Fear the Walking Dead showrunners on John Dorie's big decision
It seems the mystery group of graffiti artists infiltrated Tank Town and set off the chaotic scene, which led Virginia to question, and, in the case of Wes, torture victims before allowing them medical care in the hopes of unmasking the culprits. But the tables turned after Virginia was bitten by a zombie. Her only hope of survival was chopping off the infected hand, but June refused to do it or let her do it herself so that June’s husband John could finally be free of the oppressive force that had plagued him.
However, after Ginny shared a story about doing everything in the hopes of protecting her sister Dakota, June changed her mind and severed the hand, saving Ginny and procuring a hospital in the process for ailing members of the community. But, in saving Ginny, June lost the lover of her life, as husband John Dorie followed through on his plan to escape to his cabin — but this time without his wife.
We spoke to showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg to get the full scoop on another stellar episode full of big decisions and big ramifications.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Most important question right off the bat. What happened to Jasper’s leg?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: We're going to dedicate an entire episode to Jasper's leg. No, it's a good question.
IAN GOLDBERG: It's buried. We know it's buried.
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: I think that's a mystery for John Dorie on his next case to solve.
Maybe this is one of these anthology series stories we're going to have to look at on Tales of the Walking Dead.
IAN GOLDBERG: I would love that.
All right, let's get into Tank Town. Logistically, how did you guys wrap your heads around filming this? You have the oil wells and stuff blowing up, it's quite a scene. It's a mess there. How were you guys able to do this?
IAN GOLDBERG: We have a process that we go through with each of our episodes, with our amazing production team down in Austin, where we come to them and say, "Here's the world of this episode. Here's what we want to do. Here is the scope of it." And a lot of the times, the first reaction is, "You guys are insane. What are you doing? This is not going to happen." And then within six to 12 hours, we get a second phone call where everybody's like, "Here's how we figured out how we're going to do it. It's huge. It's crazy." But everybody gets so excited to do you know what seemingly is impossible.
And this is one of the biggest ones that we've done yet. And it really is. It's a testament to our amazing crew in Austin, from our production designer, to our effects team. They made this happen on a really accelerated time crunch, and they gave us what we had dreamed of here with feeling like There Will Be Blood happening in the zombie apocalypse. And it was tough shooting conditions on top of all the explosions and the flames and the oil. It was also freezing cold, and everybody was such troopers about the entire thing. And we're thrilled how it turned out.
It looked amazing. I don't know how much of that explosion was practical or if you guys did a little CGI augmentation.
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: That was entirely practical. And Frankie Iudica, who's our special effects supervisor, it's the largest explosion he's ever done in his career. So we are glad to have that feather in our cap.
What can you say about what appears to be a mole within the ranks here who sabotaged Tank Town and left the calling card graffiti? And then there’s that walker with the spikes on the fingers? Obviously, a lot of questions here.
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: Look, I can say that this mystery group that we've seen hints of, they have an agenda, and they're going to be carrying it out no matter what it takes. We've seen how they hit the tower that Al and Dwight went up in episode 603, how they introduced the rats that were carrying the bubonic plague. We're now seeing another method of attack here. And I think the thing going forward that everyone's got to worry about is whether or not these attacks are going to get bigger, and even more kind of scary. And this is really what we see driving Virginia in this episode, is just the idea that this group may be a lot closer than they think. They may have actually infiltrated more settlements than Virginia is aware of.
Virginia gets bit and at first June refuses to chop the hand off because Ginny didn’t save people when she could, and she says “What I want is to wake up and have my husband back. This is how.” Yet then after hearing the sob story about Dakota, June changes her mind. So after laying it out and saying she wants her husband back and you're a terrible evil person, why does June change her mind?
IAN GOLDBERG: June goes on a real journey in the episode in terms of how she sees Virginia. And when we see her at the beginning, she's very much in a place where she is trying to help people, even despite the difficult circumstances she's under. She has the mobile medical unit she's running with Sarah, but even that is extremely difficult. Virginia doesn't let people travel freely, so it's very hard for June to do that. And we see how frustrated she is at the beginning of the episode when she loses the patient that she tries to help.
And so, that on top of knowing that something happened between John and Virginia and her not knowing the exact details of it, but just seeing how destroyed and unlike himself that he is, it leads June to this place where she just sees that there's only so much she can do while she's under Virginia's rule, and there's only so much she can help people. And then what it really builds to in that moment between them when they're trapped in the rubble is realizing that in a way Virginia feels the same way that June does. There's one person that she's really trying to help at the heart of all of this, and that is her sister, Dakota. And she feels like she can't reach her, and it's a very humanizing moment for her, because June feels the same way about John.
And also, I think the other thing too, is June realizes this is an opportunity where if she saves Virginia, she can actually enact some change and help people, which is why she makes the deal to get the hospital after she does it. And the other thing that opens her eyes is the reality of this other group that's out there, that shows that there is a bigger game going on here for Virginia. She really is trying to help in her own twisted way. There's people that are even more of a threat to them than Virginia herself is, and June sees a path toward an unlikely partnership with Virginia.
So then following up on that, it’s not like June is choosing Ginny over John, but is she maybe choosing helping people by having access to a hospital and getting some of those things over John? Is she choosing that over her own love interest?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: I think from June's perspective, it's not kind of a binary choice. I think she is trying to gain some control and trying to help as many people as she can by enacting this deal with Virginia. And I think it really falls on John. He could decide to stay with June and help her do what she's doing and help her kind of gain some more power and control within the world she's in. But he's kind of in this place where he's just too far gone. So I think June is just trying to do the most she can to affect this world she's in, and it, I think, has the downside of helping more people means she's not going to be able to help the man who's closest to her.
Will this event change Virginia at all? She went through this traumatic thing. She poured out her heart, June cut the hand off, saved her, presumably. She's agreed to build the hospital, but will this event fundamentally change Virginia at all, this event, or is she just going to go back to being in the Virginia that we've known all along?
IAN GOLDBERG: She will change and she also won't, and that's not me being coy. I mean, this episode is like a real pivot point for Virginia in a lot of ways. The stakes of what she's up against are amping up, and the walls are kind of closing in on her, so she's going to have to change and evolve. I don't want to say too much about how that partnership with June will play out, or if this will lead to any sort of softening on Ginny’s part, because I think she's still pretty dug-in in how she does things. But I think given the magnitude of what she's up against, it's not going to be business as usual.
June asks Ginny about the graffiti group and Ginny says “We should talk.” Will Ginny come clean about what’s going on here?
IAN GOLDBERG: [Laughs] She certainly intends to in that moment.
Let's get into the Dorie side of it. He's following June’s truck. He says he's going to follow. Then he turns off at the fork in the road. Where is he going and why is he going there?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: I think we have a pretty good idea of where he's going. He brought it up earlier to June. He mentioned that cabin that June and Dorie actually met at, and it's the place that we know from his history that he retreated to the last time he felt like the world was making him into someone he didn't want to be. So that, in fact, is where he's headed when he leaves. And it's Dorie kind of falling back into his old patterns when the world kind of throws up challenges that force him to act in a way that makes him uncomfortable, that makes him choose to see the world in a way that isn't the way he wants to see it. He'd rather run away.
And I think the really sad thing is he and June have brought so much good out of each other, way back in season 4. Finding each other is the thing that allowed them each to start to heal. It's the thing that allowed them to reconnect to the world. And now in this moment, when really they need each other more than anything, they're both headed in opposite directions. And it's really going to raise the question of how they come back together and how their very different reactions to dealing with Ginny can be compatible going forward.
What’s coming up next on Fear the Walking Dead?
IAN GOLDBERG: Very excited about next week's episode. We teased this week's as There Will Be Blood in the apocalypse. And for next week for next episode, it is the zombie apocalypse riff on some themes and ideas you might find in movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: The last time we saw Strand and Alicia together, he sent her off and said he needed her to remember who she was and wanted her to be able to remind him of who he was. And I will say, we will see kind of both of those things put to the test, and we'll see who ends up being able to do that.
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