‘Fear TWD’s Lennie James Talks [Spoiler]’s Betrayal & Previews a ‘Thoughtful’ Season 6 Finale
A nuke is in the air, and the clock is ticking for Morgan Jones (Lennie James) to, once again, guide his people to safety. But this time if he doesn’t succeed, rather than succumbing to antifreeze poisoning or being taken captive by a new group, there’s a decent chance he and his friends will all be killed in a nuclear explosion. No pressure!
James couldn’t say much about the effect Morgan’s failure to stop “The End is the Beginning” will have on the stick-wielding leader, although he did tease it will have “some effect,” and “whatever that effect is may not be entirely beneficial for Morgan or the people around him.” He did share his thoughts about Strand’s (Colman Domingo) surprising — or perhaps not too surprising, considering the character’s history — betrayal in leaving Morgan to die and why his character is continuing to hold onto an inspirational note from a sociopath and give a preview of next week’s Season 6 finale.
When you got the script, were you surprised to see Strand betray Morgan? Or did you kind of expect it, since it’s Strand?
Lennie James: That’s a kind of yes-no answer, really. Victor is who Victor is, although you always hope he’s going to be someone else. That’s the great trick that Mr. Strand plays. Was I ultimately surprised he betrayed Morgan? No. I was surprised by Morgan’s reaction to the betrayal, I have to say.
What do you mean by that?
Well, he didn’t lash out. He didn’t punish [Strand]. He handed him back a weapon and said, “We move forward.” It took me a minute to navigate that for Morgan, but I thought it was a very big moment. I thought it was a new twist in the relationship between Morgan and Strand, and it very much fed into the story and the importance of what they were trying to do and failed to do.
What was it like to film on that submarine set?
It was really, really cool. There is a great benefit when the costume you’re wearing or the makeup that’s been done for you or the weapon you’re given or the set that you’re shooting in helps you not have to invent or pretend, that it enhances or gives you something because it’s so real. That’s exactly what that set did. That’s exactly what our set designer and production designer, Bernardo [Trujillo], and his team created.
I was saying to someone earlier that when and if they’re finished with it, they should pick it up and take it someplace and have it be part of the Walking Dead Experience fun ride or in a place where people can visit, just to see the detail up close. I don’t even think the camera does justice to the detail that Bernardo and his team went into. It’s great because they had to create a claustrophobic environment that we had to shoot in with cumbersome cameras and that we could do with the COVID restrictions. It did all of the above. It gave us perspective, it gave us the claustrophobic-ness of the submarine, but it was open in the places it needed to be open so we could have airflow and be safe. It was an absolute genius piece of work.
We see in this episode that Morgan is still holding onto that note from Dakota [Zoe Coletti]. Why is he keeping it, given who it came from?
That’s a really good question. I think, again, it’s about the situation. It’s about not where it came from, but what it awoke in Morgan. The note says “You’re not finished,” and I think that was what triggered something in Morgan. He’s not finished — he’s trying to become the dictator of his own destiny, but he might not have initiated the spark that led him this way.
So, he’s trying to make it mean something to him because, in part, that note led to the death of John Dorie [Garret Dillahunt]. In part, it has cost lives. It has affected June [Jenna Elfman], and Virginia [Colby Minifie], and the group. [Holding onto the note serves as] a reminder of the moment that note came into his hands, what it’s cost, and where it’s led them. I think he’s trying to get to a place where he can say, “I’m past this note,” and he can get rid of it. But he’s not there yet.
Why didn’t Morgan kill Teddy [John Glover] after he launched the nukes?
He doesn’t care about Teddy anymore. Teddy doesn’t matter anymore. The bomb is in the air. What matters is what you’re going to do before it lands, and as far as Morgan’s concerned, this could be the end. If this is the end, Teddy can go find his end somewhere else. He has no interest in Teddy, he has no interest in Victor, he has no interest in vengeance, he has no interest in ending them before [the bomb goes off]. If anything, he’d rather the bomb got them than him.
In the 6B preview interviews, you’d said this half of the season had some of the best episodes any Walking Dead show has aired. Now that the season’s mostly over, can you elaborate on that? Can you say which episodes you were especially fond of?
I think Episodes 9 and 8, where we say goodbye to John Dorie, were really powerful episodes. I think all of the episodes and the way we decided to tell the story this year has paid off. I think we earned the right to take the kind of risks that we took in the Grace [Karen David]-dream episode. I think that looked and felt unlike any other episode in this universe. I think we took a real risk in telling the story in that way, and I think that paid off for us. Episode 15 is a big, bold, and brave episode, and I think our finale, in which we, again, slightly play with time, is brave storytelling. I meant that we set out a path for ourselves, and we really walked the walk this season. I think we really went for it and we played to our strengths, and I think we benefitted from that.
I know you can’t give spoilers, but can you give a spoiler-free preview of the finale? What’s to come in the last hour of Season 6?
I will just say that I would describe it as a held breath, throughout the episode. I believe that our fans and the audience of the show will both feel it physically, that they will be holding their breaths, and that within the story it can be described as a held breath. I think it’s a lovely, thoughtful, engaging, exciting, smart episode. I hope the fans agree.
Fear The Walking Dead, Season 6 Finale, Sunday, June 13, 9/8c, AMC