‘Fear The Walking Dead’ EP on Painted Trees, Daniel’s ‘Pragmatism’ & Expanding Morgan’s World

Van Redin/AMC

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 9, “Channel 4.”]

After a little less than a month, Fear The Walking Dead is back—and for once, it seems like time has been kind to the survivors. Their mission is successful, for the most part. They have food, supplies and friendship aplenty. There’s very real joy in the midseason premiere… but how soon will things turn bad again?

We chatted with one half of the show’s EP duo, Andrew Chambliss, about Alicia’s mysterious artsy trees, whether Daniel agrees with Morgan’s approach to the post-apocalyptic world, and what he meant when he said there was a twist coming that would “change the course of the show.”

This was a really unique episode to watch. Why did you guys decide to film it with multiple cameras, The Office-style?

Andrew Chambliss: We were looking to do something different when we returned for the back half of the season, and we thought now was the right time for a couple reasons. Given Al’s journey in the first half of the season where Isabelle made her realize she needed to let her walls down, that put Al in a comfortable position where she could turn the camera on them and even herself.

The other reason we wanted to do it now was because it seemed like it was a very effective way to get inside our characters’ heads. They’re in places where they’re successful in their mission but realizing they need to be looking inward. In shooting documentary style, we have moments where people don’t know they’re being recorded. That’s helping us set up what those journeys will be in the back half of the season.

I also noticed there was a time jump at the start of this episode. How much time has passed between the midseason finale and the midseason premiere?

Not a lot of time, probably about a month or so. It’s been enough time for them to gain momentum in their mission. It really is like the traveling community that they’re adding to every time they find someone who they’re able to help.

I thought it was interesting that this episode gives Alicia a new purpose, in that she wants to find the person who’s writing on the trees. Any chance we’ll eventually find out who that is? Some fans are convinced it’s Madison…

She says she wants to find that person, and I think she’s interested in meeting someone who’s capable of creating beauty in this world. We will find out who that person is, and people will just have to watch to find out the answer to that question.

It’s really great to see Daniel back on the show again. What can you tell me about the role he’ll be playing in the next half of the season?

We’re very excited to have him back. Daniel is still searching for purpose. In losing his daughter I think he felt a bit aimless, and that’s why we found him holed up in a warehouse. His journey is going to be about asking himself if he believes in the group’s mission, and whether he can make true connections with everyone in the convoy.

Yeah, I thought it was surprising when he said they should’ve just shot Logan, because that didn’t jive with Morgan’s mindset. Are we going to continue to see Daniel wanting to take a more ruthless, or violent path?

I think we’ll definitely get a sense that Daniel may be a little more pragmatic and a little more of a realist than some of the other members of our group, and that’s something we’re interested in playing with going forward.

One of the more emotional moments in this episode was when Morgan reflected on losing his wife and son. He says he hasn’t said goodbye to them. What exactly did he mean by that, and what would constitute a proper goodbye in Morgan’s head?

That’s a very good question. Morgan has had such a difficult journey over on The Walking Dead and now on Fear. His reaction to losing his son and seeing his wife, as a walker, kill his son, that sent him to a very dark place. I think in his journey with Eastman and then coming over to Fear and forging a makeshift family, he’s in a place where he feels he has that violence under control.

When we hear him talking about Jenny and Duane, I think he’s realizing he hasn’t grieved for them, and that’s what he means when he says he hasn’t said goodbye. He knows that’s what he needs to do so he can really look toward the future. The journey he’s going to find himself on in the back half of the season is really grappling with what it means to say goodbye, how he can say goodbye, and whether it’s something he wants to do. That’s something we’ll be seeing a lot more of as we continue this season.

I also wanted to talk a little bit about Morgan and Grace. In the first half of the season, it seemed like there might have been a spark there. Is that a storyline that could go forward? It’s been a long time since Morgan’s had a love interest…

The connection that Morgan and Grace had was one where Morgan could understand what she was going through. She felt responsible for the deaths of people she was close to, and like the only way she could come back from that was killing walkers. In many ways, that was an echo of Morgan’s reaction to losing his son and his wife: All he could do was kill walkers.

As to whether or not there’s something between them, right now Morgan’s in a place where he still imagines he is married. He has to deal with the tragedy there that he hasn’t dealt with, in order to move forward.

A few days ago there was news that Holly Curran will star in a recurring role this season. The character’s name wasn’t released, but can you tell me anything about who she’ll be playing?

She will be playing a character who is going to help someone make a fundamental change in their beliefs. That’s all I want to say. But we were excited to have her join the cast and she’s done a fantastic job, so we’re excited for people to see that story.

At Comic-Con, you guys teased a big twist that’ll change the course of the show. What, if anything, are you willing to tell me about that?

It’s something that we’re very excited about, and it’s really going to change the narrative approach of how we tell stories in Season 6. I don’t want to give away any more details than that.

OK! Then just tell me about these next episodes in Season 5—what can we expect to see these characters going through?

We’re going to see these characters look inward and deal with some things they haven’t dealt with before. At the same time, we’re going to have some fun. We have some fun new characters entering the show, and we also have some surprising characters entering the show. We’re going to expand the world in which Morgan and the rest of the characters are operating.

Summarize 5B for me in three words.

Search for home.

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