[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 9, “Follow Me.”]
It’s pretty clear that all is not well with Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey). When Season 7 of fear resumes, Alicia is being tormented with nightmares, fevers and all matters of ailments both from the physical after-effects of her bite (or the amputation) and her guilt over what happened with Arno’s (Spenser Granese) group — guilt that is literally hunting her as Arno will not let it go.
By the end of the episode, Alicia’s head is on a bit more straight, and she’s realized that she needs to trust herself to build a community stronger than Victor Strand’s (Colman Domino) people in the Tower. But we still have a ton of questions about what’s ahead in her journey, so we picked the brains of co-showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg for all the intel. Read on for more on Alicia’s health issues, her mysterious savior, and the real question you’re all thinking: Why bagpipes?
In this episode, Alicia meets a deaf, widower, musician Paul (played by Warren “Wawa” Snipe). Why was he the right guy for her to meet at this moment?
Ian Goldberg: This episode is about Alicia learning to trust herself and to listen to the voice inside herself. It starts out with her believing that she needs to follow someone else — she needs to follow this voice which she believes initially is the Senator walker that’s going to lead her to Padre. And by the end of the episode, it becomes about her believing that she needs to be the person that is followed. But there’s quite a journey to get there.
Alicia’s been a character who has done many leader-ly things about the series, but she’s always been a confidant for someone else, or like a lieutenant for other leaders. This was an episode where we wanted to strip away all those people for her. She has just declared war on Strand, her closest friend, who’s now become an enemy. She is grappling with her own mortality with her injury and the aftereffects that she continues to feel from the amputation and the bite. And so, we wanted her to be isolated and apart from her usual support group, and Paul felt like the right character, the right reflection, and the right person to help heal her wounds, and she to help heal his over the course of the episode.
She did seemingly have a little bit of a leadership role with Arno’s group though, and it didn’t go so great. Does she still really want to be a leader, even though she has this ticking clock health-wise and this bad experience hanging over her head?
Andrew Chambliss: I don’t know if I would necessarily say it’s her goal at the start of the episode. I would say that she is feeling like she owes a lot to both Arno’s people and her own people because in many ways she feels like she let them down. She put so much faith in this idea — that a walker could lead her to a kind of promised land — and that was born out of desperation of wanting to provide safety for these people, and it obviously didn’t go well as we can tell from the way that Arno is going after Alicia here.
So, this episode is really about her realizing that the mistakes she made in the past weren’t born out of her own faults, but born out of the fact that she wasn’t listening to herself. And this episode is about her realizing that, and if she truly wants to be a leader and truly wants to make up for the mistakes that happened with Arno and his group, she’s going to have to be the one to listen to herself and take the first step forward. And I think she also feels some sense of responsibility to be the one to lead this war because the person on the other side of it is someone who is so close to her, or once was so close to her.
And Victor’s fiefdom is going stronger, but we’ve seen previously that it can be terrorized. Who is a bigger threat to him right now: Arno, now that he’s found that walker pit, or Alicia?
Goldberg: I would say they’re both pretty formidable, and we will continue to see Arno’s story as we get deeper into the season, but as daunting as Arno may be, I’d be more afraid of Alicia at this point. She has more to lose, this is more personal to her and she’s motivated by, as Andrew said, her own personal investment with Strand, and she has an urgency with which she has to do everything because she’s grappling with her own physical health. So, I wouldn’t mess with her.
The health aspect of it all — does this mean that Alycia Debnam-Carey isn’t surviving in this world much longer?
Chambliss: All we can say is that Alicia Clark is suffering from what could be an infection from a walker bite; it could be an infection from having her arm amputated in a drainage tunnel. She doesn’t know, but the fact that she is putting up this fight is the thing that is going to define her journey over the course of the season. And I would say whether the fevers that she is suffering from are from the walker bite or some other infection — if anyone could beat either one of those things, I would put my money on Alicia.
I want to pivot back to Paul really quickly — why bagpipes? Was it always bagpipes in the script?
Goldberg: Funny enough, that was part of it. The initial inspiration came from just being a fan of bagpipe music. I always get moved to tears when I hear a good bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace,” it just kills me every time. But Andrew and I were in Austin [Texas, where the series shoots] and I think there was a parade that was going through downtown, and there were some people playing bagpipes and we just started [talking] and realized that it would be a really rough instrument to play if you were in the zombie apocalypse because they are so loud that there’s no way that you could play them without endangering yourself, or someone else, or drawing walkers. So that was just the kernel of an idea. Like, ‘well, if someone were to play the bagpipes in the apocalypse, it would have to be with that specific MO in mind of intentionally creating a lot of noise.’ That was just sort of the genesis of the idea and we wanted to find the right story to use it in, and this was the one.
Chambliss: And Wawa learned to play bagpipes for this. He has a musical background, but he went that extra mile and learned to play bagpipes.
That’s awesome. Now, this mysterious girl who keeps saving Alicia — will we keep seeing her? And should we view her as a dream/vision or a flesh-and-blood person?
Chambliss: The answer to the first question is that she is very important to Alicia’s story. There are a lot of people out there trying to survive in the nuclear apocalypse, and Alicia is looking for people to save, so there may be some connection there where this girl becomes important to Alicia for that reason.
And then as for the question about the reality of what Alicia is seeing, that is just another open question that we’re going to be exploring as we go forward. Alicia is suffering from these very vivid fever dreams and she’s not 100 percent sure what’s entirely real and what’s not. Even by that token, the girl could be real sometimes and could be part of her fever dreams sometimes.
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