'Fear TWD' showrunners talk Victor's darker turn, confirm we'll see Alicia again soon, and tell us whether or not you should give up hope on a potential Madison return
- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the "Fear TWD" season 7 premiere.
- Showrunners Chambliss and Goldberg break down the premiere and tease what's ahead with Insider.
"Fear the Walking Dead" kicked off its season seven premiere with the fallout from Teddy's nuclear warheads dropping all over Texas.
A few months after the events of the season six finale, the landscape of the walker apocalypse is completely ravaged in the south. Food is scarce, water is polluted, and the walkers are falling apart.
But not everyone is struggling.
Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) is thriving in his own tower fortress complete with fine art, pasta, a bountiful garden (that somehow isn't affected by the radiation that's a threat to just about everything else), and his own personal putt-putt.
As they're plugging away at the production of the final four episodes of the season, Insider caught up with co-showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg to discuss Strand's dark turn this season, whether or not we should give up on a potential Madison return (never!), and when we can expect to see Alicia again (it will be soon).
'The Walking Dead's' final season is not affecting how season seven of 'Fear TWD' is playing out.
Insider: I know it's not your show, but how did you guys feel when you learned that "The Walking Dead" was ending? Did you feel like that meant anything for "Fear" season seven and how you'd have to think about the progression of the season?
Andrew Chambliss: To answer the first question, it felt like a momentous thing. It felt like the end of an era. "The Walking Dead" has been such a huge show and such a huge part of pop culture for the past decade that it felt like a big thing.
In terms of kind of how we felt about it affecting "Fear," I think the answer there is really not that much. We've obviously had the crossovers with Morgan, Dwight, and Sherry, but since then the timelines between the shows have diverged in a big way. "The Walking Dead" is way ahead of where "Fear" is and we've really been focused on our particular time in our particular corner of the universe. I think our hope is that we're just lucky enough to keep making more.
Ian Goldberg: I would just add that it was a really bittersweet thing to hear that the show was ending because, on the one hand, it's hard to remember a time when "The Walking Dead" wasn't on because it's just been so ubiquitous and such an inspiration.
Even before Andrew and I were working in the universe we were just such fans of everything on that show. It's definitely been a huge inspiration and there's so much story that probably could continue to be told for many, many years. But, I think there's also a gift in knowing that you have an ending to write toward and to really give those characters conclusions.
I think that's kind of the blessing and the curse of having such an iconic beloved show. You want it to go on forever, but there's also something very satisfying in writing to a conclusion.
Pandemic limitations forced the crew to get creative with how they executed the number of people in scenes and the look and feel of a land devastated by radiation.
"TWD" showrunner Angela Kang recently told Entertainment Weekly there were a production limitations in every episode of season 11 for these first eight episodes. We talked about this a little bit for the back half of season six, but how much of season seven was informed by any constraints? How creative did you get? Clearly we open up on this extended single person narrative with will on the premiere.
Chambliss: Yeah. There's always production limitations.
At this given point in time, we have limitations in terms of COVID protocols and how many people we can have on set, how many cast members we can safely get through hair, makeup, wardrobe, and shoot with. Those are all additional creative limits that we have. The thing that is so exciting about working with the crew we have is that it really pushes them to come up with even more creative ways to do things.
The fact that we set off nuclear bombs [last season] kind of demanded that the landscape changed and our crew in Austin [Texas] really came together to figure out a way to have contributions from every department add up to this environment that just feels like it's completely alien from anything we've seen before on "Fear," from our special effects department doing practical things like smoke and blotting out the sky to visual effects, to our cinematographers creating different looks in terms of lighting. When we started prep on the season, we weren't sure we were going to be able to kind of pull off in the scope we wanted to, but we did.
We will see Alicia in the first eight episodes of the season.
The premiere is going to make fans want to see an episode from Alicia's perspective and what her journey has been like. Why kick off the season seven premiere with someone new, Will, instead of Alicia? Is that what the half season is going to be about in some part - a search for her? Should we expect to maybe see her in the first eight episodes?
Goldberg: We definitely will see Alicia in the first eight episodes. You see, from the first episode here, that there is very much a mystery of what happened to her and why she left the bunker and what happened between her and Will that kind of caused this rift. Those are all questions that we'll answer as the season goes on.
In terms of why we wanted to start with an outsider's perspective, it was important to us to establish just how dire and devastating the world has become in the months following those nuclear blasts.
Goldberg: We wanted to show the contrast between what someone like Will, who is barely hanging on, living in a van, not having any food, forced to wrangle with his gas mask and very, very scant resources and then bringing that character into Victor Strand's orbit, which feels like this oasis of a world that exists completely outside the nuclear apocalypse.
It was wanting to use Will as our character to kind of both piece together the mystery of how Strand got here and who he's become, and, also, using Will in particular as this bridge between Strand and Alicia, which, again, is something that will carry forward, especially given how this episode ends and the horrible thing that Strand does to cut himself off from Alicia by killing Will.
Strand has a long road ahead of him because right now he's made himself an antagonist to the rest of the crew.
Yes, Victor is going down a very, very dark path. He kills Will in a very violent way at the episode's end by throwing him over a wall. Is Victor so far gone that he's lost all sense of his humanity?
Goldberg: He certainly made a very dark decision at the end of that episode. He's making a conscious choice to do something that he knows would hurt Alicia and would keep her far away from him. Alicia is someone who has always been an anchor for Strand and the fact that he is choosing to literally create a moat of the dead around his tower to keep Alicia and other people away from him... that is essentially Strand choosing what he's built - His tower, his power - over his humanity in that moment.
Now, that could certainly change. One thing that is for certain on this show is that characters rarely end in the same place where they begin each season, but Strand has a long, long road ahead of him if he even wants to redeem himself for that action. I think for now, he's siloed himself and in the process created himself as an antagonist to the rest of the crew.
The Civic Republic Military is not the group who is stripping the dead.
We learn that someone is stripping the dead. I know you won't tell me who it is. Will we learn who that is in the episodes to come? Is it the CRM? We know that "World Beyond" is doing some studies with the dead.
Chambliss: We will learn who has been stripping the dead and we will learn why they're doing it. I will say, it is not the CRM and the reason for stripping the dead is driven by reasons that are much more personal than anything under which the CRM operates.
The season will test whether or not the survivors will be able to adapt to the new world.
What are you guys excited about this season? What would you say is the overall theme? Is it survival? Is it about building a new world? Is it about who this new world will turn our survivors into? Should we hope for the group to reconnect? I feel like there are a lot of different threads going on.
Goldberg: I think you've touched upon a lot of them. There's sort of a little bit in everything of what you were saying there. It's about how will this new world change our characters and how will they adjust and adapt and reinvent themselves either for good or for not so good and will they be able to rebuild and survive or will the devastation of this new world get the better of them?
'Never give up' on a possible Madison return.
I'm running out of creative ways to ask this question. So without me sounding like a broken record, should I even bother asking a Madison question at this point? Should I just give up?
Goldberg: Never give up.
Chambliss: Never give up. But, if we had an answer to a Madison question, do you think we would really give you the answer?
You can read more from our conversation with Chambliss and Goldberg next week and follow along with our "TWD" universe coverage here. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
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