In his brief appearance in Sunday’s Fear, “Laura,” Morgan’s pep talk to John echoed lines spoken to Morgan by his old Walking Dead co-star.
The episode recounted the doomed love story between John and a skittish Naomi as a tale told to Morgan, who tells John, “She loved you.”
“Yes,” John says. “Maybe if I waited to tell her—”
“No. There ain’t no waiting. Not in this world,” Morgan says. He’s been there. “Waiting, that’s... that’s how you lose people.”
“It’s stupid to say,” John says, defeated, having just learned his lover apparently perished at the baseball stadium. “But I believed we’d have a second chance. Stupid.”
“Maybe we still do,” Morgan tells him. “Alicia, Strand, Luciana, they’re still here. They think the only thing left is to fight and kill and die.”
“Maybe they’re right,” John says. Morgan, offended at the thought, gets a sheepish “maybe” out of John.
“No, look me in the eye and tell me that’s what you believe,” Morgan tells him. “Tell me that’s what you believe and we’ll go our separate ways.”
“I do not believe that,” John says. “I do not.”
“We’re alive. We are part of the world,” Morgan says with a little laugh. He recalls. Smiles. “Let’s not waste another second.”
Rick told his old friend Morgan the same lines in Fear The Walking Dead 4x01, when the Alexandrian leader visited the Heaps in a futile attempt to convince a self-exiled Morgan to rejoin society.
Once the war with Negan and the Saviors had been won, Morgan took up residency in the now-abandoned junkyard once belonging to Jadis, setting off alone and distancing himself from his allies before ultimately leaving Virginia altogether.
“Come back for me,” Rick tells him in the clip, included above. “Don’t wait this time. Don’t waste one more second. You’re alive. You’re part of the world. I’m here now. A lot of people are here now because you helped me. Right at the beginning.”
When Morgan repeats to John Rick’s parting words, “it’s almost like Morgan is hearing them for the first time,” co-showrunner Ian Goldberg tells EW. “He’s finally understanding what Rick was telling him. And it’s huge for him.”
Morgan, who last week told John he intended to bury Nick and move on alone, has reversed course, choosing instead to stay with the gunslinger.
“He was going to go back on his own in thinking that not being with people was the answer for him,” Goldberg says.
“And now, given his connection with John and given his reaction to hearing this story of the beautiful love story and connection that John has, it all clicks for Morgan. And it’s like, Rick was right! We are part of the world; let’s not waste another second. He’s not going back to being isolated. He’s going to stick with John.”
The decision is inspired in part by Morgan’s brief bond with the freshly gunned down Nick, who had just started to become receptive to Morgan’s philosophy before his death. Morgan's relationship with Nick was informed by past episodes of The Walking Dead going as far back as season 3.
“And I think it’s also, Morgan has seen in the last few episodes, the price of isolating yourself and of not valuing life, and with Nick’s death and what the rest of the characters are trying to do to the Vultures,” co-showrunner Andrew Chambliss adds.0comments
“And I think part of it is also his fear that John, who’s in this very vulnerable place, who has just learned that the woman he loves is dead, I think he’s worried that John, without someone there to be there for him, might walk down that same road that these other characters have taken.”
Fear The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.