Interview: Showrunners break down the Fear the Walking Dead season finale

Maggie Grace as Althea, Bailey Gavulic as Annie, Cooper Dodson as Dylan, Ethan Suess as Max, Mo Collins as Sarah - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC
Maggie Grace as Althea, Bailey Gavulic as Annie, Cooper Dodson as Dylan, Ethan Suess as Max, Mo Collins as Sarah - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Van Redin/AMC /

Undead Walking had a chance to speak with Fear the Walking Dead showrunners about the game changing season 5 finale and its implications.

Fear the Walking Dead might have been a story of hope and redemption in season 5, but season 6 is about to become a whole new ballgame if the season finale is any indication. Now, as Morgan’s fate remains unclear and Virginia separated the group, there’s no question that the future is uncertain to say the least. We had a chance to talk with Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss about the season finale and its implications for season 6.

Of course, fans were left with Morgan’s life hanging in the balance in “End of the Line” but the showrunners were understandably tight lipped about the situation. “We’re not going to say too much about his fate, but taking a look at his journey over the course of the entire Walking Dead series and his time on Fear, this season was really about him dealing with so much of the trauma that he’s been carrying with his for so long,” Chambliss said. “This season, two things are going on for him. He was trying to make up for all the terrible things he did when he killed so many people while he was living in the violent part of his trauma.”

Morgan spent much of season 5 not only trying to help others, but trying to help the people around him and that was a huge part of his healing process. Chambliss talked about how Morgan had to work through his past to finally be able to appreciate what he had in the present. “He had to work through the emotional blocks that were preventing him from connecting with the world. We saw that most directly with Grace and his experience with her in the mall, and his realization that he was feeling something for her. He was still working through the memory of Jenny and Duane, but I think by the end of the season, he realized that he needed to move forward and look forward to the future.”

Despite the dark tone of the season finale, it looks like there is a glimmer of hope when it comes to the future: It turns out that Grace isn’t dying of radiation poisoning (yet) – she’s pregnant. Life will continue and Grace’s baby is part of that future. “In that final moment,” Chambliss continued, “Morgan is sharing the news over the walkie that the sacrifices that ended up forcing them to cross paths with Ginny was actually about protecting the future because Grace is pregnant. And I think we really got a sense of pride in his voice and was trying to share that with the group.”

No matter what happens in season 6, there’s no question that Morgan’s influence can be felt throughout the group and their mission, but he has been a very key influence on Alicia. He arrived back in season 4 after Alicia lost her mom and the group came together when Nick died. Morgan knows a thing or two about loss and after Alicia had her “clear” moment after the plane crash, he was there to give her guidance.

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“This season played out that relationship between Morgan and Alicia because they both share a lot in common and they have a lot to learn from each other. Morgan was somebody with a lot of violence in his past, whether it be his clear days or when he lost his wife and son,” Goldberg said. “At the beginning of season 5, Alicia is already a very capable warrior and was using her weapon to keep the group safe. But she was also keeping people at a distance, keeping the door closed to making deeper connections.”

At the same time, Goldberg noted, with all of the violence and trauma that Alicia experienced, she needed to understand how it all fit into her world. “Alicia was already good at protecting and defending [her friends] but she wanted there to be something more. There had to be something more for her beyond the just violence. And that was something that was really exciting to explore with her.”

By the time Fear reached the second half of season 5, Alicia’s transformation was well underway as she started looking for ways to find beauty in the world. Goldberg said that this helped her to find a deeper meaning in the world around her, and this was something that really helped her in the long run. “She actually became stronger because strength to us isn’t defined by violence. It’s an inner strength that allowed her to reach that deeper meaning.”

That doesn’t mean that Alicia lost her ability to fight, Goldberg says, and it will tie directly into season 6: “It doesn’t mean that she’s not still using her incredible skills or that she’s not a capable warrior. It means she’s had to reconcile these two parts of herself and she’s emerged stronger than ever. Now the challenge is how will she take that strength as the newly evolved Alicia into her new circumstances separated from the people she cares about the most.”

When it comes to being separated, this is a very dark time for the group and the season finale ends on a downright bleak note. “The back half of the season has been about two very different visions of the future,” Goldberg said, hinting at the big difference between Morgan and Ginny’s very different philosophies. “We have seen exactly the methods that both of those groups will to to in order to build a future. Ginny is about efficiency. She’s ruthless. She’s willing to sacrifice people in the name of what she believes is the greater good, even if that means killing. Morgan and his group also believe in the future, but it’s a future where everyone matters, where everyone has value.”

Goldberg didn’t mince words when it comes to which philosophy “wins” at the end of the season: “The tragic part of the finale is that in many ways, Jenny’s group is prevailing over Morgan in a big way. But hopefully they are able to cling to the people they became as a result of each other and the philosophy they now live by.”

But are things as bleak as they seem? Does Luciana know something we don’t know when she told the kids that everything was going to be ok? Chambliss offered a few hints, noting that “Luciana’s message was really coming from the strength she felt in making her sacrifice in very dire moments to protect everyone else. She knows from experience that when things are at their bleakest if you can hold on to that spark inside you that makes you who you are, you can fight through it.” Luciana has certainly been challenged enough since we met her back in season 2, so it makes sense that she’d be the one to deliver this message to the kids she has grown to care about.

Looking ahead to season 6, the circumstances will put everyone to the test and push their limits to the brink, but it’s Luciana who might hold the key. “I think we’re going to see a lot of our characters tested and we will see if they can hold on to the people they are while living under Ginny’s thumb away from the people they are closest to,” Chambliss said. “Luciana is the character who has already been living away from everyone else. She has a little bit of insight into how to achieve that, and exploring that is what we’re going to be exploring in season 6. I don’t want to give away too much about that. But Luciana is someone who has a bit more experience with how to survive Ginny’s world than any of our other characters.”

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As always, we’re grateful for the chance to talk with Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss about the show, and we’re excited to see what happens when Fear the Walking Dead returns for season 6!