Where can Fear TWD go after that heartbreaking twist?
Warning: Contains spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead season 4's midseason finale 'No One's Gone', which aired last night (June 10) in the US.
Not content with killing off Nick earlier in the season, Fear the Walking Dead's season four midseason finale delivered another devastating twist for its fans.
'No One's Gone' finally revealed what happened at the Diamond in the past storyline and while it was something that fans long suspected, it didn't make it any easier and has huge ramifications for the show going forward.
We're about to dive into DEEP spoiler territory after the photo - so don't say we didn't warn you.
The episode saw Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) confirm that Madison (Kim Dickens) sacrificed herself "so we could live" by drawing the oil-covered walkers back into the stadium before dropping a flare, ensuring that everyone else could escape.
"I was afraid to lose this place because I thought you needed it to stay who you are right now, but you know it: no one's gone until they're gone," Madison said over the radio as her goodbye message, yet don't go thinking that just because we didn't see her death on screen, she isn't dead as she definitely is. Well, if we trust Dickens, that is.
Appearing on The Talking Dead, she called her exit "so sad" and added that she was "heartbroken [and] devastated" when she got the news from the showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. This means that unlike Frank Dillane's exit as Nick, Madison's demise wasn't Dickens' choice and has to have been done for a storytelling purpose, likely positioning Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) as the new lead of the show.
Debnam-Carey is the only remaining cast member to be with the show from the very beginning, until Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades) comes back, with Strand (Colman Domingo) showing up at the end of the first season and Luciana (Danay Garcia) joining in season two.
That means there's a lot of faith placed in the new season-four characters – John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt, Naomi AKA June (Jenna Elfman) and Al (Maggie Grace) – and The Walking Dead crossover Morgan (Lennie James) - to carry the show forward and keep fans interested, given that long-term viewers barely have any favourites left.
What's more, Madison has been shown throughout the series to be the glue that keeps Alicia, Strand and Luciana together, especially in season four when it was her presence at the Diamond that persuaded everyone to stick together. The show has to find a way to keep everyone together for a logical reason, while battling the expected fan disappointment at killing off one of the established characters.
"Basically, the message is, no one's safe," Dickens told EW of the potential fan backlash. "And these kinds of deaths will ultimately propel the story of the other characters into other places. Characters will meet their death untimely, and it may not feel fair, but it does try to play truthfully, our story. So I understand the heartbreak, trust me, but I just think it's part of it."
To an extent, she's right. Madison's death does add a tension that The Walking Dead largely lacks. But arguably it had already delivered that with Nick's untimely demise, so dispatching Madison as well seems like overkill and a shock death for shock's sake.
The promising thing about the future of the show post-Madison is that the midseason finale does offer a clean slate. There's no major storylines or mysteries hanging over the second half of season four (other than the continued whereabouts of Daniel), meaning we have genuinely no idea what will happen – a rarity in The Walking Dead universe.
In an unexpected parallel, too, the second half of season four could prove to be a dry run for The Walking Dead with Andrew Lincoln's upcoming departure, leaving that show without its lead star – who's been there since the very beginning – potentially as early as the second half of season nine.
One thing we do know about Fear the Walking Dead's future, though, is that if the showrunners have learnt anything from The 100, they better not kill off Debnam-Carey next.
Fear the Walking Dead airs on AMC in the US and on AMC on BT TV in the UK.
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