Fear the Walking Dead ended Season 2 with its core family scattered. Madison (Kim Dickens), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Travis (Cliff Curtis) had fled the Rosarita hotel after Travis and Alicia had each killed residents there, and were in pursuit of Nick (Frank Dillane), who they had learned from a chance encounter with the dying charlatan Alejandro (Paul Calderon) was heading north to the border. Nick, unfortunately, encountered a disaster at the border, with the refugees from the Colonia he's leading ambushed by gunmen who critically wounded his girlfriend Luciana (Danay Garcia). Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) has her own run-in with an armed defender at the border. And Strand (Colman Domingo) stays at the hotel.
But even more importantly than physical distance, the characters are emotionally very distant from where they started. Travis and Nick have sort of switched places, with Travis hopeless and broken after learning of the death of his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) and then beating his killers to death in a vengeance-fueled rage. His moral compass is shattered. Meanwhile, Nick is becoming a leader and finding something to live for with his new surrogate family that may now be snuffed out as it's just getting started. And Madison and Alicia are continuing to negotiate the painful moral reality in which they find themselves.
TVGuide.com talked to Fear the Walking Dead co-creator and executive producer Dave Erickson about what happened in the finale, where Season 3 will take us and the unavoidable social resonance of setting a show at the U.S.-Mexico border. Read on for the interview.
We talked before the season premiered, and then you said that this was a family drama at the end of the world. The finale really drove that home for me, because the drama of the finale wasn't as much in the action scenes as it was in the character moments and changes. How did you conceive of sort of going in a different direction than from how the ends of seasons usually go?
We had a few larger setpieces and bigger moments, but it always starts for me with this really dysfunctional family. And Travis, for example, was someone who was desperately trying to pull all these threads together and take care of son and take care of his surrogate children as well, and to a large extent he's failed. He made a promise to Liza at the end of Season 1 that he was going to take care of Chris, and I think objectively he failed to do that. I think his realization that Chris has died after abandoning him was the moment we were working toward for quite a long while to get him to a place where essentially he's hit rock bottom and he's so broken that he's finally vulnerable to giving in to the apocalypse. He surrenders the moral code he's been holding on to, and it took the loss of his son to do that. The big turn for Alicia is that she takes a human life, and that was the one thing that Madison never could have conceived of. I think she expected it of herself, she expected it of Travis, and she always assumed Nick would die violently or commit a violent act. But Alicia was the golden child. And that's in some respects a failure for Madison that it came to that, and thats's going to be part of the emotional and tonal weight of the show moving forward.
It ended on kind of a downer, almost Empire Strikes Back sort of note, like "all is lost." I'm interested in the concept of hope and faith going forward.
From the perspective of faith, we know that Nick, at least starting back in episode 8, was on something of a spiritual journey and discovered Alejandro and Luciana and the Colonia and a belief system, which was something Luciana especially had bought into. I think we're going to see a more pragmatic Nick and a faithless Luciana as we move into Season 3. I think she's really been torn up by the loss of her family, the loss of her home, the betrayal of Alejandro, as has Nick. I think they're maybe in a place where faith in one another is going to be the only faith they have to hold on to.
There's always a modicum of hope. It does feel like at the end, everything, frankly, has gone to s---, and this brief glimpse of possibility has been snuffed out, but we end on Madison and Nick with the hope that she now has a lead, for lack of a better word. She knows from Alejandro that her son is alive, and that he was heading north. So she at least has a point on the map that she can pursue. As long as they have that, there's something to have hope for. I think that's the question for any show like this — how do you maintain, how do you continue to survive, how do you struggle on when there's really no possibility of a successful or safe endpoint? I think that's what Ofelia was wrestling with. Ofelia was finally unchained in that losing both of her parents, her responsibility to them suddenly was voided, and that gave her an to opportunity to try to find something that matters to her and to try to do one last thing for herself. But again, then she runs into Dayton Callie, so that's not working out for her either. So, yes, it ends in something of a bleak place.
It's going to be interesting to see in Season 3 how they all link back up again. Because I assume it's coming, and how it happens is going to be the interesting part.
I think there are two interesting elements. One is how we pull it off, and the other is how has everybody changed. I wouldn't bet on a happy family reunion. There will be elements we'll introduce as Season 3 plays out that are going to make that reunion a lot more complicated and potentially violent than any of the characters would like. That to me is the most important part. The plot machinations and how we find an organic way to reintroduce the characters to each other is definitely important, but what's more important is to see how they've evolved and changed and if by the time they see each other again do they recognize each other anymore.
The last scene there, where the refugees from Mexico get massacred at the border, I don't know if there was any political comment in there, but drawing something from it can't be avoided in this climate.
The goal and the intention of Season 3 is that it's our border season. I've wanted to do a border story for a long time, I just never thought that zombies would become the vehicle by which to do that. But with the introduction of that group — and they are not military, we'll get a better sense of who they are as we move into Season 3, as well as their connection to Dayton Callie's character, because that scene between him and Ofelia is a bit further to the east, but there is some connective tissue between him and the militia group that confronts us at the border crossing — I think it's unavoidable. We started to lay out this story well before the presidential campaign heated up and it seems like what's going on in the world is definitely conflating with what we're playing on the screen. I think that ultimately any film or show in the sci-fi or horror genre, there's always going to be some echoes or some reflections of what's going on. The intent is not to polemicize or politicize the show, but when you're dealing with a border story — and we will be dealing with elements on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border — I think that things will come up and resonate. It's unavoidable. And I don't think it's a bad thing. The best things in the genre tend to do just that. And the reason I think they resonate and have an impact on the audience beyond entertainment value is because they do speak to what's going on in society. They speak to a lot of the concerns and worries and paranoias and phobias that we have.
It's not where we're leading from, we're leading from the characters, but it's inevitable that some of these things are going to speak to what's going on today.
Have you started Season 3 yet?
We're about six weeks in. Writers came back in late July and we're going to start shooting back at Rosarito in December.
Fear the Walking Dead returns for Season 3 in 2017.