Fear the Walking Dead's third season came to a close Sunday night with the fates of its five central characters — Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her children Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) — left uncertain. Madison is alive and in Tijuana, but what happened to the rest of them after Nick blew up the dam remains to be seen.
The open-ended finale was designed to leave new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg and new consigliere Scott Gimple room to continue the story how they want, which will include a crossover with The Walking Dead, says exiting showrunner Dave Erickson. He talked to TV Guide about leaving the show he co-created with Robert Kirkman, what characters he hopes survive and what's next for him.
Now that your tenure is officially coming to an end, how are you feeling?
Dave Erickson: It's bittersweet. I think Season 3 was our strongest. I think we found a direction and a rhythm for the show. The irony is that as we got closer to the end I started to see what Season 4 — in my mind — could be much more clearly. Which is ultimately not going to be what Scott and Ian and Andy do, I'm sure. I'm not sure what their plans are. So that's weird. I think from the first time Robert [Kirkman] called me, it's going to be like five years. It's been pretty much 24/7 up until early last week or so. So yeah, it's hard letting go. But I'm happy with the season, and I'm happy with where things landed emotionally, and I'm excited to see where the guys take it.
You didn't work with them at all to set it up? You got it to the place where a new story could begin and then you handed it over?
Erickson: Yeah, it was a little strange in that respect, because there really wasn't any overlap. I have suspicions about what they might do in order to carry it, but the goal for me was to end it from an emotional and dramatic standpoint essentially where we did. Violence as a theme was very important to me this season and I think everything ended up hanging on that spine in the last two episodes. If I was continuing, the ending would have been different, and I think it would have been a little bit clearer in terms of who our survivors were and what their drive and intention would be going into Season 4. But, not knowing what that was going to be, it was left a little bit more open-ended, as an option, anyway.
Do you worry at all about where it's going to go in Season 4?
Erickson: Desperately [laughs]. No, I don't worry. Scott's been doing an excellent job on Walking Dead, and I don't know Ian and Andy, but I'm sure they've got a pretty clear line on what the plan is, and apparently it's going to end at some point in a crossover. So I think that'll be exciting for the fans. And I'm curious to see who makes it.
Is there anyone who if they kill off, you'll be like "oh man, I really wanted them to live?"
Erickson: That's a hard question. It's hard to distance myself from what I had in my head. I think that Madison was someone that was going to survive for me until Season 7, which is kind of when I felt this show would be done, and as her counterparts, I think Nick and then Alicia. It was always important to keep that core family going as long as possible. Especially now that Alicia and Nick have really defined themselves in opposition to their mother. I was excited to see where they would go and continue to build their own narratives. Something that's interesting to me is the idea of starting with a character who is ostensibly our hero and watching them blend into antihero and then potentially watch them develop into a villain. I would have loved to have seen how Madison could become our Negan. I think that might have been an interesting endpoint for her, and to see how that impacts her children, I think that would have been pretty interesting. So those three, I would have loved to see go on forever, and I have no reason to think that they won't.
And then Strand and Salazar, I love both Colman and Rubén. The interesting thing about that dynamic is you have one guy who left the other to be eaten by zombies, and you have the other one, who shot the other in the face. So there's tension there. I think it will be interesting to see how they're going to manage that moving forward. We killed so many people this last season, and those calls are always quite painful and upsetting, so I would have personally, for my own peace of mind, tried to keep them alive as long as possible.
I think it's kind of cool how you're leaving your mark on the show going into Season 4 by introducing villains who are a motorcycle club. That's a very Dave Erickson thing.
Erickson: Yeah, I'm staring at a Sons of Anarchy poster right now. What was interesting was looking for an outfit, a club, a gang, that would have existed before the apocalypse and then watching how they could — in this case, Proctor John, Ray McKinnon's character — and take that and exploit it moving forward. They're mobile by nature, they've got clubhouses across the southwest, and this particular MC has connections to criminal elements north and south of the border. So there was a certain logic in that. And I also like Proctor's sort of frontiersperson attitude toward it. This idea of the Santa Fe Trail, that this is how we're going to rebuild our civilization. You've got a guy who is self-educated and incredibly smart. We got very lucky that Ray was available to come and hang out, because he hadn't done any acting gigs since he started running Rectify. I think this is the first thing he's done since he was on Sons. But that's what I mean. Obviously there are breadcrumbs that are dropped that seem to be leading toward Texas. There's definitely animosity between Proctor John and our family. The makings of conflict are there. I don't know that that's definitely the direction the guys are going to take it in, but that's an option.
Did you have anything to do with planning the crossover or is that entirely separate?
Erickson: That is entirely separate. I mean, I'm not surprised by it. It's interesting. They're two very different shows tonally. We abide by the same walker rules, but my sense had always been, from a geography standpoint, from a timeline standpoint, that anything could be done, but the contortions you'd have to go through to justify it would be challenging. But it's definitely doable, because they're gonna do it. So we'll what it looks like.
It doesn't seem like something you would do, but not necessarily the wrong thing to do. Erickson: Yeah, it's not a question of good or bad, right or wrong. It's a narrative choice. And from a fan perspective, I think what's appealing now is this question of how. How are they going to do it? We know that it's happening, but how is it going to be pulled off? And I think going into Season 8 of Walking Dead and Season 4 of Fear, everyone will be leaning into that and waiting for that shoe to drop, and that will build some expectation.
So what are you leaving Fear to work on?
Erickson: In the short term, I'm going to try to take a little bit of time off. Then my wife Sheri Elwood and I are adapting a David Cronenberg novel called Consumed as a series for AMC. We're breaking down that book right now and trying to arc it out. There are horror elements in it, as there are in a lot of Cronenberg's stuff, but it's more of a psychosexual thriller, which is also pretty big on Cronenberg's list. And then I'm going to figure out what to do with that and what to do side-by-side.
You have a deal with Sony, too, right?
Erickson: Yeah, I'm working on Consumed with Sherri, and then I have this one show that I'm hoping is going to work out, which I can't talk about, which would be the first thing I do with Sony and hopefully that'll get concrete in the next couple of weeks.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Sunday, Oct. 22 at 9/8c on AMC.