SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “Good Out Here” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
Fear the Walking Dead took out its first regular character of the season on Sunday’s episode, “Good Out Here,” and it was a big one. Frank Dillane’s Nick Clark killed his Vulture nemesis Ennis, and then paid the price as young Charlie shot him in the chest, sending him as well. (Violence begets violence.)
But it won’t necessarily be the end of Nick — at least not immediately. That’s because of the show’s two timelines currently taking place. Nick may be gone in the present, but he is still around in the past, at the baseball stadium fighting for survival while the Vultures hover just outside.
Why kill Nick? And what will his death due to sister Alicia? And girlfriend Luciana? And the man who tried to stop him and show him a new way, Morgan? We asked all that and more to showrunners, Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss. Read through both pages to get the full scoop.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you all morphed into the grim reaper over the weekend and took out your first big victim. The episode ends with Nick being shot and killed by cute little Charlie. Why do that to poor Nick? Hasn’t that guy been through enough already?
IAN GOLDBERG: Well, one of the hardest things for Andrew and me, when we came on as showrunners, is that Frank had asked, even prior to us coming on to lead the show, to pursue other opportunities. So it was really, for us, crafting an emotional exit for an incredible character that he played. That was something that was just really important to us, was how to tell an emotional story for Nick and to send off his character in a fitting way. But with the way that we are playing with time in these first eight episodes, we will be seeing Nick again, as we do have multiple timelines.
That’s the interesting thing because usually when people get killed off on a show, that’s it, but as you’re saying, there still is more story with him to tell with him, isn’t there?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: Yeah, there definitely is. We found ourselves in an interesting position, as well. Without giving away too much of what’s to come, it will, I think, provide really interesting emotional context for the characters going forward, as they grieve someone who’s been such a part of their lives for the run of the show, when at the same time, we’re also seeing that story continue in the other timeline.
Ian, you mentioned that Frank wanted to be freed up to do some other work and what have you, so did that present any logistical hurdles in terms of stuff maybe that we haven’t seen yet, in terms of, “Okay, we’ve got to condense and shoot all this stuff at one time to spread out over episodes,” which sometimes has to happen on TV?
GOLDBERG: No, there were really no logistical hurdles for us. It was just, as we said, crafting an emotional story for Nick. We should also say that we love working with Frank. We think he’s brought tremendous talent and life to this character over the course of the first three seasons, now into the fourth. We were really kind of honored that we were able to tell this story with him. One of the things that were important to him, when we first sat down with him and started talking about it, was that he really wanted to honor Nick and send him off in a way that would be emotional, and memorable, and really mean something. I think what people will see as they continue watching — Nick’s death is going to have ripples going forward because he did have so many connections to so many different characters.
And we see him lying in the field of bluebonnets as part of that death scene going back and forth. Man, flowers have a pretty deadly history in this franchise!
CHAMBLISS: For us, when we set out to find the flashback story that would accompany the story where he dies, for us, the flowers were really all about him finding peace and finding the thing that Madison taught him to find in the episode, just that little bit of good out in this very difficult world. That’s where that genesis came from. But then, as we were shooting it and really starting to think about it, we realized that “Oh, wait. There is some history with flowers in The Walking Dead,” in particular, with “The Grove”. It’s funny because “The Grove” is one of our favorite episodes. Michael Satrazemis is our producing director on Fear, and we think that was maybe in our subconscious when we were cooking up this story. Yeah, it’s probably not a good idea to look at bluebonnets when you’re in Texas now.
What is it that makes Nick so determined to kill Ennis from the El Camino? Is there something specific we haven’t seen yet that does it, that triggers that switch, or is it just general Vulture douchiness that has Nick all up in arms?
GOLDBERG: I think you see in the episode that Ennis pushes a couple of really hot buttons for Nick. The biggest one for us is Charlie. Charlie has a complicated history. With Nick and Charlie, there was a closeness, almost a brotherly relationship there. There was tremendous betrayal when he realized that she was a Vulture and had come in to scout the stadium for the Vultures. It felt, to Nick, like in the battle for Charlie’s soul, between whom she was going to pick. He lost her to the Vultures. That’s really difficult for him, to see her back on the other side of the stadium wall with Ennis and Mel. That’s one component of it.
The other is that we’ve seen that Nick has found meaning in working the crop field and growing food for everyone inside. When the crops fail, Nick feels like he’s failed everyone, so when he encounters Ennis outside the church and Ennis said, “At least I keep my family fed,” I think he really knows how to provoke Nick. Those are two big reasons why Nick is so driven and why he’s so violent toward him. Then, as you said, there is more story to tell, so viewers will get some more emotional context going forward.
Let’s play “What If?” and say Charlie doesn’t shoot Nick. How do you think he responds to this book that Morgan has just handed him and this philosophy of all life is precious because we’ve seen him be receptive to other teachings before, like with Celia in season 2?
CHAMBLISS: I think you make a very good point. I think we see a little bit of the glimmer of it at that moment when he’s sitting down with the book and starts to look at it. Nick, very much in the episode when he was with Morgan, even though he is chasing down Ennis, there still is a part of him that almost wants Morgan to step in and stop him, and not just stop him, but really provide some answers for him. That’s really what all of Nick’s questioning about, “You’ve killed before. What do you mean when you say you lose people, you lose yourself?” There’s really a yearning for Nick about finding a new way to live, so I think if Charlie had not shot him, there’s a very good chance that Nick may have become someone else that Morgan took under his wing and starts to teach his ways too.