Can we ever truly count out Morgan?
Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 1 was another attempt at reinventing the wheel for this zombie drama, but it yielded mixed results.
Morgan's death would have confirmed the series was ready to take some bigger risks, instead of phoning it in with dull and meandering plots.
The biggest compliment I can give to Fear the Walking Dead is that it likes to switch things up. It tries out new storytelling mechanics, more so than The Walking Dead.
But is that really a compliment? I'm not so sure.
The usual tact is that this spinoff fails to have much payoff when it starts something new, but (and here's the AHA moment) Morgan's grueling battle with Virginia might actually help the show rise like a phoenix.
Morgan is a complicated man, and we first met him over ten years ago. The mothership series failed him, with many aspects of the character not fitting in with the man Rick Grimes met on the series premiere of The Walking Dead.
He's gone through many different iterations, largely because the creatives behind both shows had no clue what to do with him.
Man: Oh, thank god. Please, you gotta help me. They been after me for days.
Man: I'm not really sure.
Elme: Well, it appears you've lost them. What's your name?
Man: It's Walter.
Elme: You hungry, Walter? Eat. I'll keep an open eye. Good, right? Do you means are the first staple humans ever cultivated? They were right there with us at the beginning. Seems only fitting that we would be enjoying them as we march towards the end.
Man: These are good. What's in them?
Elme: The chef never reveals his secrets. Besides, it's my brother's recipe. He'd probably kill me if he knew I spilled the beans.
Man: Course, I understand. Doesn't matter. These are mighty fine tasting beans.
Elme: Easy there, friend. Easy.
Man: Hounds been on my ass since...
Elme: Good boy, Rufus. Good boy, Rufus.
Man: You know his name?
Elme: Course I do, he's my dog.
For an actor such as Lennie James, it's unfortunate. James is a seasoned actor, but he's been wasted with all of the lame storylines.
"The End is the Beginning" was the first time in years that I've cared about Morgan Jones, and maybe it's because he was the only main character to appear during the hour.
Still, watching the merciless killer, Emile, pursue Morgan helped make this new direction somewhat entertaining. Morgan and his people have been shielded by communities for far too long, and forcing them to go off on their own is the best direction.
The flaw in any post-apocalyptic work of fiction is that when the characters get too comfortable, and the shows start to take fewer risks.
Emile could have been a great character, so it's a shame he was killed off so soon. Could you imagine the stakes if the characters had to be on the lookout for walkers, Virginia's people, and what can only be described as a serial killer?
If you watch Fear the Walking Dead online, you know the series has botched villains in the past (big time), so killing off Emile so soon could be a hint of a change of direction for the series.
A good villain is important to keep the plot moving. Virginia was terrible on Fear the Walking Dead Season 5, but it seems like there's been a genuine progression for her.
Does she feel like a cartoon villain still? Yes, but she also has a lot of people following her rule. There has to be a reason for that, and if Fear the Walking Dead starts to show that off, then I'm all for it.
Virginia: Are you there? Hello, I repeat, are you there?
Elme: Who's asking?
Virginia: Virginia, I got a job for you.
Elme: It will have to wait. I have a delivery to make in Galvistone.
Virginia: Gonna burn a lot of gas getting down there. I'll make sure you never want for it again.
Elme: Who are you looking for?
Elme: Is Mr. Jones dead or alive?
Virginia: I don't know.
Elme: You will soon.
She understands that Morgan is not the type of man to let her get away with what she's done, but she's unwittingly set up her own downfall.
Had she allowed Morgan to disappear into the night, he would probably have built a treehouse and lived out the rest of his days far away from anyone.
But sending the killer after him helped him realize that he needed to adapt to survive in the world he lived in. Morgan is not only hardened, but now, he is using his impressive skills of survival to get his some revenge on the woman who caused the implosion of his group.
Could this all fall apart? Yes. Fear the Walking Dead has a habit of starting its seasons strong and falling apart in the episodes that follow.
If we go back to Morgan and his stick, refusing to kill people, then the show should just be put out of its misery.
But credit where credit is due. Morgan is one of the worst characters on the series, and if the writers can make me forgive all of the terrible writing for him, then that's something to celebrate.
It was a risky move to leave out the more popular characters, but we will be checking in with them in due course. As you will probably recall, Virginia had them strewn out between her myriad of communities.
Seeing "the end is the beginning" in writing was certainly concerning, and it makes me think there could be a lot more than just Virginia's people traversing the lands around these communities.
The submarine was also a random thing to throw in there, but if we get payoff as to why this was present on-screen, then I'll be happy about it.
On Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 2, we'll check in with the other characters and how they're holding up under Virginia's rule.
What did you think of the way Morgan realized he had to adapt to his surroundings or die? Did the premiere help you forget all of the terrible writing of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5?
Which character do you think should have been included in the premiere?
Hit the comments below.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC at 9/8c. Catch it earlier on AMC+.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.