Fear the Walking Dead took out a relatively new character in heartbreaking fashion in Episode 4x15, something the showrunners planned for the character's conception.
Spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead Episode 4x15 follow! Major spoilers!
After Morgan lead the group to the hospital in downtown Austin, Texas, Jim (played by Aaron Stanford) came face to face with an infected for the first time. Although he managed to put it down, Episode 4x14 revealed he had been bitten on his back -- a location for such a wound which meant death by the virus was inevitable. In Episode 4x15, though, the selfish character found it in himself to make his death meaningful and heroic, as he used his impact on a truck to lure the dead from his group.
"When we conceived of Jim as a character, we always knew he was going to be this guy who has a chip on his shoulder because he felt like he had been cheated out of the fortune and success he was on the cusp of, right before the outbreak," Chambliss explained. "And we liked that he had this kind of selfish optimism, where he thought he had something that was very important to helping the world get back on track, and that being beer. And he had that full speech about how civilization had been built on beer."
While it took the end of his journey being written on the wall for Jim to help others, his selfish attitude was prominent all along. "At the end of the day, the reason he wanted to help civilization rebuild wasn't so he could help his fellow man and woman, it was so he could become rich," Chambliss explained. "He had a lot to learn and he was really a selfish character up until the very end, even when he got bit in Episode 4x14, he was still kind of exhibiting that selfishness, where he felt like, 'Oh, great. Because, Morgan, you made this bad decision, I'm now going to die. And I'm not going to get to have my beer be the thing that helps save the world.'"
Still, it was a fun prospect for the creative team to offer the character redemption. In fact, it's quite symbolic of each characters' journey so far, as each is seeking to make up for some red on their respective ledgers.
"We knew we wanted to redeem him, and it was really, from Jim's point of view, seeing what Morgan had done for all of the other characters on the show," Chambliss said. "And then, at the same time, seeing what all these other characters were willing to do for Morgan in coming back to him at the hospital, even putting on this kind of crazy rescue mission that no one was even sure if it was going to happen. And, ultimately, everyone ending up with their life in danger on the roof of a fire truck surrounded by walkers."
Ultimately, Jim's change of heart came at the last minute. "It's only then Jim really realizes he doesn't want to go out as this selfish guy," Chambliss said. "Morgan said, 'You can choose how you die,' and he chooses to go out a hero. And not just a hero by jumping off the roof and causing a distraction to lure walkers away from our other characters, but he also imparts a beer recipe, that he thinks is going to become so important to the future of humanity, to Sarah."
Jim's death intentionally reflects the theme of the entire back half of Fear the Walking Dead's fourth season. "It's what we've talked about since the beginning of this season, that this was thematically going to be about people going from places of isolation to community," Goldberg said. "I think you really see that with Jim, which is prior to us meeting him in Episode 4x11, he'd spent a lot of time on his own in the brewery, sort of hiding from the apocalypse, surviving solo. And it's because of the journey that he has with this unlikely community of people that it actually impacts him and takes him from a selfish person to a selfless one. It's interesting in this episode because you see the effect of this community, both on Jim and on Morgan, and it's almost seeing how Morgan has effected everyone else that effects Jim."
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season on Oct. 7, 2018. For more updates and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter!