Fear the walk­ing dead

“I wanna have a full-on Shake­spearean death”

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

SEA­SON 2.5 US BROAD­CAST: AMC from 21 Au­gust UK BROAD­CAST: AMC on BT TV from 22 Au­gust

Night­mares aren’t al­ways con­quered

with the flick of a light switch, and some­times sun­shine doesn’t drive the shad­ows away. Want proof? Look no fur­ther than Fear The Walk­ing Dead’s sec­ond sea­son. Cre­ated by robert Kirk­man and Dave erickson, the Walk­ing Dead spin-off’s first year ex­am­ined the early days of the zom­bie virus, in a Los An­ge­les burst­ing apart at the seams. its newly formed fam­ily of sur­vivors barely es­caped with their lives, tak­ing to the high seas in a lux­ury yacht cap­tained by the mys­te­ri­ous Vic­tor Strand. But as zom­bie fans well know, hope, no mat­ter what form it takes, has a way of aban­don­ing you in an apoc­a­lypse. And so the first half of Fear The Walk­ing Dead’s sec­ond sea­son saw the Clarks, the Manawas and the Salazars fac­ing even greater dan­ger. now on the run in Baja, Mex­ico, the group has been splin­tered by trou­bles in­side and out, in a land made some­how all the more macabre by its balmy breezes and beaches.

When SFX ar­rives in the real Baja, we find it’s just as stun­ning as its on-screen coun­ter­part, though we re­ceive a far friend­lier re­cep­tion than Fear The Walk­ing Dead’s pro­tag­o­nists – es­pe­cially when we ar­rive at Baja Stu­dios, where the show is shot. Fa­mous within the film­mak­ing world for its mas­sive wa­ter tanks, it’s played host to some of the big­gest ocean-bound epics in film his­tory, in­clud­ing

Ti­tanic and Mas­ter And Com­man­der. With Fear land­locked in the sec­ond half of this sea­son, Strand’s boat, the Abi­gail, is, un­for­tu­nately, in the midst of be­ing dis­as­sem­bled. But we can still spot its re­mains bob­bing in a large tank on the stu­dio’s perime­ter.

Showrun­ner Dave erickson, back in LA with his writ­ers, joins us via Skype when we en­ter the fa­cil­ity’s pro­duc­tion of­fices. Wast­ing no time, we ask him what we can ex­pect in the sea­son’s back half.

“Frac­ture is the op­er­a­tive word,” he replies, and ex­plains how Fear The Walk­ing Dead will take a long, un­for­giv­ing look at its char­ac­ters on their own be­fore re­unit­ing them.

“Fun­da­men­tally, when we started, the show was a drama. it was the story of a blended fam­ily. One of the in­ter­est­ing things about travis and Madi­son, es­pe­cially travis, is that he’s tried des­per­ately to bring this fam­ily to­gether. He’s re­ally tried to force, in some in­stances, a square peg into a round hole. With the pres­sure of that, the pres­sure of the apoc­a­lypse, the pres­sure on all of our char­ac­ters com­ing off of the boat and the dis­ap­point­ment they find when they fi­nally ar­rive at the com­pound, there’s a frac­ture in the fam­ily. that’s one of the chal­lenges

they’re go­ing to face. As des­per­ately as they’ve tried to main­tain some sem­blance of fam­ily, they fail at that abysmally be­fore they can start to put that back to­gether.”

in ad­di­tion to the im­me­di­ate dan­gers fac­ing its he­roes, erickson tells us Fear will con­tinue to be fu­elled by the very things that dis­tin­guish it from The Walk­ing Dead.

“Be­cause we started earlier, we had an op­por­tu­nity to build the char­ac­ter dy­nam­ics and the fam­ily dy­nam­ics be­fore the apoc­a­lypse was full blown. if you watch the tra­jec­tory of this sea­son, all of the is­sues, all of the prob­lems, all the con­flicts be­tween our char­ac­ters, re­ally stem from what we es­tab­lished in the pilot.”

Mod­ern Fam­ily

erickson cites Madi­son’s son nick as an ex­am­ple. “He’s not shoot­ing heroin any­more, but his at­trac­tion to the dead, his sort of need to pur­sue that dark­ness, is con­sis­tent with some­body who’s look­ing for his fix. He’s look­ing at it in an ef­fort to ex­plore what his place is in this world. Why did he sur­vive when so many have died? there’s al­most a spir­i­tual qual­ity to this pur­suit. For Madi­son, she sees re­peated be­hav­iour. As the mother of an ad­dict, for her this is not about spir­i­tual ex­plo­ration. this is some­body who’s get­ting a phys­i­o­log­i­cal re­sponse to some­thing. He’s get­ting a rush off of it. that’s an el­e­ment of their re­la­tion­ship that started in the pilot and be­fore; it’s some­thing we can con­tinue to play out and dig into. that mother-son dy­namic is im­por­tant.”

Sim­i­larly, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween travis and Chris will be tested once more now they are sep­a­rated from Madi­son and her chil­dren.

“All of the dys­func­tion, the anger, the re­sent­ment that Chris has, he would have had that re­gard­less. He would have had that if the apoc­a­lypse had never hap­pened. it would have been a very tense, very chal­leng­ing, very dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship. But the fact that travis had to shoot Chris’s mom has only ex­ac­er­bated that prob­lem. So that story con­tin­ues to play out.”

But the fam­ily’s dy­namic, adds erickson, is just one way that Fear is forg­ing its own path.

“the other ob­vi­ous el­e­ment is, if you track our time­line, we haven’t reached rick grimes’ wak­ing up. right now, rick is still in a coma in ge­or­gia. We also don’t have the ben­e­fit as yet of the CDC episodes in the orig­i­nal show. We don’t have one per­son say­ing, ‘this is a global event. this is our ex­tinc­tion.’ that cre­ates a

i want so much blood that peo­ple vomit… is that too much to ask?

dy­namic, at least for this sea­son and go­ing into sea­son three, where we have a group of peo­ple who have to be­lieve there’s still some­thing out there. it’s some­thing that Chris and travis dis­cuss specif­i­cally when we get to an early episode in this back half. Which is, ‘We have to hold on long enough. Be­cause some­one, some­where must be fix­ing this.’ Where we don’t de­vi­ate from the comic or the orig­i­nal show is, we’ll never be about find­ing a cure. there’s no cause. that’s sort of the guide­line for The Walk­ing Dead, com­ing off the comic.

“those are two el­e­ments that give us a lit­tle bit of room to ex­plore,” says the showrun­ner. “el­e­ments we don’t see as of­ten or el­e­ments that we see slightly dif­fer­ently on the orig­i­nal show. Fi­nally, the re­al­ity is that as we do get deeper into the show – and this is not spe­cific to The Walk­ing Dead and Fear, it’s re­ally spe­cific to any apoc­a­lyp­tic drama – if we are go­ing to get to a place to stay that we can call sanctuary, we need to pro­tect that place once we get there. there are cer­tain tropes that are un­avoid­able. i don’t think that’s a bad thing nec­es­sar­ily. i think that it’s just part of the genre.”

nick may be the first to find such a place this sea­son, as he be­comes part of a colo­nia (a Mex­i­can colony or neigh­bour­hood) in­hab­ited by some of the coun­try’s own sur­vivors.

“i’ve been at the colo­nia for a while,” ac­tor Frank Dil­lane tells SFX as we watch him shoot a scene in the sea­son’s eleventh episode, one in which nick takes on a lead­er­ship role, and pre­pares to ne­go­ti­ate on be­half of the ram­shackle town with some deadly ban­dits. “We’re trad­ing wa­ter and drugs; and it’s come to pass that a lot of peo­ple are leav­ing the colo­nia. Which is dan­ger­ous for a few rea­sons. it’s bad for morale. And also the less peo­ple we have the less we have if the gang­sters de­cide to at­tack. So i’m bro­ker­ing a deal with one of the scouts, to per­haps do some­thing dif­fer­ent than what has been said we should do.”

In­de­pen­dent Woman

Star Mercedes Ma­son tells us Ofe­lia is also es­tab­lish­ing her in­de­pen­dence, in the wake of her fa­ther’s death in the mid­sea­son fi­nale.

“She’s com­pletely rocked. She’s at the low­est she can be,” says Ma­son. “that’s go­ing to change her emotionally a lot, and it will make her un­der­stand that when you have noth­ing to lose, when there’s no one else you have to an­swer to, then you ab­so­lutely can go off on your own and live your own life. that’s huge for her. in the sec­ond half, episode three and on, you start dis­cov­er­ing things about her past. that she’s go­ing to go look­ing for some­one, and she’s go­ing to be des­per­ate to find him or her.”

De­spite Ofe­lia’s deep­en­ing jour­ney, Ma­son’s own fear is that her char­ac­ter will, in the time-hon­oured tra­di­tion of The Walk­ing Dead, be killed off.

“i worry every day. You never know. With these shows there’s blood­lust­ing. thank you,

Game Of Thrones! ned Stark’s head has now ru­ined it for ev­ery­one else. every­body wants some blood. So we just keep in­gra­ti­at­ing our­selves to fans.”

But if she has to go, she says, she wants to go big.

“i wanna have a full-on Shake­spearean death. i want to be stabbed by a dozen peo­ple. i want to swal­low a hand grenade so my head pops off. i want so much blood that peo­ple vomit… is that too much to ask? i want chil­dren to cower!

“i have dreams,” she says with a wink.

Try­ing for the Iron Man pose, but not quite nail­ing it.

Well that’s no way to keep an eye on things.

Sure, lots of peo­ple may be dead, but you’ve got to ap­pre­ci­ate the lack of traf­fic.

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