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In the Season 7 midseason premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, we finally got to see a moment fans of the series have been waiting for, for a long time. Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) stepped up to become the leader we all knew she could be since the series premiere. But along with the new burdens of leadership comes the heavy weight of the crown, and as Debnam-Carey teased to Decider, the new position won’t be without its downsides.
“She definitely gets to a little bit of an unhinged place,” Debnam-Carey said on Alicia’s journey over the rest of Season 7. “Alicia progressively gets more and more obsessive, and almost desperate with following this vision she has.”
In the episode, and spoilers past this point, Alicia wakes up alone, confused, and ill, seemingly held hostage by a new, mostly deaf survivor. After she semi-accidentally breaks his stereo, they head off on a search together to find a new one, ultimately leading to his death — and Alicia’s decision to not only step up and lead, but also to find a new PADRE, a mythical safe haven that this time she plans to create on her own.
“We wanted Alicia to be in a position where she wasn’t kind of listening to other people’s voices,” co-showrunner Ian Goldberg explained about the choice to split Alicia off from the main group this episode. “So much of her journey on this show has been as someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s friend… She’s alway taken a position of being someones confidant, someone people turn to for advice. But she’s never been the one making the decisions first and foremost. And we wanted to put her in a position where she didn’t have any of those people around her who she’s turning to for advice.”
All of this might have been a surprise for viewers, particularly after the cliffhanger from the midseason finale. In it, the recently returned Alicia faced down with her former ally Strand (Colman Domingo), her mentor Morgan (Lennie James) behind her, and told Strand simply that, “we are going to war.” But rather than having Alicia muster her forces and attack Strand’s Tower stronghold this episode, the showrunners felt that her stepping up, “would be better accomplished in a smaller, more personal story than something that was sprawling, encompassing all of the characters as they start to prepare for this war.”
That doesn’t mean that war isn’t coming, mind you. But first, Alicia needs to find a new PADRE. Previously, in a feverish haze, Alicia thought that zombies could talk to her and were leading her to a secret government stronghold that had survived since the beginning of the apocalypse. She was wrong, of course, and realized that. But as she tells Morgan towards the end of this week’s episode, she does believe there’s a safe haven out there. So why does Alicia think this PADRE will be different than the dozens of other PADREs that have fallen over the course of The Walking Dead franchise?
“I don’t think that she knows for sure that this PADRE will be different from any of the others that have failed in the past,” Debnam-Carey noted. “But I think what is unique is that she is this ultimate combination of years in this apocalypse, absorbing all these tools/techniques from people before her. Seen what has failed before, seen what has not worked, seen how she does not agree with the way Strand is doing it, the way Morgan has tried to do it. Even the way her mother tried to do it. But she’s also taken the good and bad qualities that have made those potential safe havens work and not work before. She’s in this unique position where she has accumulated so much knowledge, and finally believes that she can actually be the leader that she needs to be. And has enough humanity and moral compass behind it to make it a little more fully realized.”
For Morgan, who is now mostly focused on rescuing his adopted child and lady love Grace (Karen David) from Strand’s Tower, this will help pivot his role from what James calls “a bit of a Moses character,” to more of an advisory capacity. “For Morgan, it is figuring out who he can be to Alicia now that she’s taken the next step,” James said. “Now that she’s realized her power, realized her potential, realized that people will follow her and that she can lead. It becomes a slightly different role. It becomes a role of not telling and not always offering but being there. In case she has questions, in case she needs a second opinion, in case she needs support.”
So will Alicia find this new PADRE? Will she turn Strand’s Tower into her own personal PADRE? Or will the reintroduction of her long-lost mother Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) throw everything into flux? The answer is most likely “yes” to at least one of those questions, but as the showrunners teased, you’re (obviously) just going to have to watch to see how it all turns out.
But for Alicia, at least, this is the start of a whole, new journey. One that could end badly (see above, re: “unhinged”), or could finally see everyone living safe and sound.
“She’s now armed with a confidence and a sense of purpose, and determination that she hasn’t had before,” co-showrunner Andrew Chambliss explained. “That is going to affect her relationships with people, it’s going to affect the decisions that she takes. And you’re going to continue to see this leader Alicia come into her own.”
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC, and a week early on AMC+.