'Fear the Walking Dead' Postmortem: Showrunner Dave Erickson on the Military Invasion, Rivalries, and a Tobias Return

Kimberly Potts
·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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Travis Manawa thinks the worst is over now that the military — the “cavalry,” as he put it — has arrived in his neighborhood, but Daniel Salazar has different ideas, which means at least one of them is in for some surprising times ahead after Sunday’s “The Dog” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.

Showrunner Dave Erickson is busily working on Season 2 of the Walking Dead companion series, but he took time out to answer a few Yahoo TV questions via email. How will Travis and Daniel, with their opposing approaches, be able to work together for the sake of their families moving forward? How will Travis and Madison’s differing philosophies on the outbreak impact their relationship, now that she’s proven she is capable of TCB when it comes to protecting her loved ones? How have the survivors’ approach to their present challenges been shaped by their pasts? And will we ever see the return of Madison’s student pal Tobias, aka the Apocalypse Whisperer?

Related: Take a Bite Out of Our ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Recaps

With just three episodes remaining in Season 1, Erickson sheds some light on these and other questions about “The Dog.”

Travis thinks the military moving in on the neighborhood is a good thing, but how is that going to complicate an already fraught situation?
The arrival of the military may represent a mixed blessing. They’re here to save the population, but will they see civilians as victims or as potential threats, as carriers, as “infected”? Travis sees salvation in their arrival — the cavalry is here! Daniel sees a vice closing. He has seen this before.

When Daniel sees the military moving in, he says “It’s already too late now.” Why? What will we learn about his past that ties into that?
Daniel and Griselda escaped El Salvador at the height of the war there. An occupying army brings with it as much bad as good. And Daniel has seen more of the bad. We’ll explore this in the back half of the season.

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How important is it to have someone there who does have some skepticism about the military becoming involved?
Very important. While we wanted to introduce the military and track its efforts to control the contagion, put down the infected, we wanted to dramatize that action through the eyes of our family. A number of our characters — Madison, Travis, Daniel, Chris — will have very different perspectives on the military’s arrival. And these conflicts will increase the tension, apprehension, and fear within our family.

There were more hints about Madison’s husband: Alicia’s comment about having déjà vu while waiting for someone to come home, for example. When will we learn the details of her husband’s death?
Madison, Nick, and Alicia have all had experience with loss, with death, and this will inform their reactions to the chaos that surrounds them. We may never describe the exact circumstances of Stephen’s death, but it has planted fatalistic seeds in his children.

Does having lost her husband, and being a single mom, account for how Madison is, much more than Travis, able to see the outbreak more realistically, in terms of how serious it is, and the toughness it requires to be able to defend yourself and your loved ones?
Yes, absolutely. And there’s a deeper history for Maddy that we’ll explore in time. We allude to it in the pilot when she and Travis explore the Shooting Gallery: “It’s in the genes,” “It’s a violent place.” Madison has suffered loss and seen violence before. She is less trusting and, in some ways, tougher than the man she loves.

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We see how differently Madison and Travis are going to deal with things as the stakes get higher. Now that Alicia and Chris are really starting to understand how bad things are, whose lead are they most likely to follow? Chris, for instance, was paying a lot of attention to Daniel’s gun lesson.
Chris is very much like his father — the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — but he’s also at an age where he must reject his father, throw elbows to establish his own identity. Daniel dotes on his daughter Ofelia, but he doesn’t have a son of his own. I’m very interested in surrogate sons and false fathers, shifting family dynamics, and there’s an opportunity to explore that here in Season 1, Season 2, and beyond. 

Chris shares his father’s good intentions, but he might be more inclined to follow Madison, or [Daniel]. Pre-apocalypse, Alicia was the most independent, most “put together” member of our family. Now, in many respects, she’s the most unmoored of our group. She’s loyal to her mother, and shares her mother’s sense of fatalism, but she hasn’t yet found her place in this broken world.

Daniel Salazar appears to be a very capable, and largely unflappable, man. His wife suggested they’ve been through worse than this situation. Is that true, or does she just not have an accurate grasp of this situation?
At this stage of the outbreak, yes, it’s true. Griselda and Daniel suffered during the civil war in El Salvador, and witnessed the suffering of others. They’ve endured hardships. We will learn much more… but that’s for another episode.

Related: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Postmortem: Director Adam Davidson on Madison’s Big Kill

Travis is a leader, but may be too reluctant yet to do some of the things he might be called on to do to save lives. Daniel is a leader and is capable, but his philosophy is very much about taking care of his immediate family before helping anyone else. Can the two of them find a common ground to work together?
Travis and Daniel are diametrically opposed. Travis has faith in people and in institutions. Daniel does not. Travis is a fixer who believes solutions are always at hand, and corners will be turned. Daniel has seen hell on earth before, and sees Travis’s trust, his faith, as naiveté. Can they find common ground? That’s something we’ll explore throughout the rest of the season, and into the next.

Nick clearly cares for his family, and has respect for Travis on some level. But he knew he was upsetting his mom with his suggestion that Travis might have left them behind. Did he really fear they’d been abandoned, or was he crabby because of his DIY drug rehab?
In the pilot, while in the hospital, Nick was in a vulnerable state. He was wrestling with his sanity: “I saw something horrific, hellish… was it real, was it the drugs, was it my mind?” He would never have shared this story with his mother, but Travis is more of a non-entity. Nick can’t disappoint someone he doesn’t fully know. There’s “safety” in someone who’s more stranger than father. So he confided.

In “The Dog,” in the scene you reference, Nick’s shifting into “man of the house” mode. Travis has been gone for a long time. Travis went to get his son and ex-wife, his original family. At the barbershop, Chris asks Travis why they can’t leave, just them, their family. What Chris wants is what Nick suspects will happen. And there is a certain logic to it. Nick’s not trying to hurt his mother… he’s trying to be realistic, trying to protect his mother and sister, trying to survive.

Can’t help thinking how great it would be to have Tobias and his expertise on all things apocalyptic around. Will we see him again this season?
Tobias is a wonderful character. Stay tuned.

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.