Since The Walking Dead launched on AMC nicely over a decade in the past, essentially the most typically repeated line of the franchise has been: “No one is safe.” That’s not precisely true, in fact… Despite the frequent, surprising deaths on the present and its spinoff collection, there are specific characters you count on to outlive, together with Morgan Jones (Lennie James), who’s now the longest working character on any of the collection*.
Yet on this week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, titled “USS Pennsylvania,” and spoilers previous this level, Morgan examined that plot armor surrounding him, as he had the remainder of the solid stormed a beached submarine to attempt to forestall nuclear armageddon. Multiple instances, Morgan threatened to run into zombie infested areas, extremely irradiated areas, and even acquired shoved right into a crowd of undead with no weapon by the treacherous Victor Strand (Colman Domingo). Ultimately, Morgan did survive, and even let Teddy (John Glover) and Riley (Nick Stahl), the maniacs behind the nuclear plot, go free. But that got here at an excellent value: because the episode ends, one missile holding ten warheads with a number of targets has launched, and we don’t know the place they are going to land.
“The way the guys are telling the story through this season, and right all the way to the end of it, actually, is a bit like the audience and a bit like you: I’ve never felt my position being more precarious,” James teased to Decider.
So will the plot armor be shed in subsequent week’s season finale? Is there an opportunity that, within the midst of missiles falling, Morgan and Grace (Karen David) can lastly get collectively romantically? And why does everybody hold trusting Strand? For all that and extra, learn on.
Decider: This is the primary episode in a very long time, actually, the place I felt like, okay, possibly Morgan really is going to die this outing. I imply, clearly he doesn’t, however in a broad sense, I do know the road that I all the time get from everyone is “nobody is safe.” But at this level, do you’re feeling like your job is protected, because the elder statesman of The Walking Dead universe?
Lennie James: Oh God, I hate that title. But it’s true. I can’t argue that. No, I don’t really. And I feel that the way in which the blokes are telling the story via this season, and proper all the way in which to the top of it, really, is a bit just like the viewers and a bit such as you: I’ve by no means felt my place being extra precarious.
Well, let’s bounce into the episode then. What was it like filming on that submarine set?
I feel they need to protect the submarine set and have it as a part of an AMC Walking Dead universe exhibit, as a result of it’s one of the best of what we do. It’s one of the best of the element that goes into the units that we construct, and the world that we’re attempting to create. And I feel Bernardo [Trujillo], who’s our major set designer and manufacturing designer, and his staff outdid themselves with the submarine, as a result of they needed to create an area that was each claustrophobic, but in addition open to the brand new protocols that we’re filming below due to COVID. And he managed each. And I swear, I want everyone might come down and see it, as a result of the main points that they’ve put into that set, not even the digicam sees all of it and never even the digicam does it justice.
It was unbelievable to work on it, as a result of it gave us the factor that you just hope costumes and props and set design provides you, which isn’t any performing required, that it enhances what it’s a must to do as a result of it makes it actual. And that’s precisely what that set did.
Were there a number of places on the set, or did you guys do it Star Trek model the identical hallway, however simply hold flipping the digicam round?
It was a little bit little bit of each… Because the submarine has size in addition to depth, after which it has the completely different bits, there was fairly a piece of it that was constructed, however it was constructed throughout the studio, however in like seven or eight completely different items. And then we had the outside of the hull of it, elsewhere as nicely: one in order that we may very well be on prime of it; and one, so it may very well be our background.
Talking about one of many main relationships within the episode, Strand and Morgan all through all of the seasons, virtually appears like Lucy and Charlie Brown with the soccer a little bit bit, Morgan retains getting suckered into trusting him. Why do you assume that’s? Is that important to Morgan’s character? Or is it one thing particular about Strand?
[Laughs] I feel it’s a little bit little bit of each. I imply, it’s about how Strand operates the world. You all the time count on higher of Victor, however you’re by no means shocked that he seems to be himself. And that’s the good trick that Strand performs is that you realize he’s able to something, however you hope he’s not. And it’s a bit like how they describe the satan in Usual Suspects, that the best trick the satan ever performed was to persuade everyone that he didn’t exist. That’s how Strand is, actually. His present is convincing you that there’s one thing higher about him, after which always proving that there isn’t. And I feel Colman does that brilliantly, no higher than he does on this explicit episode.
The drawback with Morgan is that he’s trustworthy. Sometimes I feel that’s his greatest power, however it’s additionally his greatest flaw. And one of many issues that he realizes virtually instantly, even after Strand has left him for useless, is that what’s occurring is larger than him, and it’s greater than Strand. And he’d be higher served by, on this explicit second, having Strand at his facet and barely in entrance of him, than wreaking revenge in that specific second. Although I do consider Morgan, and I hope the viewers do consider him, when he says to Strand, “We’ll deal with this later.”
Morgan tells Strand, he has this huge speech about how he was motivated to maintain pulling the sacrifice play, to throw himself into dire hazard, as a result of he feels terrible about giving the important thing to Teddy and organising the entire scenario. But it virtually appears like a little bit greater than that. Is it about Grace as nicely and what went down along with her? Is it about one thing else?
I feel it’s about numerous issues, actually. I don’t assume it’s about one factor, a bit such as you. Yes, it’s to do with Grace. It is to do with the wants for not simply him to have a future, however the folks that he cares about, and significantly the lady that he likes to have a future. And that that future can occur with or with out him.
I feel it’s a non-public response, as a result of on one degree, he additionally appears like he doesn’t have the suitable to mourn the lack of Grace’s youngster, however he does. And I simply don’t assume he can undergo many extra losses like that, and doesn’t wish to be a part of what he believes inflicting that, which is why he retains attempting to go away the group behind. He retains attempting to say, “I’ll do this,” as a result of he can undergo the lack of himself, however he can’t actually undergo the lack of any extra folks that he cares about and loves, actually. Over the final short time, people who he has misplaced, as he’s opened himself as much as Grace, he has acknowledged what he’s misplaced, and it weighs closely on him at this second in time.
I imply, on that word, it feels a little bit ridiculous asking this, the place we left off with nuclear warheads about to hit someplace within the space. But is there any alternative for Morgan and Grace to maneuver the connection ahead romantically at this level? Or is there simply an excessive amount of occurring, and too many issues have occurred to them, that we’ve missed that probability?
I feel if you’re actually up in opposition to it, generally you’re pressured to, on the very least, acknowledged the reality of your scenario. So it’s totally doable. But sure, you’re completely proper, there’s numerous different issues occurring.
Why do you assume he lets Teddy and Riley go free on the finish there? That was, to me, one of many extra stunning choices within the episode.
It took me some time really, me Lennie, to get my head round that selection that Morgan makes. But I do assume it’s the suitable selection for him, the person that he’s, and the second that he’s in. There’s no level in him killing them. It’s a testomony to the second. The bomb is within the air. As far as he’s involved, this might very, very, very nicely be the top of all of them. He may as nicely let the bomb drop and [spare] their lives, as a result of that’s nearly him. And he was by no means actually there for them. He was there for different individuals. It’s the identical purpose why he tells them to get the hell out of there. He has no want for them.
He has no want for the grievance that he has with them. He has the necessity for his or her excuses. He has the necessity for his or her loss of life. He has no wants for his or her punishment. He has no want for that revenge. It’s over, so far as he’s involved. And I assumed that letting them go emphasised that and was a extremely robust piece of storytelling there, as a result of the expectation is, is that he lashes out. But really, the diploma to which he believes this to be to the top of the street implies that he doesn’t care whether or not they’re there or not there. Whatever went between them is over. It’s within the rear headlights.
This feeds straight out of that, however that shot on the finish of Morgan alone within the management room is so calm and quiet after such a wild episode. What do you assume goes via his thoughts at that second?
That’s what extra wouldn’t it seems like when he’s misplaced, and misplaced each in that he was too late to cease … He stopped a few of them, and I consider he can in all probability take some solace in that. He stopped the majority of them, however one in all them is within the air, and it has 10 warheads on it. So I feel it’s simply that one second, the place you ponder the scenario that you just’re in.
I don’t know for those who’ve ever been in a automobile crash or an accident, however there’s a second the place the whole lot simply slows and the whole lot simply stops. And you’re virtually seeing it what’s occurring to you occur outdoors of your self. And I feel that’s the second that he’s in. It’s an actual second of contemplation that I doubt will final very lengthy, however we catch him in it proper on the finish of that episode.
So simply to wrap up, and that is all the time a troublesome query to ask, however with 10 warheads that might land wherever, and Alicia remains to be lacking, and many issues within the air… What if something, are you able to tease concerning the finale?
I feel I can tease little or no, besides that in step with the way in which the story’s being advised on this season, the following episode is courageous storytelling and intelligent storytelling and delightful storytelling and hyperlinks all of our characters, though they could not all the time all be collectively.
This interview has been edited for readability and size.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
*If you wish to quibble about it, Morgan disappeared for just a few seasons on The Walking Dead earlier than popping up once more, so there are different characters who’ve appeared in additional episodes. But with Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes lacking, for the second Morgan is the one character who appeared within the pilot episode of TWD, and nonetheless seems on display screen to today.