Fear the Walking Dead showrunner on that crazy finish
SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you’ve already watched Sunday’s “Do Not Disturb” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
There’s nothing like some good parental guidance to bring a teenage boy back from the brink of the dark side. At least that’s what we thought before the end of Sunday’s “Do Not Disturb” episode of Fear the Walking Dead. And then Chris went and completely ignored the sage advice of father Travis and instead shot down an innocent man whose property he and his new goon friends had trespassed on.
What does Chris’ killer move mean going forward? Plus, what are we to make of that hotel wedding from hell? And where the heck is Ofelia? We went to Fear showrunner Dave Erickson for answers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, usually we go through these episodes somewhat chronologically, but we are starting right at the end this time, because of what may be our most shocking moment ever on the series here as Chris just straight-up murdered a dude who was only trying to protect his property. Has Chris officially crossed over to the dark side now?
DAVE ERICKSON: I think Chris has crossed over to the apocalyptic side, definitely. Here’s the thing for Chris: What he has been looking for — and this goes back to the pilot in episode 2 — Chris is a kid who is looking for his place. Before the apocalypse, he was alienated, he was very angry, he was very lost, and then the apocalypse struck, and then he lost his mother by the hand of his own father, and he’s gone through some pretty hellish experiences. I think the biggest thing that Chris needs is to find people who actually get him.
And when they meet the Americans in this episode — Brandon, Derrick, and James — it’s the first time he’s found people in a long time who actually seem to get him, and they seem to be playing the same game. The trigger for him — figuratively and literally — is when the farmer comes in and shoots James. And once that happens, I think Chris reacts instinctively, and he does it because he thinks he’s protecting his friends.
In episode 13, we’re going to return to this story and we’ll get more of Chris’ thinking and the reasons he feels it was justified, and it really becomes something of a morality play where Travis has taken him away, has decided to abandon the rest of his family because he thinks he can save his son. And he feels a certain degree of guilt and definite obligation to protect his little boy.
I think that moment when Chris pulls the trigger is devastating to Travis, and he’ll spend one more episode and perhaps more trying to salvage this kid that he can still remember going camping with and still remember who he was before the divorce, before the apocalypse — and I think for Travis, it’s very difficult to accept that that’s completely gone.
So yes, I think Chris has crossed a line, but I also think that he feels that it is justified and that there is an actual practical and pragmatic reason to do it. This is a world now where you kill to protect your friends, and I think from his perspective, that’s what he did.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and so relatable in that worry every parent has about their child falling in with the wrong crowd and feeding off negative energy.
Travis sees this coming down the pike. Travis recognizes that these guys are not good dudes, and Chris can’t see it. The elements that frighten Travis are the things that Chris really responds to.
Is there something to Chris’ observation that Travis just wants to stay close so Madison can find them?
Yes, I think there absolutely is. Thematically, one of the things the back half is about is establishing place and establishing home, and for Madison, Alicia, and Strand, they find a place in the Rosarito Beach Hotel. For Madison, it’s about I need a place for Nick to come home to, because even though he used to run off and disappear for days and weeks on end pre-apocalypse, he knew what his address was. He knew how to get back to family. I think she’s really trying to build something so that that’s a possibility for Nick.
Nick, as we’ve seen, is trying to find some sense of community in this world, and he’s trying to find a group of people who understand him and enable him to continue doing what Madison suspects he’s pursuing, his new addiction, which is this connection to the dead.
Then, for Chris and Travis, they’re camping, they’re out on the road, they’re trying to figure out what their next move is going to be, and one of the things the Americans represent is a challenge to Travis’ plan because Travis very much planned on surviving, scavenging, perhaps finding a place to camp out for a while, but his hope was that Chris would turn a corner and get to a place where Travis could bring him back and reconstitute the family.
What the Americans suggest is that they should all go back to America, and that is exactly what Travis does not want to do, and Chris calls him out on it, and he’s right. I think Travis wants to get Chris well and then he wants to go back to Madison and he wants to put his family back together, and that’s absolutely something Chris doesn’t want to do.
Let’s shift gears and talk about what has to be the worst wedding of all-time, with the father of the bride eating the bride’s face off. You all have used flashbacks a lot more liberally than the other Walking Dead show. Why does that work for your program?
I like the juxtaposition. I think that what we’re building with the Rosarito Beach Hotel is that there is the idea of a fracture, that there are two sides inside the hotel that Madison has to bring together, and that flashback is establishing what happened that drove this fracture between the hotel manager and then the family of the bride and groom.
But yeah, it was a horrible, horrible wedding. What I loved though is when we saw Madison and Ofelia enter the banquet hall last week where the wedding took place, it’s almost got this sort of Miss Havisham, Great Expectations sense that it was this celebration that’s now trapped in time, and I think that it’s kind of heartbreaking.
So it starts as a flashback, but we also get to explore the repercussions of what happened on that day, and we also get to see how it impacts the characters emotionally. Because I think when Ofelia sees the residue and the remains of the wedding, she thinks about what she lost and what she sacrificed, and it’s a fundamental moment for her that turns her in a different direction and leads to something of a break for Ofelia from the rest of her makeshift family.
Speaking of which, where is Ofelia now?
You will find out. She’s gone a little bit fatalistic after the perceived death of her father, and I think she’s realizing that time is short. She doesn’t believe they’re going to make it, and I think she also does not accept the fact that Alicia, Madison, and Strand are now constituting a new family. She’s very much of the mind that blood is blood and for the most part she was forced into this circumstance with this group, and now that her father is gone and now that her mother is gone she might see sort of a last ditch opportunity to do something that’s about her. So she disappears. We’ll catch up with her in a later episode and see what she’s up to.
We meet Elena, who worked hotel security and tells Alicia she locked the wedding party in to save the rest of the hotel guests. Good or bad call on her part, Dave?
In the moment, good call. In the pre-apocalypse, when you don’t know exactly what is going on and you don’t know if it is contagious, I think her responsibility as the hotel manager was to protect the hotel. There were a lot of other people at the time, and suddenly you’ve got a bride getting her face bit off by her father. She wanted to keep that contained inside that one space. So I think it was the right decision for somebody who was trying to protect the greater good.
That doesn’t mean that she’s not heartbroken. It doesn’t mean she’s not upset by what happened. Hindsight being 20/20, I think she can look back on it and realize that what she did only guaranteed that more people were going to die. It didn’t really save anybody. It’s easy to see that now, and I think that’s what Alicia suggests. I mean, she made the best decision she could in that moment, and of course it’s led to this rift within the hotel that has to be repaired.
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