SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “Just in Case” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
Fear the Walking Dead has made a habit of ending every episode this season with a shocking blow, and Sunday’s “Just in Case” installment was no exception. Earlier in the episode, we saw Naomi return to the FEMA shelter where she lost her daughter, Rose. She also revealed to Madison that they had been part of a community there, but when Rose got sick, Naomi did not tell anyone out of fear they would be sent out to fend for themselves. And when Naomi returned after a three-day search for medicine, she found that Rose had died, turned, and then started a chain reaction that killed off everyone else in the shelter. WHOOPS!
But the surprises were just beginning. Alicia, Strand, and Luciana faced off against the Vultures in the present day, only to see the presumed-dead Naomi working and living alongside their enemy. Then, a rage-filled Alicia ruined the happy reunion between John and Naomi buy firing a bullet intended for the latter but hitting the former instead.
Is John Dorie dead? Why did Madison change her mind and tells Alicia to prep a just-in-case getaway truck? How long will the past and present storylines continue to play out simultaneously? We asked Fear showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss all that and more. Read on for all the intel.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start right at the end here. There’s this big standoff with the enemy and then Naomi shows up, still alive, with the Vultures. Alicia takes a shot at her but hits John Dorie instead. I’m going to ask you point blank: Is John Dorie dead?
IAN GOLDBERG: No, John Dorie is not dead. At least not in that moment. There’s much more story to tell. We try to up the ante with every episode and keep the emotional twists and turns coming, and our goal is to continue that without spoiling anything anymore. I’ll just say, keep watching.
There’s a lot of questions raised by this final scene. In the past, we see the Vultures pack up and leave once Madison returns with all the supplies. In the present, we see everyone with guns in each other’s faces. So besides the Nick–Ennis situation, what happened between these two groups to get them to this place?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: It’s a very good question because at the end of the flashback story it seems like the stadium has had their victory. But I think I can tell you it’s not as simple as that and there is a lot more story that will take place at the stadium to answer those questions about why things are so tense between both groups when it seems like they were resolved in the past.
Did Alicia and Luciana actually think Namoi was dead when they told John that, or was she just dead to them, as it were?
GOLDBERG: Oh, absolutely. They thought she was dead. And that is a story that we will also tell. What resonated so much for us in that moment is the loss of hope in telling John Dorie that the woman he had been searching for didn’t make it out of the stadium. This episode is a lot about seeing how that loss weighs on John, how it changes him. We see him go to a pretty dark place at the beginning of the episode when he confronts the Vulture Edgar outside of the gas station. It’s just showing how loss affects him and it’s seeing the optimism and sort of innocence of Dorie fade a bit.
Yeah, what is the significance of John asking Morgan to hold on to his guns, “just to be safe” as he puts it, which comes after he loses his cool with a Vulture?
CHAMBLISS: I think it speaks to his self-awareness. In last week’s episode with Naomi and John at the cabin, we learned what happened to him in a moment when things didn’t go as planned, and I think he’s always living with that fear that he might go too far and accidentally hurt someone he doesn’t want to. And that’s a lot of the emotion that’s coming up when he almost goes too far with the Vulture outside that gas station. He recognizes that, and then the fact that he hands his guns over to Morgan just speaks to their growing friendship and the fact that John would trust him with those guns.
Because we’ve seen that those guns are so important to him and with the connection to Naomi. It’s a connection to a very traumatic moment in his past. He’s entrusting them to Morgan and also trusting Morgan to keep him on the straight and narrow. It’s something I think Morgan understands because he’s definitely been in a place where he’s gone to very violent, dark places and it’s almost like two friends keeping each other on the wagon. But again, it’s really just kind of a sign of the friendship that’s growing between these two.
When you talk earlier about the fact that we’re going to get answers, are we going to get these answers by your midseason finale in episode 8, or are some of these past and present mysteries going to continue into the second half of season 4?
GOLDBERG: We are trying to tell one big story this season across 16 episodes, both emotionally and in terms of who our characters are, where they start and where they end the season. For the purposes of the first eight episodes, we have been telling them across multiple timelines and we can say that both of those stories’ threads will sort of reach an apex and there will be answers and surprises and twists and turns to come and we can’t wait to hear what people think.
So we knew things did not end well for Naomi’s daughter once she told John about losing her. And we learn this week that the daughter Rose got sick at a FEMA shelter, Naomi left her to get medical supplies without telling the others she was sick, and not only did Rose turn, but she then basically killed everyone else. What do you think Naomi is beating herself up over the most in this situation?
CHAMBLISS: It’s a lot for any one person to kind of carry with them, but at the end of the day I think what she’s ultimately feeling is a tremendous sense of guilt. Guilt that she wasn’t able to save her daughter and then guilt about the efforts to protect her daughter and what that turned into. She says she had been in settlements before where she had seen people get kicked out because they were sick because people worried they would turn. She was being the best mother she thought she could be, yet in doing that she doomed the rest of the settlement potentially to their deaths and is partly responsible for them turning.
It really has put her in this kind of difficult place, and I think it’s the first time we’re really understanding why she’s so reticent to really make connections with people and to trust people. I think it’s a two-part thing. Her hesitation to make connections with Madison and her family is because she’s not sure if she can trust them because she’s seen what’s happened in places where you settle down and get comfortable. But then, at the same time, I think it’s also about herself because she’s not sure if they should be able to trust her because she is really carrying that kind of sense of guilt of “what I’ve done to people when I was just trying to do the right thing.”
It seems like before this week the one person at the baseball stadium that had not made or at least considered a contingency plan was Madison. So what’s the significance of her telling Alicia to make that just-in-case Land Rover getaway car after hearing Naomi’s story and seeing what happened there? Is this a splash of reality hitting her in the face by seeing firsthand how a seemingly safe secure community crumbled in an instant?
GOLDBERG: I think in a sense that plays a big role in it. Going through this experience with Naomi, learning what she went through with her daughter — certainly that plays a huge role in that moment we see with Madison at the end where she tells Alicia to pack her car just in case. It also speaks to what Mel and the Vultures have been saying since they arrived and why they’re not sort of villains in the traditional sense. We’ve always talked about them as doctors delivering the news and they — like viewers of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead — know that communities like this, even when people have the best intentions, like Naomi going to get medicine for her daughter, can fall.
Yes, that is for Madison a reminder that anything can happen, even when you have the best intentions. She came to this stadium and fortified it and made it into a home all with one purpose initially, which was to keep her family safe. If she’s not going to be able to do that, she has to start thinking of a contingency plan.
Does Strand telling her how he had a getaway car and didn’t use it play a role in this decision as well?
CHAMBLISS: It most definitely does, and I think that’s more on an emotional level and works hand in hand with everything that Naomi has talked about in terms of trusting people and whether people with the best intentions can still hurt you. Madison learns that someone who is arguably her best friend had lied to her and had actually considered escaping the stadium. That is a really big blow to Madison’s confidence. I think in her mind she thought next to her kids, Strand probably believed in this place more than anyone.
To find out that he had his own escape hatched is a big blow to her. We see that moment at the end of the episode where Strand — even though he’s kind of made up for what he’s done and helped save Naomi and helped bring all the seeds and farming supplies back — he makes an overture to Madison, and she basically just says to him, “Look, we had a win today, let’s just leave it at that.” That’s kind of speaking to the damage that has been done to their trust.
Okay, no episode next Sunday for Memorial Day weekend so we have to wait two weeks for our next hit. What can you tell us about the next episode of Fear the Walking Dead?
GOLDBERG: Well, it is episode 7 of 8 so some big things are coming as we build toward our midseason finale. But more immediately, we ended episode 6 on a cliffhanger in more ways than one. We have John Dorie shot and we have our Vultures and our characters both heavily armed and who knows what could happen? I would say get ready for more of that battle.
CHAMBLISS: I would say if you thought there were a lot of walkers in the FEMA shelter, you haven’t seen anything yet.
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