The Fear the Walking Dead showrunners answer your midseason-finale burning questions
Warning: This article contains spoilers for "Padre," Sunday's midseason finale of Fear the Walking Dead.
"We're going to war." That was the final line of the first half of Fear the Walking Dead's seventh season — but what was most surprising was who was delivering it to whom in the series' midseason finale.
Upset over her inability to locate the allegedly safe haven of PADRE and shocked to find her friend Will (Gus Halper) was murdered by her former post-apocalyptic BFF, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) declared war on Victor Strand (Colman Domingo).
"You have taken so much from me," Alicia told the man who used to do anything for her, including murdering poor Sanjay (Satya Nikhil Polisetti). "And now I'm going to take something from you. I'm taking the one thing that matters to you the most. I am taking that tower."
That battle will become the focal point for the back half of season 7. To learn more, we spoke to showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg about everything that's gone down — including Alicia losing an arm to a walker bite — and what's up next with war on the horizon.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, why did you bastards decide to take Alicia's arm?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: So much of Alicia's journey this season is really about her having to dig down deep and find the things she believes in, things that will drive her as a leader. And we basically wanted to make that journey as hard as possible for her. And one way to do that is to, on top of all the other problems everyone was dealing with, give her something very personal and existential [to deal with]. And that is the after-effects of a walker bite and an amputation in a way that we have not seen before in the Walking Dead universe.
We've seen people get bit and die from it. We've seen people get bit, amputate their limbs in time, and survive. But what we see with Alicia is unique. She amputates the arm. She wakes up and is still suffering from fevers. And as Will states in the episode, it's not clear whether that's from the walker bite, from sepsis, or from the way she cut off her arm. But we see it's something she's been dealing with for a while, and something she will be dealing with as we continue the season.
Alicia says she didn't amputate the arm in time and that the infection is still inside her and it's only a matter of time before she loses that battle. Is that true? Is Alicia dying?
IAN GOLDBERG: I think the best way to answer that is that Alicia thinks she might be dying. She doesn't know exactly what's going on with her. She has no way of knowing, other than the fact that she has survived for months. She is still not well. She's still suffering from the after-effects of this bite and amputation. And it's really driving her to this place where she feels like she needs to find a safe place for these people that she has been leading from the bunker, in addition to her friends with Morgan [Lennie James] and the sub.
So I think the question of whether it will ultimately get the better of her is one that you'll just have to watch for as the season plays out. But I think for Alicia, as Andrew said, it's an existential question that looms over her: "I don't know how much time I have. And what am I going to do with it?" I think that sums it up.
Last question about the arm. How'd you come up with the look with her bones still being there? You talked about this being unique. That's certainly something we haven't seen before.
CHAMBLISS: And Morgan questions her about it a little bit, and asks her if those are in fact her bones. And she confirms it, but it's very clear she doesn't want to talk about it. We'll dig in a bit more as to why she made the decision to use her own bones in the prosthetics she made. But I think we can say it has to do with not wanting to let that walker take anything from her. It's like a statement of her own strength.
What makes Alicia think zombie Senator will be able to lead her to PADRE and that walkers have an echo of memories? is this based on any sort of evidence, or just hope?
GOLDBERG: Actually, some of what you're asking is going to be answered in 7B. We're going to learn a bit more, actually quite a bit more, about why Alicia was so compelled to follow this particular walker.
But in terms of why she follows it in this episode, what Alicia's saying in terms of the walker having vestigial memories and that they can't be all the way gone, I think where that's coming from for her is twofold. One, it speaks to a desperation on her part, of needing to believe that this Senator will lead them to PADRE because he's the only one who knew where it was. And she's doubled down on using this method to get there. But the other thing is she herself is sick. And she worries she's got a ticking clock on her own life and that she could turn at any point.
I think it's her reckoning with the fact that if she were to turn, it would be horrifying to imagine that all the humanity in her would be gone. So it's sort of making that strange connection with the walker when she's facing potential death herself.
I want to ask you guys a few things about the Strand and Alicia confrontation at the end. When Strand makes that promise to take care of her people even if she's not around, is that a promise we should expect him to keep?
CHAMBLISS: I think that is probably a question that's impossible to answer, just because Strand, being Strand, so often does what he needs to in the moment to best serve himself. And I think in that moment, he fully believes he will take those people in because he wants to repair the damage he sees in his relationship with Alicia. He's really desperate for her to come and join him.
But ultimately, when Alicia sees Will and starts to put together what happened, it just makes it so clear to her that Strand is always going to end up doing what he needs to for himself in the moment. And he can make those promises now and could mean it now. But in the future, if circumstances were to change, and she weren't there to keep him honest, she could never be certain whether or not he actually would take care of the people she wants him to.
So what about the flip side? When Alicia says, "I'm taking the one thing that matters to you the most. I am taking that tower" — what percentage of that is wanting to protect her people and what percentage is to hurt Strand?
GOLDBERG: I think it's both, because she's in a place where she hedged all of her bets on PADRE, which led her to the spinning beacon of the tower. And if she's not going to find PADRE, then this is a safe place where her people can go. So that's one aspect of it. That's the practical part.
But Strand has also just revealed to Alicia moments before that he killed Will specifically because Will told him that he loved Alicia. And he wanted to hurt Alicia as much as possible. So if I were Alicia, I'd be pretty pissed off too. And so I think that's certainly the emotional part of her that says, "We're going to war, and I'm going to take that tower from you, however I need to."
And that's the big climatic line you end the first half of season 7 on. So what is that war going to look like in the back half of season 7?
CHAMBLISS: One thing we saw a lot of in the first half of the season is the haves and the have-nots, the people Strand deemed worthy to come into the tower, the people who, either through circumstance or choice, ended up with Morgan on the submarine. And the fact that there are now battle lines delineated, people are going to have to question the choices they made.
They're going to have to question their loyalties and decide who they think is going to be victorious and who they think they should back. And it's really going to amount to almost a civil war amongst all these characters, where I think there will some surprising choices made. Don't want to say too much about how the fight will go, but it will lead to some big changes in some key relationships on the show.
How will the folks in the tower like June, Dorie, Wendell, and Grace factor into that war?
GOLDBERG: I really can't say much about that, unfortunately. They will factor heavily. It's something we have not explored much of in 7A, which is, what can be done from within? We've talked a lot about the external threats to the tower from outside, but something that's going to play a big role in 7B is, how do the people that Strand has inside his tower either work against him or side by side with him? And I think there'll be some surprising alliances and fractures that we'll see in the back half of the season.
Now that we have this war happening and the tower is going to become the focal point, is PADRE over, or is it still sort of out there?
CHAMBLISS: The first half of the season, I think most people were uncertain whether or not it was even real. People had heard rumors of it, but there's no concrete proof. In 708, we obviously saw some concrete proof in the bunker with that government binder that Alicia saw. So PADRE is real. It is out there. It is not at the forefront of anyone's minds, just because of the more immediate problems with Strand in the tower. But it's lurking in the background, and it may make an appearance at some point in the back half.
It'd be great if they finally found directions to PADRE and they go there and it turns out to be the baseball stadium from season 4.
GOLDBERG: It's for the San Diego Padres!
Right! They're a farm team for the Padres! Okay, I want one more tease from each of you on what's coming up in the second half of season 7.
GOLDBERG: Well, one thing we will definitely see across 7B is the rise of Alicia as a leader. Alicia comes from a stock of strong leaders. Her mother, Madison [Kim Dickens], was this incredibly iconic emotional epicenter leader on the series. And Alicia has throughout the seasons been wrestling with living in her mother's legacy, fulfilling it, trying to carry it forward. But I think what we're going to see is Alicia dig really deep and actually forge her own path in a way that honors Madison but is completely unique to Alicia. She's really going to come into her own as a leader in the back half of the season.
CHAMBLISS: One thing we'll see in this war is that everyone looks to the people they have on their sides and their talents. And I'd say if I were going into battle, one person I would want on my side is Daniel Salazar [Rubén Blades], someone who has experience in war going all the way back to his childhood and is highly skilled in subterfuge. The key there would just be figuring out how to harness that, given the PTSD-memory-induced problems he is suffering from.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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