Fear the Walking Dead showrunners weigh in on Jim's fate
SPOILER ALERT: Read only if you have already watched Sunday’s “I Lose People…” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
We all knew Jimbo was going to die after watching him get bit in last week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead. The only question was how it was going to go down, and we got our answer on Sunday’s “I Lose People…” episode. After being told by Morgan that he could choose how he wanted to go, Jim chose well, sacrificing himself with a swan dive off the roof to distract the walkers so the others could escape. (Of course, it wasn’t a perfect execution of said swan dive, as Jim neglected to land head first, which allowed Martha — a.k.a. the Filthy Woman — to use him for whatever nefarious plans she has in store.)
Jim wasn’t the only person to go through a big transformation in the episode. Wracked with guilt, Morgan went from self-defeating to sacrificing to surviving when the gang all came back to save him from his apparent rooftop demise as well. We spoke to showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss to get the inside scoop on season 4’s penultimate episode.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You know it’s always great talking to you guys. But it sure would be a hell of a lot better over a few Jimbos Beerbos. You guys think you can score us a round?
IAN GOLDBERG: Well, yeah. We have an inside track on Jimbo’s Beerbos, so we can make that happen.
Make that happen for me. And sooner rather than later.
GOLDBERG: And we have the recipe, as you know.
Do you have the recipe? Because I couldn’t hear what Jim said to Sarah. He whispered that last part. I’m sitting here jotting it all down. What was that last part of the recipe? Fill me in.
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: That is for Jim and Sarah to know, and I guess us. If you really want to make Jim’s beer, you’re going to have to keep watching.
Okay, fair enough. Let’s get into it. You have Jim and Morgan both starting off in a real funk here. Let’s start with Morgan. He’s kind of given up here at the beginning, says he can’t get them off the roof. What is it that turns him around? Is it finding out Alicia is okay and because she listened to what he told her, that she found Dorie and Strand? What does the trick?
GOLDBERG: I think that’s a big part of it. I think for Morgan, he’s someone who started the season running away from people, and as he says to Al in his first interview with her, his greatest fear was losing people and losing himself. That’s something that’s played out again and again for him, which is why he started in a place of isolation. And now he’s found his way and he’s sort of united with this unlikely family but, again, because of actions that he’s taken, the way that he sees it is he’s led them to this place where they’re in a lot of danger and Morgan feels tremendous guilt and responsibility for that.
But once he hears, as you said, the effect that it has on Alicia, it’s really that moment at the end when everyone comes back for him and Morgan’s seeing how much he’s impacted all of them. It really changes him in a pretty fundamental way. The person that ran away being of essential importance to them and being at the center of this very unlikely group of people is a big sort of game-changer for Morgan.
Well, let’s take the next step in that, because you see him perk up when he first hears Alicia on the walkie. He says, “All right. Let’s figure out a way out of here.” But then why sacrifice himself, which he tries to do a few times to get them out? Is that just his guilt and responsibility? Or, is that what Jim says? Jim offers an alternate explanation of that, almost accusing Morgan of giving himself an easy way out staying on that roof. He says, “Death’s a certainty and getting out from the stuff you’ve done isn’t.” Is it both those things at play here?
CHAMBLISS: Yeah, I think it’s definitely both those things. I think if you had asked Morgan he would say, “I’m the one who got all these people into this mess, so I’m the one who’s going to get them out. Even if that means I don’t make it out.” But then I think, too, because Jim is kind of in this place where he’s so close to death, he kind of sees through what Morgan’s saying and gets to what I think Morgan doesn’t even realize. That, yeah, he is kind of taking the easy way out because at least in this way he knows he dies a hero and he doesn’t have to continue forward and he doesn’t have to worry about whether the dark side he’s been fighting for so long will win out. He gets to go out kind of at the top.
I think it is hearing that from Jim and, as Ian kind of described, that “I Am Spartacus!” moment where it’s not just one person who comes back for him, but it’s the entire group and realizing that they’ve all come back together because they all fought so hard makes him realize he can’t give up that easily and he does have to try to move forward even if that means every day is going to have to be a fight to be the best version of himself he can be.
Let’s talk about Jim because he’s another guy who has a big transformation in this episode. What is it that finally gets Jim to start acting selflessly? At first, he refuses to help anyone. He won’t even share his recipe. But by the end, he’s telling Morgan to leave him and then he takes that swan dive off the roof so the others can escape. So what is it within Jim that causes that change?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think you sort of nailed it in your description of Jim. Even before this episode, we’ve seen Jim exhibiting a couple of different traits. One, he’s someone who’s very much, up to this point, been very much all about Jim. He has a goal in mind. He wanted to brew his beer and he wanted to bring it to the masses, and he had this chip on his shoulder that went back all the way to before the apocalypse of being cheated by the world. And he feels like that’s happened again when we start this episode — that he’s not going to get to brew that beer. He’s never going to fulfill the destiny that he saw for himself and he’s angry about it and he’s bitter, which is why we see him literally peeing off the roof at the beginning, because he just doesn’t see any other point to living if he can’t do what he wanted to do.
But with the time he spends with Morgan on that roof and also seeing the effect that Morgan has on everyone else, it’s the “I Am Spartacus!” moment Andrew was just talking about, that Jim realizes he knows he’s going to die. He gets to choose the way he goes out, and I think it’s seeing the impact Morgan had on everyone else, and they on him, that he finally is able to be selfless and makes that really powerful sacrifice — not just to save everyone but also, in giving up his beer recipe, which in this case is an equally selfless action for Jim because he’s giving it to Sarah and it will never benefit him because he’s not going to be alive any longer. But it’s giving that part of himself and passing it down to help other people that is also a big step for Jim before his sacrifice.
I’m kinda mad at you guys for turning Jim into a walker. He finally gets to the right place, does the right thing, looks outside of himself for maybe the first time ever, and you guys can’t even let the poor bastard rest in peace. What’s up with that?
GOLDBERG: Jim made a tremendous sacrifice and saved everyone. And even though Jim is dead, there’s still more of his redemption story to be told. Even though he may be a walker now, Jim may still be able to do some good in this world.
It’s kind of fascinating because I’ve noticed that I am a more emotionally impacted when someone turns into a walker than even when they die. When they die, it’s like, “Well, that’s a bummer.” But when they turn into a walker, that’s really hard to watch sometimes, because that’s like the worst fate imaginable.
CHAMBLISS: I think so because then you know you’re going to have to kill them twice and say goodbye to them twice. It’s knowing that this person isn’t really gone. Yeah, it’s tough. And we will say, Aaron Stanford, who we thought did an amazing job with his portrayal of Jim, also plays an amazing walker. He gave us perhaps one of the best walker performances we’ve had this season. Because based on seeing them perform the role, you never know. Some people are good as walkers. Some people aren’t. And he’s great. It’s fun to go through the makeup process and, in Jim’s case, getting his beer recipe written on his face.
GOLDBERG: That is a first in the Walking Dead universe. There have been many walkers but none have had their own recipes written on their faces. So, he stands alone.
For more Fear the Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
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