Fear The Walking Dead on AMC

Exclusive: Fear the Walking Dead chief promises more Walkers and a new Big Bad

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Sep 8, 2017

The Walkers will rise again when Fear The Walking Dead returns to AMC for Season 3B this Sunday, executive producer Dave Erickson promised in an interview with SYFY WIRE. And while it won't happen right away, Erickson tells us that later this season we can expect a new Big Bad who will rival Jeremiah Otto.

BEWARE! SPOILERS AHEAD!

In the mid-season finale, Nick killed Jeremiah to stop a war with Walker's Nation, and Madison covered things up claiming Jeremiah had committed suicide. Fear The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 8PM ET on AMC with a special two-episode premiere. The series has also been picked up for a fourth season to return next year.

Erickson (Sons of Anarchy) chatted with SYFY WIRE about what we can look forward to in the second half of season three, about the Madison of it all, and about an unexpected twist that may be in the future for one of our heroes.

Madison was true to her word. She took over at the ranch by the end of the first half of the season.

Dave Erickson: Yes, she did. And I don't think she took over in exactly the way she expected. But I think what she came to realize she chose on the wrong side. I think they all came to realize that. I think she saw an opportunity to make that right with Walker and with the Nation, but she also realized that in choosing the wrong side, she'd also chosen the weaker side. And I think she realized that the Nation taking over was inevitable, and what she designed quite violently was a way to offer a peace to Walker that he would accept.

Now going into the back half there is something of a conspiracy and both she and her two children are the co-conspirators. They have to make sure that this idea of Otto's suicide is the prevailing story, and hopefully nobody gets wind of that. Of course, Nick fowls that up in the first episode.

Fear The Walking Dead on AMC

As we all know there are no secrets that aren't revealed at some point on a television show.

(Laughs) You're right. It's less about the secret than the conspiracy that surrounds it. From an emotional standpoint, it's more about the impact that that murder has on Nick. He's not a killer. Despite the fact that he shares Madison's DNA there's a fragile quality about Nick. There always has been. He takes the burden off of his mother in the finale by killing Otto himself and sparing her, and not forcing her to repeat the history that she's just shared, but the problem is that it does tears at him.

We try as best as we can whenever we have a major death to make sure that there are ramifications from that and that there are some repercussions. But I think you definitely will see that in Nick. And then ultimately Alicia, her direction in the back half of the season will be in no small part to that murder as well. Both those kids, as we move forward, will really define themselves and really set out in their own direction and unfortunately that's going to be, in all likelihood, in opposition to Madison.

Well, that seems inevitable too.

Yeah, as much as she's tried desperately to hold on, I think she's held on way too tight and that's going to come back to bite her in the ass.

Fear The Walking Dead on AMC

Regarding the ranch, there's this new truce going on with Walker and the Nation. What will the concerns be with the ranch at this point?

One of the things Walker said is “We are the living. We have our differences but the war is over and we need to focus on the dead outside.” That's going to become a much more of a threat over the next few episodes. It's something that the ranch had been quite insulated from. They had the manpower to go out and to kill any walkers and now we don't have that as much. I think now they're going to suffer and they're going to feel that vise begin to close, so that's going to be a huge issue for the rest of the season.

The back half has a lot of do with reuniting characters. Characters that have been separated for quite some time are going to start to come back together. We'll bring Strand back together with Madison, and then hopefully we seem to be heading towards a reuniting of Ofelia and Daniel. To a larger extent I was very much interested in the idea of trying to bring the family back together as best we could by the time the season ended.

Any group that's run into Madison and her family hasn't fared well on the series so far. I'm a little worried about Walker and the Nation. Seems like it's only a matter of time.

It is only a matter of time. Primarily the drama, the tension, the jeopardy within the ranch has been about the infighting between the Otto family. It's been about the larger conflict about the ranch and the Nation. So now that we've found something of a peace, the next stage of that is probably going to be the undead. There will be a lot more pressure on the ranch. Unfortunately, where Madison and family go oftentimes violence tends to follow, so I don't think this is going to be an exception.

Fear The Walking Dead - Colman Domingo

In the previews, Madison was talking about a water shortage coming up.

The resources, which we planted going back to episode three of this season and the introduction of the damn, all roads are going to lead to water. Ultimately the damn is going to become that much more important as we move towards the end of the season.

So the ranch is caught between the dangers of the dead outside, but also they're running out of resources. Despite the fact that they've got a very large store of food and MREs, the crucial thing they don't have a limitless supply of is water ... It's going to be one of the driving narrative lines for the rest of the season.

Are we going to meet some new people?

Yes. There will be nobody in the immediate first few episodes, but we will meet a character down the road who represents a greater danger and evil than anybody we've met to this point. And it's someone who I think Jeremiah Otto will pale in comparison to him. So there's the potential of a Big Bad that will come to the fore later on. As the family comes together, and it will be somewhat traumatic and somewhat violent if they do come together, they need to be in opposition to something. So one of the things we'll thread into the story as we get towards the end is who that force is, who that person is.

What's the thing that's given you the most gray hairs this season?

I lost all my hair in season one (laughs). It was a really good season. We found our rhythm from a production stance in Mexico. It was our second season there and the crew was fantastic... We had some location issues and challenges. The ranch itself, which was a wonderful location, but was not terribly easy to get to. I think the actors and crew had some very rough roads to go over morning. It was a bit of a strain. Aside from that, the writers' room was amazing ... We got to a place where we had directors coming back ... It was good.

Fear The Walking Dead on AMC

After waiting so long it's going to seem like the second half of the season will be over before we know it. It looks like you're opening with two episodes on Sunday and closing with two episodes on Oct. 15. That seems very fast with only eight episodes total.

It feels much longer to me, I guess because it's been such a long hiatus between 3A and 3B. It will be good to at least finish this chapter of the story.

You guys have been picked up for another season.

Yes, picked up for Season 4.

Do you know if it will be split up again in two parts like it's been in the past?

That would be my guess.

It's interesting how they've got the two different Walking Deads set up through the year.

I think the networks goal is to have zombies on in every quarter.

Maybe they'll start a new one, like Beware The Walking Dead to take up the few weeks they have left without a Walking Dead on.

(Laughs) That's a good idea. We might have reached a point of critical mass of zombies though.

What has really surprised you most about Fear The Walking Dead. The thing you weren't expecting.

It wasn't a surprise, but one of the things that was most interesting to me, it's interesting to do a show that's drafting behind one of the most popular shows on television. There's an adjustment period. A goodly percentage of the audience seemed to be expecting a carbon copy of the show.

Fear The Walking Dead on AMC

I think it's really different.

And that was part of the challenge. I think conceptually we tried to make it as different tonally as we possibly could. And there was an adjustment period. It took us time to get to a place where the audience who was watching Fear was watching because they liked Fear and not because they were hoping it'd be more like The Walking Dead. That's not surprising necessarily, but that was interesting.

But from a creative standpoint, that process as the audience was trying to adjust to the differences in the show, we were also trying to define those differences. We started to find that really in the back half of season two. We slowed things down a little bit in the story. We became less episodic. And I think that was realized as best we could in season three. It's been an interesting learning process.

For you, what's special about Fear The Walking Dead?

It's a different twist on the apocalyptic genre. From a character and a performance point of view I do think that for me this season in particular, and you can get a recap on the previous two and still go into this season and pick up here. But I think it's definitely much more than a zombie show. This season is very specific to what's going on in the country right now, and that is one of the things we wanted to lean into. And I think if you are a fan of the genre there's no shortages of twists and turns. 

I think you also have one of of the most interesting characters on television with Madison.

I agree. She's something of a controversial character at times.

I actually I think she's the bad guy.

That's interesting ... There's a number of characters you meet on The Walking Dead, and when you meet them they are full blown villains, they're already Big Bads. And nine times out of ten you get some understanding of their backstory as they progress. I always thought it'd be interesting to take one of our characters who is ostensibly is good, ostensibly is benevolent when we first meet them and then to watch that process and get to a place where you realize that a character that you invested in, that you realized that they are bad. You realize they are becoming the Governor. I think that's one of the things we can possibly look forward to on the show.

Here's a look at Sunday's Fear The Walking Dead: