Today belonged to Fear the Walking Dead. The press conference and the Hall H panel revealed much about the back half of season 3, which returns on September 10.
The FWD panel began with a moment of silence for John Bernecker, the stuntman who tragically lost his life while filming The Walking Dead. Afterwards, panel moderator Chris Hardwick informed Hall H that The Walking Dead cast, out of respect for Bernecker, would conduct their panel without a moderator and devote the whole panel to fan questions.
However, Chris Hardwick was in rare form for the Fear the Walking Dead panel. Much like last year, he commented about the tendency of Brits to play Americans in most genre TV shows and movies. "Damn Brits are stealing our jobs" he joked and wondered why the reverse wasn't true for shows like "Dr. Who" and "Downton Abbey." Sam Underwood (Jake Otto), responded that, while British actors can capture the full range of American dialects, Americans playing Brits tend to choose between Monty Python-esque accents.
The panel began with producer and writer Dave Erickson commenting on the themes of this season. Arbitrary boundaries, delineated by centuries of bloodshed, dissolve in the wake of the walker apocalypse. This theme is best shown in the efforts of Walker (Michael Greyeyes) and the Nation's attempt to reclaim their ancestral lines in the midst of societal breakdown and "rebalance the scales."
Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd also remarked on a thematic shift that happened close to the mid season hiatus. When Victor Strand (Domingo Coleman) made contact with a Russian Cosmonaut via the Abagail's radio, it was the first confirmation for any of the series' characters, and indeed for the entire Walking Dead franchise, that the walker contagion was truly global.
Also on the panel was creator Robert Kirkman, who had a bit of fun misdirection with the audience. According to Kirkman, in the upcoming season of TWD, the cast will discover a "magical telephone", which will allow the casts of FWD and TWD to communicate across shows. A guy can dream, can't he?
Executive Producer Greg Nicotero took time to recognize the passing of George Romero, considered by many to be the founding father of the entire modern zombie mythos. Interestingly enough, Nicotero's first job was working with Romero. The film "Land of the Walking Dead" Romero and company had meticulously designed zombie bite effect on a actress's cheek. The actress became legitimately startled and when her hand flew up in shock, it covered the effect. Romero was delighted. Though the effect would never be visible on screen, the reaction captured was genuine. This philosophy has guided the special effects team, creating effects that provoke genuine reactions from the actors, as shown below.
Afterwards, the actors took the stage to discuss the development of their characters and the paths they will follow throughout the rest of the season. I've merged insights gained from both the panel and the press conference to paint a clear picture of their journeys forward.
Madison Clark's (Kim Dickens) evolution from high school guidance counselor to brutally pragmatic leader is one of the most stark transitions of the series. The show revealed that she herself was a victim of abuse by her father, which taught her the necessity of killing. The things that went wrong in her life are the things that will keep her and her family safe.
Victor Strand (Coleman Domingo) is one of my favorite characters. When we see him in season one, he is a self assured man of mystery. He is the only one who has a plan in this time of chaos and he shares Madison's survival instinct. Season two sees his plan unravel and his sense of identity destroyed. As we approach the midpoint of season three, he has hit rock bottom. The remainder of the season will focus on how Victor builds himself back up as he's done so many times before.
The Madison and Troy (Daniel Sharman) dynamic is an interesting one. As a former guidance counselor and abuse victim, Madison can identify troubled youth and this awareness is used to influence Troy. However, Troy is not completely oblivious to the game she is playing. Though we don't have any on-screen indication, Sharman assured us that Troy is playing Madison as much as Madison is playing him.
Travis is dead. Dead, dead, dead. A fan asked if we would see him return as a walker, to which Erikson said that Cliff Curtis would be unavailable due to his commitments filming the new Avatar sequel.
Speaking of dead, Dayton Callie appeared on the panel, despite his character being unequivocally dead. Maybe he's got a few flashbacks left in this season.
Well after the panel and press conference, I can't wait for season three to continue on September 10th. Take care friends!