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Fear the Walking Dead showrunner discusses latest episode

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Richard Foreman Jr./AMC

[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you’ve already watched Sunday’s “We All Fall Down” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.]

The survivors of Fear the Walking Dead last week realized that the ocean was not much safer than land when they escaped the city on Strand’s boat, the Abigail. This week, they discovered that Los Angeles was not the only area infested by the infected. They also encountered a family stocked with supplies that appeared to be in pretty good shape on an island.

But appearances can be deceiving, and the father’s plan for his family to accept death on their terms on their own land set up a chaotic final few minutes in which Madison attempted to take the youngest boy with them on the boat, before his older sibling fetched him at gunpoint. However, as showrunner as Erickson explains, while a showdown between Strand and Madison over the boy was averted once the brother demanded he be returned, there could still be a conflict emerging as Strand’s true motives begin to materialize. Erickson touches on that and plenty more as he provides insight and intel on the latest episode. (Click through both pages for read the entire interview, and for more Fear scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.)

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We start off and they’re trying to hide the Abigail from this pursuing vessel, so they head to this island and they see a light and go to check it out, but Daniel and Ofelia stay back to keep an eye on Strand. We talked about this last week, but Salazar still does not trust this dude, does he?

DAVE ERICKSON: That’s exactly right, and what we learn in this episode is San Diego is not safe. Strand, had told our family that San Diego was their destination. They know that’s not viable anymore. They know it’s not true and I think Daniel’s big concern is if we all get off the boat and leave Strand, Strand just might start her up again and leave us here. So he stays with an intention of trying to size him up and trying to get a better sense of what his plan is. And he pushes him a little bit in the episode. He asks him overtly, “Who are you going to leave behind?” And I think it’s an interesting dynamic between Strand and Salazar because they’re both survivors. I think they can see that in each other and Daniel’s not afraid to challenge him on it, which is fun.

We meet this family on the island, and they’re a self-sustaining family and in that sense they’re in petty good shape. But the father, George, is only going to do so much to keep his family safe, and that means just sort of staying there until the infected eventually breach their perimeter. What was the inspiration for this story?

In looking at different approaches to the apocalypse, I think we’re accustomed to seeing folks who either fortify and they decide they’re going to survive no matter what, or people on the run going from point to point trying to find some sanctuary. And the irony here is you’ve got a family who has a pretty good setup, and they’ve got water, and they’ve got supplies, and they have food.

But he’s someone who is connected to this land and he does not want to move, and he also looks at the scope of this outbreak and he’s the first person that says, “It is done. It is over. This is not getting better. We’re not going to come back from this and I’m going to take care of my family as long as I can, but when the fence goes down and the infected get in, I’m not going to run. If I’m going to die, I’m going to die here and I’m going to accept that.”

He sees it as a natural course. He’s sees it as part of nature, and I think that kind of challenges and blows Travis’ mind a little bit, because for Travis the idea is, I’m never going stop. I’ll do whatever I can to protect my family, to protect my son. And I think it blows his mind a little bit to be confronted with this different philosophy.

It’s interesting because while people may get along well in life, like this family we meet, how they want approach death or the act of survival could be vastly different, right?

For Melissa, the realization is they have three kids and they have two young children, Harry and Willa, and to a certain degree, she understands her husband’s philosophy. She understands what he’s saying, but she also looks at her little ones, and can’t imagine a world where there is no future for them and can’t imagine a world where there is no hope. When she sees the Abigail approaching the island, she sees hope. She sees the boat, and then when she meets Madison, she sees in her someone who was a guidance counselor, and has her own kids, and has worked with kids all of her life, and she sees possibility. I think Melissa looks at the Abigail as an escape and an opportunity.

Her intention is never to leave, but really for her youngest. She looks at her eldest, Seth, who is very much a devotee of his father’s philosophy, and she knows he’s never going to leave, and so makes this effort to save her two youngest.

We see Nick rifling through the medicine cabinet, which naturally leads us to wonder: Is this guy, who was a hardcore drug addict a few days ago, still jonesing? What sort of state is he in now?

He went through his hard day or two, and the reality is it would have extended longer than that, but when he was in the pen, I think we see him going through the withdrawal when he first meets Strand, and what we’ve tried to do is buy ourselves a little bit of time. So he’s definitely not healthy yet, but he’s had his moment of clarity. His realization at the end of last season was this idea that I’ve been living my own apocalypse for years now and the world’s finally caught up with me, and I think he’s fascinated by that.

What we’re going to see with Nick over the course of the season is a guy who develops this fascination, this fixation, and this comfort level with the world of the apocalypse and with the dead, and it’ll speak to what Strand saw in him, because I think what Strand recognized was Nick has always been somebody who could survive on the fringes. He was homeless for stretches of time. He knows how to survive already, and that was the currency. I think that’s what Strand recognized and that’s what Strand thought could be of value to him, but he’s got to find a new place to channel his addictive personality as the next several episodes play out.

NEXT: The brewing conflict between Madison and Strand[pagebreak]

So when he’s in that medicine cabinet, though, is he looking for drugs or is he looking for answers and clues as to this family?

He’s looking for answers. Having heard about the power pills and having seen the way this family operates, I think he’s concerned. And I think one of the interesting things about Nick is that he’s one that does not have an agenda. You know, he’s very pure in his intentions, and I mean whether that’s his old intention for his fix, for heroin, or now his devotion to people, and I think he looks at these two little kids and he worries. He wants to know what the power pills are. He wants to know what this guy has in store for his family, and something just feels off to him.

So I think it’s a bit of a callback, because we’ve seen him rifle medicine cabinets before looking for drugs and needing his fix, and now the difference is — although it’s okay to see the echoes of that — he’s really trying to find what the hell Henry was talking about when he talks about power pills, and talked about the family staying together forever no matter what. So it’s really more about trying to track down and figure out this mystery of the family.

I gotta be honest, Dave. I’m glad they didn’t take that kid on the boat. I’m with Strand, that kid is dead weight right there.

That makes you a horrible person to say that! No, and again, this is a theme. It’s a line that we pull, that we’re going to continue to play out over the next few episodes, which is: Who do you save and why? And there’s two things going on. One, it’s Madison’s intention to save whoever she can. It’s very difficult for Travis, or for Salazar, or anybody else to argue that. Strand, however, he’s brought on these strangers. He’s brought them on his boat. We still don’t know exactly what his plan is, but he’s sees the kid for exactly what he is: He is dead weight. He is going to be something that drags them down.

And what’s interesting is the power struggle between Madison and Victor Strand. If the older brother, Seth, had not jumped on the boat with his gun at that moment and demanded that his brother be returned to him, you would have had a face-off between two very strong, potential leaders on the show, and I think that it would have gone a different way, and it would have led to a much different episode 3, 4, 5, and beyond, and that’s not something that Strand’s going to forget. I think he knows that this could have gone very differently and I think that’ll affect how he behaves as the subsequent episodes play out.

At one point we hear Strand talking to someone on the phone and saying, “It’s all clear now. What’s the latest you can push it? Sundown. I’ll be there. I will be there.” What can you say about who is on the other line there?

We’re starting to get a clearer picture of what Strand’s plan is. It’s a big piece of information that Daniel discovers when Strand finally gets off the boat, that he does have a destination and that destination is not San Diego. That destination is some place in Mexico. So we now, as an audience, have a better idea and Daniel has a better idea of what Strand’s intentions are. We don’t know why Mexico. We don’t know who’s in Mexico, but we know, for now, that he has a destination there.

We had an episode at sea and now an episode mostly on land. Does that sort of represent the balance we’re going to see this season?

Yeah, more or less. I think what we realized is as interesting and as beautiful as the seascape might be, a lot of this action has to play on a terra firma, so we will split it fairly evenly for the first several episodes and then, hopefully, we’ll arrive at someplace we can call home. Some place that seems safe, at which time, you know, we’ll see. We may lean more towards land as we get to the back half of the season.

At which time we’ll realize that place is not safe at all, because no place is safe. If it’s safe, you don’t have a show, right?

If we find it’s totally safe then that’s the end of the show.

Okay, so what can you say about next week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead?

We’re going to have a confrontation, because this information that Daniel has procured, the map that he has found, and his realization that Mexico is in their future is going to be information that he can’t keep to himself. And the question of where we’re going and why we’re going there is going to become far more important, and you’ll see some head-butting between Madison and Strand.

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