected turn of events for Morgan.
But there is still a big part of Morgan that is connected to the people he left behind. We’re going to see that he’s also wrestling with some other emotional demons that we’re going to unpack as the back half of this season goes on. And he may say that he’s going back to Alexandria, but the journey to get there is going to be filled with a lot of unexpected turns. We look forward to hearing how people react to that journey.
Let’s talk about where everyone else is at emotionally here as we pick things up, starting with John and June. He wants to retire to the cabin, she’s worried that she’s not the woman he fell in love with, which, in terms of her name at least, is certainly true. Is this some sort of deal where June is not sure she can simply allow herself to be happy with everything that is happened?
CHAMBLISS: I think it’s a little bit of that, but I think alternatively at the end of the day, it’s almost like June maybe doesn’t even know which version of the character that we’ve seen so far she really is. We’ve seen her as a very guarded mother who is just trying to protect herself. We saw her as the person who fell in love, and then we saw her as a Vulture. I think her unease with being with Dorie is that she’s having to ask herself who she is, and that’s not necessarily an easy question, particularly when you’ve done things that you may regret. She’s got a lot of soul searching to do for herself, before I think she can fully open up to being with John.
While we’re there, let’s get into the Charlie situation. She has apparently turned mute here. I thought at first this was over losing her Vulture family but then when she returns The Little Prince book to Luciana, that seems to indicate she’s struggling with murdering Nick.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, you said it. Charlie has been through a lot for anyone, but particularly for a child so young. Yes, she lost her Vulture family, but she’s also wrestling with the guilt of being the first Vulture that was inside the gates of the stadium and alerted the Vultures to the presence of the stadium. And killing Nick. She’s got a lot of guilt and emotional baggage that she’s carrying. There’s a lot unresolved in Charlie that she doesn’t quite know how to reconcile.
One of our favorite scenes in the episode is Dorie trying to connect with Charlie as someone who isolated himself at one point, as we saw in episode 405. He holed up in a cabin because he felt so much guilt over what he’d done and couldn’t forgive himself for it and tried to appeal to Charlie to open up the best way Dorie knows how, through Scrabble. But Dorie can relate to that and he knows it wasn’t easy for him to come back to the world, and it took the love of June, then Laura, to make him reconnect with people and to forgive himself. Charlie hasn’t found that yet. And it’s going to be difficult for her to forgive herself.
While we’re talking about people that are clearly messed up, let’s chat about Alicia. On one hand, she’s isolated herself from her best friends. On the other, she has the burning desire to help a complete stranger who is in danger. What’s going on with her and how is this all tied into losing her mom?
GOLDBERG: Alicia wants so much to carry on like Madison, she wants to carry forward that purpose. And her failure to do that is crushing to her. Alicia is still really processing her grief over the loss of her mother and feeling, like everyone else, a bit adrift and purposeless. The most noble thing that she thinks she can do is carry on Madison’s strength, and the tragic part of the episode is that despite her best efforts, she can’t do that. And that leaves her wondering: What do I do now if I can’t carry that forward? What am I going to do? Who am I going to be? That’s going to be her struggle for the back half of the season.
And she has that line after all that where Morgan’s telling her, “You can be there for them,” and she says, “You could be there for us, too.” So you’ve got this big storm now, and you have Alicia telling Morgan, “We could use you.” How is all this stuff potentially going change Morgan’s plans and mindset in terms of heading back to Virginia?
CHAMBLISS: It’s a very good question that Alicia asks Morgan and I don’t think it’s necessarily one that he has consciously been wrestling with. As he told Alicia earlier in the episode, he left a lot of people he cared about back in Virginia without saying goodbye. And it’s almost like Morgan isn’t even processing the fact that he’s now doing the same thing again to this new group of people that he’s grown close to. When Alicia throws his advice back in his face and says, “You’re telling me I should help the people around me, well you should be doing the same thing” — that’s really the first time Morgan is realizing that, in a way, he may be going back to people in Virginia doing the same thing he was doing at the beginning of the season. He’s running from people.
I think a lot of it stems from the fact that he doesn’t know how to help these people. In the same exact way that the reason Alicia isn’t living in that house with Luciana and Strand — they remind her of all these really dark things she did, but I don’t think she has an easy answer for any of them about how they can move forward. It’s just easier to put your head down and get focused on a mission like following these help notes. Going forward, both Alicia and Morgan are going to have to come to terms with that question about how they can help the people around them. It’s obviously not going to be easy, because by the end of this episode, Alicia and Morgan part ways just as the storm is reaching its peak intensity.
Okay, what else can else you tease in terms of what’s coming up next on Fear the Walking Dead?
GOLDBERG: We can say that we’ve been talking about Alicia, and we’ve seen Alicia tested a lot before, in many different ways. But I don’t think we’ve ever seen her tested quite like this, as we’ll see in the next episode. This is a whole new emotional level for Alicia.
CHAMBLISS: And there is going to be water. Lots of water.
For more Fear the Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.