When "Fear the Walking Dead" returns in April for its fourth season, expect a very different show with quite a few surprises.
Lennie James from "The Walking Dead" has been added to the cast, but details about the why, when and how of that happening have been kept under lock and key leading up to the premiere. Since "Fear" is a prequel series to the parent show, the timelines haven't linked up yet, but the showrunners have teased the new season will be "playing with time" when it returns on April 15. So, will there be a time jump? Will Morgan's scenes be flashbacks to his life before rejoining Rick? We'll see.
James joined the cast and creators of "Fear the Walking Dead" for a press event at WonderCon on Saturday, where they spilled some intel on how he'll fit into the picture. They also talked about a few of the new faces joining the series and how the show's returning characters will evolve as the story moves forward. Here's everything we learned.
The series' new showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss said Morgan's arrival was a pretty natural fit.
"We set out with a very specific idea in mind of where we wanted to take the season emotionally and once we mapped that out, we were big fans of Morgan's character from 'Walking Dead' and Lennie James," said Goldberg. "It kind of became undeniable that Morgan seemed like the perfect person to intersect with the journey we were charting. We're very excited to see how it plays out and how fans react to it."
"It is definitely a step to bringing the worlds closer together," added Chambliss. "He's gonna change and affect the characters we all know in 'Fear' and likewise they're going to change him and it really will create something that hopefully feels new and different."
James had to tread carefully with his words when he spoke about joining the show. When asked if we'll see his character's son on 'Fear,' he said, "His dead son? You might." As for Morgan's state of mind when we see him? "He's still trying to figure out and still is in the process of figuring out who he is and how he's going to exist in the world," said James. "I'll give you a heads up, all of my answers are going to be really vague."
James said his character will meet the surviving Clarks -- Madison, Alicia and Nick -- "kind of piece by piece" when the new season begins. "He doesn't necessarily know that he's meeting a family," he revealed. "He meets them as individuals and gets to know them in very different ways and under very different circumstances and doesn't immediately make the connection so when the connections are made, they are kind of profound really." After all that, he added, "I could be lying."
"Seeing the first dailies of Lennie and the existing cast, it is a geek out moment," said executive producer Scott Gimple. "It felt like they had been living under the same sky the whole time. It didn't feel strange to me."
Alycia Debnam-Carey said she doesn't think fans have seen the "full potential" of where her character, Alicia Clark, could go as a leader just yet ... but it could be coming.
"I don't think she saw herself as that person because she's always been behind the shadow of her mother or her brother, so for her to be in that position is unique and different for her," the actress teased. "This new season, it showcases in an entirely different way. Another very vague statement. What's been amazing with this character's journey is it's just been constantly stepping up to this level of maybe wanting an expectation of where she should be and it seems like it's slowly starting to get there.
"We kind of bounced back and forth from her wanting to be on her own, wanting to be with people and that definitely follows through in this season but at a much more extreme level," she added. "It's exciting this season, we get to play with time a little bit. That I've been told I can say. We get to see these characters in different circumstances sometimes and in different emotional places that contrast each other."
When asked how the growing number of Type A personalities will all get along this season, she added, "That's the biggest secret of them all."
Jenna Elfman and Maggie Grace are two of the new faces joining the show this season, though little about their characters' backstories have been shared just yet.
Elfman plays a character named Naomi, a role which gave her a chance to dive back into more dramatic parts. "The comedy boat went and I've just been on that cruise. I'm super honored that they came to me for this, I was really ready for a change," she said. "Something I really wanted was to lean in as a woman who's lived life and reared children and had a lot of experiences. I really was looking forward to a project where I could really lean into the human story and human emotion and tell a real story where I could stay in those moments and connect with people and really connect with humanity.
"I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to delve into this character and I think the universe that Morgan's character is bringing is massive and important and I really, really like being part of it," she added. Elfman said she felt a "kinship" with Morgan's story in particular, "the theme of community vs. isolation and who are you in those two environments and what's the best version of yourself."
Grace plays Althea, a character who we know interacts with Morgan off the bat. "It was such a boon to be able to be paired with Lennie right away. He's such a warm and generous actor and I've been a fan of his for a long time," she explained. "He's really lovely and I'm really happy the characters are finding an interesting shorthand between them at times, there's a sort of kinship there that they're discovering."
"Al is incredible, I love playing her. It's an unusually capable character who can not only survive but thrive in this post apocalyptic world because of who she was before, even after how much she's lost," she teased. "As a woman, finding a character that's really not ornamental or eroticized, she has an agenda, that she makes decisions every day to purpose that agenda is pretty frickin' awesome and unusual."
As Elfman mentioned above, the idea of isolation vs. community is one the show plans to tackle all season long, as well as a search for hope while living in such a brutal environment. "The one kind of main theme we're exploring is taking all these characters who are very much in isolation and really in a place of hopelessness and slowly following them on a journey of building community and finding a little hint of hope," said Chambliss.
Where will Strand (Colman Domingo) be when the show returns? "Because of the fallout of season 3, everyone was scattered in many ways. Now, when we find Strand, he's part of a community and trying to move forward and become something else," tease Domingo. "He's trying to move forward the best way he can and using the tools that he knows how to survive. We'll see where he is."
The Villains: "The 'Walking Dead' universe ... it leads itself to reinvention and one of the things we got excited about when we started thinking about obstacles our characters would encounter this season and adversaries, we really wanted to do and create something that hadn't been seen before and create a different force of opposition," said Goldberg. "We can't tell you what form that takes but we think and hope you find it's very different from adversaries they've been up against in previous seasons.
More Zombie mayhem: "The walkers are going to be a lot more prevalent in the show," teased executive producer Greg Nicotero. "In past seasons of 'Fear,' we had so much going on the walkers always felt sometimes like a little bit of a secondary character. Now they're a bit more front and center."
Lastly, we asked how accessible the show will be for "Walking Dead" fans who might be checking out "Fear" for the first time. "I think anyone, whether a fan of 'Fear the Walking Dead,' 'The Walking Dead' or someone who's completely new to the universe can really kind of step in," said Chambliss. "We've got so many new faces and so many familiar faces, there's a different point of view represented in the episodes, so it's very easy for someone to latch onto a particular point of view and experience the season. Anyone who has any interest, they can jump aboard and I don't think it'll be hard to find their footing in the storytelling."
"Fear the Walking Dead" returns to AMC on April 15.