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Like a Zombie, 'Fear the Walking Dead' Has Returned
October 11, 2020  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

The opening for the new season of Fear the Walking Dead will remind anyone who might have forgotten that yes, folks, this is a show built on a comic book.

Fear the Walking Dead launches Season 6 at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on AMC, finally restoring some order to a franchise that's been almost as reshuffled by the COVID-19 pandemic as by the zombie apocalypse.

Fear, hatched as a spinoff when the original series became a phenomenon, has had an inconsistent life.

It started, intentionally, at a very deliberate pace, giving it a different tone from the mothership. In the next couple of seasons, it became compelling enough that some fans thought it felt fresher than the original, which was bogged down in its Negan quicksand.

Then Fear's de facto lead character, Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), was killed off, and while that's standard procedure in the Walking Dead world, it left the show groping for focus or direction.

The writers clearly are trying to correct that problem as the new season begins, and they're using Morgan Jones (Lennie James, top) as the vehicle.

Morgan's a logical choice. While other characters have been prominent, he's the old pro, as close as this gang has to a godfather figure.

In fact, Morgan has been around since before Fear began. He started on The Walking Dead and walked right over to Fear.

However, Morgan has always resisted the notion that he can be any sort of leader. He has fiercely resisted it. Everyone in the ZA carries some sort of psychological baggage from how he or she lived back in the normal world, but Morgan walks around with an entire head full of haunting specters.

He has a good heart, as they say, and he has valuable survival skills as well as sensible philosophies that he periodically shares with others. He also has a strong antisocial side. At a number of junctures over the years, he has simply wanted to be left alone to handle the ZA by his own self.

As that would suggest, Morgan has gone through a lot of changes over the years, and at the end of Season 5, it looked like we might also have reached the end of Morgan.

The evil Virginia (Colby Minifie), whose machinations shattered the last quasi-home and fragile unity our group was able to cobble together, had left him on the brink of death. He responded by sending what quite possibly could have been his last message to the others: "Just live."

At the risk of a spoiler, Season 6 opens with Morgan still in bad shape, but with a few more messages to deliver.

He's not the only character in the episode, but he's the one we know, which again continues a Walking Dead tradition of episodes that focus on a single character or a small group.

We won't spoil it any further. Still, it should be noted that Morgan's actions in this episode could only be executed by a character from a comic book universe.

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them in the context of a Walking Dead story. It does mean that they might strain credibility for someone who was not from a Walking Dead, Marvel, DC, or another comic book universe.

Morgan doesn't develop superpowers, but in its own odd way and toward its own odd end, there are metaphoric elements of that.

It won't surprise any fan of the show that Morgan goes through yet another round of changes. That's what he does. What the opening episode doesn't tell us is what that foreshadows for the show itself this season, and whether it can reestablish some of its own powers.

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D Parseff
I would love to see more elements of magical realism in this show.
Oct 16, 2020   |  Reply
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