Morgan’s path from pathetic to respectable over the course of five seasons perhaps best mirrors itself in the upward progression of his romantic relationships. At the outset, the hapless Buy More green shirt continues to suffer from a hopeless infatuation with his best friend’s sister, Ellie. But neither body language nor words have any effect in dissolving his delusion. After advising Ellie she can tell him her deepest, darkest secrets, she responds, “I loathe you” (Helicopter). No matter; his hope springs eternal. Even when her opinion softens after his chivalrous manners and concern help her through a spat with Devon, Morgan proceeds to reassure Ellie that she is like a sister to him…just one that he wants to have sex with (Undercover Lover). Forgetting Ellie takes a while.
Morgan eventually finds distraction in a thoroughly adolescent relationship with Anna, who finds herself drawn to his gaming skills. Taking the first opportunity to “jam his tongue down [her] throat,” he experiences a rejection that leaves him sprawled on the video room floor (Imported Hard Salami). Trying to salvage a shred of self-respect , he asks, “But you’d take me over Lester, right?” As it turns out, the answer is yes, and they pursue a relationship that sets new lows for “inappropriately short skirts” and PDA, even by Buy More standards (Crown Vic). Along the way, Anna competes for Morgan’s culinary affection with Ellie, who she dubiously deems Morgan’s ‘ex’ (Nemesis), and proves willing to sign a comically restrictive Morgannuptual (Lethal Weapon). In the end, though, Anna runs off with the prep chef on their Hawaii quest. When Morgan becomes a newly minted assistant manager and spy, in Season 3, he finds his spine when Anna returns and begs for him back. With newfound maturity, he quietly informs her, “If it took me running from you to realize I’m something you want then I don’t think you’re really the person I want. So, you’re right. I have changed” (Tooth).
Carina notices, too, over the course of a relationship that bookends Morgan’s Anna Period. The Season 1 chapter of their affair displays Morgan in his most pitiful era. Not only is she unable to remember his real name (calling him “Martin”), but she uses him to dump a diamond before doing the same with his flowers (Wookiee). The rejection sends him on a grape soda bender. Matters improve considerably, however, in Season 3. After standing up to Carina in dramatic fashion (Three Words), she swoons, “No one’s ever said ‘no’ to me before. It’s sexy,” adding, “I’ve had better…but not many.” By the time Sarah’s engagement party arrives in Season 4, Carina ironically pursues a reluctant Morgan to the point of attempting to sabotage his new relationship with Alex, claiming, “Something’s different about you. The confidence. The straight spine….” Indeed, Morgan displays uncanny strength by resisting her order to “get back in this bed,” even when she stands stark naked before him (CAT Squad).
The relatively mature relationship Morgan and Alex share bears little resemblance to those that precede it. The sensitive and confident Buy More manager who saves Alex from Jeffster when she arrives with Casey’s locker key is a dramatic upgrade from the green-shirted deadbeat of former seasons. Still, they have to navigate a mine field of trials, among them Casey’s intimidation, Alex’s jealousy of Carina, and Morgan’s lack of communication skills. But through it all, Morgan demonstrates further growth as he finds the ability to comfort Alex in her grief over a hospitalized Casey (“…He loves you…Trust me. More than you know…He’ll pull through.”) and to find the same words for her: “I love you.” Even after the significant detour of the Morgansect arc in Season 5, Morgan displays the grace to patiently wait for Alex to heal, convincing even Casey to suggest his daughter give the Grimes kid another chance. Still, no testimony holds more weight than that of Ellie, the one who formerly loathed him: “You are a catch. She’s gonna realize that soon enough.” And she did.