Fear the Walking Dead is adding Morgan next season, but how?

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Nov 28, 2017, 3:58 PM EST

With the series changing showrunners and ending on a dam-crashing cliffhanger with pretty much everyone’s life in flux, fans can’t be too surprised that Fear the Walking Dead is poised for a semi-reboot next season. But the biggest surprise by far is that the show will be adding Walking Dead alum Lennie James, aka Morgan, as a series regular.

Considering Fear the Walking Dead is set a few years before the events of The Walking Dead — and we pretty much already know how Morgan spent those years already from his tenure on the flagship series — it begs the question of how they’ll pull this off from a storytelling perspective.

One prevailing theory put forth by The Hollywood Reporter is that Fear the Walking Dead could feature a significant time jump when it returns for its fourth season, putting it more in line with the timeline in The Walking Dead. It’d open the door for Morgan to leave The Walking Dead and resurface on the spinoff series, and the writers wouldn’t have to retcon Morgan’s past to explain how he seemingly got across the country to hang out with these survivors, then returned, and never bothered to mention it again.

The Walking Dead has already filled in most of the gaps in Morgan’s life, and none of them feature a road trip that could’ve led to a meet-up with the Clark family. He spent the first few seasons around his hometown after his wife was killed, and eventually lost his son. He’s still there in Season 3’s “Clear,” and after that, he meets up with Eastman to learn aikido (a flashback story told in Season 6’s “Here’s Not Here”). It doesn’t seem likely he traveled across the country solo for some untold adventures in-between.

So, it stands to reason the creative team will be jumping ahead in time. If it’ll match up with The Walking Dead, it’ll be a significant jump, likely at least a couple of years to get the timelines in line. It would be a big shift, but the evidence is there to support the theory. The show has a new team in charge via Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, and The Walking Dead’s Scott Gimple is also attached to executive produce (which would make sense if the shows will share a modern-day setting). The series has also made some major casting additions. In addition to James, the show has added Garret Dillahunt (Deadwood) and Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) in major roles for Season 4. Put simply, that’s a significant shake-up.

There’s also the business side of the equation to consider. Fear the Walking Dead hit series lows in ratings, with the latter part of Season 3 pulling in just a bit more than 2 million viewers per episode. Considering the show debuted to around 10 million viewers just a couple of years ago, that’s a big dip. It’s also well below The Walking Dead’s ratings, which have slid to around 7-8 million per episode (the series once averaged 13+ million viewers per episode a few years ago). If AMC wants to bring viewers back to Fear the Walking Dead, making it more of a “sister show” to The Walking Dead is one obvious way to do it.

Pre-production is already underway on the new season of Fear the Walking Dead, though we admittedly have to wait well into 2018 to get a look at the show’s direction. What do you think? Are they putting together a time jump? Some timey-wimey twists to get Morgan on the show? Give us your best theory below.

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)