Perhaps the greatest moment of this year’s Fear the Walking Dead panel had nothing to do with zombies, but a pitch-perfect Michael Jackson tribute. In a gag reel that was shown, Ruben Blades flubbed his lines over and over, and Colman Domingo was captured an amazing Michael Jackson Billie Jean lipsync/dance. The cast all agreed Colman is the most likely to crack up during a scene. Chris Hardwick, moderating, suggested the whole cast should do “Thriller,” and Gale Anne Hurd suggested that it may be a goal for next Comic-Con.
But let’s back up…
Chris Hardwick came out to the largest round of applause I’ve heard for any moderator so far, in a Ravenclaw shirt, dropping references to his Pokémon Go level of 16 and Team Mystic sympathies. He announced the second half of the season is seven episodes, followed by Talking, “Because if I don’t talk about a show, it doesn’t exist.”
A never before seen trailer was shown next (above), focusing on a blood-smeared Nick walking towards Tijuana, trying to avoid shotgun-toting gangsters and camouflaging himself among packs of zombies. Meanwhile, the family following him find themselves at an abandoned luxury hotel, and Travis STILL saying stuff about how they can get things back to normal. The whole thing had more of a Mexican gangster movie feel, like From Dusk Till Dawn might have been an inspiration.
The cast and producers came out, with Hurd touting her own Mexican heritage and how it feels like going home to her. Baja, Tijuana, and more things Hurd says you’ve never really seen on TV before in regards to Mexico will be showcased.
Dave Alpert likes seeing characters “shed their own skin,” losing their old-world ways and turning into warriors. Robert Kirkman, maintaining a long tradition of publicly fake-arguing with Hardwick, first facetiously went off on our leader’s Ravenclaw shirt being a patch sewn on another shirt, then basically said he likes seeing the new settings in this world. For Greg Nicotero, the ability to hit zombies in the face with a propeller has been his highlight. He added that Walkers and Infected are very much separate in his mind, and you’ll see different kinds of Infected as the family fractures and different groups go to different places in this world.
Cliff Curtis was asked about the difference between “bad-asses and sad-asses.” Curtis replied that Travis is the slowest to adapt, but that we may be shocked by things he does later in the season, and ultimately he will be “a bad-ass dad.” It’s the right time, he says, to take a camping trip with his son and bond.
Was Chris really going to stab Travis? Lorenzo James Henrie says “No, he’s just giving him a little tease.” Curtis thinks he absolutely was going to stab him; Henrie insists it was definitely just a threat.
Kim Dickens thinks killing Celia is indicative of more to come. “It felt like something just overcame her.” But it was “such a slap in the face” that Nick still left after that. Hardwick thinks Nick is the best adapted character in this world, and wondered if Madison knows that. She says there are things in the scripts later that will show she has learned stuff from Nick.
Frank Dillane calls the gore makeup process “really miserable” because of how sticky it is. He really went for it, and says he wound up looking like Hellboy. Nicotero emphasizes that they dumped literally a gallon of blood on him…and then took that shot out of the episode. Dillane sometimes has to be hand-fed at lunch because the gore sticks his hands together.
Alycia Debnam-Carter thinks maybe now Madison will finally focus her energy on Alicia now that Nick is unlikely to come back. She wants to be seen as an equal, and their relationship will definitely change. The actress has learned how to use a switchblade and a butterfly knife.
Domingo thinks Strand has been going through a huge deconstruction, in which everything had to be stripped down from what he thought he was, before he can figure out who he is. Says that could make him stronger…or could break him. He thinks he probably only realized he loved Thomas at the last moment. Jokes (I think?) that he has the hots for Madison. Dickens adds “they might get drunk…later!” Curtis: “There’s a lot of Madison to go around.” Travis “cannot stand the man,” but when he leaves to save his son, in the back of his mind he does believe Strand will keep Madison safe.
New cast member Danay Garcia plays Luciana, a “badass soldier” in a community outside Tijuana, La Colonia, who don’t necessarily think of the dead as a bad thing (though their beliefs are not exactly like Celia’s). Her first moment on the set was arriving at lunchtime and seeing all the Infected having lunch and waving at her.
Garcia, who is Cuban, studied up on Mexican belief in the dead, particularly the three stages of the day you die, the day you get buried, and the day you’re forgotten. This leads to disconnect when the dead are no longer buried or forgotten. She says Luciana will test Nick.
Mercedes Mason is interested in seeing how Ophelia and Nick will interact when they do see each other again and have changed; “Long distance relationships are hard, you guys!” She thinks as an orphan, Ophelia now has nothing to lose, “so you can make some crazy, fatalistic decisions.” Mason says if she were doing a fan-fiction for Ophelia, she’d be like Carol on The Walking Dead; a little caterpillar who blossoms into a badass butterfly. Wants her new nickname to be something like “Hammerface” or “Bulletface,” in keeping with her evolution into a badass.
Dickens really wants to explore Madison’s past. Hardwick said he has a fan theory that thinks Madison is somehow the connective tissue to The Walking Dead proper–in Back to the Future style, he imagined the phone call: “Yo Rick! It’s your cousin, Madison Grimes!” Kirkman told him to just stop…but we should note there was not an explicit denial, for what that’s worth.
Dave Erickson, in response to an audience question, said political subtext on the show was never intended or overtly present, but that you can project a lot on to the dead, “and then you get to kill them.” He wants to hand on to the notion of an urban backdrop in the show, so he’s looking forward to getting to Tijuana.
A fan asked if Burt Gummer from Tremors could be seen in The Walking Dead universe. She likes the idea and says the cast could learn a few things from him. I think we all like that idea, frankly.
How much Dia de los Muertos imagery will we get? Maybe a 7 on a scale of 10.
Another fan asked who Negan killed on the other show. Kirkman demanded Hardwick answer that, and they bantered more—Kirkman saying no offense, he just likes other people better than Chris, who responds that it’s okay because he made Robert’s show popular. The good news is they hugged it out. In the end, nobody has an answer to the question. It is the wrong panel for it, after all.
A cute young child asked the panel if they could die a horrible death, what would it be…on the show. Domingo said Strand would die some stupid way, like being allergic to a bee sting. Dillane would take slipping on a banana peel. Curtis votes for old age. Mason wants to swallow a hand-grenade and get brains on everyone. Hardwick notes that would not be how she dies, but rather the origin story of her becoming Hammerface! Garcia votes for dying while dancing “Thriller.”
Final question, for Kirkman and Nicotero: how much more do you enjoy Fear from the other show? Kirkman: “Lots! But I’ll have a different answer on the other panel.” He and Nicotero like the idea that Fear shows how most of us would actually react, worried perhaps about going to jail if we shoot someone behaving like a zombie, versus the post-apocalypse of TWD where everyone knows what to do.
The panel ended with the trailer being shown again, and a slideshow of fan art of both casts on the big screens, as “Thriller” played over the P.A.
Featured Image: AMC