Holy walker horde! “The Walking Dead” returned to AMC Sunday night, reuniting fans with their favorite characters and introducing a frightening new threat for the Alexandria survivors. International Business Times spoke to star Lennie James, who plays bo staff wielding Morgan Jones, to break down some of the top moments from episode 1 and preview the drama that lies ahead for Season 6.
[SPOILER ALERT! Do NOT keep reading unless you watched “The Walking Dead” Season 6 premiere.]
International Business Times: Let’s break down Morgan getting locked up. I thought it was interesting that Rick tries to pass it off to Daryl that it was Morgan’s idea to get put in a cell. But later when Rick goes to visit Morgan he apologizes about having to lock him up. Is Rick playing both sides? Or did Morgan really understand getting put in the cell?
Lennie James: I think he’s trying to understand Rick and put himself in Rick’s position. I think that from the carryon from the end of the finale of last season – most of this episode Morgan is trying to figure out exactly where Rick is at and trying to understand how it works when you have other people to consider other than yourself. Morgan’s certainly, the last years, has been on his own out there. He hasn’t been responsible for anybody else and he’s kind of taken Rick’s word for it. But he understands the necessity.
IBT: Michonne’s got her katana, Daryl’s got his crossbow and now Morgan’s got his bo staff. We briefly learned in the premiere that a friend taught him how to use it “after everything.” Are fans going to dive more into Morgan’s time before he rejoined Rick?
James: They will. They will learn why that weapon of choice – the bo staff – is not just an arbitrary choice, but also fundamental to the path that Morgan’s trying to walk now.
IBT: We need to talk about that protein bar scene with Michonne because that was one of my favorite parts of the premiere. The show’s always so serious so it was nice to have that light-hearted conversation.
James: I loved it, actually. It’s a really sweet and smart touch from the writers of the premiere because it is kind of a reminder whom Morgan possibly was when we first ever met him in the pilot episode. But also it’s virtually the first words Morgan has ever spoken to Michonne. I think it’s his attempt at reaching out and trying to figure out how you speak to other people, how you make connections to other people in this kind of world and I thought it was a really cute kind of choice of how he goes about it. It’s a way of him saying -- I remember you and I know that you were there and I know you have kind of some sense of who I was but you might not have any sense of who I am. It’s him kind of reaching out a hand and I think she kind of bats it back in a really kind of cool way that is a kind of beacon to what their possible interactions in the future might be.
IBT: Yeah, I thought the exchange was really fun between the two characters. Fans who have read the graphic novels know that Morgan and Michonne develop a relationship. Just from the whole protein bar thing – is that a deal breaker for Morgan?
James: [Laughs] Yeah, you steal my protein bar you get no love! I have no idea I really can’t comment on that because I don’t actually know where it goes as far as Morgan and Michonne is concerned. You know in the TV version of this story sometimes it follows the line of the graphic novels, the comic books, and sometimes it is very different. So, as far as that’s concerned I’ve got no idea.
IBT: So, let’s move onto Carter’s death. Carter obviously couldn’t be saved but Morgan and Michonne exchanged this look after Rick killed him. What do you think was going on in their heads after watching that?
James: I think that exchange is about ramifications, because of who Carter has been in the planning of this whole thing. Because he’s been the skeptic, because he stood up to Rick, it’s about kind of drawing a line in the sand and saying I know why that was necessary.
Rick has just sent Morgan back to Alexandria and I think he’s kind of saying I understand why that was necessary. And I understand what the ramifications of the act might be and some people might believe the need for it and some people might be against the need for it. On one level he’s saying out loud I know that had to happen.
IBT: We already know that he joins the group in leading the walkers away from Alexandria, but do you think he’s ready to fight for these people?
James: I think a large portion of the story of Morgan in Season 6 is not just who is he to Rick now and who is Rick to him now. But it’s also whether or not he’s on the path that he found himself on, the belief system that he’s trying to stick to. Whether or not that’s compatible with life amongst the Alexandrians and whether or not that’s compatible with life amongst the group. So I think that’s something we’re going to find out – possibly – one way or the other.
IBT: Morgan does seem to value human life. From burying Pete to helping the Alexandrian survivors fight. Is he sort of going to become Rick’s conscience?
James: I think that one of the things that is going to be clear in this season is about how you survive in this world. It’s going to be part of the conversation of season 6.
Rick is trying to explain to the Alexandrians that if you’re going to live in this world you’re going to have to kill in this world. And Morgan is trying to stick to a philosophy which is if you’re going to live in this world maybe there is a way to do that by letting other people live. Those ideologies are going to be part of the conversation in Season 6 and sometimes they’re going to come into conflict and sometimes they might be able to walk side by side; ultimately it’s about whether or not they can live within the walk together within the walls of Alexandria.
I think there’s the kind of sense that Morgan is the finished article on whatever road he’s decided to walk down and I’m not actually sure that’s the case. I think both – I wouldn’t say necessarily that Morgan is Rick’s straight out conscience because Morgan is trying to walk this road. He’s not firmly on it and Rick is trying to stay focused on the road that he’s on.
Watch "The Walking Dead" Season 6 on AMC on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET.