Published On: Mon, Apr 16th, 2018

Everything We Know About Fear the Walking Dead's New Characters

Meet Morgan’s worst nightmare.

This interview contains spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead’s Season 4 premiere, “What’s Your Story?” 

Fear the Walking Dead returned for Season 4 with some major changes: Not only did the show launch its much-publicized crossover with The Walking Dead by bringing Morgan Jones over from the mothership, it also introduced two new characters, Al and John, neither of whom are based on people from Robert Kirkman’s comic books.

Rather than catching us up with the status of the Clark family and their allies – who have been our window into the world of Fear for the past three seasons – the premiere opens with a brand new character: John Dorie – like the fish, “John Dory” except with an “ie,” he’s quick to clarify – a lonely, pacifist cowboy who reveals that he hasn’t used his voice in a year (our first clue that the new season has taken a substantial time jump to help bring FTWD in line with The Walking Dead’s timeline).

Played by Deadwood alum Garret Dillahunt, John Dorie apparently likes reading books, eating popcorn, and talking (boy, does he love talking) which makes him exactly the type of person Morgan doesn’t want to spend time with right now.

We see via flashback that, following the events of The Walking Dead Season 8 finale, Morgan has moved into Jadis’ junkyard so that he can be alone, but he’s apparently still a little too close to the Hilltop and Kingdom for comfort, since Rick, Carol and Jesus all swing by to try and convince him to come home. In an attempt to avoid all the unwanted houseguests who keep interrupting his wallowing time, Morgan sets off for parts unknown, walking, running, and hot-wiring cars all the way from Virginia to Texas. Unfortunately, his journey soon brings him into contact with John, who’s eager to make friends and tell Morgan about his lost love, Laura.

Exit Theatre Mode

“In a different show, Morgan would be like ‘really?'” Lennie James says of Morgan’s chance encounter with the most talkative guy on the planet. “I think it’s a fantastic opening scene, I think it’s brave, I think it’s funny, I think it’s touching, I think it’s a brilliant introduction of a character and a brilliant introduction of the world and where we are. These two men [have] very different outlooks on how to survive. Somebody asked me the other day why doesn’t Morgan just keep walking and I think it’s because John Dorie takes him by surprise, and I don’t think Morgan’s been taken by surprise by a while, certainly not in the months it’s taken him to get from Virginia to Texas. In my mind, he hasn’t stopped too long along the road, and when you see his brief encounter with the guy in the truck, that’s been, not necessarily the full extent, but that’s been typical of how he may well have met people on the road, doing as little as humanly possible. John just won’t let him go.”

Dillahunt has an interesting history with the franchise – he actively campaigned for the role of Negan, which apparently put him on showrunner Scott Gimple’s radar when he was conceptualizing John Dorie. “There was some stuff bubbling around my brain with that and then talking to [Fear showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg] as we developed it, Garret was definitely in mind for the character,” Gimple says. “I was so nervous to tell Andrew and Ian because I was like, ‘man this seems perfect to me,’ but I want them to be the showrunners. They got really excited really quickly and then it was like, is Garret available? It all sussed together and as soon as the video came back, it was a very good feeling, because he’s a great character.”

“It was like, ‘how can I get him to stop calling me about Negan? Cause that’s not gonna happen,'” Dillahunt quips.

Unlike most actors in the franchise, Dillahunt says he was actually given a lot of details about John and his backstory up front: “We had some meetings pretty early on but Scott, Ian and Andrew laid out a basic storyline for him and it all sounded good to me.”

Gimple also promises that the character won’t be an enigma for long: “We take a deep dive into Mr. Dorie. We’ll find out more about what makes him tick.”

John isn’t the only new addition to the Fear the Walking Dead universe – after Morgan and the cowboy find themselves captured by a group of local thugs, they’re saved by a badass mystery woman driving an armored SWAT truck, who introduces herself as Al – aka Althea (played by Lost alum Maggie Grace) – and declares that the two men owe her for getting them out of a sticky situation. Luckily, her price doesn’t involve murder or any other shady business – it turns out that Al is a journalist, and she’s collecting stories from the survivors she meets. (Morgan probably would’ve preferred it if she asked him to kill someone.)

Exit Theatre Mode

“He literally couldn’t have found two worse people,” James laughs. “First Mr. Chatty Batty, and then she reveals herself to be a journalist who wants to interview him on camera. It’s a nightmare for him, really, and he keeps on going, ‘you know what, I’m just gonna leave.'”

But despite his best efforts, James says, “although Morgan is determined to continue his life of solitude, you can see that he’s still conflicted. You can see that there’s a part of him that wants to open up to people, that he’s the one who stops the truck and says ‘alright, pull over, let’s give it a go,’ and then during it he realizes I can’t do this, the load is too much to bring back up, so he has to go away again. But he does keep trying to make the connection, he does keep trying to put the bandage and antiseptic down and saying ‘if I do this for you, will you let me go?’ And he does keep trying to do that, and in one way that’s a kind of reminder of who he wants to be and who he can’t be, and I think that’s the dilemma for him for a large chunk of this season.”

The episode ends with Morgan, John, and Al being ambushed on the road by four of our existing Fear the Walking Dead characters, Alicia, Nick, Strand, and Luciana, who all look pretty rough, and seem to have taken a fairly major heel turn during the time jump, considering they’re trapping good samaritans by pretending Alicia is injured.

Explaining how the producers approached the task of bringing Fear the Walking Dead closer to the flagship series, Gimple says, “It was to take the great stuff from the first three seasons, it was additive, it wasn’t about subtracting. It was trying to bring it under the same universe as Walking Dead and to have some of the iconic and the intimate, that stuff, those story values that we pursue there. The first three seasons of the show are great television, it was just exciting to feel the shows get a little closer together before they get extremely distinct. [In] Season 9 of The Walking Dead, and a hopeful Season 5 of Fear, the shows will have different missions, they’ll be very, very different, but before we do that, they sort of touch each other. And to explore the original characters, it was about putting them with characters that would activate different things within them.”

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC in the US. For more on The Walking Dead finale, check out our interview with Andrew Lincoln and Scott Gimple on why Rick chose to spare Negan, plus our review of “Wrath.”

Laura Prudom is the Executive TV Editor at IGN. You can talk to her on Twitter at @LauinLA.

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Everything We Know About Fear the Walking Dead's New Characters