‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Star Alycia Debnam-Carey Breaks Down Alicia’s Tough Choice

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Rick Grimes isn’t the only one who allowed their mercy to prevail over their wrath.

On Sunday’s Alicia-centric episode of Fear The Walking Dead, “Close Your Eyes,” the only surviving member of the Clark family had to make a difficult decision: whether or not to kill a child responsible for the deaths of her mother, Madison, and brother, Nick. Alicia opted for forgiveness over vengeance, and that choice gave her a new perspective, a new role, and a new companion.

We talked with actress Alycia Debnam-Carey about her character’s decision to protect Charlie, the ways in which Alicia will carry her family’s memories and philosophies forward, and what the rest of the season will hold for the walker-slaying badass she plays.

The other recent Alicia-centric, Season 3’s “This Land Is Your Land,” saw Alicia transform into a battle-hardened leader. What do you think “Close Your Eyes” signifies for her character?

Alycia Debnam-Carey: “This Land Is Your Land” was very much Alicia being able to… become a leader and a fighter. But this episode is actually showing how she can come back to finding herself, not how she became that person. She’s actually able to face her demons and also able to have such generosity, empathy and forgiveness, and come to some sort of relief with her relationship with Charlie, who has basically destroyed her family.

So this is the beginning of her as a new person, and it’s complicated, there’s so much obviously there. But for me, yes. “Close Your Eyes” is her becoming the person that her mother wanted to be in this world.

By the end of the episode, has Alicia fully forgiven Charlie?

Fully forgive’ is hard. I think yeah, she’s made the conscious choice to let it go. I mean, they’re not friends, they’re not enemies anymore, but they are companions now. And she has become [Charlie’s] protector — she’s chosen that she’s going to be a protector, of sorts. They have this bizarre, almost family-like bond now. Full forgiveness, I think there may be more elements that Alicia has to get to. But yeah, overwhelmingly I kind of think yes, because there was no other way for her to let it all go.

And I think she’s still going to find it hard to exist with Charlie. But not just existing with Charlie, because she has this new role now, she’s not a child anymore, she’s not the youngest member around. She’s had to become the protector of someone, which is like her mother always was. But ultimately, yes, she has had to forgive.

Another thing I was struck by, at the end of the episode, was when Alicia told Charlie that “things don’t get better.” Is Alicia still operating under the philosophy that “when you’re gone, you’re gone”?

Alicia is a realist. I think she has quite an intellectual perspective of this world. That for all the little tidbits — there’s the walker falling from the tree branch that sets them free and how ironic that is, that the thing that was keeping them trapped has also given them freedom — for all these exhaustive moments, and then even Charlie being in the house where she then had to confront her demons, [Alicia] still can go, ‘None of this is meant for anything.’ So you just choose to survive, and you be smart about it, and you try to make the life you know you need. Or be better than what you were.

For her, I think wants Charlie to know that just because she saved her and it’s okay, that the past is behind them to an extent, she’s not saying that it gets better. The ebbs and flows of life don’t quite work in the same way. You’re playing a new game, and she’s just accepting her existence in this world. So ‘no one’s gone until they’re gone’ has become a spiritual guide, but whether that’s informing her life choices and how she lives in this world now, I don’t think… no. I think that’s a different point. And what I like about Alicia is that she takes elements from her mother, but she also formulates her own set of ideals and moral codes and guidelines.

I also wanted to talk a little bit about what it was like to film this episode. It seemed like you were absolutely drenched for the majority of the time!

[Laughs] Yep! You’re right, you’re just soaked the entire time. And it’s not just soaked. You’re soaked, but then 100-mile-an-hour wind fans are being blown in your face…. It’s just constantly wet and miserable. And you don’t want to take it off during lunch, because it’s just so much of an effort to get a wetsuit underneath jeans off for thirty minutes. So you end up just being a prune for 12 hours straight. But it does make you feel like you’ve earned lunch and you’ve really earned your bed by the end of the day!

We know Madison is weighing heavily on Alicia’s mind and heart, and she wants to carry her mom’s memory forward. Is there anything of Nick’s – his philosophies, behaviors or stories – that Alicia is trying to keep alive?

Yes. You know what’s interesting, in the moment that Alicia chooses not to shoot Charlie in the basement, for me that was kind of a combination of both of them. This can’t just be about Charlie, it’s not about revenge on Charlie, it’s not about their personal relationship in that moment. It’s about the idea that Alicia can finally… she doesn’t have to bear this heartbreaking responsibility of taking out revenge, or change it or amend it, she can just let go. And for me, that was one of the biggest things in that moment. And that, I attribute to Nick in many ways.

Obviously Madison was more controlling, she wanted to have everything under her protection because she was so afraid of things falling apart and things falling away from her. But for Nick, it was always much more about, ‘You just have to go with it, and you either get caught up in it or you flow right through it.’ And I think that [philosophy], from him, was there in that moment. But I think there will also be more Nick elements, moving forward. I don’t know if his approach was always going to get you what you needed to get done in the apocalypse, but there’s obviously the nurturing and good-natured side to him that is more, “You just have to go with it sometimes.”

I’d like to talk a bit about the rest of the season. Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg have called 4B a “journey of self-discovery” for Alicia. What can you tell us about that journey?

We definitely see more dynamics between Charlie and Alicia, which is one of my favorite storylines to see develop because I think it defines who Alicia is becoming, still and always, as she is growing. Because it’s her in a new role as a protector, not as a child: she is now a woman.

But there’s more interesting pairings to come. We get to see Alicia try to continue her journey for redemption and for companionship again, so we have those things to look forward to. Among some things I can’t tell, because they’ll probably kill me! [Laughs]

Is there anything that you’re personally hoping for for Alicia’s character that hasn’t been explored yet? Or any interactions with Alicia and other characters that you’d like to see happen?

I would love more scenes between Morgan and Alicia. I think that’s a really interesting and powerful dynamic. And I think Alicia needs that, too, someone who has managed to come out the other end and survived and has a really unique perspective on this world. I think Alicia is ready to hear that, finally, and needs that guidance and wants it, too. And then I also really just want to see a little more time with Strand and Luciana. Especially Strand, because Strand and Madison were two peas in a pod, and I think it would be nice for Alicia to have a similar relationship with Strand.

Yeah! I was very happy to see that little snippet of [Strand and Alicia] drinking together in the Comic-Con trailer.

Mmmm-hmmmm! It made us happy, too. [Laughs] Any time we get to work together, we’re like, ‘Yay!’

Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC