With Madison on the verge of drowning in the aftermath of the dam's collapse, possibly joining the ranks of every other character on Fear, her dream sequence brought Travis back to the show as it did several other fallen characters. Curtis' character was seen briefly in photo form closer to the top of the episode but made a true appearance in the final moments pulling Madison from Jeremiah Otto's grave.
For showrunner Dave Erickson, who will be leaving the series following Sunday's finale, the moment was as if the series had finally come full circle and once which motivated Madison Clark's survival.
"I think what was important again was, I actually talked to Kim [Dickens] about it recently, it's this notion that the one person who... I mean things really sort of spun out of control coming off of his death," Erickson said. "I think that there was a greater pressure on Madison, on Nick and on Alicia throughout the season. In some respects being haunted by the fact that they had lost him. In my mind, that's the moment right before Madison dies. I think if she had not seen that glimmer of hope and not seen his face one more time... In her mind's eye I don't think she would have kicked to the surface, I don't think she would have come to, and I think she would have been washed out to sea. So from a story perspective, it was important that she had that last comforting moment."
"I also think it's important that he doesn't save her," Erickson adds. "I think he's there for her, he wants to, but she slipped through his fingers. And I think it's the recognition of the fact that the only person that's going to save her is her, and even the man who loved her is not able to pull her free of the flow of the river."
As for how Fear the Walking Dead pulled off Curtis' brief return, it was simple. Erickson simply "called him."
"And Cliff, I think he's completely invested and enveloped by Avatar right now, so I'm not quite sure where he's at," Erickson said. "But I called him and sort of said what I want to do, a full-circle, final moments... It's a small part but it's also kind of an important big deed in the story. So it was nice to have the family was reunited one last time."
The Walking Dead's sibling series Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9 pm ET on AMC. The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season on October 22, 2017. The Season Eight premiere will mark 100 episodes overall for the popular AMC series. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.