For years we have been hearing how The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead were two separate shows but a month ago at New York Comic Con, Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman teased that there would indeed be a crossover between the two shows. This announcement caused a flurry of predictions on the internet since no details were given on who, when, or which show in the Deadverse would host a familiar guest.
On Sunday night, however, fans finally got some answers as Chris Hardwick announced on The Talking Dead that the crossover character was TWD’s Morgan (Lennie James). What followed more resembled sizzle than steak: James gave an emotional farewell speech to fans and cast members alike while acknowledging that his FTWD filming would begin the next morning down in Austin, Texas. But while it all had a whiff on finality, Hardwick tried to soothe fans with a statement from TWD showrunner Scott M. Gimple that essentially begged viewers to forget James’ seeming farewell while promising that there was more story to tell for Morgan on the flagship show. Which, okay, but how much and what does it matter now that it seems like he’s a marked man?
We still have no idea exactly when, in Morgan’s (mostly established) timeline, his FTWD appearance will occur. Will the death of Morgan’s son Duane still seem fresh? Will he be the rage-filled killer he was before he met Eastman? Or will he be channeling the zen moves that Eastman taught him? He’s already been on a hell of a journey, going mad, resisting the pull to kill, and kind of going crazy again. Will seeing the seeds of that be compelling with knowledge of where he will wind up so fresh in the mind?
Morgan’s story isn’t the easiest to work into FTWD. There were plenty of other options that would have made more sense or pleased show fans. Some were sure that they’d see Abraham return from being pummeled to death by Negan and his bat, Lucille. FTWD is moving to Texas and Abraham did have ties to the area. But maybe the creative brain trust didn’t want to do something so obvious (or maybe Michael Cudlitz was busy). Others thought Madison would continue to turn from protective mom to unruly killer, but was it really realistic to assume FTWD could shed Kim Dickens or that her schedule would accommodate double duty? Additionally, the show could have even fleshed out the origin story of one of its popular big bads, exploring Negan or The Governor’s past.
All shows have rules and patterns but it’s hard to know sometimes with The Walking Dead, which means it can be hard to get a read on where they’re going — which is a joy and a frustration. That’s the kind of reputation you get when you play with viewers’ emotions and either fake deaths (as with Glenn and the dumpster before he went down for real) or resist giving characters a definitive end so as to seemingly have the chance to walk back their deaths. It’s Travis falling out of a helicopter with a bullet wound or not seeing Lori’s body. And the increasing ridiculousness of Maggie’s non-existant baby bump. Afterall you can have your leg chopped off, your eye stabbed with glass, be shot in the head and still live to fight zombies. Why wouldn’t Morgan be capable of entering a show based halfway across the country in the middle of the Apocalypse despite being grounded in the world of his old show?
In the end, Morgan may just be the tip of the iceberg of characters crossing over. Especially if ratings respond. Who knows, maybe the FTWD cast will start to infiltrate the flagship at some point. TWD is getting to the point where ratings are dropping a little and after 8 seasons, it’s possible that costs may start to lead to a few (more) painful goodbyes. All of this is wild speculation, but what more does the Walking Dead-verse leave us to do but watch, wait, and wonder if this is really the best move for both shows or simply another random thing that may or not work out and may not even make sense when held under a microscope.