If I asked you what your favorite part of Season 6 of The Walking Dead has been so far, there’s a good chance your answer would be “watching Morgan whoop the shit out of people with his bo staff,” and you’d be right. It’s always great when these characters land on a weapon of choice, and it sounds like the stick is significant not only to Morgan but to actor Lennie James as well.
It’s become very important for me that as much as possible, especially any moment where the stick is being swung, that it’s me doing that. Nobody is taking my place doing that. The swinging of the stick has become fundamental to who Morgan is and it’s symbolic of the path that he is walking down. It’s an important part of playing him, so I take it very seriously.
It’s not quite method acting, as it’s not like James went out and beat up a bunch of murderers before the season started – at least that’s what we assume. But it sounds like he’s completely invested in making this character an extension of himself, and making the stick an extension of both of them.
As far as how it might be symbolic of his current path, I’d think it means the bo isn’t necessarily a deadly weapon, as modern Morgan is someone who feels that all life is special and he has no urge to kill anyone these days. Now, he definitely could kill someone with it, by smashing someone’s throat in or jamming it through the back of their throat or sharpening the end of it and stabbing someone in the throat. (You might see a pattern forming there.) But viewers probably shouldn’t expect him to do those things any time soon, at least unless Rick spins him over to the dark side again.
But it’s not all seriousness. James is actually having some fun while swinging that thing around. Here’s what he had to say to BT.com about last week’s episode.
In one of the fights in episode two – and you’ll know it when you see it – Morgan is surrounded and he’s basically trying to encourage a group of people to leave rather than come further into Alexandria. He does that by bitchslapping them with his bo staff and I was giddy by the end of that scene. I felt like a kid. It was like being in the back garden with your friends or your brothers, mucking around, saying 'I’ll hit you here, follow you here and spin around here'. I was 7 years old again and I was having the most fun. At the end of that scene I almost skipped away thinking, ‘how good is my job?’
I love that so much. As you guys might have guessed , my job here at CinemaBlend never allows me to bitchslap anyone.
The first time we met Morgan, he was pretty much identifiable as the guy whose wife died and left him a single father in the apocalypse’s early days. Then when Rick reconnected with him in Season 3, he was the guy who had more than a couple of screws loose. In Season 5, he was the calm guy tracking Rick. And now he’s the guy who uses a stick to put people on their ass. So it not only helps the character’s sense of self, but it also allows audiences to recognize which version of Morgan we’re seeing. Here’s hoping that flashback episode is coming soon so we can see who brought him to this calmer place, and how.
The Walking Dead airs on Sunday nights on AMC.