Season 8 of The Walking Dead is set to hit screens imminently, with fans eager to see what follows that brutal showdown in the Season 7 finale. To refresh your memory, we saw both the Scavengers and Saviors flee after Shiva bounded in and upset their carefully placed apple cart. Not literally, of course – there were no apples anywhere near this finale. Melons maybe (yes, that’s a reference to the melon incident in Episode 13).
Anyway, Season 7 saw fan-favourite Morgan up and killing again. This was the first time he broke his pacifistic vow since the Season 6 finale, when he rescued Carol from death at the hands of one of the Saviors. Later, he sharpens his stick and straps on guns for the Season 7 finale battle. But, according to Lennie James who plays Morgan in the show, this conflicted character will actually go a step further in Season 8.
“Morgan becomes a bit of a sniper and all that kind of goes with that,” he says. We don’t yet know exactly how or why his newfound skills are deployed in the season’s opening battle but he does tease that the fight is a long one. And also that some of the show’s factions aren’t decided on whether they’ll join.
“When we start [Episode 1] we are ‘at it’,” he says. “We are in the middle of the war. The allegiances have been made. There are a couple of worlds that aren’t quite decided on whether they want to be in this war or outside of this war, or whether this war has anything to do with them.”
He’s probably referring to the Oceansiders and Scavengers here.
He continues, “But in the main, those three — the Hilltop, the Alexandrians and Rick and the group — are on the same side and they are in the war when we join them. And that ongoing battle rages for three or four episodes before we take a breath and explain the allegiances, and the plan, and where we are going, and what we’re doing. So yes, the battle is kind of happening but as to who wins or loses I couldn’t possibly tell you.”
Is Morgan Vengeful?
Morgan is a character who in Season 8 is grappling with himself, as much as the enemy.
“Is he vengeful?” James ponders. “He’s trying not to be. How dark a character he is? I don’t think it gets much darker. I don’t think he knows how dark he can go but he’s had some experience of it and he’s desperate not to go back there.”
In the trailer for the new season, a shot of Morgan’s face shows him looking very worried. According to Lennie James, the thing that most troubles Morgan this season is this feeling that he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“He says it in the trailer. I think he says it to the king [Ezekiel] or to Carol; he says, ‘I’m stuck’. I know the thing that worries Morgan is in which direction he will become unstuck. Because there are two very clear paths and neither of them are easy,” says James. “One of them is a return to a mindset and a way of living that he fought really hard to get away from and the other one amounts to him sticking by his principles, but losing all that he’s gained in the last few years and months. The friendships, the bonds, a sense of home and a sense of belonging. So he’s in the middle of a huge battle with himself in the middle of this huge war.”
Relationship with Carol
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It seems likely that Carol is going to be key to helping Morgan come to terms with this new world and new way of being. The pair have had a complicated relationship, which has culminated in Morgan going out on a limb for Carol on more than one occasion. And that he broke his vow for her will no doubt have reverberations throughout the season.
For Lennie James, the friendship these two characters have forged has been really important.
“I don’t know if there’ll ever be a romance between them but one of the things I love about Carol and Morgan’s relationship is how we’re being allowed to map their friendship. What happens beyond that is whatever happens beyond that, but that’s not the be all and end all,” he says. “Actually exploring a friendship that has the possibility of becoming deep and important and vital and loving and strong and still remain a friendship is something I’m really, really enjoying.”
He adds, “Wherever it goes is not up to me but the fact that we now get to explore that friendship I’m loving, and I think it’s really important we give it as much time and space as it deserves.”
The Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead hits screens in the US on October 22. Catch the show on Mondays at 9pm in the UK on FOX.