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Fear the Walking Dead showrunner reveals if latest twist was based off the comic book

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[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you’ve already watched Sunday’s Fear the Walking Dead episode, “Captive.”]

Did we just witness the first big event from The Walking Dead comic book getting adapted onto Fear the Walking Dead? That was our question after Madison returned Connor’s brother Reed in a prisoner exchange to get Travis and Alicia back. Only one problem: Reed was now a zombie. So they put a sack over his head, and when Connor removed it, zombie Reed bit a chunk out of his arm, after which chaos ensued.

The incident called to mind a very similar moment in The Walking Dead comic book where Negan returned Holly to Alexandria, but with a sack over her head, and when it was removed, it revealed Holly as a zombie who immediately bit Denise’s arm, after which, yes, chaos ensured.

So was that a direct homage or just a random similarity? We asked Fear showrunner Dave Erickson that and a whole bunch more as he walked us through the latest episode, including the return of Flight 462’s Alex, Strand siding with Madison, the voices in Daniel’s head, and Alicia’s big decision at the end. (Click through both pages to read the entire interview, and for more Fear the Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I want to start right at the beginning of the episode and what is going on with Connor cooking this nice meal for Alicia? He’s cooking her up some steak and he’s being very friendly with her. What is happening here?

DAVE ERICKSON: I think it’s a wonderful scene to start the episode. What we found out at the end of last week is that certain people are going to be allowed to go back to Connor’s base and one is Travis — for reasons we’re about to discover — and then the other is Alicia. And Connor knows that Jack feels he has this bond and this relationship with Alicia and he wanted to bring her. This is really Connor getting to know her and showing that here’s a slice of normalcy. In this apocalyptic world, here’s something normal. Here’s something I can do. It’s what I used to do when I had my old job. And I think to a certain extent he’s trying to show her that life here can be okay. There’s a place for her. He’s cooking her probably the first real meal that she’s had in quite some time. There’s a little bit of a seduction going on, but it isn’t sexual or romantic in nature.

Let’s shift over to the Abigail for a second, and I love this scene of watching Daniel Salazar cleaning Reed’s wound while there’s a giant pole sticking through him. How much is that going to do?

I think it’s two things. We’ve seen Daniel knows how to operate around wounds, obviously, and he knows how to monitor and maintain pain, and I think he’s trying to fend off infection and clean him up and make sure it doesn’t get worse. But we come to realize when he leaves the room and when Chris follows him, it was a different form of interrogation. We’ve seen Daniel torture before. We’ve seen him get information the hard way, and he’s still inflicting some pain, but he’s also got a soft touch a little bit so that he can draw information out of him without having to necessarily jack up the pain meter that much.

So Madison wants to go get her family, but Luis is adamant that they head South. Strand sides with Madison, to a point. And when she thanks him, he basically says, “You only bought yourself half a day by saving me.” This also comes a few minutes after he tells Luis that everything is a negotiation. Is that how he just sees everything in the world, in terms of a balance sheet like when he says to Madison, “Now we’re even”?

He absolutely does, but I also think, I mean, he’s indebted now. There is that theme of obligation. It’s what Strand says to Nick back in episode 105 last season, and I think it means something to him. He does now owe her a debt. She didn’t have to save him. She didn’t have to go after him, and she did. Mind you, she did it because she’s growing to like the guy despite herself, but she also realized last week that he is the key. “We need him if we’re going to make it to Mexico, so to protect my family at large I’m going to make this compromise. I’m going to go get this guy before I go after Alicia and Travis.”

And then, he’s returning the favor, essentially. He’s saying, “Okay we’ll go get them,” but subsequent to that we’ll realize everything’s even again. But what I like about that relationship as it develops and as it continues to develop is that you are going to see an affection growing. You’re going to continue to see the two of them becoming friends, and I think that’s not something either of them, frankly, have very many of, so in some respects they’re like-minded. They’re sort of kindred spirits.

And we have that scene later where Strand and Daniel both acknowledge the fact that they are both taking this big risk even though they have no skin in the game. Could there be a bit of budding mutual respect here?

Salazar and Strand do respect each other. I also think that of everyone on the boat, Salazar is probably the only one that Strand fears just a little bit, because he knows what Salazar’s capable of. But yeah, there’s an understanding that each man will do what it takes to get through the current situation, and they respect each other because it’s smart to respect each other, but I also think they remain a little bit guarded.

Big surprise revealed here as we find out how Connor and company knew all their names as Alex from Flight 462 shows up outside of Travis’ cell. It’s funny because when she says that she asked for him specifically, I immediately thought to myself, “Why would she ask for him and not Strand, who cut the rope?” And then she proceeds to explain why she wanted Travis. And I guess in her eyes, he committed the bigger sin because he knew it was sin, right?

Exactly. I think Strand, from her perspective — he’s a bad man. It was a never a question for him what was right or what was wrong. He knew that he didn’t want them on the boat. He wanted to cut them loose from the get-go, and I think in Travis there’s a nice moment between the two of them at the end of episode 203. She gets a chance to size him up and she realizes how difficult a decision that was for him. She realizes that he suffers for it. It pains him. And I think for her, she sees an opportunity to save him — if that makes any sense. She couldn’t save Jake and she totally ratted out the Abigail when she was picked up by Connor, but she’s trying to teach a lesson and she’s curious to see if Travis is going to embrace that lesson. Will he take anything away from it?

And it’s interesting because there’s a really interesting turn that Cliff plays beautifully in that episode, and I think Carla Ching wrote it beautifully. But if he had gone back to the Abigail after the rescue and Chris had not shot Reed, I think things would have changed. I think there would have been a much different connection between Travis and Chris, and fortunately in his absence Chris took the next step along his journey and I think anything that Travis learned from that experience with Alex has to be put on the back burner.

Will we see Alex again?

That is an excellent question. The second most enigmatic character, I think, on the show after Strand, is Alex, and she definitely isn’t going to stick around. She’s basically done the work she wanted to do. I don’t imagine her continuing to stay, and she says she’s not going to work for Connor. She accomplished what she wanted. I expect that she’s bound to venture back off into the apocalypse, so you don’t see her end. There’s always that possibility.

NEXT: Was that ending a direct moment from The Walking Dead comic book?[pagebreak]

So Chris shoots Reed because he says he was going to turn but everyone seems pretty unsure of this, so they’re still figuring out the rules of how this works aren’t they?

Yeah, but I think with Chris it’s a little bit more specific. Reed’s a bully and Reed can sense people’s weaknesses, and he sees weakness and insecurity in Chris, so he goes after him. I mean, he really rides him. He threatens him. He chokes him. He puts a gun to his head. So Chris doesn’t like this guy out of the gate, and what we see Reed start to do is get personal, and start to talk about his family, and start to talk about his father, and we ellipse sort of over the moment, but in my mind he kept talking about things and eventually got around to talking about Chris’ mom, which is a place you don’t want to go.

That’s the fundamental question which comes out subsequent to this, which is: Sid Chris really think he was going to turn? Did Chris lose himself in a moment of anger and rage? Is that the next step in his evolution? He’s gone from killing infected, and then he mercy killed that poor gentleman on the plane, and now has he actually crossed that line and committed murder. And that’s one of the questions. That’s the thing also that Travis will be faced with when he returns.

So Chris shoots Reed. Then we have zombie Reed who jumps up because he was shot in the face and not the brain, and Daniel has the idea to still use him as trade bait. So they put a hood on him and trade him for Travis, and when Connor takes the hood off, he gets bit by his brother. This is actually one of the most direct things I can think of that was done in the original Walking Dead comic book, because there is a scene where Negan does the same thing with Holly by bringing her back and unleashing zombie Holly on Alexandria and she bites Denise’s arm. Was this a direct homage to that or just a similarity?

It’s just a similarity because I missed that issue. None of my EP partners mentioned that, so it is a coincidence. I guess it’s tricky when you’ve written as many issues as Robert has, I guess it’s inevitable that there’s going to be moments when we echo something from the comic book, but it was not intentional, but if people want to take it as a homage, all the better.

Getting back to Daniel, we see this one scene where he’s hearing this voice saying, “Take the gun, Daniel,” when he’s putting the bag over Reed’s head. What’s that all about?

What’s interesting about Daniel this season is losing Griselda. It’s a huge loss to him, and obviously he’s traumatized by the fact that she was taken away from him last season. He wasn’t with her when she died. He was never able to properly bury her, and I think what you start to see is the he’s also someone who shared his secrets with Griselda. She knew what he was back in El Salvador and in her he received forgiveness. She supported him. She understood him. And now, in her absence, Griselda’s been replaced with Ophelia, who now knows that he was a torturer that committed war crimes, committed atrocities, and in her he sees judgement.

What we’re starting to see with Daniel is a lot of his ghosts are coming back, and the things that he was able to bury for so long because he had Griselda, they’re starting to sort of creep around the edges. They’re starting to fragment his psyche a little bit. And again, it’s part of the larger mystery of Daniel Salazar, which we’ll continue to explore the next few episodes. But yeah, he’s getting to a bad place. He’s getting to a place where his past is catching up to him.

Meanwhile, you have Alicia making her own escape. And she basically ditches Jack to go back to her family. Are there any thoughts she has there of bringing him with her because he was planning to help her escape, or can she still not forgive him for what he did?

I think it’s a lack of forgiveness, but I also think her suspicion is that Reed might have killed her family. Her suspicion in this episode is that they promised to take care of them. They promised to drop them off on the coast, and she begins to feel that they didn’t do that, and out of desperation she wants to get on a boat and she wants to escape with Jack and go find them. So in that moment it really is kind of a means to an end. She needs Jack to escape, and then when Travis and her mom return she doesn’t need him anymore.

It isn’t that she’s cold hearted. It isn’t that she doesn’t think Jack is a decent person, but in that particular moment the complications are too great. She’s looking down and watching her mother and watching Travis fight with Connor and his men and she sees a way to get out. She’s beginning to realize, if she hasn’t already, that it’s better to travel light when you can, so she cuts the cord. It’s kind of bittersweet because I do think Jack actually cared for her.

I also think Strand and Luis would have lost their minds if she had brought another body back on the boat. Okay, we only have two episodes left before you break, so what can you say about next week’s episode?

The big question is going to be answered. Again, we discovered that Strand had an agenda back in episode 2 when Daniel realized that Mexico was a destination for him, and now we’re going to find out: Is Mexico our destination and can it work and will it work, and if it does is it the sanctuary that was promised by Strand? And will we be able to get there? 

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