Fear The Walking Dead showrunner Andrew Chambliss has detailed the parallels between the "filthy woman" (Tonya Pinkins) and Morgan (Lennie James), who first came face-to-face with the still mysterious threat in 412, 'Weak.'
"In this episode, we have this very charged moment where Morgan is walking down the road, trying to get better range on his walkie, thinking he might be able to contact some of his friends who are out there. Instead of finding one of his friends, he comes upon the filthy woman," Chambliss said on Talking Dead.
"And she's leaning over one of the help boxes and Morgan sees her, and initially thinks that she is someone who might be in trouble and who might need help. But, from the small exchange she has, where she tells him she's not weak and she doesn't need help, Morgan starts to sense there's a lot more going on beneath the surface."
Unbeknown to Morgan, the woman has ties to the truck driver who left behind the help boxes since redistributed by Morgan and new allies Sarah (Mo Collins), Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) and Jim (Aaron Stanford).
The filthy woman kept the truck driver, Pervis, as a pet walker before unleashing the reanimated corpse on an unsuspecting Quinn (Charles Harrelson), a lone traveler who had a change of heart following an encounter with a persuasive June (Jenna Elfman).
Morgan ultimately left the filthy woman behind after she warned him to "be careful," but Chambliss suggested the two are likely to cross paths again in the future.
"I think, in a way, he can tell that there's something broken in her. Morgan is a character who is not unfamiliar with being broken. We've seen him go to very dark places after he's lost people many times, and there's that very charged moment where he's walking away from her and she tells him to be careful because there are dangerous people out there," he said.
"I really think it's in that moment that Morgan starts to recognize that perhaps there's something in her that is very similar to what has been in him and what he's overcome. And I think Morgan knows this is not someone he can help in the moment, he knows he has to deal with his friends who are out there, but it is an encounter that stays with Morgan."
Victor Strand actor Colman Domingo, who directed tonight's episode in his television directorial debut, hailed franchise newcomer Pinkins as "phenomenal."
"She's been one of my favorite actresses for a long time and she's also a dear friend. When I opened my script and I saw Tonya Pinkins was cast, I was like, 'oh my God, I can't even believe it,'" Domingo said of the Tony Award-winning actress on Talking Dead.
"We had a great time figuring out this character. We also wanted to make sure that we understood who this woman was before the apocalypse. She wasn't always poisoning water. What did she do? Let's find out more about her that we don't even know yet."
Domingo approached the episode like a sort-of fairy tale mixed with western flourishes, applying that spin to Pinkins' witch-like character.
"The first thing I wanted to do is, how do we set her up? I'm like, I think she should be in a bed of flowers. Because I thought the whole episode was very much like a deconstructed sort of Grimms fairy tale in a way, there are fairy tale elements to it in a way, and people doing these dark things in the middle of all this light," he said.
Domingo compared Morgan's journey to Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz, encountering strange new characters — not all of them friendly — in the wake of a powerful storm.
"I thought this is very interesting, and this is how we need to set her up and set up her journey, that there's still life around us in every single way but there's also all this darknesss," Domingo said. "She says 'be careful' while she's sitting in the middle of all this light. I thought that was beautiful."0comments
Asked if the filthy woman's warning to Morgan was a hint about herself, Domingo teased, "Possibly, we don't know. We'll have to tune into the next episode."
Fear The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.