Sunday’s Fear The Walking Dead, ‘Close Your Eyes,’ was directly inspired by fan-favorite and critically acclaimed The Walking Dead episode ‘The Grove,’ say Fear showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss.
The latest installment of the spinoff paired off Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), the last-surviving member of the Clark clan, with pint-sized murderer and former Vulture mole Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), who shot and killed Alicia’s brother Nick (Frank Dillane) in cold blood and who Alicia blames for the loss of mother Madison (Kim Dickens) and their idyllic makeshift home at the Dell Diamond baseball stadium.
“The two-character episodes are some of Andrew’s and my favorite ones because it really allows them to focus on the emotions and the characters and to put characters into situations where we can really just explore new textures to them. They’re in their own movies,” Goldberg told EW.
“That was something we found so exciting about episode 405, ‘Laura.’ One of my favorite episodes from The Walking Dead is ‘The Grove’ — the episode with Carol and Tyreese. That’s a common reference point for us. So it’s a challenge to craft those episodes because you really have to hone in on the very specific emotional moments between the characters.”
‘The Grove’ came in the back half of The Walking Dead Season Four, which found its cast of survivors separated and desperately trying to reconnect following the loss of their fortified sanctuary. Carol (Melissa McBride) found herself with Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and a trio of tagalongs — baby Judith Grimes and young Samuels sisters Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) — and Carol, already harboring guilt over the murder of Tyreese’s lover, was forced to tearfully execute the mentally ill Lizzie after the girl slayed her little sister.
In Fear, the band of already barely-attached survivors are similarly disconnected, and a harsh, violent storm forces Alicia and Charlie to take shelter in a forgotten-about house and confront their agonizing connection. Alicia then struggles with killing Charlie — “I don’t know if I want to kill you, I just know I probably will,” she tells her — but ultimately decides against taking Charlie’s life, even when pressed.
Both episodes share another tie in the form of director Michael Satrazemis, who directed both ‘The Grove’ and ‘Laura,’ which isolated and paired off Laura-slash-June (Jenna Elfman) and John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt).
“We knew we wanted to tell this story between Alicia and Charlie and we knew we wanted someone to direct that who really could focus on these performances that are very nuanced and have a definitive arc that goes throughout, and Michael Satrazemis has done that on Walking Dead,” Chambliss said.
“He did that for us on ‘Laura,’ so when we were conceiving this episode, he was the person we wanted to direct it.”
‘Close Your Eyes’ further acts as a sort of standalone horror story, which Goldberg said comes from “the contained nature of it and the storm raging outside and just sort of those elements.”
“But really, the horror comes from the darkness that both Alicia and Charlie are wrestling with, and their feelings towards each other,” Goldberg said.1comments
“They are the last people in the world that they want to be trapped in a house with, and that’s exactly what inspired the episode for us is to put two people who absolutely do not want to be together, and putting them in that situation and seeing how the pressure cooker informs their behavior. It was a challenge and we’re thrilled with how it turned out.”
Fear The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.