"Blackjack," Sunday's episode of Fear the Walking Dead, showed us more of what the perplexing new antagonist known only as "Filthy Woman" (Tonya Pinkins) is capable of while deepening the mystery of her relationship to Morgan (Lennie James).
Previously, the Filthy Woman had stolen Al's (Maggie Grace) SWAT van, killed Morgan & co.'s traveling companion Quinn and turned him into some kind of zombified sidekick whose face she scribbled all over and said all kinds of inscrutable stuff to Morgan over walkie-talkie. In this episode, she remained enigmatic, but did say that she wants people to stop being "weak," and it seems that she thinks turning them removes weakness. And she really wants Morgan stop helping people and be strong again. At the beginning of the episode, she told him over the walkie that she knows who he really is and what he's capable of, obliquely referencing his past as a crazed killer on The Walking Dead and making his new party suspicious of him. Then at the end, she got back on the radio after Morgan made the call to go help Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and told him "I gave you the chance to be strong." Morgan answered that he'd been where she is, alone and violent and mixed up in the head. He told her he and his friends were gonna keep helping people, and then they were gonna help her.
Then the Filthy Woman pulled the SWAT van alongside the tractor-trailer Morgan & co. were riding in, said she was going to make him stronger and directly quoted something he once said to Al — "You lose people. You lose yourself." — then opened fire as the episode ended.
So what's going on with her? How does she know all this stuff about Morgan? TV Guide got Lennie James on the line, and he gave some insight into who the Filthy Woman is and where she's coming from.
"I think she has been on the particular journey that she's on long enough to know how to get under people's skin," James says. "I think she's somebody who doesn't need all of the information in order to get a rough sense of who people are."
"I also think that she gets a little help along the way to discover stuff about not just Morgan but some of the other characters as well," he adds. "She can use that information against them. She's someone that is very, very dangerous, but also is very, very troubled. And she's someone that despite himself, Morgan can identify with."
You may suspect that she and Morgan crossed paths in the time between when Morgan separated from Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and when he rejoined him, but that's not the case. "Their relationship doesn't go back that far, but they have an understanding that speaks to that time in Morgan's life," James says. Morgan recognizes that making people strong is her version of clearing. And that empathy is what is going to allow Morgan to help her... as long as his surviving friends don't kill her after this attack.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.