(Warning: this post contains big spoilers for the the most recent episode of Fear the Walking Dead!)
On Sunday's Fear the Walking Dead, we said goodbye to Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason). Ofelia had been part of the show since the second episode of the first season, and her tragic demise was the the most emotionally affecting death of the series so far. Her father Daniel (Rubén Blades) had spent the whole season trying to reunite with her, only to find she died of a bite moments before he arrived.
Mason tells TV Guide that it was a tough scene to shoot not because she had to access tough emotions but because she had to be serious for once and allow Blades and Kim Dickens to get into the zone. "I am a huge goofball, so usually I am running around being a four-year-old," she says, "but I knew that it was an emotional day and I was trying desperately to act like an adult."
Blades' anguished performance as his worst fear came true was the episode's highlight. But according to Mason, there was another version of the performance that was even better. The show used a take where Daniel was relatively strong and poised as he embraced his dead daughter, but Mason's favorite was one where he broke down sobbing. "To me it was every sin he's ever committed, everything he's ever been haunted by in his past came out in that moment. It was so beautiful," she says. "And I'm supposed to be dead, and I'm sobbing right alongside him."
Mason says the decision to leave was mutually agreed upon between her and also-departing showrunner Dave Erickson. Mason says there's a big location change coming, and they hadn't yet decided where they'd be shooting, in Mexico or elsewhere. She has a baby on the way and she didn't want to do anything that might put her or the baby's health at risk. So she got to go out with a narratively satisfying death for Ofelia that gave the Salazars perfectly imperfect closure when he finally found her. Ofelia didn't get to tell him herself that she forgave him for lying to her about his past, but she came to terms with him being both a loving father and a killer. Mason's only regret is that Ofelia and Daniel didn't get to team up into a father/daughter killing duo. "How fun would that have been?," she wonders with a laugh.
She doesn't wish she got to have a zombie moment. "I love that they didn't have her turn infected," she says. "That would have been more about Daniel surviving as opposed to putting her down so that she didn't have to experience that."
She suspects Ofelia's death will make Daniel even harder. "I think it will either make him or break him, and knowing Salazar, it will probably strengthen him," she says. "He has nothing else to lose. I think it's gonna push him to a point where he's just gonna be ruthless, as if he wasn't ruthless enough before." But she also sees the possibility that it will soften him, and that he will continue to help Madison out of gratitude for bringing Ofelia to him or an acceptance that she can help him if he wants to keep living.
As for Mason, she's taking some time off from acting to have her baby with husband David Denman, their first, and to write. She's shopping a psychological thriller script around, and has a couple more scripts in the pipeline after that.
So Fear the Walking Dead moves into its finale down another survivor and with the characters it has left unsure of their next move.
Fear the Walking Dead's two-part Season 3 finale airs Sunday, Oct. 15 at 9/8c on AMC.