Now that nefarious Negan and his bludgeoning sidekick “Lucille” finally migrated from the comic book to the season finale of The Walking Dead, what are zombie-loving fans going to do till the Fall? Kim Dickens—who plays badass former teacher Madison on Fear the Walking Dead—says TWD’s sister series is about to catch fire.
After 6-episode first season, the highest-rated first season of any series in cable history, FTWD returns April 10th on AMC, taking the fight into a very different environment. Let’s just say our heroes may have to face the swimming “dead” along with the ever-present human threat, aggressively competing to stay alive.
Keeping a watchful eye out for “biters,” Dickens, who last appeared as the dogged detective in Gone Girl, explains how to survive and thrive in a zombie apocalypse.
“We’re not the only ones with the idea to go out to sea. We definitely have to fend off zombie attacks, but at the same time our fellow humans will continue to be our biggest rival and enemy. Even on open water.”
1. Understand zombie psychology.
Zombies and the horror genre in American films have been around since the 1930s. Zombie horror movies have always offered a metaphor for whatever society’s present fears are—a huge outbreak of an infectious disease, war, some alien invasion or whatever triggers that primal fear a society has. Through those and our story, the audience examines what our primal fears are and how we deal with it. What would I individually do if there was an outbreak of an infectious disease, and what would we do as a society? Our series explores these very real questions.
2. Lug that emotional baggage, it could come in handy!
My character Madison is beautiful yet flawed. She’s a mother and in a relationship with [Cliff Curtis’ character] Travis. But she’s not based on any character or person I know. She’s there, written on the page, a wonderful fantasy figure for me. I certainly couldn’t be as a badass as she is. They’ve cobbled together this really well-drawn character who’s come from a complicated, somewhat dark past. But the dark past that she’s kept suppressed is probably the thing that will serve her.
3. When the shit hits, trust a teacher.
She has a very honorable profession as a schoolteacher and counselor, and sometimes they’re underestimated and certainly underpaid. It’s a tough job. But Madison is good in an emergency, quick thinking, makes decisions, even tough ones. She’s going to continue to be that until either she gets broken down or proven to be otherwise. And she’s also got a good bullshit detector, which gives her a sense of almost fearlessness when it comes to dealing with humanity and with the problems of their kids.
4. Don’t mess with mama bears.
Very soon after the end of season one heading into season two, Madison is back to being a fighter. She’s in mama bear mode, out to protect her family. Everyone is in survival mode at this point, but they haven’t given up that human response of, I can’t wait for a sense of normalcy again.
5. Remember: It’s never safe to go back in the water.
As you see in the trailers and promos, we soon head to a boat. It takes us into a whole different environment. But it turns out you’re just as vulnerable there, caught in the open water. We’re all displaced now, having left our homes on land, we can’t go back—now we’re stranded in the middle of the sea. It’s a completely shocking left turn, I think.
6. Beware of doggie-paddling zombies and… humans.
We’re not the only ones with the idea to go out to sea. We definitely have to fend off zombie attacks, but at the same time our fellow humans will continue to be our biggest rival and enemy. Even on open water.
7. Soak up the mythology.
Our show now offers this other window into what happened during the same mythological apocalypse. It’s really fun to play out different ways people would’ve gone, different directions, various spiritual, emotional, practical responses. The different ways that people explore to deal with this disaster. It’s pretty exciting stuff.
8. Be prepared to… hide out with someone tough.
I’d be terrible in any zombie apocalypse or some widespread infection. I don’t know what I’d do. OK, I’d get all my family and friends together, and then, I don’t know. I’d probably go over to Cliff Curtis’ house, let him take care of me. That’s it—go to his home in New Zealand. I mean, he knows stuff and he was formidable in Once Were Warriors and badass in Training Day.
9. Don’t stop believing.
Daniel, played by the great Rubén Blades, says to Madison as they’re sitting on the bow: “If this is the end of the world, it’s already over…” Hearing that makes Madison’s heart drop. But what are you going to do? He’s like a speaker of the truth, who’s done and seen a lot of things. He’s wizened in the areas of society unraveling, but it doesn’t call for her to fall apart. She’s not going to give up.