Fear the Walking Dead aired a dazzling, self-contained episode on Sunday night, earning praise from critics and fans alike after Alycia Debnam-Carey brilliantly delivered on an intensely heartfelt script. As it turns out, the episode — which brought the show's two youngest stars together for a claustrophobic, emotional outing — was a last-minute decision.
Fear the Walking Dead veteran Debnam-Carey, 25, who delivered a performance so strong it was reminiscent of her Season Three efforts in the episode, "This Land is Your Land," was paired with 12-year-old newcomer to the show, Alexa Nisenson. Originally, the script called for only one of the actresses to appear in the episode, which turned out to play like a mini-movie.
"This episode was very neat for many reasons," Debnam-Carey told ComicBook.com. "Originally, this was a different script. It was with another character. It was an episode that was Morgan and Alicia, and then three days before, they were like, 'No, we have a different plan. We want to change it completely,' and they changed it to an Alycia and Alexa episode. So, we got the episode quite late, because they wanted to change it. When I read it, I was like, 'This is amazing.' I didn't read the episode we originally had planned. I don't think anyone did but they had some kind of new idea and the concept, and when I read it, I was like, 'It's great. Fantastic.'"
The episode pitted Alicia Clark in an abandoned house with the little girl who had murdered her brother. While many thought Alicia would be quick to seek revenge, the legacy of her mother Madison rang out as the show's new leader emerged.
"This is the journey I've wanted for Alicia for such a long time," Debnam-Carey said. "There were some reasons that I finally wanted her to have to grapple with and the audience will see the hurt, where her mind was at, and if she could change and grow and come out of it."
Still, preparing for such a demanding episode on short notice was no easy feat and an entirely unique experience for the Australian actress.
"For us, it meant that preparing for this episode was very different," Debnam-Carey said. "We came off the last episode very quickly into this one with not a lot of notice, and because of the script change. Then for this one, too, what was hard is I've been the youngest person on the set, which a weird thing to say, but I've always been the youngest. I've always been a daughter or just truly the youngest actor. This was the first time I wasn't, and I had to have a different relationship with someone than I was ever used to."
"Really, it was quite an eye-opener, and I realized that being there for Alexa and being able to forge a bond between the two of us was so very important, especially because it was just the two of us in the episode. It was different for me to see it from a different perspective, because I knew what it was like to be in her shoes, but to be where I was standing suddenly was a very new learning experience and a wonderful one," she added.
Upon accepting the responsibility for the scenes, Debnam-Carey jokes that she was forced to shun her young new co-star away in moments which required absolute intensity and poise for the camera.
"It was hard because there were moments where I was like, 'I can't be nice to you right now! You're so nice and so sweet but I need to be mean!'" she said with a laugh. "So, like, 'You need to stand over there for a second while I get mean!'"
The bond between Alicia and Charlie was merely just beginning in Fear's Episode 4x10 from Sunday night. While they were quick to wash away the murder of Nick Clark, it may be in their best interest to stick together and grow with the new world. "They're not friends, right now," Debnam-Carey said. "They're not enemies though, either."
In fact, Alicia has found it in her heart to forgive Charlie for her actions. "They're more companions, and I think also Alicia has allowed herself to forgive Charlie," Debnam-Carey said. "She's being able to let that go, just such a release for her so she can move forward with a new passion. But they are companions and there is a bizarre almost sister-like bond. It's almost as if Charlie is representative of a younger Alicia and Alicia has now taken on the role of Madison."
In the end, Alicia is doing what she believes would make her late family members proud. "She's realized that's what Madison would've wanted and Nick would've wanted," the actress said. "Nick would've been able to forgive Charlie, too, for all of it and Nick did apologize to Charlie. Alicia wanted to honor both of them."
Fear the Walking Dead returned for the back half of its fourth season on August 12th at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season on Oct. 7th, 2018. For more updates and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter!