SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Fear The Walking Dead Season 2 midseason finale.
Tonight’s Fear The Walking Dead midseason finale was entitled ‘Shiva” and, like the term itself, the seventh episode of the spinoff’s second season worked on many fatal levels. “It’s all about blood,” says executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, “blood and bond.” In Judaism, Shiva is the seven-day period of mourning after the death of a loved one. In Hinduism, Shiva is one of the three major gods and charged with both destruction and re-creation. In tonight’s first midseason finale for The Walking Dead spinoff, both elements were in play.
With the death of Victor Strand’s (Coleman Domingo) infected lover Thomas Abigail at the former’s own hand in the previous episode, the Baja sanctuary was thrown into mourning and divisive chaos. Even with the discovery by the flashback-plagued Daniel (Rubén Blades) that there is a basement full of captured walkers underneath everyone’s feet, the apocalypse-denying Celia (Marlene Forte) takes complete control of the estate, exiles Strand (Colman Domingo) for killing her beloved Thomas after the latter is buried, and only allows the rest of our West Coast survivors to stay because the heavily influenced Nick (Frank Dillane) covers himself in the blood of the infected and retrieves her already turned son Luis for her.
As Daniel’s grip on reality loosens with vivid visions of his time in the militia in El Salvador and his dead wife Griselda, and Nick finds an understanding of the new world in Celia, Travis (Cliff Curtis) goes in search of his increasingly dangerous son and knife-wielding Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie). Eventually, Nick finds Travis and Chris, but his mother’s boyfriend says the pair are not coming back to the rest of the group because he must take care of the troubled Chris, who has been unraveling since his infected mother and Travis’ ex was killed at the end of Season 1. Travis asks Nick to tell Madison (Kim Dickson) he couldn’t find them. Escaping capture by Celia’s men, Daniel goes to the basement where the hoard of familial walkers and now Celia — who Madison tricked down there — are behind bars, pours gasoline everywhere and lights the “unholy place” and seemingly himself on fire.
As the flames envelop the estate, Strand returns to rescue Madison, her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Daniel’s daughter (Mercedes Mason) and Nick and take them back to their boat to get out of there. However, the former junkie says he isn’t coming with them because he has seen another way and all the survivors bring is death.
With the Robert Kirkman- and Dave Erickson-created FearTWD expected back in August, Hurd took some time from the start of Season 7 of flagship The Walking Dead to discuss who we saw the last of tonight, what’s coming and the West Coast survivors going. The EP, who holds the same title on TWD, Syfy’s Hunters and USA Network’s upcoming thriller series Falling Water, also noted lesson learned on the spinoff’s longer Season 2 and how and why her two AMC zombie apocalypse shows are actually quite different.
DEADLINE: Let’s start where it all ended in the midseason finale: It definitely looks like we’ve seen the last of Daniel for good, and maybe the last of Travis and Nick and Chris for a while?
HURD: Well, I mean, you don’t see Daniel die, so I wouldn’t assume that he’s gone forever. However, the perception certainly among our characters on the show is that he’s gone. So, you know, we’ll see how that plays out.
DEADLINE: Why the departure, temp or not?
HURD: Rubén’s a very busy guy. He’s got a lot of things on his plate, and we certainly hope that he will be back.
DEADLINE: What about Celia – we never actually saw her among those Daniel set on fire in the basement. Is she truly gone?
HURD: She is gone. When Madison locked her in with the infected and when Daniel burned the place down, she perished with them.
You didn’t see her because we really wanted to focus on Daniel’s mind-set at the time, and what he saw was Griselda. That, you know, so he may be looking at Celia, but we’re in his POV, and he’s seeing Griselda, and in essence, sometimes you cleanse with water, sometimes with fire, and he truly did believe that the place was evil, and obviously, he connected it with the great sins of his own life.
DEADLINE: Speaking of connecting and besides the obvious fact that they are out of L.A., on the sea and now in Mexico, how has having a 15-episode Season 2 changed the story of these West Coast survivors?
HURD: Obviously we can delve far more deeply into characters, and we can cover a lot more territory geographically, as you’ve seen in these first episodes of Season 2. But most importantly, because we once again, like in The Walking Dead, have a large cast, we really get to know them all. And we get to find out how the zombie apocalypse has affected each one of them, and examine the theme of the season, which is blood versus bond.
DEADLINE: With Travis and Chris going their own way for now and Nick refusing to join his mother and Strand in going back to the boat, the impact of the reality of their situation is hitting hard, plus this is the first time you’ve broken this group up. Why?
HURD: Once again, it’s about blood and bond. Chris and Travis are blood. Travis feels really responsible for Chris, and wonders if their relationship and what has happened — not only before the zombie apocalypse but the impact on Chris of Travis doing what he needed to do, which is make sure that his ex-wife Liza didn’t turn — seems to have had a profoundly negative impact on their son.
And, as you saw in the midseason finale, he’s not going to just let him go. He will do anything to save him.
DEADLINE: That relationship between parents and children is far different in Fear say from TWD because the children are older, teens and young adults and in Nick’s case, a just recently clean heroin addict. How is that factoring into this new reality on the newer show?
HURD: They don’t have life experience, and they have to gain it very quickly in order to survive, but they also are at a time when they’re just discovering who they are. With Nick, he was existing in a mad world before this happened, and it’s almost as if you’re much more feral when you’re a drug addict.
From that, he’s more accepting of the changed world, and he doesn’t view it through the same lens that everyone else does, as evil. The bright side to that is, at least at this point, his addiction is cured. But you know, he’s seeking something else to connect with, and I think that’s why he was so easily swayed by Celia.
DEADLINE: Going into the last half of Season 2, are we going to see a return to an urban environment like L.A., where we started out, or is this…
HURD: I can’t say. I’m sorry. But I will say, the second half of the season is going to take us on many, many different journeys.
DEADLINE: OK, but on that theme of different journeys, as EP on both, how do you see Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead differing in tone and format?
HURD: You know, Walking Dead is very much a larger-than-life show. It’s inspired by these larger-than-life characters that Robert Kirkman created in the comic book, obviously with the additions and changes that we’ve make along the way. But it’s much more, I think, operatic in that sense. I think we’ve always looked at Fear The Walking Dead as a dysfunctional family drama set in the zombie apocalypse.
DEADLINE: How far along are you with the new season of Walking Dead?
HURD: We just started the beginning of May. We’re in the second episode now.
DEADLINE: Are you still shuttling from set to set, with all the shows you have going?
HURD: Well, Hunters wrapped in Australia in November, actually, early December, and Falling Water just started shooting. So, the good news is that some of the commute between Georgia where we film Walking Dead and New York isn’t so extreme, so I’ll be down there. And we’ll be wrapping up Season 2 of Fear in Baja Studios in June. Also, the very cool thing about this season of Fear is that by virtue of having the story move to Mexico, we’re going to be seeing some fantastic Hispanic talent on the show.
DEADLINE: Talking of the future, are we going to see Fear back at Comic-Con this year?
HURD: I don’t know. I hope so but they haven’t told us.