[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Sunday’s Fear the Walking Dead season 8 premiere, “Remember What They Took From You.”] Fear the Walking Dead premiered its final season on Mother’s Day, but there were no happy family reunions on Sunday’s “Remember What They Took From You.” Season 8 started with Morgan Jones (Lennie James) and Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) trying to rescue baby Mo from PADRE, only for a sudden seven-year time jump to reveal that the now eight-year-old Mo (Zoey Merchant) grew up on the island community that forcibly separates children from their parents and severs all emotional connections.
Mo, renamed “Wren,” has only ever known life on the island where Madison brought her seven years earlier when she was working as a Collector who took children to PADRE. But when Madison escapes the island to reunite Mo with parents Morgan and Grace (Karen David), she learns that Morgan was recruited as a Collector — and he gave up baby Mo to PADRE when they nearly died after being bogged down in the walker-infested swamp surrounding the island seven years earlier.
Morgan and Grace are now Nightingale and Heron, and they remind Wren they’re not her parents. “I couldn’t protect you then, and I can’t protect you now,” says Morgan, who spends the episode distancing himself from Mo and trying to return his daughter to PADRE, despite Madison’s efforts to save the girl from PADRE.
“Morgan’s act of rebellion is to be a Collector so that his child can stay at PADRE and he makes — however messed up and dark it is — ultimately makes a moral decision about how he collects so that he could [live with himself],” James told ComicBook. “It’s the last attempt to be able to live with the choice that he made.”
As a Collector, Morgan has his own rules: he only takes children who have lost their parents, or children whose parents gave them up willingly “for a better life.”
“He does not necessarily believe that kids are better off with [PADRE], but in the world where they find themselves now, they are at least an option that trains the kids for the world as it is at this particular moment in time,” James explained. “The main reason why Morgan hasn’t run away is because, even though he’s cut off from little Mo, he at least knows where she is and at least can get glimpses of her every now and then. And the decision that he made, he made for her. And he continues to do what he does for those small, fleeting moments when he gets to see her and maybe check in to make sure she’s doing okay.”
And how did Grace react upon finding out that Morgan gave up Mo as a baby? According to David, with “mixed emotions.”
“We talk about being a parent, you make these sacrifices, you make these tough decisions in the hopes that you are doing right for your child. In this case, she would know that Morgan is making a very tough call on where Mo will be safe,” David said. “Is Mo safer within the walls of PADRE or outside those walls? She knows it’s such a tough, difficult decision, and she knows that it’s one that would have haunted and plagued Morgan for many hours to make this really tough decision.”
She continued, “I think she would be very understanding of that because it is all about their daughter’s safety, and that’s all that matters. And even if it means that she stays within these walls of PADRE and doesn’t necessarily agree with the regime and the way they carry out things, she’s still better off being within those walls than outside and dealing with unknown elements and uncertainties.”
Also read our Q&A with Lennie James and see what Kim Dickens says about Madison’s arc in season 8.
New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Thursdays on AMC+ and Sundays on AMC. Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow @CameronBonomolo and @NewsOfTheDead on Twitter for more TWD Universe coverage.