The Walking Dead Universe is poised to reunite Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James), who are almost destined to be pulled back together once again after an eight-year separation.
Rick and Morgan parted ways in the Fear the Walking Dead Season Four opener when Rick tried and failed to convince Morgan, who had taken up a solitary residence in the Scavengers’ abandoned junk yard, to “come back” and rejoin society at Alexandria.
“You’ll end up with people, one way or another. You’re connected ... you’re part of the world already,” Rick told the despondent Morgan. “You’ll find your way back to it, because it’ll find its way back to you. So just come back. Like I said ... you can hide, but you can’t run.”
Reaching Texas after a lonely trek across country Texas, Morgan linked up with a kindred spirit, gentle gunslinger John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), who listened as Morgan admitted he “never should have left.”
“My friend, I think he was right,” Morgan said. “It’s where I belong, it’s where I should be.”
Later, when trying to redirect a grieving and solitary Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Morgan advised her against running from people and making the same mistakes, before again recalling Rick Grimes.
“That friend I told you I got back there, the one who said I’d find my way back to the world, back to people? See, I left straight after I heard that. To get away. To make it so that he was wrong,” Morgan said.
“I just want to look him in the eye and tell him he was right. Think he deserves to know. ‘Cause he was. I’m just telling you, because I don’t want you to find out one of the hard ways.”
Morgan then offered to shepherd his newfound allies to Alexandria, Virginia in the reinforced S.W.A.T. van piloted by Althea (Maggie Grace).
The group, under Morgan’s stewardship, ultimately decided against joining the Virginia settlements in favor of operating out of a repurposed denim factory once used as a base by trucker Polar Bear (Stephen Henderson), who established a network of pay-it-forward benefactors intended to help strangers in need.
Both shows synced timelines for the first time in Fear 401 when that season opener picked up where The Walking Dead Season Eight left off, only for the mothership series to jump eighteen months into the future in Season Nine.
Later, following Rick’s believed death at the bridge, The Walking Dead jumped another six years into the future — putting an almost eight-year distance between Fear’s fourth season and the ongoing ninth season of The Walking Dead.
Lincoln, whose wounded but alive Rick Grimes was whisked away in a helicopter by Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh), will next reprise his role in a trilogy of television movies steered by Walking Dead Chief Content Officer and Fear executive producer Scott Gimple, who first approached James with an offer to jump from the flagship series to its less-crowded spinoff.
While Lincoln will not be returning to the television show, the six-year time jump allows an opportunity for Rick and Morgan to reunite in the movies, the first of which is set to explore the “vast mythology” behind the expansive helicopter community.
Lincoln suspects Rick and Morgan will meet again, telling EW:
“There was a sort of sense, certainly, with Lennie, that it’s until we meet again,” the Rick Grimes star said of James’ exit from The Walking Dead, months before it was learned Lincoln would be ending his time with the show.
“It’s always been that way with Rick and Morgan. I don’t know, there’s something in the air, that I feel that it’s not quite the end yet for Rick and Morgan.”
He later told ComicBook.com the two men are tuned into the same wavelength, noting Rick and Morgan “have an intense habit of finding each other, no matter what channel they’re on.”
It’s a sentiment James agrees with.
“As Andy says, I don’t think the story between, about the relationship between Rick and Morgan, is over yet,” he said in April of a potential Rick Grimes reunion.
Asked by ComicBook how Morgan would react to learning of Rick’s “death,” James said it would be “devastating” for the usually mentally-fragile Morgan.
“If he heads back [to Alexandria] and Rick isn’t there, then I think that very much rocks the foundations of who he is now in this world,” James said.
Morgan and friends are now on a mission to help strangers in need, using the sizable collection of tapes filmed by video journalist Althea as a starting point — which very well could set Morgan on the path for another chance encounter with Rick Grimes if the adventures of the Fear crew take them beyond Texas.
Morgan popping up in the movie franchise shouldn’t be discounted: Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride have since inked three-year deals with options to appear outside the flagship series, which Gimple said is now a spiritual “anchor” to the movie side of the WDU.1comments
“There’s a very long plan and within the movies, there’s ways that things could maybe cross-pollinate,” Gimple told EW. “But we’re not going to see them fly off in their own helicopters.”
The Walking Dead Season Nine returns Sunday, February 10 on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead is now shooting Season Five, to return in 2019.