FEAR THE WALKING DEAD
Season t wo of Fear The Walking Dead is exploring watery new territor y, a s Richard Edwards hears f rom star Clif f Curtis
The prequel series re- starts.
You didn’t think zombies just
had a thing for the humid Deep South, did you? Spin- off series
Fear The Walking Dead confirmed what we’d suspected all along – that the zombie epidemic wasn’t just confined to the Atlanta area, and that the dead coming back from, well, death was very much a nationwide concern.
Focusing on entirely new characters, the six episodes of Fear The Walking Dead’s Los Angeles- set first season ventured into territory that the parent show skipped entirely.
The Walking Dead conveniently missed out the first weeks of the zombie outbreak, with leading man sheriff Rick Grimes in a coma, awakening to find a bleak, 28 Days Later- ish world where civilisation had all- but- collapsed. This companion piece, meanwhile, gave us front row seats for the fall of society. What started as a minor epidemic of
extreme flu, the odd school/ business being closed, and elderly neighbours getting a bit bitey, soon descended into full- on disaster- movie territory. You know the sort of thing: martial law, the army taking their tanks to the streets, ordinary people forced to take crash courses in being Bear Grylls to survive… To the point that, by the end of season one, the outbreak is at more- or- less the point where Rick Grimes woke up in the original series. It’s that world we return to in the 15- episode ( seven episodes will air in this initial run, the remaining eight later in 2016) season two.
“It’s actually a completely different show [ this year],” says Cliff Curtis, who plays school teacher turned apocalypse survivor Travis Manawa. “The first season was the slow burn but that’s over and done with now. The scale of the new season is really impressive. I’m amazed how they’re really throwing it down. I think the audience is going to be very pleasantly surprised by the new take on the show. I was surprised by the direction of some of the things the writers have been coming up with for the new season. We’re building on what we started – I feel that the first season was the opening act.”
When we last saw Fear The Walking Dead’s survivors, they were holed up in a seafront mansion owned by the mysterious Strand ( season one standout Colman Domingo). Travis ( a pacifist by nature) had just shot dead his bitten ex- wife in front of his new fiancée, and potential salvation floats in the Pacific, in the form of Strand’s boat “Abigail”. Though, as anyone who’s watched the parent show knows, even the most seemingly safe places can rapidly become deathtraps in Walking
Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s universe. “I think what we’ll come to realise, very quickly as we move into the first couple of episodes, is that they were not the only people with this bright idea,” explains showrunner Dave Erickson. “They’re not the only ones that have decided to become refugees from Los Angeles and make a break for the water. What do they do when they’re confronted with the infected and what will they do when confronted with other survivors? How do they approach them and where does the greater danger lie?”
In addition to boats containing passengers both living and ( un) dead, we also know that “Flight 462”, the plane that’s featured in an eponymous online miniseries, is somehow going to come into play – it’s even been confirmed that one of the passengers will join the Fear The Walking Dead cast.
“I think we’ll quickly realise that the ocean is no safer than land and that there’s a very
different level of adversity and threat,” continues Erickson. “It forces the characters to set their sights on a destination. But where will that be? North to Vancouver or south to Cabo? That’s the intriguing question for the first few episodes of the new season: what harbour can the characters find and when they get there, will it be safe or not?”
“I really enjoy the water,” adds Curtis. “It has been challenging, but it’s so worth it. I just think it brings so much new stuff to this world. It’s so distinct and creates a totally new feeling for the show and the characters. I mean, the ocean itself is terrifying.”
“The characters don’t really know where they’re going and what they’re doing,” Curtis explains. “They’re different people now. They’ve changed significantly. We’re no longer as confused by what’s going on, and we’re all gearing up and getting into survival mode on a much more heightened level.” And that’s been a key factor in Fear The
Walking Dead so far. While Rick, Daryl, Carol, Glen and the rest of the survivors in the original series are by now a highly trained unit capable of bringing down pretty much any foe in seconds, the main players here are still new to the killing game – even though a few have broken their zombie- slaughtering duck.
“I was really quite shocked and surprised by some of the changes they’ve made to Travis!” admits Curtis. “Travis has different priorities now and he’s stepping up to the plate a lot more. He’s making much tougher decisions. He’s much more focused than in the first season when he was holding onto his idealism and striving to be a good man all the time. He’s had to rethink that. Now he has no problem with guns or with making sacrifices and just doing what needs to be done. But that’s just my character – there are big changes with the others too.”
That’s not surprising considering they’re all getting used to radically changed circumstances this year, whether it’s Travis’s drug- addict stepson Nick ( Frank Dillane) ditching heroin, his son Chris ( Lorenzo Henrie) who’s just seen his dad shoot his mum, or their companions, the recently bereaved Salazar family – father Daniel ( Rubén Blades) has some explaining to do to daughter Ofelia ( Mercedes Mason) about his torture- filled past in El Salvador.
“I think the family aspect of the show is working well,” says Curtis. “It feels very grounded by that. Families often don’t get along, but they love each other at the same time, and I think the show is growing into that. I think that aspect is really starting to bind and work increasingly well.”
They can’t escape the fact, however, that life expectancies for characters in The Walking
Dead world are typically Game Of Thrones low unless you’re one of the chosen few. “Of course, I’d like to see Travis survive,” Curtis admits. “But we get scripts shortly before we start shooting. A matter of days, actually. So we don’t get a lot of time to process what’s happening, and yes, that can be quite challenging. I often wish the writers would tell us more, but they don’t. I’m often saying, ‘ I didn’t see that coming’. But it always makes sense. It’s not just random – it all stacks up. There have been a lot of surprises. The creators are having a ball with this show, coming up with the most difficult situations for us as characters. Our characters are facing issues morally, ethically, in terms of our humanity, in terms of what it means to be a family. It’s really full on.”
Fear The Walking Dead season two premieres on 11 April on AMC, exclusive to BT.
the creators are having a ball with the show
They’re going need a bigger ( and better) boat. Fear her: she’s the walking dead, you know. Travis is joined by Daniel Salazar, a man who knows his way round a razor blade.
Nick ( Frank Dillane) goes cold turkey this season. Lawrence Of Arabia 2 anyone? Hang on, is that a flying saucer?! Nick’s presumably not in a swimming pool in Tenerife. Travis’s girlfriend Madison ( Kim Dickens) is all at sea too.