Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 Ep. 4 Review: I Believe In Morgan Jones
AMC's Fear the Walking Dead S08E04 "King County" reminded us why Lennie James is still one of the best actors to ever grace the TWD universe.
Well, no one is going to accuse showrunners & writers of the season's first three episodes, Ian Goldberg & Andrew Chambliss, of not going all-in when it comes to the eighth & final season of AMC's Fear the Walking Dead. After the third chapter exposed the origin of PADRE, elevated the threat levels in some very deadly ways, and raised some serious questions about the walker virus, S08E04 "King County" (directed by Kenneth Requa and written by Goldberg & Chambliss) shifted the spotlight as we learned where Morgan (Lennie James) headed after being helped to escape by Madison (Kim Dickens). As you can tell from the episode's title, Morgan headed home to confront some old ghosts at a place that holds special meaning to fans of the TWD universe. But as Morgan contended with his past, Grace (Karen David) & Mo (Zoey Merchant) brought a very deadly reminder of the "here & now" down around him. And if PADRE co-leader Shrike (Maya Eshet) gets their way, there won't be much of a future for any of them. With that said, we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing down an image spoiler buffer as we "real-time" review "King County"…
Fear the Walking Dead S08E04 "King County" Thoughts & Observations
I completely respect where James is coming from when he said recently that he's done with Morgan Jones after all of this. Considering the various facets & layers of the character that he's offered in the past, he's more than earned that right. And yet, the final season finds James offering us a Morgan who finds himself at a crossroads, attempting to reconcile who he was and who he is while still trying to put his finger on who he wants to be in the future- if there is one.
In the interest of full disclosure? I couldn't help but get the chills when that "King County" sign appeared on the screen.
Morgan: "Sorry it took me so long…" – Yup, my "feels" are already bracing to get beaten up over the course of the hour…
Not THAT was f***ing powerful. Morgan's guilt & self-hatred over his inability to finally bring Duane peace once and for all serves as a brutally heartbreaking reminder of the guilt Morgan feels over not being able to keep him alive. James' "primal scream" moment at the top of the episode has set a strong emotional bar for the episode to build off of…
Yeah… not exactly sure having Keisha Tillis' Jenny Jones as the focus of the opening graphic bodes well for Morgan…
It's ironic to say this since we've been given the impression that they haven't spent a ton of time together during the time jump, but James' & David's Morgan & Grace feel like a real couple this season – and, once again, full credit goes to two actors who understand their characters enough to know how to evolve them while still remaining faithful to the core of who they each are.
Mo, Grace & Morgan Scene: First up, Merchant continues to impress as Mo proves herself to be increasingly resourceful. And there was something almost "cleansing" in the way Morgan (though begrudgingly at first) acknowledged his past to Grace & Mo and admitted that his reason for being there was to finally put down Duane. And serious props for the way that Mo keeps reminding Morgan & Grace that they're her parents – with that "mom" from Mo hitting Grace hard emotionally.
Morgan shared with Grace & Mo what happened the day that Jenny bit Duane – and in doing so, offered us yet another excellent example of why James is a living, breathing masterclass in acting. It was hearing him retell it from such a different emotional place that was the most telling – a hurt and rage that the years have scarred over but not something Morgan's become numb to.
And now we have Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista) entering the scene, and they're looking to turn over Morgan to get Finch (Gavin Warren) back – which we all know won't happen. Once again, it was Mo's plan to have them all meet up that ends up moving things in a better direction (but complicating things further for Dwight & Sherry).
Morgan: "We're gonna need that rifle…" – and that's when Morgan reveals why he knows the home they're in so well.
The scene between Merchant & James was a heart-crusher. First, there was the idea of Morgan essentially telling a sweet story about someone who would've been Duane's step-sister. And then, there was that moment when Morgan tells Mo that there is a chance that they could build things back better than it was before – proving that some flames of hope still reside in him even after all of this time. The importance of those second chances… and yeah, the tears started when Morgan reaffirmed to Mo that he and Grace were her parents.
I love the debate between Grace and Morgan because they each make excellent points – there are no bad positions in this. That said, I completely understand where Morgan's coming from. It's that need for a sense of closure…
When Morgan, Mo & Grace make their way upstairs, we're presented with a great scene of collective guilt and regret. For Morgan, it's the regret of what he became for a while and not being able to put down Jenny. For Grace, Morgan & Mo, it's the regret they feel over having lost seven years of their lives together. At least it sounds like Morgan & Grace were able to sneak in some time together.
Grace to Morgan: "Rick… he gave you this gun for a reason. Use it" YES!!!!!!!!! (Sorry… back to being an "objective reviewer")
Holy crap. That's so weird – but it could also be easily true. That probably is the first time that Mo saw anyone kiss. Wow.
As much as we had the feeling all along that Duane wasn't there, James' hurt and anguish were like a one-two punch to the feels. And it was chilling just how at peace Morgan seemed to be at the prospect of the PADRE dude pulling the trigger.
Holy crap! Dwight & Sherry might just be… THE WALKING DEAD UNIVERSE'S PARENTS OF THE YEAR! And in about ten seconds, Finch just became another one of the TWD universe's young badasses.
Wait… but… I don't want to lose Grace. Please don't make me cry…
That moment. That shot. Morgan chooses the future by finally putting the past to rest.
Holy crap! Grace got bit! When did that happen?!? Not only does this jack up the urgency, but it's also going to force Morgan to have to head back to PADRE for June's (Jenna Elfman) radiation treatments.
And with that, we're left with two reunited families and a renewed sense of hope, purpose & determination – even in the face of what are still some serious tough odds. And let's not forget that the show's biggest "wildcard" has yet to play his hand. Of course, we're talking about Colman Domingo's Victor Strand. Hmmm… could next week be his big return?