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Fear the Walking Dead: Alycia Debnam-Carey talks Alicia's big power-play

‘There’s a storm a coming and she’s going to have to deal with that,’ says the actress.

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Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you’ve already watched the two-hour midseason premiere of Fear the Walking Dead.]

Fear the Walking Dead has always been about one family’s struggle to survive the zombie apocalypse. But what happens when that family starts to splinter? We saw some definite division among the Clarks in the two-hour midseason premiere on Sunday night. Alicia essentially told her mother Madison to back off and cede true power on the ranch over to Jake. Not only that, but she also instructed the Black Hat leader Walker to no longer hold secret meetings with her mom.

And then, it was Alicia who saved the ranch from additional bloodshed when the two sides — including her brother Nick — who were about to open fire on each other instead joined together when they saw her trying to solve the water shortage crisis by digging for more. Is Alicia finally emerging as a true leader herself? We spoke to Alycia Debnam-Carey to get her thoughts on this pivotal night for the character. (Also read our episode Q&A with showrunner Dave Erickson.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What’s happening with Alicia here as she calls Madison out for back-channeling with Walker and undermining Jake’s leadership and then goes and tells Walker to not talk to her mother and instead deal with Jake?
ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY: I just think increasingly, especially since the end of first half, we’ve noticed Madison’s alliances are very unclear. I mean she’s obviously willing to do whatever for her family, but without telling them necessarily what’s actually going on. And so I think they’ve gone into this knowing they’ve had a loss to get there. They’ve had to sacrifice a lot to get there, and now they don’t really know if they can trust her and what she’s doing despite the fact that we’re all in this together.

And so, she’s just seen her make some very odd choices. First with the Nation being on that land, and then making deals with the devil with the Ottos. And we’ve seen how that ended up. But I think Alicia’s trying to get some stability back at the ranch and she knows that Jake’s probably the person for that. And with Madison manipulating a lot of these situations, she can see what her mother’s doing. It’s not subtle really. I mean, she’s trying to make it subtle, but it’s pretty deadly in many respects.

So Alicia is trying to counter that?
She’s trying to maneuver some of these things herself. Alicia’s one of the characters in this that actually has her head really on her shoulders. She still has her ethics and morals slightly intact. It’s not just like, “Kill or be killed,” necessarily, whereas for Madison I think that’s still a little unclear. She’ll do anything. We’ve seen her do some pretty crazy things to maintain that power dynamic.

That relationship between Walker and Madison is becoming increasingly more just direct between the two of them. And then, it means the power dynamic is completely unbalanced. What I like about this half of the season is we’re seeing Alicia really just making her own decisions about where the ranch should be going, and she realizes that she should be involved in this more and that she can be.

And we see a big moment at the very end of that second episode where it looks like we’re going to have this big firefight and we’re going to have more bloodshed because you’ve got people from the reservation and you’ve got people from the ranch that are just fighting and fighting. And there’s Alicia kind of in the middle digging for water and trying to solve the problem, and the sides eventually move over and join her. Is that a pivotal point? Are things going to change as a result of that or not?
I feel like it’s an olive branch more than anything. It’s not necessarily a viable working option to find water necessarily. I mean, they’re trying to and it’s trying to bring the two sides together, but I think that is what it is. It’s trying to find some harmony instead of ripping each other apart. It’s trying rather than not trying and making everything just worse. At least with trying, something good might come out of it. Yeah, it definitely expands beyond that too. It’s a hope that it might not just be about back channeling, and this ranch doesn’t have to be about two sides. There are little steps you can take that might work.

That’s her leadership moment in a way, right? She’s emerging as a leader herself.
Yeah, and I don’t think she realizes that. I think she knows she probably has that in her, or has a confidence and has a leadership. But I don’t think it’s ever really occurred to her that she could do it or that she could rival her mother in that way, or she could rival Jake. And we saw Jake mention it previously. He was like, “Well, anyone could be the leader of this ranch. I mean, you could.” And she’s like, “Well, that’s not what I’m talking about.” But I think she does have the right characteristics to maybe do that.

What can you tell us in terms of what’s coming up?
There is some great stuff coming up. Alicia is on her own at the ranch and she has to take a lot of responsibility for a lot of people. And there’s a big threat coming. There’s a storm a coming and she’s going to have to deal with that.

Also make sure to check out our Q&A with showrunner Dave Erickson. And for more Fear the Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC.