Last Week’s Shocking 'Walking Dead' Character Return Explained

Walking DeadSo were you surprised to see [NAME REDACTED TO AVOID PRE-JUMP SPOILERS] on Sunday's Walking Dead? I figured the character would be returning at some point, but I really liked the way we got a whole episode devoted to that part of the story. I'm getting more and more impressed with the way the show plays off the themes of the original comics without following it letter for letter, so that even diehard fans are constantly kept on their toes.

If you'd like to hear more about how the actor delved into this particular role (and how things changed from season 1), and whether or not we can expect to see this character again, read on! But STOP HERE if you haven't seen last week's episode, lest you get spoiled worse than a jail cell full of rotting walkers.


Okay, so I am of course talking about Morgan, who we last saw 30 episodes ago. The character is played by Lennie James -- another British actor! -- and here's what he had to say about bringing Morgan to life on the small screen:

He was hopeful all along that he'd be coming back to the show at some point.

The source material they had was the graphic novels, and what was said was that in the graphic novels Morgan comes back, so there is every possibility — and that was about as much as what was said. And I knew going in when I shot the pilot that I’m there on the pilot and dependent on how it goes, at some point there is the possibility of the character coming back.

The viewers' interest in Morgan drove the story (and probably delayed his return).

It was a very weird thing and to a certain extent it kind of took everybody by surprise. As an actor, I had a really good time doing the pilot and it was a lot of fun, but the fans’ reaction to Morgan almost had a double effect on the show and on the journey of the character in the sense that there was such a huge reaction to him. Every job I’ve done since The Walking Dead somebody in an interview would ask, “Are you coming back to The Walking Dead?” And in a weird way, that gave faith to the writers and producers that bringing back Morgan would be something that the fans would appreciate. But on the other level, it made it that you couldn’t just bring him back for something so-so. When you brought him back, it had to be the right time and it had to be something juicy. And I think that to a certain extent may have stretched out the time they had in their minds to being him back — or encouraged them that they could stretch out the time to bring him back to keep people interested. But I think this episode feels like the right time for Morgan to be back, and it feels like the right way in which for him to come back.

James loved the challenge of playing this altered-by-time version of Morgan.

That was the thing I was most excited about, was matching the guy up from the first episode to the guy who we see in episode 12 of season 3. And that’s a rare opportunity for an actor, when you have not seen him in between to come back. He could have shown up in a pink tutu with a dragon head and it couldn’t have been more exciting that bringing him back in the state he was in for this episode. That’s a rarity. That’s a joy. (...) If you start thinking, Oh, this could be dodgy and not very good, then in a way you’re already censoring yourself and already holding yourself back. And that’s not fun. In this utterly unreal and surreal world of The Walking Dead, I’ve got to find moments of reality. And this guy when we left him was a man at a window who could not shoot his wife who had become a zombie, and that’s already crazy. And then when we meet him again, he’s a man who couldn’t shoot his wife who had become a zombie for an even longer period of time, and then only came up and shot her after she had already bitten his son to turn him into a zombie, and then he had to kill his son as well. If you look at the logic within the world of this guy, that is going to leave you with nothing but depths of grief and guilt and craziness.

Morgan's focus on "clearing" means he believes his purpose is to clear the earth of walkers.

I don’t think about Morgan as me playing a crazy man. I think about Morgan as me playing a guy who has gone through this series of events and is trying to find some way of surviving. And he’s got to survive. He tried to kill himself and that didn’t work, so he’s come up with what is for him this perfectly logical reason why he is still around, and the logical reason why he is still around is that he’s here for a purpose. The fact that he was punished for not killing must mean that somebody somewhere has put him here for a purpose, and that purpose is to kill. And that’s his logic. And he said he’s there to “clear.” The walkers have been a plague on his life and they are a plague in this world and he’s got to clear that plague. That’s his logic. Is it crazy to everybody else? Yes. Is it crazy to Morgan? At this stage, absolutely not.

Morgan also serves as a warning to Rick -- of where his increasing mental instability can take him.

In the first episode, there’s a moment where Morgan shakes Rick’s hand and says “You’re a good man, Rick.” And I think it’s two good men at that stage. And like I said before, we are aware of Rick’s journey because that’s what we’ve been watching over the last three seasons. But we’ve been unaware of Morgan’s journey because we haven’t seen it. So when they do come together, he is kind of a mirror to Rick. He’s kind of going, however bad you think it’s been for you, thank God you’re not me, And whatever choices you take in the future, look at the mistakes I’ve made, both in the first episode and in this one. It’s relevant that Morgan has acted as a teacher to Rick. And in this one it’s a lot about look after your son, and don’t go too far down the crazy road. And I think that’s his message. And for Morgan, Rick represents the ability to hold onto your humanity in this world of The Walking Dead, where most people are losing theirs.

Lastly, will we see Morgan again?

I have no idea. (...) I love working with Andy and have enjoyed my time in Atlanta on The Walking Dead so whenever they will or won’t want me again and if I can make myself available to them I will make myself available to them. I enjoy playing this guy. I enjoy my time down there. But the answer to that question — as before — was never in my hands.

My guess is that Morgan will join the show again at some point in the future, maybe next season or the season after that. But who knows? The Walking Dead story has been wildly unpredictable so far, which is one of the things I love about it.

What's your call -- will Morgan ever return to The Walking Dead, or was that the last we'll see of him?

Image via AMC

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