Spoilers for the first two episodes of The Walking Dead Season 7 follow.
Following the horrific Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead, only a small handful of characters from the show's earliest season remain: Rick, Carl, Carol, Daryl, and Morgan.
Morgan, however, has come and gone over the show's six years and, luckily for him, he sat out the Season 7 premiere which saw one the Atlanta natives sent off in brutal fashion. Morgan actor Lennie James has, however, watched the episode. Speaking to ComicBook.com at Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta over the weekend, James shared his thoughts on the premiere and what to expect in Season 7.
"It was brutal but it was also brilliant," James said of the premiere. "It was heartbreaking. It was somewhere we had to go in order to stay true to our source material."
"It was a reminder to all of us about the realities of the world that our story is told in and every now and then we have to shake the bag."
Going forward, the landscape of The Walking Dead has been completely changed. Not only has Negan already flipped the balance of power as we know it on its head but the introductions of the Hilltop and the Kingdom have made the world larger than ever before. "I think Season 7 is gonna be a marker," James said. "The season premiere kind of set that in stone."
"I think this show is gonna be seen to a greater or lesser extent in terms on before Season 7 Episode 1 and after Season 7 Episode 1."
"Everybody was talking about the introduction of Negan and quite rightly so," James said. "For me, obviously because of where I was working, it was always about the introduction of King Ezekiel."
The introduction of Ezekiel came in Episode 2 of Season 7. On Sunday night, audiences were taken to the Kingdom with Carol and Morgan for the first time. James appreciates not only the new character but the actor bringing him to life, as well.
"He is a character that, in the hands of a lesser actor, could have gone really, really wrong," James said. "But Khary [Payton] gets it absolutely right. He lands it at the right place, he kept it at the right pace, and he sets it at the right tone."
"We understand why the people he rules over want him to be the king," James said. "We understand why he's playing this particular game for them. He fits in with all of our iconic figures. Whether it be Negan, whether it be Rick, whether it be Deanna, he's another one added to those."
As for Morgan Jones, the struggles with his training continue. In Episode 7x02, we saw Morgan catch himself with a trigger happy finger, hungry to kill again after breaking his cree in the Season 6 finale to save Carol's life.
"I think it's one of the things that people have slightly misunderstood about the journey Morgan is going on," James said. "He's trying to live a life where all life is precious. He's trying. He's not there yet. He's not Eastman. He doesn't have the benefit of being locked away in a hut with a goat. He's out in the world. He's trying to get it done."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.