By Dalton Ross
Updated August 18, 2016 at 06:40 PM EDT
Credit: Richard Foreman Jr/AMC

When Fear the Walking Dead picks back up on Sunday with the second half of season 2, there will still be zombies. And that’s a problem. But there are other problems as well. Bigger problems.

Showrunner Dave Erickson already told us how “this is the first time, for all of them, where they have to survive on the land for a time and they have to figure out a way.” He also teased to us how “the big question for the back half [of season 2] is when and how will the family reunite?” You can read those tidbits at the links above, but what if you want more tidbits and more intel? Well, then you keep reading below, where Erickson enlightens us on what to expect when the AMC zombie drama returns on Aug. 21 and why the biggest threat is now human.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, so what can you say in terms of where and when we are going to pick things up here with episode 8?

DAVE ERICKSON: It’s going to be fairly fast on the heels of the end of the mid-season finale. As you know, we ended with everyone in the family in a fractured state. And Nick going off on his own and Travis pursuing Chris. And I think, part of the tension for the back half is going to be how Madison deals with the absence of Nick and does she or does she not want to track him down? And that’s going to have a huge effect on her relationship with Alicia, who throughout most of her life has lived in the shadow of her dysfunctional brother.

And we’re going to have an interesting storyline between father and son. We’ve got Travis, who’s a guy who promised he would protect Chris at all costs right before he put Chris’s mother down. And we’re going to see if he’s going to make good on that.

Sometimes on this show and the other Walking Dead program the zombies are the bigger threat, and sometimes it’s the human threat that takes center stage. What is the bigger threat in the back half of this season?

It definitely skews human. I think that’s something we’ve evolved and I think we’ve moved pretty quickly along that line, where the bigger danger for us, especially this season, has been the people and not necessarily the dead. The infected will remain an obstacle, but it really becomes more about negotiating with some of the new cast we’re going to meet, negotiating a way through, finding shelter, and then surviving. But I think we’ll definitely lean into the human dynamic and the interpersonal — with the zombies always present and always prevalent.

But with Nick, especially, for the place he’s going to land, the people he’s going to encounter, they are similar to Celia. They have their own mindset and their own philosophy and there are some darker secrets that go with it. But they’re very much comfortable with the dead. Madison’s biggest concern for Nick was his fascination and the addictive quality in his approach to the dead. And his education will continue in the back half, when Nick is hopefully going to return to life a little and embrace life a little bit more than he has the dead for the past several episodes.

We know Danay Garcia is joining the cast as Luciana, whom Nick will meet in Tijuana. Are we going to be meeting a lot of new characters?

Yes. [Laughs] I know we did kill most of them in our [last few episodes]. What’s interesting for me in having these parallel narratives is the opportunity to see whom each group is going to meet. Chris and Travis are going to come across some folks who are going to challenge Chris’s approach to the apocalypse. And Travis is going to approach Chris in this season trying to repair him, trying to bring him back to the right side of the line. And they’re going to meet some people that are going to compromise them, their journey, and that challenge.

For Madison, Alicia, and Strand… Madison’s lost her son, as she has in the past — because it’s not the first time that Nick has wandered off. So, I think, for Madison, the key difference for her is that unlike pre-apocalypse, when there was always a home for Nick to come back to, she has to make sure that they have something for him to return to, whether that be the boat or it be something else. So, she’s really going to be dead set on finding some place that they can call sanctuary, that they can call home. So that even when Nick decides to return, he actually has a place to return to. And in doing that, they’re going to come across a group of people whom are not quite as zombie-savvy as our people are. And I think that’s going to put Madison in an interesting position for a few episodes, where she is now coming into her own as a leader. And then, of course, there are going to be challenges and compromises that she makes, over the course of the back half that compromise that.

Then, as far as Nick goes, Nick will find a place. What’s interesting about Nick’s journey is that it is going to take us not just deeper into his understanding of death and the dead, but it’s also going to bring him closer to the landscape of Mexico. We’re going to see how he engages with the country as a place and with the characters that inhabit it. And Nick might even find a love interest.

One that is alive or dead?

[Laughs] That remains to be seen.

Fear the Walking Dead returns on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Episode Recaps

Fear the Walking Dead

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