Spoiler alert: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “Buried” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
Another week, another Fear the Walking Dead shocker. The latest episode, “Buried,” had Alicia, Strand, and Luciana telling three different stories from the same day in the past that they said ultimately led to Nick’s death. In all those stories, the characters considered giving up on the stadium but ultimately did what they felt was the right thing and went back to Madison. However those right things seemed to ultimately lead to the wrong result.
But the biggest shocker was saved for the very end, when we learned that the Laura who John Dorie has been searching for is none other than the Naomi who had linked up with the Clarks at the baseball stadium. There was no happy reunion, as John found his matching pistol but was told that Naomi/Laura had not made it out of the stadium alive.
What are we to make of this latest twist? Is Naomi really dead? And what exactly is lead Vulture Mel trying to accomplish by cutting off the Clarks at the stadium? We asked showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss all that and more — including what’s coming up next. (Read through both pages for the entire interview.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me how you all came up with this idea to basically show the events of this one day in the past that, in the words of Alicia, Luciana, and Strand, ultimately led to Nick’s death?
IAN GOLDBERG: Where it really started for us was we wanted to tell a story about hope, and, ultimately, take it to a place where it was not what one would expect hope to be in the episode. Hope and the way that these characters view it is actually the thing that they should not have had. And we were really interested in exploring more how Al captures stories and seeing it literally through her lens. The other aspect of it too was just wanting to see how this group processed their grief in the aftermath of Nick’s death. It’s a moment for them where they could walk away from this dark mission that they’ve been on. They could see Nick’s death as a moment to step back and re-evaluate what they’ve been doing, but instead they double-down and continue on this dark mission.
What I found interesting about the three different stories from the past we follow is that everyone seemingly makes the right decision at the time in terms of doing the right thing to try and stay strong together. Strand, Naomi, Nick, Luciana — none of them take off. They all come back, but in retrospect maybe that wasn’t the right call.
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: This is a world that is very hard to live in, and we just want to tell a story that shows there is a cost both to doing the right thing, but also to doing the wrong thing. Last week, with Nick’s death, we saw the cost to the dark path that they’re all on. But we also want to show that, in the same regard, doing the right thing doesn’t always mean things are gonna work out for you. And I think it sheds a little bit more light just on the very pessimistic place that Alicia, Strand, and Luciana find themselves in. I think it’s understandable why, in the aftermath of Nick’s death, they’re actually choosing to double-down on that darkness, that hopelessness, instead of looking to it as an opportunity to change. And I think it’s something that is unexpected, not just for the audience, but for Al.
I mean, when she had that moment where we’re cutting between the three different talking heads, from Strand, Alicia, and Luciana, and they’re all essentially saying, because we did the right thing, that’s why my friend, that’s why the person I loved, that’s why my brother, that’s why he’s gone. That also really hits Al. Al’s someone who we haven’t necessarily seen emotionally affected by the stories, but I think it’s really kind of a gut punch to her, even. Because, as someone who’s so used to interviewing people, she is actually caught off guard by what they’re all saying.
One of the challenges of both Walking Dead shows is to find unique new settings for walker battles, so talk to me about this zombie waterpark scene: where this idea came from and finding the perfect place to execute it.
CHAMBLISS: Like you said, it’s very hard to come up with new takes on places to be overrun with walkers or new ways to fight them. It’s always a huge challenge. Between both shows we’ve now got 11 seasons of television, and we’re always like, “Oh, wait. That’s been done.” Or something similar’s been done. One of the things we’ve embraced in going to Texas is just really using what is on offer there. The waterpark is actually something that we drove by when we were scouting the stadium. So it actually is a waterpark that’s just like a mile from the baseball stadium. And that’s where we got the idea for a waterpark.
At the end of the day, shooting at that waterpark wasn’t feasible, but we ended up finding a waterpark that actually was abandoned and had been built, I think, in the ’70s. It was already in disrepair, so that made our production team a lot happier. They still did a fantastic job dressing it, but a little bit of the work was done for them.
Originally when we had scripted it, it was just a pool that the slide came out into. But then when we were talking with our director and our production designer and they were sending us pictures of that bowl at the very end where Naomi and Alicia end up, they said, “We gotta find some way to use this crazy bowl that dumps into this pool.” That’s how we ended up with that final bit of the set piece.
GOLDBERG: The other thing that was important to us with the waterpark was using it as a mirror for the stadium. When Alicia and Naomi come across it, they see that this was a place where people were living that had borders around it and people were surviving inside, and it fell. This is seeing, in action, what the Vultures have warned about, which is that places like this don’t last — and seeing how that weighed on both Naomi and Alicia.
NEXT PAGE: Scoop from the showrunners on that big twist at the end