Spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead's third season follow. Eight episodes have aired, culminating to the midseason hiatus awaiting the next batch of episodes in September.
To start its third season, Fear the Walking Dead shocked fans by killing a character many thought of a potential lead for the series. Travis Manawa, the character portrayed by Cliff Curtis from the first episode of the series, joined the rest of his family in their graves as a bullet pierced through the helicopter on which he was riding and fatally wounded him. To the shock of the audience, Travis elected to remove his seatbelt, open the door, and leap from the helicopter to his death.
Many fans were a bit skeptic of Travis' fate, going by the "not dead until you see a body rule," but the character has been confirmed as dead by many parties involved with the series.
Since Travis' death, Fear the Walking Dead has taken off. Fans and critics alike are praising the series eight episodes into its third season. Showrunner Dave Erickson believes there are several reasons for the new opinions of the AMC series but one of them is the new ability to focus on characters other than Travis a bit more, despite originally having plans to keep him around longer.
"Yeah, yes, I think there was a version of the story in which we didn't lose Travis until later," Erickson said in an interview with ComicBook.com. "I think one of the positives, and there's certain pros and cons, regardless, but what it forced us to do is really have Madison arrive."
The Alabama native Madison Clark, played by Kim Dickens, has emerged as the clear cut leader of the series in Season 3, partially because there is now less confusion regarding which character is running the show. "Kim is number one on the call sheet, and she's always been, in my mind, she's always been our lead and our anchor, Erickson said. "From a story perspective, the loss of Travis forced her to double down on the ranch and on this family. On the Ottos, even though there's a lot of ugliness and violence that goes with Troy and as the season progresses, also goes with Jeremiah. But it really forced her hand and made her embrace this place as a home. And she becomes hell-bent on ensuring that it stays that way. So there is that, but yeah, it opened up more story."
The early loss of Travis ultimately allows the growing cast of characters to earn more of a spotlight and reveal themselves to the audience in ways which were previously conflicted by shared screentime. "I mean, ultimately, we have 42 minutes an episode, and you can only service so many characters on an ongoing basis, and so strictly in terms of story real estate, it meant that Madison had to step up as a character, but it also meant that she ended up taking on a lot more story," Erickson said.
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Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season in October with a trailer coming in July at San Diego Comic Con. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.