In last week’s look at some of Abraham Ford’s best moments in The Walking Dead, I pointed out that the former soldier was one of the most divided characters in the entire franchise among the fanbase. Honestly, I’d argue that Abraham probably is the most divided in terms of character (when it comes to writing by the staff, usually Daryl and Andrea fall into that trope), but there’s a name some readers reminded me about: Morgan.
Some love Morgan’s character development, no-kill philosophy, and awesomeness with that wooden staff of his, while others find him to be too preachy and foolish at this point in the apocalypse. How do you not kill in the apocalypse when you’ve seen the evil of man? Why are people so against someone who’s managed to regain and re-find his values this deep into the new world, others argue.
Myself, I love Morgan — at times, he can be a bit foolish, but he’s also one of the most complex characters we’ve seen to this point — and that’s helped big time by the jaw-dropping performance of Lennie James. Even when the writers create cringe-worthy lines, James makes them tolerable with his inflection and body language; the way he stares at Rick when the two finally reunite at Alexandria, for example, after the constable shoots Pete Anderson in the head says so much more than Morgan asking what had just happened. You see the confusion in Morgan’s eyes, maybe even a bit of anger at having seen the man he searched the entire Eastern Seaboard for kill a defenseless man in cold blood.
And, when Morgan does get some well-written lines, Lennie James absolutely kills it (all quotes in this article via IMDB).
“No, everything’s about people. Everything in this life is worth a damn, that’s what I know. And out here on your own… you’ll die.”
However, with a war on the horizon against the Saviors, Morgan’s no-kill mentality and his belief that “all life is precious” may come into a challenge over these next few weeks while he steps into a protector, maybe even a general role for King Ezekiel and the Kingdom. As Team Family’s moral compass and someone who abhors violence, can Morgan Jones really handle the All-Out War that awaits with the Saviors?
With war comes death and Morgan, who finally broke through the no-kill barrier in last year’s season finale, may have to end another man’s life again. During a conversation with Rick and Michonne last season, Morgan explained his anti-violence stance in probably the best way we’ve seen from a character so far.
“Back there [in King County], I would have killed you as soon as look at you. And I tried. But you, you let me live and then I was there to help Aaron and Daryl. See, if I… if I wasn’t there, if they died… maybe those Wolves wouldn’t have been able to come back here. I don’t know what’s right anymore. ‘Cause I did want to kill those men. I seen what they did, what they would keep doing. I knew I could end it. But I also know that people can change. ‘Cause everyone sitting here has. All life is precious. And that idea – that idea changed me. It brought me back and keeps me living.”
To Morgan, after what he went through with Eastman (or, as he lovably calls him, the “cheesemaker”), people can change after given the opportunity. The problem now, especially when he and Carol find out that the Saviors are responsible for the deaths of Glenn and Abraham, is that they probably can’t be changed. Unlike the Termites or the Wolves, who adopted animal-like methods of survival — Gareth’s group with cannibalism and the Wolves with marking their territory/victims with a “W” — which technically could change if they were re-instituted into society, the Saviors have a society that has allowed them to live and flourish thus far.
Sure, maybe there’s a person or two in the Saviors who could be saved — last season slightly hinted that Dwight may be one of those people — but saving Negan or Simon seems impossible at this point. People like Negan, Simon, Joe from the Claimers, even the Governor — they’ve embraced the darkness not only to survive but to live. These characters enjoy the darkness and the power that comes with it. They know that with the way the world has become, they’re the people who have figured out how to survive, and that comes with accepting what needs to be done.
With Morgan, though, he fell into the trap of darkness after losing both his wife and son — and, in his mind, being abandoned in King County by Rick; the man went crazy and tried to kill anything, living or alive, that came into his territory — just like the Wolves. But for Morgan, the fall to darkness wasn’t voluntary or one he viewed as one necessary to survive; he just lost his mind in a similar way that Rick did after the death of Lori, though Rick eventually broke out of it, especially after seeing what Morgan had become.
Morgan should never want to go back to that, not to the self-blaming, shell of a man that he’d turned into. By being unable to provide for Duane, Morgan had the chance then to fall into the darkness and become people like the Governor and Negan, but he clung to his values and his love for his son. How’d that turn out?
“We was always looking for food. You know, it always came down to food. And I was – I was checking out a cellar and I didn’t want Duane to come down there with me. And then when I came up… she was standing there right in front of him and he had his gun up and he couldn’t do it. So I called to him and he turned. And then she was just – just on him. And I see red. I see red. Everything is red. Everything I see is red. And I do it. Finally. Finally was too late. I was supposed to. I was selfish. I was weak. You gave me the gun…. See, ’cause people like you, the good people, they always die. And the bad people do, too. But the weak people, the people like me… we have inherited the earth.”
To go to war and repeat some of the actions he did before he cleared, in Morgan’s eyes, may be what sends him back on the wrong path. Clearly, as evidenced by him building the cell in Alexandria last season, Morgan wants to stay as far away from war and ending lives as possible. He doesn’t want to kill and doesn’t want more blood on his hands, whether it’s from a man whose life he takes or a man who he indirectly kills by not wanting to fight.
That’s understandable, but Morgan also should realize by this point that going into war with the Saviors and trying to urge them to raise the white flag is futile. I mean, just think back to what he told the Wolves, a group that didn’t even have guns!
“Leave. My people have guns. Yours don’t. They may be aiming rifles at you right now. Eyes at the scopes. Fingers on the trigger. Boom. It’s gonna happen any second now unless you get the hell out of here and don’t ever come back. You keep choosing this life, you will die.”
Good luck telling that to the Saviors, Morgan. Have fun telling Negan to get the hell out of wherever him and Lucille attack.
At this point, though, we know Morgan will do whatever he needs to protect wherever he calls home, because when the sun sets, he’s still a good man. But can Morgan accept in the upcoming days that he’s going to have to fight the Saviors and maybe take some lives? Honestly, I think he can, especially when he finds out what happened to Glenn and Abraham when Team Family tried moving a pregnant woman to the Hilltop.
Morgan’s already seen what the Saviors can do both to Alexandria and the Kingdom and when he realizes that these are the people who ended two Alexandrian lives — it’s not going to be a pretty day for whatever Savior meets his bo staff. You’re not going to see Morgan rush into battle with a gun in one hand and the staff in the other like we would from Rick or Negan, but I also don’t doubt the man will hold his own in battle and accept that this is what needs to happen.
The most important thing Morgan can remember when the war starts is simple: this will not destroy you, nor will it ruin all that you have done to change. As long as Morgan can remember and accept that before the first shots go off, then all will end up going alright — or, as alright as things can go in a zombie apocalypse where you’ve lost your wife and son and irritated half the fanbase.
If that doesn’t work, at least Morgan will be reunited with his family and Tabitha in heaven.
[Featured Image by AMC]