Fear the Walking Dead Q&A — Andrew Chambliss & Ian Goldberg on PADRE's Anti-Family Ideology
Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, the longtime showrunners of Fear the Walking Dead, talk with AMC.com about the influence of ancient Greece on PADRE, what's going on with Madison and Morgan, and their approach to this final season.
Q: There's an addition to the walker lexicon in Season 8: "carrion." How and why did you come up with this new take on describing a zombie?
Andrew Chambliss: That was rooted in the language we were developing around PADRE and the terminology that PADRE and everyone who lived there would be using. The names that PADRE gives to all the children who live there and all the adults who are forced to work there are names of different birds. So we were looking for something in that sphere. Carrion being the name for dead animals that vultures and other birds of prey will feed on — it felt like it was an apt name for PADRE to use for the walkers.
How to Watch Fear the Walking Dead's Final Season
Q: PADRE is this mysterious entity that we learned more about at the end of last season. Madison and Morgan were on their way there when Season 7 ended. Are we going to get a fuller picture of this organization or whatever it is?
Ian Goldberg: Well, we definitely will and we're going to be seeing how our characters are navigating life inside of PADRE as well. We kind of got a sense of what this place and its philosophy did to Madison at the end of Season 7, and she and Morgan made this pact to get Mo back and take PADRE down from the inside. I think what we'll see now is how PADRE has gotten its hooks into the other characters in different ways. We saw what PADRE did to Madison in terms of using the people she cared about most against her, leveraging her own kids to get her to do things that she didn't want to do. And I think one of the interesting things that unspools in Season 8A is just seeing the different tactics PADRE uses to hit our characters in their most vulnerable places.
Q: Also, this idea of PADRE and its large scale "collection" of children is so unusual. How did you come up with this storyline?
AC: I think it came from several places. It was really when we knew, at the end of Season 7, that we were going to team Morgan and Madison up. Looking at their arcs across the show, they've always been characters who first and foremost were primarily driven by protecting their children. Morgan lost his son early on in The Walking Dead, Madison lost her children later in the run on Fear the Walking Dead — so it was looking at the things that drove them and then asking the questions about what would be a philosophy that would be counter to this.
What would it be like if you tried to build a society or a settlement that in PADRE's point of view protected children from parents who make these emotionally based decisions? That's how we got to the idea of this society that tried to remove family from the equation and tried to put the settlement first and foremost. A society that tried to iron out all those emotional wrinkles that you get when the attachments you have to those you love oftentimes get in the way of what is actually best for the larger group. That's where it came from.
Then it was just looking at societies that have done this before in history. Like Sparta, where they would take the kids from their parents, raise them in barracks, and have everything be in service of the city-state, and seeing if we could apply that to a post-apocalyptic settlement. We were also thinking about the kind of people who would be behind it, what it's taken for them to want to develop a philosophy like that. That's how we ended up developing the characters who we ultimately learn are behind PADRE.
Q: It was so gratifying to see Madison at the end of Season 7, which ended with her promising to help Morgan get to Mo. What can you say about how that plays out?
IG: I think the one thing that we can say, without spoiling exactly what Madison's journey is for the first half of Season 8, is that I think it's a safe assumption for people to think that Madison's plan for what she was going to do with Morgan is not going to go the way she thought, because how interesting would that be? Probably not very interesting! So, PADRE is formidable. Madison has a lot to make up for, and she and Morgan really have their work cut out for them in trying to fulfill what they said they were going to at the end of Season 7. I can't really go into the specifics, but I don't think either of them believed it was going to be easy at the end of Season 7. I think it's going to pose even more challenges than either of them were anticipating.
Morgan's Journey: Relive His Best TWDU Moments
Q: What about Morgan? As Morgan has said, he loses people, and those losses keep adding up. Now that he's separated from Mo, where is he at the start of this season and will we see him reach some kind of breaking point?
AC: So much of Morgan's journey, particularly since he crossed over from The Walking Dead to FEAR, has been about putting his life back together, finding the courage to allow himself to have a relationship with Grace, despite the fear of losing her like he lost Jenny. And then when they took Mo in when her parents died, he had to find the courage to be a parent again, in spite of the great loss he suffered when Duane was killed.
So, he's kind of overcome that fear, but he hasn't necessarily been tested in the same way to see how he'd react if he were to lose either Grace, the woman he loves, or Mo, the child who he considers his daughter. PADRE is going to be a threat to both of those people. It really is going to test him in a way where Morgan's going to actually be confronted with a lot of the things from his past that maybe he hasn't dealt with. You know, he ran from a lot of what happened in Georgia all those years ago, and what happens with Grace and Mo makes him face that again. Whether or not he'll react the same way and he'll lose himself like he has before, that's something that we'll just have to wait and see.
Q: The two of you have come so far since Season 4 and now we've reached the last season of FEAR. Can you talk a little bit about wrapping up the series and how easy or difficult of a task that was?
AC: The one thing that was very helpful in wrapping the series up is just the fact that we had a lot of time. We knew from the beginning of Season 8 this was going to be the last season. So as we were thinking about these characters at the beginning of the season, we knew this was going to be their last arc, the last time we'd see them on Fear the Walking Dead. We really made sure that the stories we wanted to tell and the character arcs we wanted to tell were of a magnitude that would be able to bring closure by the end of the season.
IG: Our guiding light as we were approaching all those character stories was really this question of "what did it all mean?" for these characters. We really wanted it to honor everything that had come before, have these stories feel cumulative — that this journey, this closure is the sum of every chapter in the journey thus far. So, a lot of it was about looking back at the origins of the characters and where they started on the show. In terms of what Andrew was saying about Morgan, a lot of the characters we found, as we were digging into them thematically, were facing conflicts that in some ways they'd faced before. Their journeys really were coming full circle and we wanted to use that as a way to chart their growth and how far they've come from where we saw them begin. But, yeah, it's extremely daunting because we wanted it to feel cumulative, satisfying, emotional, epic. We also wanted to feel, like we do with every season, fresh and like we're upping the ante in every possible way. So there's a lot of boxes to tick when trying to construct a final season! And it's very difficult, very emotional, and it's really hard to believe that we're done shooting now.
Fear the Walking Dead's Season 8 Premiere on Sunday, May 14 at 9:00pm ET/8c. Each episode in this final season will also be available for AMC+ subscribers to stream early on Thursdays beginning May 11.