10:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Showrunner on the Return of a Fan Favorite: "It's the Start of Something"
[Warning: Spoilers ahead from The Walking Dead's fifth-season premiere and the comic series the AMC drama is based on.]
AMC's The Walking Dead waited until after the credits had completely rolled to reveal one of the biggest surprises in the show's four-season history: the return of a fan favorite.
Following the credits of Sunday's action-packed fifth-season premiere, the series picked right back up to reveal a fan favorite was not only still alive and well but also hot on the tracks of Rick's central band of heroes.
Lennie James' Morgan, last seen in season three's critically praised "Clear" episode, was revealed to have been in nearly full riot gear and wandering in the woods. Seemingly on his way to Terminus, he alters his course after spotting the "Sanctuary for All" sign that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) changed to read "No Sanctuary" and now appears to be hot on the trail of the supersized group of survivors.
"People want to follow that character; I want to follow that character," showrunner Scott M. Gimple, who wrote both "Clear" and the season five opener, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "There's a Morgan story to tell. It's the beginning of something, but I'm not going to say what it is, or how involved it is."
Sunday's episode marks Morgan's third appearance on the zombie drama based on the comics created by Robert Kirkman, after "Clear" and the series debut. Morgan was last seen hiding out in a booby-trapped community where he had isolated himself from the world after the death of his son, Duane. Though safe, his mental state had almost made him a danger to himself.
The comics followed a somewhat similar trajectory. After Rick and Morgan's initial encounter early in the series, Morgan and Duane are seen alive and celebrating Christmas while Rick and his group travel from the Wiltshire Estates for the first and only winter at the prison. Rick — along with Abraham and Carl — crosses paths with Morgan again later when he returns to Cynthiana in a bid to recover supplies from his former police station.
"Morgan disappeared from the comic for a long time and then he was in this back-up story with Duane — a Christmas story, which is really wild for The Walking Dead — and then we didn't see him for a long time," Gimple says. "So it could even be in the manner of that. But there is more stuff to tell. It's the start of something."
While the showrunner remained tight-lipped on whether Morgan would return again in season five, he confirmed that this is only the beginning of the beloved character's newest journey.
"That definitely seemed like the start of something; he was on a path and his path changed," Gimple says. "Looking at him, how he's dressed, how he's acting — it's not a 42-minute episode there — but you get some hints about where he's at. I would look at that carefully."
For his part, James told THR after "Clear" in March 2013 that, "If they want me, it remains a possibility. I have nothing but good memories of my time on The Walking Dead and I love playing Morgan and hanging out in Atlanta and playing opposite Andy and the rest of the cast and seeing where they kind of take the story."
Are you excited to see Morgan return? Share your theories in the comments below. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.