Fear the Walking Dead premiere recap: Morgan's dead. Long live Morgan.
Killing off Morgan could've been the best way to breathe life into Fear the Walking Dead, which feels like its rate of decay has vastly accelerated since that whole arc with "Dirty Lady" Martha in season 4 concluded with utter nonsense. The well of potential in this singular character has run dry. These days, he just seems trapped in the same loop of guilt, self-redemption, guilt, and so on with no hope of breaking out of it. Then, in the finale of season 5, it seemed like he might actually be killed off the show as the group gave up and conceded to joining Virginia's Pioneers and being separated from one another. He was left alone with a fresh gunshot wound as a herd of walkers closed in on him. Might this allow a new direction for this festering series to reveal itself? Not really.
The season 6 finale tries to make some kind of compromise: Morgan Jones is still alive, but the Morgan Jones we knew is dead. This deserves a healthy, skeptical eye-roll because what makes this different from all the other times Morgan fell off the self-cutting wagon into a pit of despair only to re-emerge a "new person"? For better or, probably, mostly worse, we'll find out.
So, yes, Morgan survived that fated night. As he describes later on in the episode, he was barely hanging onto consciousness when he heard gunshots firing at the walkers. Then he blacked out and woke up later with his wound patched up and a note that read, "You don't know me, but I heard your message. You need to do the same. You still have things left to do." (That message was Morgan telling everyone "to live, just live.")
When season 6 begins, it's been about five weeks since that happened. Morgan decided to set up someplace safe for Grace, who was revealed to be pregnant last season — assuming they are reunited one day. He turned an empty water tower into a home and ventured out day after day to get supplies. But whoever tended to his wound didn't heal him completely. The bullet has been stuck in his chest this whole time. Now, with bloodshot eyes from what's probably burst blood vessels, he smells so bad that the walkers don't pay attention to him — unless, of course, he decides to be totally random and scream at them to attack.
While out scouting one day, he runs into someone by the name of Isaac, an ex-Marine who served two tours in Afghanistan. He tries to help Morgan and has the experience to remove the bullet, but Morgan being Morgan won't let him. The two have to team up when a man named Emile arrives on the scene. Emile is a bounty hunter who tracks targets with his hound Rufus and then he decapitates them with a swing of his massive ax so he can put their heads in boxes and leave them as proof of his success for whoever hires him. Virginia tasks Emile with finding Morgan, whether he's dead or alive. Rufus leads him to the shop in which Isaac and Morgan are resting. Isaac tries to, pun-intended, throw Emile off Morgan's scent and sends him on his way, but Emile argues his way inside to find only Morgan's bloody blanket. When he leaves, Isaac finds Morgan passed out behind the store, having tried and failed to flee the scene.
Morgan wakes up to Isaac tending to him inside the water tower; Morgan had written the coordinates for his hideout on the inside flap of his backpack. Isaac reveals he needs Morgan's help to save his wife, Rachel, who's close to being in labor and could use the oxygen tank he grabbed for her in case the pregnancy becomes complicated. But the entrance to their base is swarmed with walkers. Since Morgan is so... well, stinky that he can pass by them unnoticed, Isaac figured maybe he could help. He remembers Morgan from the tape recording he left at a truck stop, but, of course, Morgan is resistant because he just doesn't do things like helping people anymore. (That's not being snarky. That's his argument to Isaac.) However, Rufus followed their scent and led Emile to the water tower, which he then toppled with his truck. Morgan was able to non-fatally shoot Emile in the arm while he and Isaac fled by stealing his truck.
Down the road, Morgan, again, making frustrating decision after frustrating decision, decides to walk back to the water tower and salvage anything he can, thinking Emile is probably gone. Isaac talks him out of it, promising to help Morgan's family if he helps save his. Isaac reveals that he used to be a ranger for Ginny, but left with his wife after they saw Morgan's tape, believing they too could try for a better life for their kid. Isaac remembers fishing once at a lake, but a hole in the dam has since dried it up. It's there, inside the borders of the dam, where he and Rachel are setting up a home. But sounds from some broken machine have been leading walkers towards the entrance.
Isaac gives Morgan the pack to deliver to Rachel while he walks around the long way through the side of the nearby mountain. However, Morgan succumbs to the pain from his wound and gives himself away to the herd. So, Isaac has to intervene and the two kill off the walkers together — which doesn't make much sense either because if Morgan was in so much pain he couldn't walk, how in the hell did he have enough stamina to kill half a herd?
They deliver the supplies to Rachel, but Emile is still close by. Morgan goes to surrender himself to Emile to spare Isaac and Rachel, but Isaac intervenes and knocks Emile away. Morgan believes his purpose was to bring Isaac to Rachel and help them start a new community, but Isaac reveals he was bitten a while back from a walker and urges Morgan to start the community with Rachel. Morgan ends up defeating Emile and severing his head with his own ax, which he then takes as his new weapon of choice after his staff is broken in two during the fight. Morgan passes out after the battle and comes to the next morning. He finds Rachel swaddling her new daughter, whom they named Morgan. Isaac took the bullet out of Morgan in the night before succumbing to his wounds and dying. After paying his respects to Isaac, Morgan goes to examine's Emile's walker head and sees a key attached to a necklace he wore. This is a key Emile stole off a man named Walter in the beginning of the episode that he'd been hunting. Morgan takes it for himself, which will surely cause problems with the two other characters introduced at the end of the episode.
But first, Morgan decides to leave a present for Virginia. She and her Pioneers, riding along the road in Al's armored SWAT van, stop when they see an impediment: a line of walker bodies and a cardboard box sitting in the middle of the road with Morgan's name written on the top. She believes this to contain Morgan's head but finds Emile's instead. Ginny speaks over the radio to warn Morgan to never tell anyone from his old group that he's still alive or else she'll kill his friends one by one. He quickly responds. "Morgan Jones is dead," he says. "You are dealing with somebody else now." Morgan has been watching them through binoculars from a distance. He's mounted on a horse and wearing his own cowboy hat before riding off.
So, these two other characters, both guys. One is smoking a cigarette on a beach while spray-painting a message on the side of a beached submarine: "The end is the beginning." It seems like the kind of crap Alpha might say to her Whisperer followers on The Walking Dead, but who knows who these guys are. They are, however, related to the key somehow. They mention they can't wait any longer and must take shelter somewhere close, and that they need this key. Hey, maybe a McGuffin will help move things along on this show again.