The twist that greeted Fear the Walking Dead fans in Sunday’s midseason finale wasn’t just shocking to the audience — turns out, it also shocked and disappointed the actors. But Kim Dickens, who as Madison Clark has basically anchored the show through its first three and a half seasons, says she understands why new showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss ended up making such a... fateful... decision.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for the Season 4 "No One’s Gone" episode of Fear the Walking Dead below**
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Dickens didn’t hold back about her love for the show, saying she wasn’t ready to give up her role as Clark and was “heartbroken” when Goldberg and Chambliss informed her Madison would sacrifice herself for the sake of her friends in the midseason finale.
“Obviously it was shocking to me and it was disappointing. It was heartbreaking,” she admitted. “I have loved this character, I’ve loved playing this character, I’ve loved this show, and I’m so proud to be strong female empowered lead of a genre show,” adding that her character’s age (“I’m not in my 20s or not in my 30s, mind you”) and responsibility as a tough mom only deepened her affection for the role.
While the surprise death left Dickens “shocked and disappointed and heartbroken,” she understands the show’s creative direction assures its key characters — like Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), who was killed off earlier this season after Dillane asked to leave the series — are never safe from extinction.
“[I]t’s in the hands of the writers and the producers, and that’s the fate that befalls so many of the characters in this genre,” she said. “Basically, the message is, no one’s safe.”
Dickens’ co-stars weren’t thrilled to see her go, either. On Sunday’s Talking Dead aftershow, Colman Domingo (Victor Strand) said the often-used “we’re all family” trope is more than a cliche for the FTWD cast, and that Dickens has always been vital to that dynamic.
“People say that, you know, their shows, ‘we’re family’ — this is true,” he said. “This is, what you’re seeing here — the loss that we’ve suffered as we knew this story, what this storytelling had to do — we were losing that,” Domingo said, after confiding that he'd miss Dickens’ “great leadership.”
With two main characters gone, the back half of Season 4 is set to head in a very different direction — one that not even Dickens herself has glimpsed. “I don’t know what the second half of the season entails,” she told EW. “…I’m still super-close to my castmates and everything. We’re all really tight, but I haven’t really heard anything about what’s going to happen on the show. It’ll be interesting to see. And it will be a void.”
We — and the cast — have the rest of the summer to process it all. Season 4 of Fear the Walking Dead picks up where it left us hanging at AMC on Aug. 12.