"If we had followed her from the beginning, we would almost certainly be on her side."
It's one of the more interesting and challenging elements of the "Walking Dead" universe, in that the entire premise exists somewhere in that gray area between black and white. Is there true good and evil in a world such as this?
TooFab chatted with Lennie James, Danay Garcia and Jenna Elfman ahead of the Season 6 premiere of "Fear the Walking Dead" as their characters find themselves facing an antagonist the likes of which no "Dead" series has seen yet, and suddenly that divide between good and evil is murkier than ever.
Arguments have been made about protagonists ranging from Rick (Andrew Lincoln) in the parent series seemingly making moral compromises all the time to James' Morgan enduring recurring struggles against the darkness within, which he carried with him onto spinoff "Fear the Walking Dead."
Morgan's new "Fear" family have gone through some pretty dark chapters early on to striving to do right by everyone in Season 5, and now they find themselves at odds with what appears to be a successful, larger, functioning society headed up by a charismatic, yet ruthless woman named Virginia.
"Virginia, to a greater or lesser extent, I think is one of the unique 'baddies' of 'The Walking Dead' universe in the sense that she truly represents someone that if we had followed her from the beginning, we would almost certainly be on her side and not on the side of the group," said James. "And we would be the pariahs."
He breaks it down by saying Virginia has been successful in taking care of her people and, in her way, helping them. Our group has been dramatically unsuccessful in their efforts, despite their hearts being in the right place.
"Those encampments that she looks after and that she has dominion over, they are successful surviving communities," said James. "They have to do it under her thumb, and that's the point of contention, but arguably you could say that they are kind of successful."
Intriguingly, he argues that as the season progresses, he and his castmates won't be the only ones speculating as to whether they're really rooting for the good guys on this show, and he credits a lot of that to Virgina actress Coby Minifie.
"I think one of the things that I'm looking forward to the fans seeing is that deeper dive into the threat," he said. "I think it really has the potential to pull loyalties and really challenge the group's commitment to themselves, but also our fans commitment to us."
Elfman agreed, saying that the challenges this season create "DNA-changing changes" in the very fabric of these characters fans have grown to love. "I'm really looking forward to those experiences and seeing how it catapults the story forward in really concentrated serious ways," she said.
Both of these explorations come from the shift in storytelling this season. Whereas Season 5 followed a quest structure, this season will play far more like an anthology, with each episode focusing on one or just a few members of the cast.
With the cast split up and divided around Virginia's larger community, each episode can take a deep dive into one or more of them in a way we haven't really had the time for.
"It also allows a deeper dive into Virginia and her motivations and her weaknesses and what she kind of wants, and I think that's really fascinating," said James.
James also revealed that this new format freed up the creators to utilize time differently this season. "We can go over longer periods of time because we're not necessarily linked into moving all of the characters along at the same speed," he explained. "So I think that gives a lot of scope to the storytelling."
It's also, ironically, a very Covid-friendly way to film a cast-heavy show like this, and yet this wasn't designed in response to the ongoing global pandemic.
"With the protocols and all of that, they will have to downsize the scenes," said Garcia. "The fact that we already scheduled this kind of storytelling from back in November last year, it kind of works through these kind of weird times that we're going through."
There is a downside, though. "The downside of it is that you don't get to see everybody," said James. "So it was a bit, kind of -- I was gonna say isolating, but that means something new now. But it was a bit like that."
"I do remember your text message saying, 'It feels lonely here,'" Garcia chimed in. "We have a group text and we got that text from Lennie, like, 'I'm here working and it's just lonely here.'"
Even with the isolation and the safety restrictions in place, Elfman is just glad that they're getting the gang back together "though distanced and half covered and cotton swabs in our brains three times a week," and that this universe of shows is finally back.
"The fans are gonna get 'The Walking Dead,' 'World Beyond,' 'Fear' all back in their life," she said. "The fandom of this universe is such a family, it's so passionate, and it's such a union, you know.
"To be able to have this to look forward to after everything everyone has been going through," she continued. "It just feels so good to come together again in this story, in this universe. I just feel like we're all just craving it so much."
Season 6 of "Fear the Walking Dead" premieres this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC, followed immediately by new series "The Walking Dead: World Beyond."