When Fear the Walking Dead returns with its fourth season on April 15, the show will have gone through some dramatic changes on both sides of the camera. Co-creator Dave Erickson has moved on, replaced by new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg (who worked together on Once Upon a Time) and Walking Dead franchise overseer Scott M. Gimple.
And while the Clark family (Kim Dickens’ Madison, Frank Dillane’s Nick, and Alycia Debnam-Carey’s Alicia), as well as other familiar faces such as Colman Domingo’s Strand and Danay Garcia’s Luciana will all be back, they will be joined by plenty of new survivors, played by the likes of Jenna Elfman, Maggie Grace, Garret Dillahunt, Kevin Zegers, and more (get the first photos and scoop on some of their characters right here). And then there is the big crossover, with Lennie James’ Morgan moving over from The Walking Dead to Fear.
With the exception of the new character descriptions previously given to EW, new showrunners Chambliss and Goldberg have stayed silent… until now. We spoke to the new men in charge for their very first interview to learn more about the what, where, and when of season 4, and how their show will feel both similar and different to what has come before. (Read through both pages for the entire interview.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I spoke with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman recently and he was talking about how the show is going to be very different now in season 4. Obviously, there are a lot of new faces both in front of and behind the camera but in terms of what people see: how is it going to feel different?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: I think one of the things coming into season 4 that was kind of exciting about entering this world is that it’s a world that reinvents itself constantly, both The Walking Dead and Fear of the Walking Dead. Season 2 we’re on a boat, season 3 we’re at the ranch, and I think just the nature of the world lends itself to that.
Coming in, the elements we’re now changing up and bringing to the show is that we’re going to be kind of pushing some of the genre elements a little bit more. Definitely bring some of the stuff we loved about the world that Kirkman created in The Walking Dead. Walkers will have a big role. And there will be characters who are a little bit larger than life, because as we get deeper in the apocalypse, very often the people who survive and do well in the apocalypse are people who have out-sized personalities or have really interesting ways of living.
So those are some of the elements that we’re pushing broadly, and I think the thing that we’re also really excited about was just taking this cast of characters who have lived in the show for three years and putting them in a new location, a new setting, and putting them with some of the new characters we’re bringing into the show and seeing how the new characters affect the returning characters and vice versa.
IAN GOLDBERG: Thematically, what this season is about is it’s a journey from isolation to community, on one hand. It’s also about a journey from hopelessness to hope. It’s going to be a difficult journey, and one where we’re going to encounter a lot of adversity along the way but, ultimately, that’s what we got excited about is taking these characters that were so richly drawn the first three seasons of the show, and just taking them to new places.
What worked really well in the first 3 seasons that you wanted to build on and do more of?
GOLDBERG: I think we were very attracted and connected to a story of a family, and the nucleus of the Clarks, and what it was like to follow a family in the apocalypse, and where that journey has taken them.
CHAMBLISS: By the end of season 3, the family was very fractured, and that led us to an interesting place when we started season 4 of picking up in a place of isolation and really dealing with the themes of how do you build community and how do you build family in a way that can withstand all the pressures of the apocalypse.
Now let’s take the flip side of that: What did you all feel was something not working as well as it could have or needed some punching up?
CHAMBLISS: Well, I think some of the things that come into the show at season 4 and the fact that we’re going to be a little bit further along in the apocalypse, it kind of lended itself to be able to push some of the walker elements. The walkers are going to be more decayed. They’re going to be a little more fantastical than they’ve been just because these people have been in the world a lot longer. We’re also going to be pushing some of the characters in ways that make them iconic in the ways that they have found to survive and the weapons they use — very much, kind of, pushing things toward the grounded comic book, larger-than-life side of things.
We left off in Mexico with the dam exploding. What can you say about where and when, which is maybe the more interesting question, things are picking back up?
GOLDBERG: We leave season 3, and the only character whose fate we know is Madison’s. So, everything else is left unanswered. Let’s just say, without giving too much away, we’re going to be playing with expectations, we’re going to be telling stories that experiment with time.
CHAMBLISS: We’re playing around with narrative structure and, hopefully, have done it in such a way that when the audience thinks they’ve figured out where we’re going, we have a way to pull the rug out from under them. The decision to reach for those narrative techniques was to really make people feel on edge because this is how the characters feel in the apocalypse, never knowing what’s going to come around the corner. That’s one of the things we’re leaning into.
We know Madison washed up on the shores of the river after the dam broke, but everyone else, we’re not quite sure and we don’t want to give away too much of that because discovering what that journey was is a big part of season 4 and how that journey shapes the characters.
It’s interesting to hear you might be playing with time a little bit because ever since the news came out that Lennie James’ Morgan was coming over to Fear, people have been wondering if we’re going to see a time jump because the two shows do not currently line-up. Am I picking up from your comments that we may be looking at some different time frames taking place this season?
CHAMBLISS: [Laughs nervously] Maybe? I won’t say specifically, but yeah, maybe.
Besides zombies, who are always an issue, what can you say in terms of the main adversary we’re going to be facing in season 4? Is Proctor John still in the mix? Are there going to be some new foes out there?
GOLDBERG: To speak to what Andrew mentioned earlier, one of the things that we love about this universe on both shows that relates to Fear is that there is an element of reinvention. Every season, even every eight episodes, where we find our characters in different places, facing new adversaries. I would say that there will be some adversaries that our characters will come into conflict with that are very different than any that we’ve seen before in the Fear universe.
CHAMBLISS: Really, in the whole Walking Dead universe. There will be some new, unexpected adversaries. They may be adversaries who it’s not entirely clear how to deal with them. It may not be as simple as picking up weapons and going to war with them.
When things left off last season in Mexico, there were signs pointing towards to Houston. We know you’re filming in Austin, Texas. Is it fair to guess that at least some, if not all, of this season will be set in Texas?
CHAMBLISS: Well, some of the season will be set in Texas, but Texas is a long way from Mexico, so who knows?
We know Lennie James went pretty much immediately from the Walking Dead set to yours. What can you say about how Morgan is going to be incorporated into this story?
GOLDBERG: I should start by saying that we are huge fans of the character Morgan from The Walking Dead and his journey that he’s gone through on that show, starting in the pilot, and how he interacted with Rick, and how that played out over now eight seasons on the show. In terms of how he interacts with Fear, we started this season with a plan of where we wanted to take our characters, emotionally, speaking about isolation and community and hopelessness and hope. As it happened, it sort of became undeniable when we started to talk about that, Morgan should be a critical element in that story.
CHAMBLISS: It really was Scott who was working on the back half of season 8 came to us and said, “Here’s where Morgan is going to end up.” And we can’t talk too much about that because we don’t want to ruin it for the fans of The Walking Dead, but it really just made a lot of sense. It seemed like this would be the time to have the two worlds collide. Morgan’s journey from The Walking Dead to Fear is not going to be an easy one and, without giving too much away, it’s going to be a journey where he’s going to come into contact with the characters in Fear, and he is going to change them. Those same characters are, ultimately, going to change Morgan in a way that he’s not expecting.
NEXT PAGE: Why season 4 will feel like a Western