Warning: massive spoilers ahead for the midseason finale of “Fear the Walking Dead” Season 4, titled “No One’s Gone.”
The midseason finale of “Fear the Walking Dead” Season 4 was filled with fire — and plenty of tears.
Mama bear and leader Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) died in the episode, which revealed that she sacrificed herself during the Vulture’s zombie dump so that her children Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Nick (Frank Dillane) could escape with Strand (Colman Domingo) and Luciana (Danay Garcia).
Showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss told TheWrap after the episode aired that they had been planning an “emotional story” since the beginning, and noted that in the “Walking Dead” universe, “no character is ever safe.”
“Madison has always been such a strong, complicated, heroic figure, and it was really important to us to honor her and to, you know, to pay homage to this amazing character and to give her the most emotional, powerful sendoff we could,” Goldberg said. “She saw a world in which could be more than about just survival, it could be a world in which you could build a life… that’s something she made a sacrifice for, and also that will live on in the people who have survived.”
Goldberg added that the “thematic umbrella” of Season 4 was “about hopelessness and hope.”
“As we’ve come to see in the flashback storyline, Madison is sort of the ultimate embodiment of that hope,” he said. “And in the present day storyline, we’ve seen Strand, Luciana, Alicia, and Nick before his death, were in a very hopeless dark place. And ultimately in the episode we were realize that it’s because of what they lost, and who they lost.”
This season, we were introduced to Garrett Dillahunt’s John Dorie, who has also been a symbol of hope, even in the present-day storyline. Goldberg said that “ he is going to continue to hold on to that hope, but it won’t always be an easy journey.”
“We have seen that John is an optimistic person,” Goldberg said. “He continues his search for June when a lot of signs told him to stop looking, and, you know, that’s very much just who he is. And this world will continue to throw up roadblocks to test that hope for him. And you know, that’s part of what makes him a complex and very human character.”
What do Goldberg and Chambliss have to say to fans upset by Madison’s exit?
“This is a universe that we know no character is ever safe,” Chambliss said, adding that they know this was a hard death to take in after spending so much time with her.
“Fans will see that Madison’s death is something that will reverberate through the rest of the season with every character she touched,” he continued. “Really, her whole kind of philosophy, the things she died for, the belief that no one’s gone until their gone, and that you have to fight to build a place that, as Ian said, is about more than just survival, that’s something that’s going to carry on… So even though Madison as a character won’t be on the show, really the ripples of everything she’s done will continue to be felt in the series going forward.”
Now that Nick and Madison are gone, do they foresee bringing on any other “Walking Dead” crossover characters? Goldberg said that with the addition of not only Lennie James, but Maggie Grace as Althea, Jenna Elfman as June and Dillahunt as John, “we feel that there is a lot of story that we’re excited to tell with our existing cast, and right now we’re just focused on continuing to expand their stories.”
As for the second half of Season 4, the show will continue to explore that idea of hope versus hopelessness, Goldberg said.
“We don’t want to get into too much detail about where we’re going in the back half of this season and beyond, but I think we can speak to that kernel of pain, that emotion that we talked about earlier, which is we’re very much making a show about finding hope in what can be a very bleak world,” Goldberg said. “And that’s something that we’re going to continue to see our characters striving toward. And we’re going to be exploring what it means to fight for and to maintain hope in a world where that’s not always easy to do. But we’re trying to infuse the show with optimism and some levity, and romance, and hope.”
Chambliss added that “there’s still a lot that everyone has to work through” after Madison’s “heroic sacrifice,” particularly for Alicia, Strand and Luciana. Chambliss said that they were “united this season in a goal of revenge,” but now it’s time to find out what holds them together without that “common goal.’
“What is it that holds them together? What is it that their going to be fighting for now? And what kind of the next steps to start moving forward for the next thing in their lives?”
“Fear the Walking Dead” returns to AMC on Sunday, August 12 at 9 p.m.