The end is the beginning, but it's the beginning of the end for Fear the Walking Dead. When AMC announced in January that the first Walking Dead spinoff would end with an eighth and final season, showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg had already begun wrapping up the closing chapter in the first phase of the Walking Dead Universe. "We knew at the end of season 7 that season 8 was going to be the final season," Chambliss tells ComicBook ahead of the last six episodes ever of Fear, premiering October 22nd on AMC and AMC+. The penultimate season ended with Alycia Debnam-Carey's departure from the show after seven seasons — just as Kim Dickens made her long-awaited return for what would be a shortened, 12-episode final season.
"We were very grateful that we were able to go into the season knowing that [it was the final season] because it meant we could plan the story to bring the show to a conclusion, to really bring these characters to the end of their journey on the show," Chambliss says of the saga that's spanned Los Angeles, Mexico, Texas, Georgia, and Virginia. "Starting from a place of building towards a conclusion made all the planning — both on a practical level, and on a narrative level — that much easier."
That meant the showrunners had enough runway to wrap up Lennie James' Morgan Jones, who came full circle to The Walking Dead pilot when he exited the series in the midseason 8 finale to go look for Rick Grimes. It also meant the duo could plan similar sendoffs for not just the original cast of characters — including Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), and Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) — but the show that premiered in 2015 as the #1 most-watched cable series premiere of all time.
"I think it will result an ending that feels a lot more satisfying than if it was something that we found out halfway through the season," Chambliss adds. "But it led to us having this thematic drive that guided us where Ian and I often said — 'the end is in the beginning' — and it meant looking back at all these characters to see where they started their journeys, take stock of how they've grown, and put them in places where that would be readily apparent both to them and to the audience."
In the mid-season finale, Madison promised the kids she took as a Collector for PADRE that they would find their parents, bring them to the island, and "make PADRE what it was meant to be in the first place." Madison then broadcast her hopeful message over long-range radio, unaware that the man she bludgeoned seemingly to death in season 3 was listening: Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman).
"We ended the first half of the season with Madison in a place where she vowed to turn PADRE into the place it was always meant to be. We are going to see how that's going for her in some surprising ways," Goldberg teases. "It's going to involve the return of some faces that we haven't seen in a while, both friend and foe. It's also going to involve a return to some places, literally, that we have seen elsewhere in The Walking Dead Universe. They're going to speak to our characters' states of mind, so it's going to be pretty epic."
Fear the Walking Dead returns with its final episodes Sunday, October 22nd, on AMC and AMC+.