'Fear The Walking Dead' Showrunner Talks Time Jumps And First Responders

At the beginning of the AMC panel for Fear the Walking Dead, AMC President Charlie Collier announced that season two of the show would be 15 episodes, which is more than double the first season's six. Answering questions on the panel, showrunner David Erickson said the companion show, set at the beginning of the zombie epidemic, will still have time to catch up to Rick waking up from his coma in the Walking Dead series premiere.

"By the time we end season one, there's still a window of time, a window of exploration," Erickson said. "We have some real estate left. We've come to realize things have changed. We structure the season in a way that the characters are still insulated from the truth of what's going on. Part of season two will be that very thing."

Fear the Walking Dead stars Cliff Curtis and Kim Dickens as parents trying to protect their kids when infected people start biting and looters flood the streets. Even though this will be the period we never got to see, where governments try to manage the pandemic, Erickson's plan is to keep the focus on family members, not officials.

"We're never going to tell the story from the perspective of someone at the CDC or in the military," Erickson said. "We'll see how first responders responded when things went sideways, how they protected their own family. That's an arc of the first season."

One answer Erickson never plans to give is what caused the zombie apocalypse. "Short answer, no," he said to a question about the cause.

With a longer second season and questions about catching up to Rick Grimes, Erickson interestingly hinted that future seasons might take giant leaps. "There might be a season where we do a major time cut because that's always interesting to me," Erickson said. "How do you catch up with your character when six months have gone by, a year's gone by? Right now it's not about how we intersect or catch up."

Actors on the panel included Curtis and Dickens, actors Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam-Carey as their children and Elizabeth Rodriguez as the ex-wife of Curtis's character. One actor whose character is more of a mystery is Mercedes Mason, so she described her character, Ofelia Salazar.

"A lot of the theme of the show is about family and when the world goes to hell, what does family mean?" Mason said. "Is it something you're born into, something you pick, what is morality? Ophelia goes through that very quickly in the first season. She has to discover herself. Her bond to her own family is questioned, as she starts learning about her family and her father. The nice ones are always the first to die [so] she has to grow a set."

Erickson also addressed the development of the title Fear the Walking Dead. When it was announced, the show was merely theĀ Untitled Walking Dead Spin-off.

"Fundamentally, you're inheriting obviously a major franchise," Erickson said. "There's a legion of fans. We wanted Walking Dead in the title. What we wanted to avoid was doing The Walking Dead: Los Angeles. So we put something at the beginning rather than the end."

In success, Erickson expects the companion show to be referred to simply as Fear. "We're already referring to it as Fear," he said. "I think Fear is going to become shorthand for the show. There's a line of Ruben [Blades]'s coming up that incorporates fear in a beautiful way. There was a practical reason to do it but it also speaks very much to what the characters are going to go through and where the show is going to go."

And he's said this before, but since it comes up on every panel, Erickson asserted again that he has no plans to have characters from Fear show up on The Walking Dead or vice-versa.

"There's no crossover plans right now," Erickson said. "Telling parallel narratives that live under the same mythological umbrella, my instincts would be I'd love to see those stories conflate ate some point, but there's no plans to do so. There's no intention to have Easter eggs."


Fear the Walking Dead premieres August 23 on AMC.