Post Mortems
fear the walking dead recap season 3 premiere

Fear TWD Showrunner Breaks Down [Spoiler]'s 'Inevitable' Demise and Previews the 'Reckoning Coming'

Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Season 3 premiere of Fear the Walking Dead.

The never-saw-it-coming death in Sunday’s Season 3 premiere of Fear the Walking Dead “was meant to feel like a kick in the balls,” showrunner Dave Erickson tells TVLine. Mission accomplished. But, before the EP explains why Travis had to die, a quick recap of the double header…

In “Eye of the Beholder,” Madison at last was reunited with Nick, and, after getting a handle on survivalist Jeremiah Otto’s sons, good guy Jake (The Following’s Sam Underwood) and sick f— Troy (Teen Wolf’s Daniel Sharman), everybody said a tense, momentary “Bygones!” about their previous, near-lethal interactions and headed for the Ottos’ ranch. En route with Jake, godsister Charlie, Alicia and an unconscious Luciana in Episode 2, “The New Frontier,” Travis was shot in the neck when an unknown someone — our guess — opened fire down below, and leapt from the helicopter to avoid endangering his traveling companions by turning in mid-air. By the time Alicia and Jake made it to the ranch with Luci, Charlie was walker food, and it was a toss-up as to whether Maddie or Jeremiah (Deadwood’s Dayton Callie) had a bigger hate-on for the other. Meanwhile, Strand got himself banished from the hotel by Elena and Hector for calming the masses by pretending to be a doctor — but not before being made to bear witness to Ilene’s suicide. Now then…

TVLINE | Talk me through the decision to kill off Travis.
Following Chris’ death, I think [his father’s] death was inevitable. Travis’ whole trajectory at that point was to do for his surrogate son what he’d failed to do for his biological one. Coming off of Chris’ death, Travis had failed. He’d broken his promise to Liza — he hadn’t protected their boy. So for him, it becomes very much a question of atonement and redemption. And the only way to do that is to return Nick to Madison, which he does. There was a version of the story that extended deeper into the season, but ultimately, we pulled it back and did it in Episode 2, really because of what it did for the rest of the characters going forward.

fear the walking dead recap season 3 premiereTVLINE | I thought it was pretty sneaky of you, letting him survive everything from Troy’s “science experiments” to the walker pit in the first episode, only to kill him at the top of the second.
The obvious way to go would have been for him to have his hero moment in the premiere and then die before the hour was over. For us, what was important was, we wanted the audience — and, more importantly, Madison, Alicia and Nick — to feel like, “Ah, we have a moment to breathe,” then take that away and ideally leave the audience breathless, at least for a moment. Which is what it does to Alicia if you’re watching. The way Alycia [Debnam Carey] played it is exactly the way it should have been played, [like] it was devastating and unexpected. It also leads to something of a bonding between her and Jake in the aftermath.

TVLINE | So there was something there. I didn’t imagine the spark.
That shared trauma will lead to a relationship that will develop over the next several episodes. It’s a very hard world, and I think what’s interesting in terms of the morality of the show is that Jake has echoes in him that are consistent with Travis. He has always been sort of a beacon within this community at the ranch, but he suffers for his idealism and his sense of hope. He’s endorsed the philosophy his father held before the apocalypse, and now, he’s very torn about his relationship with his brother. He knows there is a reckoning coming. I think what Alicia sees in him is someone who is unlike anyone else at the ranch.

TVLINE | Is it safe to assume that Travis’ shooting wasn’t as random as it seemed?
Yes, what seems like a random event isn’t. We’ll come to find out that the bullets were fired by a specific group for a very specific reason, and that, of course, becomes part of the larger story as we move forward.

fear the walking dead recap season 3 premiereTVLINE | Before I let you go, the rats that swarmed Willy… were they walker rats or… I mean, not that regular rats aren’t bad enough…
[Laughs] They were just rats. That was our way of ripping off 28 Days Later, because I love that tunnel scene when the rats are being chased by the infected. Also, Troy is very dark, and we wanted to have a character in the premiere that’s worse, and that’s Willy. He’s just pure evil — incredibly cruel and sadistic, and he has fun playing with Travis. And since Travis didn’t get to kill him, we wanted to make sure that he went away before the premiere was done. Jason Cahill, one of our writer/producers, pitched doing sort of a toothpaste thing with a character being pulled through a hole that’s too small, and we needed a way to claw him into this space, so that’s where the rats came from. He deserved it! So there was at least a little bit of justice in a very unjust world.

So, what did you think of the premiere? Grade it in the poll below, then hit the comments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Wrstlgirl says:

    Pissed they killed Travis. Wish it would have been Madison instead. Can’t stand the irritating RBF.

  2. Erin says:

    pissed they killed noel fishers character. I love him as and actor and thought he would have been great!

  3. AngelWasHere says:

    I thought Travis was one of the better characters as he was starting to improve character wise, so it sucks we’re stuck with bland and blander. Like they are all so boring with the exception of Strand. B/w was that a bite mark on Travis? Was he bitten or just in shock from being shot?

  4. Wrstlgirl says:

    Sidenote… I love Dayton Callie!!

  5. dan79 says:

    Great premiere, easily their best yet. Brave but understandable choice to kill Travis. After Chris’ change and eventual demise last season the character was, in a way, a dead man walking already. But I liked how they wrapped his story and had him go down fighting for his family till the end. Fab final scene with Alicia too. Can’t wait for her development after this loss. Same for Madison. I’m also really interested in what Strand’s up to. Definitely looking forward to the next couple of eps.

    • Max says:

      Nah that was dumb. I think the emphasis on the kiddies needs to back off because this show is getting to feel like something you would see on Disney channel. Maybe it is the kids version of TWD and it has been marketed wrongly this whole time idk.

  6. Jim says:

    Travis was the worst character on the show now that they had killed Chris. An anchor around its neck dragging it down. I’m so stoked they killed him off and brought in Dayton Callie and a host of other talented actors. Maybe this show will finally be good rather than something I watch out of obligation? (Is Ofelia still a regular too, does anyone know?)

    • Phil From NY says:

      Travis was much improved from season one and he was finally using his warrior mentality near the end of season two.

  7. Sleepyd says:

    Glad they finally killed Travis off. The weight of all these poor, fragile “hoping for the best out of mankind” characters was just getting to be too much. Too bad they didn’t kill off Madison with him. Bring back Salazar, up the ante with Alicia’s bad-assery, feature Strand more prominently and let Nick be the cynical voice of how things really are for the show. (Don’t care about Ophelia, wherever she is). If this show makes it to season 5, I will be surprised. So many lost opportunities….

    • Max says:

      They need to kill off that bratty teenager Alicia, she is turning this into a kids show and I didn’t sign up for Hannah Montana 2.0. I expect ratings will drop further this season. They could use a reboot. But Alicia a badass, stop. Just because she has a pretty face doesn’t make her a good character by any means. Madison needs to go too while they’re at it.

    • TempusFugit says:

      Nick’s the only other one I’d want them to get rid of to be honest. Terribly pretentious character and completely unbelievable that he’s even still alive and I don’t care about his thing with Luciana. Agree about Daniel Salazar, Alicia and Strand though. Like all three. Can’t say I miss Ophelia so far either.

    • Phil From NY says:

      You mustn’t have been watching season two closely…Travis is finally showing some guts and aggression and getting good…then they kill him. Madison is crap though. She should have gone.

  8. Walkie says:

    Loved the Joanie Stubbs/Charlie Utter reunion!

  9. Jack Steel says:

    Get rid of FTWD & WTD people want to see the gratitudious violence of killing zombies. We don’t want to see people killing people. We want to see people United killing the zombies. USA!

  10. Cate says:

    I love Cliff Curtis as an actor and I thought it was interesting they talked about him being Maori and from New Zealand a bit – has that come up previously? Shame he had to do a US accent all the way through then… still if that family and an American mother, Kiwi dad and and Aussie and a Brit as the kids (nationalities of the actors!) it would be kind of weird!

  11. Lilly says:

    Mixed emotions. Definitely a better ep than last season. But so many questions. The aerial view of that facility in the opening scene showed FAR more people walking around than the 5-6 trucks could have carried back to the ranch. Did I miss where the helicopter actually went down? And how did the pilot die? And WTH was going on with everyone turning a blind eye to Troy’s actions?!?

    And I still think they are killing all the wrong people. From the opening scene, I found myself wishing Madison and Travis would get killed so they could give us different leaders. (I still say I was more interested in staying with the people at the hotel at the end of S2 than leaving with “our” group! I honestly think Rick’s group would have killed this bunch instead of assimilating them–at least some of them.)

    I’m afraid they’re trying to make Madison our Rick-wanna-be leader, though. Seriously? It took Rick a few years to get to the dark level he’s at now. Now we’re supposed to accept Madison as that sort of bad@ss? Not buying it. (Just recently she screwed over all the people she was “leading” by turning on the lights at the hotel!) The only time I found myself TRULY tense and worried during the premiere (ala TWD), was when Jake was in trouble in the dark. I sincerely hope he becomes a show regular from here on. And I agree with others’ comments here about bringing Strand to the forefront. I like Nick’s intuition and street savvy nature, but not crazy about loony Nick… Just rambling here… Thanks for letting me vent.

    • KLS says:

      No, we didn’t actually see the helicopter go down, just smoke and then the survivors in the rocks.
      After Jake’s “touching” moment with Alicia, I was surprised that he let her go back to camp unarmed (after she killed 3 Walkers for him).
      I’ve hated Travis for the first 2 seasons because he was such a wimp, but in the season opener, his character was a lot smarter and a better fighter. Too bad they killed him off now.

      • Lilly says:

        Agreed. I’m still looking for characters on FTWD (at least a leader) whom I like AND respect. That’s what’s missing for me. (I mean, they killed Salazar.) Yes, Travis finally got a little bad@ass in the end. But I couldn’t respect him after he went NUTS and killed those – albeit bad – boys. Has Rick Grimes done questionable things? Yes. But he earned my respect FIRST by being tough and smart while still holding on to his morality. I like Alycia (unlike others here), but I HATE what they did to her when she killed that doctor. Shame on her! That’s what I mean by these characters would be dead if they’d met Rick’s group. Look what they did to that police woman in the hospital who accidentally killed Beth? Dead. I like and respect Jake very much so far and hope he can fit the bill!

      • Alex says:

        Yes a teenage girl with no training who just KILLED a person with little remorse and they are trying to make her look all cool and sexy for ratings by killing zombies so easily despite the fact this has no coherence with practicality or reality at all. She is not a strong female character despite the fact that this show could use one. And I for one would not follow a child of this mentality. They made this too Buffy the Vampire Slayer without the edge. If there was ever another mortifying installment of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ perhaps then it would fit the bill but certainly not in any context relating to The Walking Dead. It just feels too immature and perhaps and many others have been mislead as to the show’s true target audience.

  12. Lilly says:

    I can say I’m glad for my Sunday habit of (TWD) to return. I still have fingers crossed things will improve with FTWD!

    • Alex says:

      On season 3 Lilly and you are crossing your fingers for improvement? I personally am crossing my fingers for a reboot as this late in the game, it seems the more sound option! Especially since none of the characters are really people worth caring for. If you are stuck for something mind blowing on Sunday though, I do very much enjoy American gods. It’s fantastic and I’m a fan of TWD but you know it’s such a refreshing concept and zombies do get a bit tedious, I really realized that when I watched that show. It isn’t perfect mind you but a thousand steps ahead of this spin off in my own humble opinion.

      • Lilly says:

        Totally agree about a reboot. Someone tell the writers that one of the characters of the BEGINNING of the zombie apocalypse is that there would be a lot death because of a learning curve. Problem is on this show, they’re killing all the wrong main characters (e.g., Daniel). And they may never kill Madison because she’s been deemed the “female Rick Grimes.” Ugh.

  13. Gemini says:

    The show runner decides to kill Travis for the story and then Amc decides to have a new show runner for season 4 not saying that is the reason but I found it to be funny lol

  14. Winston says:

    The reason for banishing Victor Strand from the hotel made no sense at all.

    The people HE let in are going to riot if they find out he isn’t a doctor? Versus the doctor they DIDN’T have while previously wandering around Mexico with no defense or food or water?

    Now, they’re going to revolt about Strand not being a doctor when it was STRAND ALONE who insisted upon letting them into the hotel area where they are now sleeping inside a defensive perimeter on big comfy beds in the rooms of a nice resort hotel?

    Dumb. Really dumb. The writers don’t respect their audience.

    • Lilly says:

      I had several of those questions. Like why that military facility seemed to be “run” by dozens (at least) in that opening aerial shot, yet only 5-6 trucks left for the ranch. And if you were Madison, would you have believed Jake and let go of Troy – no matter how surrounded you were?? Where WAS Jake when Troy was doing these things, and why was Troy left in charge alone in the first place? What about all the captured women; did they kill them in another bathroom? And WTH are we supposed to believe about Troy’s fixation on Madison?! Maybe Alycia, but Madison? That needs explaining. And where did those walkers come from INSIDE?? I know Nick let them in that weird tunnel, but did that many walkers climb the ladder and lift the iron grate? It’s like the writers are trying to get the group back together, and they don’t care how it happens – even if it insults the fans’ intelligence!

      • Alex says:

        Well I have seen a lot of people commenting the same thing around the web and I have to say, I agree with what they are saying and will repeat. The emphasis on the teenage cast in this show is too great. The Walking Dead spin off modelled as yet another hormonal teen drama isn’t working. I mean the only teen drama like that I could stomach is 13 Reasons Why but it is a millions times more in depth than this spin off.Now I don’t like Alicia as a character or her brother. But Alicia is being emphasised as the leader and that is totally not credible. This I feel is really taking away from the narrative. The producers are clearly trying to target the young men with her looks, again. LOOKS are emphasised so much on this show. On the main show they were all just your average Joe Bloggs and it wasn’t all this teen fluff and when it was, it was sidelined. Realistically the zombies aren’t even a huge feature in this and the storylines are dragged out so much. Fair enough if they were actual interesting characters worth caring about but they’re not. Troy and Alicia…well if I wanted High School Musical great but not at all. If they make him slightly pyschotic, that is something but it’s also not credible and more importantly, it is been there done that. I understand the actor was on Teen Wolf so the show is trying to reign in young female viewers to match and boost ratings. But that just says to me that maybe the show need these teen actors because it has little originality to survive on its own. It’s a terrible shame and I’m quite disappointed with the direction of it to be frank.

        • KLS says:

          The younger actors are not in their teens. ADC (Alicia) is the youngest at 23. Daniel Sharman (Troy) is 30.
          Besides that though, I don’t like what they are doing with Alicia. She is supposed to be only 17 or 18, but they’ve written her to be weak and not able to stand on her own. If she can break away from her mother, then maybe she’ll be a stronger/likeable character, but now she’s just a disappointment.
          Nick is also stronger on his own, so his character is better. I think Maddie needs Strand around to stop mothering her kids.

          • Serena says:

            Yes but they are playing stereotypical teenage characters. It’s like those bad 90’s horror movies, most of the actors were 27 trying to fit into the role of an 18 year old. Point still stands that this is a predictable and highly irritating narrative arc. Alicia being on her own won’t solve the problem it will worsen it. That’s because the kids are the centre f attention on this far too much as it is and you just know that this spin off is going to be reduced to one of those crappy love triangles and who is sleeping with Alicia next. My point is I think this is more of a CW standard show if even. But it is certainly not AMC standard. Alicia is a 2D character who has been stereotyped and hyped up as the pretty zombie slayer far too much. There is nobody in this show that can live up to a strong male or female lead that it needs, nobody credible anyway. I think the teen fluff needs to be sidelined because I feel like it has cheapened the potential this spin off had quite a bit.

          • Lil says:

            I don’t agree with everything you said, but your second-to-last sentence was spot on. No matter how hard they TRY to make her a credible leader by putting Rick-Grimes-type-words into Madison’s mouth (“well, we’ll just take this place over then…”), she is NOT a leader. She acts selfishly and stupidly most of the time, and the best thing they could do for ratings based on everything I read most places is KILL her off the show. But they won’t. And they won’t LET any other characters rise to leadership roles because – IMO – they are determined to make it be a female, and they’ve chosen Madison. Whether it’s bad acting or bad writing, Madison is NO Rick Grimes and never will be.

        • Nick says:

          You are talking about teen fluff and including Troy in that??? Troy who has no problem with killing people? This character is the opposite of teen fluff and the character is obviously also not a teenager.
          And why should him be psychotic (or whatever we find out about him) not be credible because you think he doesn’t look like a deranged 50 years old guy? In your world psychotic or villainous characters apparently must only be played by older guys who look evil from the start…

  15. The Beach says:

    I haven’t been a fan of this show and mainly watched because of TWD but last night was better than it has been so I’m hopeful. Also, thanks TVLine for helping me place the actors who played Jake and Troy. I recognized both but wasn’t sure from where.

  16. Vicki Sawyer says:

    What is the actor’s name who played Willie? I’ve seen him somewhere before and I just can’t remember where.

  17. Christopher says:

    The season premiere started off compelling and exciting, with a situation that was truly terrifying and one that actually seemed unique and original as opposed to the usual recycling of TWD plots. The idea of experimentation on human survivors to get to the root of the Zombie virus is interesting… of course, it turned out that this was not at all what was going on, but rather the “medical investigation” was essentially a charade cooked up by a serial killer kid masquerading as an army trooper, who for some reason is allowed to commit whatever atrocities he sees fit even though it seems that the overwhelming majority of the “military” people aren’t down with his killing ways. Yawn, back to the old rehashing of TWD plots – might as well just call the new village Woodbury, or Alexandria, or whatever…

    Still, at least a lot of stuff happened and the show finally reunited all of the core characters (minus Strand), which should have helped focus the overall plot of the show a bit more, but then the best actor in the series is killed off, and just when his character was finally becoming interesting! I’ve been waiting for this show to stop wasting that dude’s acting talent for most of 2 seasons, and then finally, having removed the obstacle of Chris (who was THE WORST!) and simultaneously brought Travis to the breaking point, these idiots kill Travis off. I really don’t get this decision at all. Any other character on the show wouldn’t have bothered me that much at this point. Nick is selfish idiot. Alicia is boring and pointless. I constantly forget Luciana’s name. The show might as well have already killed off Ofelia. And Strand, once the coolest character on the show, has been defanged and transformed into a boring shadow of his former awesome self.

    This show is a mess. The writer’s are awful. Literally anyone could do a better job with their budget and this cast. ANYONE.