Fear the Walking Dead Recap: King County

More than 4,000 days have gone by since Morgan Jones (Lennie James) met Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) on The Walking Dead‘s “Days Gone Bye” pilot episode. Fear the Walking Dead’s “King County” episode sees Morgan return to King County, Georgia, and the Drake household where his family died: his wife Jenny (Keisha Tillis) and their son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner). Just weeks after Morgan and Rick parted ways, a zombified Jenny bit Duane. His son died and turned because Morgan couldn’t do what he was supposed to do.

As Morgan recounted to Rick on the “Clear” episode of The Walking Dead: “She was standing there right in front of him, and he had his gun up, and he couldn’t do it. So I called to him, and he turned. And then she was just… on him. And I see red. I see red. Everything is red. Everything I see is red. And I do it. Finally. Finally was too late. I was supposed to. I was selfish. I was weak. You gave me the gun.”

12 years later, Morgan still can’t bring himself to kill Duane. But he can clear a pack of skunk-eating walkers with his staff. Spotting a P.A.D.R.E. truck, Morgan discovers Grace (Karen David) and Mo (Zoey Merchant) tailed him. Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) told her that Morgan had things left to do, so the eight-year-old sent out a coded SOS using “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” like a post-apocalyptic Parent Trap. Reunited with his newfound family, Morgan explains he’s come back to King County to put his boy to rest.

Morgan learns that Daniel Salazar (Rub?n Blades) is the commander of a parent army rebelling against PADRE, and Mo wants to help bring down Krennick siblings Shrike (Maya Eshet) and Crane (Daniel Rashid). But first, Morgan has to do what he came here to do: clear his past by putting down the undead Duane. “I just ran. You know, I ran like I didn’t know what else to do. Ran and left him here. Left my boy to become one of them.” Morgan explains that what happened after is a blur, but the past becomes clear: he was seeing red and killing anything that moved.

Morgan may have unfinished business with Duane, but Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista) have unfinished business with Morgan. He’s the reason they ended up at PADRE Island seven years earlier, and now they’re here to take him back. If they bring him back, PADRE is going to give them the freedom to go wherever they want with their son, Finch (Gavin Warren). Morgan says they’re being manipulated, but if they don’t return him to PADRE, Finch won’t receive the bite treatment keeping him alive. “You sold us out seven years ago to rescue your kid,” Dwight tells Morgan. “We’re just returning the favor.”

When PADRE radios Red Kite and Starling, Dwight and Sherry have a moral dilemma. They know what will happen to Mo if they turn her over to PADRE… and what will happen to Finch if they don’t. Dwight suggests letting Morgan escape with Mo and Grace and bringing disfigured walker lookalikes to PADRE — anything to avoid trading another kid to buy their son’s freedom. Dwight and Sherry rode ahead to sweep the town, but a pair of PADRE’s guards are babysitting them. And time is running out to decide what Morgan’s going to do.

But Morgan can’t move on without doing what he’s there to do. Grace urges Morgan to let it go, but he just can’t. Holding off Dwight and Sherry, Morgan leads Grace and Mo to the Drake household as walkers swarm the neighborhood streets. Morgan explains that he lived in this house with Duane until he died. Upstairs is the rifle that Rick gave him, and they’ll need it now — the walkers will find them before Dwight and Sherry can.

With walkers encroaching on the house, it won’t be long before the dead lead Dwight and Sherry to their door. It’s decided that Morgan will stay behind to take care of Duane while Grace gets Mo to the truck, he’ll catch up, and the three of them can regroup with Madison and Daniel. Grace again tries to get Morgan to leave with them, but Morgan won’t rest until he puts Duane down. Grace points out that she was doing the same thing Morgan is doing when they first met: risking her life for people who were already dead. “This is my son,” Morgan tells Grace. She fires back: “And it’s Mo’s life! You are so scared of the past repeating itself that you don’t even realize that you’re the one who’s making it happen. And now we’re trapped in this house where you and Duane lived because you brought us here.”

Before Morgan can do what he needs to do, Dwight and Sherry show up at the house with PADRE guards. “This isn’t then,” Grace begs Morgan. “Whatever happened in this house with Duane, it doesn’t have to happen with us.” But it might be too late. PADRE’s four horsemen arrive at the house surrounded by walkers, and the two guards babysitting Dwight and Sherry aren’t listening to Morgan’s explanation that he’s there to bury his zombie son.

Inside a room defaced with grafitti — “DUANE” “JENNY” “CLEAR” “YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO” — Morgan recounts how he couldn’t use Rick’s rifle to kill Jenny. “I’d sit and wait. I wanted to put her to rest. I didn’t want Duane to have to see his mother like that. A man named Rick Grimes gave me this rifle to do right by her. And I never could.” After Duane died, Morgan lost his mind. He was compelled to clear: killing anything and anyone who came near him, until a man named Eastman (John Carroll Lynch) helped clear his mind.

As Morgan, Grace, and Mo reconnect for the first time in seven years, PADRE’s forces fire off flares to attract more walkers that are set on fire to burn them out. Realizing he’s put Grace and Mo in danger, he’ll “clear” the walkers to give his family a path to the truck. If they can get to Madison and Daniel to help them retake the island, they’ll be able to stop PADRE before he can hurt Finch.

“Rick… he gave you this gun for a reason,” Grace tells Morgan. “Use it.” Morgan finally fires the gun, covering Grace and Mo as they head for the truck. Morgan guns down flaming walkers, but visions of walker Jenny distract him long enough to be captured by Dwight’s forces. Dwight agrees to let Morgan put down Duane — only to find that the thumping and grunting walker he thought was his son isn’t. Morgan is upset to learn that Duane must have gotten out. He waited too long. “I couldn’t put him to rest back then, and I can’t put him to rest now.” He endangered his family for nothing.

Before PADRE’s guards can execute Morgan, Dwight and Sherry take out the two guards. “I’m not just gonna stand here and watch you get killed in cold blood, Morgan. You’re not the only one trying to escape your past,” Dwight says, explaining that PADRE is like living at the Sanctuary all over again. “Your boy’s gonna end up just like mine,” Morgan tells them. “And I can’t have that on me. I can’t.”

When Shrike radios the guards, Dwight demands to talk to his son. Using a “Chimney Sweep” move his father taught him, Finch knocks out Shrike and sneaks away on a supply boat scheduled to dock soon on the mainland. With Finch out of danger, Dwight and Sherry ride off with parting words for Morgan: “Whatever happened here… just know that you have a chance to make things different with Mo. Don’t forget that.”

Morgan and Grace go to rescue their daughter from the burning house, but it has to be Morgan who saves her. Grace reveals that her radiation sickness has returned. The last time Grace thought she was dying from radiation poisoning, it turned out to be pregnancy — but this time she’s certain. She can feel it. Grace has been keeping her prognosis secret for the past few months: she was feeling sick and performed a scan confirming the radiation has caught up with her years later. “I’m paying the price for chasing the dead,” she tells him, “and I don’t want you to do the same.”

With that, Morgan manages to overcome his obsession with the dead to save the living. As Morgan fights his way through the walker horde he sees as Jenny, Mo gets to the attic of the burning house. Trapped by debris, Mo discovers the house’s dark secret: a zombified Duane chained to the wall. Morgan, in his crazed state, put his son there years ago and only now remembers with clarity. Finally, to save his daughter, Morgan fires Rick’s rifle — and puts Duane down with a bullet to the brain.

12 years after his family died, Morgan buries Jenny and Duane. Outside the burned-down house, Morgan knows what he has to do next: help Madison and Daniel take down PADRE and reunite the children who still have parents out there. And then Morgan and Grace are going to make up for lost time and spend whatever time she has left together. “You once told me that no matter what, no matter what was coming, I had to live,” Grace says. “So that’s what we’re gonna do.” Mo only just got her parents back, so they won’t tell her about Grace just yet.

As Mo rummages through the wreckage to salvage a Jones family photo album filled with pictures of happier times, she’s nearly bit before Morgan and Grace save her from a gnawing walker. Grace isn’t so fortunate: the episode ends with her revealing the walker’s bite on her midsection. At the dock where Finch reunites with his parents, Morgan gets Grace to Dwight and Sherry. Grace’s only hope is to get her to June (Jenna Elfman), who has been treating walker bites with radiotherapy for PADRE’s Shrike.

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.