‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Showrunner Spills Season 2 Details: ‘Things Have Accelerated’

“Last season, we didn’t see the scale of devastation,” Dave Erickson tells TheWrap

Last time we saw the families at the center of “Fear the Walking Dead,” they had just seen, perhaps for the first time, the scale of devastation caused by the impending zombie apocalypse.

As Madison (Kim Dickens) and Travis (Cliff Curtis) and their somewhat blended family took refuge with the mysterious Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) at his palatial oceanfront home, Los Angeles was rapidly becoming a war zone behind them.

When we catch up with this ragtag gang in Season 2, they’ll be on board Strand’s yacht, which we glimpsed as their escape vehicle at the end of Season 1. And there will be more tension on the high seas.

“For me, this has always been about the disintegration of this family through the filter of the disintegration of the world, and that’s very much how the show tracks. Everything we set up in the first season continues to play out this season,” showrunner Dave Erickson told TheWrap about Season 2. “We don’t close any doors completely, but there are some interesting shifts for the characters.”

Below, Erickson also talks about the structure of the series going forward, the logistics of filming on a boat (and its “Titanic” connection) and how “Fear” will or will not play into “The Walking Dead.”

You were picked up for two seasons right off the bat. Do you see Season 2 as the conclusion of a two-parter?
It’s interesting. We did six episodes last season and we have 15 this season. And AMC has this lovely programming hiatus where they’ll run the first seven — like “The Walking Dead” does — and then have a break. It really feels like three chapters to me. For me, this has always been about the disintegration of this family through the filter of the disintegration of the world, and that’s very much how the show tracks. Everything we set up in the first season continues to play out this season. We don’t close any doors completely, but there are some interesting shifts for the characters.

The Travis-Chris [Lorenzo Henrie] dynamic is very interesting this season because of what Travis had to do to Liza [Elizabeth Rodriguez]. Nick [Frank Dillane] is going to have a different outlook and appreciation of the apocalypse, which is going to be of some concern to Madison. And Alicia’s [Alycia Debnam-Carey] going to go through [a lot] — for the one person on the show who had a lot in her future. … Nick is going to function relatively well in this world, because he was already living his own apocalypse in many respects. Alicia is going to be in a different place. Three chapters in a very, very long book.

You’ve said you see the show starting out as a family drama and then evolving into an apocalyptic drama. How far down that road are we now?
For me, it’s still very much a family drama, and then there are zombies. We’re now stepping into the world [where] things have accelerated. We were fairly insulated last season, we didn’t see the scale of devastation until we made that drive to Strand’s house. It’s still relatively new. If you’re marking time, we did a nine-day jump from Episodes 3 and 4, but if you add up all the days, it’s around two weeks, going into Week 3. Relative to where Rick woke up in Gerogia, we still have some mileage to play out. We also haven’t had an institution download — no one has told us this is our extinction event, it’s over. We’re on the boat, we’re going to see it’s no safer on the sea than it is on land. And we’re on this journey to figure out, “Where is ‘Safe’?” For some of our characters, the idea of hope sustains, for others it ends. Every time you think you’re going to move into a better place, every time there’s a possibility and that hope is torn, it draws you closer to a sense of defeat and nihilism. It can cut both ways, which is intriguing to me.

How long do we stay on the boat and what were the logistics of filming on that boat?
For a good chunk of the season, we go back and forth. It’s not a port of call each episode, but we sort of hug the coastline: There’s work on land, there’s work on the boat. The boat was interesting, it was a learning curve for everybody. We shot at Baja Film Studios. That was the studio James Cameron built for “Titanic.” We built a large section of [Strand’s yacht] the Abigail, which sits on a barge in the tank. Then we built some interiors and cobbled that together. In terms of the seascapes, that’s all FX. It was challenging at first. But when it cut together, there are some shots in there that I really think could have taken place in the middle of the ocean, and I think if we can pull that off, it’s kinda cool. I do think that sense of isolation, of being surrounded by the abyss, is important in terms of extending that tonal idea, that anxiety and dread. It’s one of my worst fears, being stuck in the middle of the ocean with no idea what’s beneath me and no eye line to shore.

As a prequel of sorts, will we see any reveals of events on “Fear” that directly led to something that happened on “The Walking Dead”?
Not really, because — true to the comic and true to the original show — we only see things through the filter of our family and our group. I think Robert [Kirkman] has never wanted to tell the story through the military or the politicians or people trying to fix things. That’s one of the rules we follow. No, I don’t think we’ll ever get a sense of, “Was there one catastrophic misplay that resulted in…?” Like, “Did they not close the airport soon enough, or…?” Yeah, no.

“Fear the Walking Dead” premieres Sunday, April 10 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.