Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday's Fear the Walking Dead, "Reclamation." Co-showrunner Andrew Chambliss explains the open-ended exit for Althea (Maggie Grace) as the first major departure for this season of Fear the Walking Dead. Sunday's Season 7 Episode 6, "Reclamation," reveals the Civic Republic Military's return to The Walking Dead spin-off when the helicopter group dispatches a Reclamation Team to target and eliminate Ground 17: AWOL CRM pilot and Al's flighty love interest Isabelle (Sydney Lemmon). With help from friends Morgan (Lennie James) and Grace (Karen David), video journalist Al gets "the Fear version of a happy ending" when she stops chasing stories and starts chasing Isabelle.
"This episode marks Al's last appearance this season," Chambliss confirmed on AMC+'s Fear the Walking Dead: Episode Insider. "In Al's history on the show, we have seen her filming other people, asking other people questions. In this episode, we actually see her on the side of the camera."
"We see her in these stolen moments that she had with Isabelle just before the bombs went off," added Chambliss of the nuclear warheads that detonated in the explosive end to Season 6, where Isabelle went AWOL piloting the CRM chopper that airlifted Al's friends out of the blast zone. "It speaks to the way that Isabelle is able to get at who Al really is."
Coming full circle to Morgan's first meeting with Al and John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) when he crossed over from The Walking Dead to Fear in the Season 4 episode "What's Your Story?," the episode climaxes with Al on the other end of her camera in a video interview conducted by Morgan.
"One of the last scenes between Al and Morgan is an interview where Morgan says he saved Al's life, so she owes him an interview, and that is a direct callback to the fact that Al saved Morgan's life way back in 401 ['What's Your Story?'] and said that meant he owed her an interview," explained Chambliss. "He's asking her these questions because he wants her to have to confront the fact that she's the obstacle standing in the way right now between her reunion with Isabelle, the woman she loves."
As Dorie said before his death in Dillahunt's final episode of Season 6: "It's not too late. It's never too late." It's not a lesson forgotten in what is, at least for now, Grace's exit episode of Fear.
"This episode was very much a callback to Al and Morgan's first episode on Fear the Walking Dead and that episode, of course, had one more person in it, and that was John Dorie," Chambliss said. "Even though he's not with these characters, we can feel him there, because Morgan is moving forward with the lessons he learned and Al is hearing kind of the echoes of everything that John Dorie would have said if he were standing there in this episode, telling Al that she's got to get on that helicopter and try to find Isabelle."
After Morgan puts a target on his back to help Al take out the two-man Reclamation One, a transmission from the CRM reveals the transponder on Ground 17's helicopter gives away Isabelle's location. They're not going to stop until they find her — unless Al finds Isabelle first.
Morgan tells Al she's "part of the story," helping her get over her fear of losing Isabelle or herself.
"When Morgan learns that there is, in fact, a person who Al has feelings for and a person who helped Al save everyone, his desire to risk his own life to help Al is all about wanting Al to be able to experience something like that," Chambliss said. "Morgan kind of invoking his biggest fear, the thing that we heard him say when he first joined Fear the Walking Dead…['I lose people and then I lose myself']. And that really spoke to his fear of opening himself up to human connection, because there are many great things that come along with that: friendship, companionship, love, but at the same time, it carries a great risk in this zombie apocalypse. It's not uncommon to lose the people around you just like that."
"Reclamation" ends with Al and Isabelle reuniting at a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains, where the AWOL CRM soldier watches the recording of her breakup with Al. Destroying her camera, Al stops chasing the story to go on the run with Isabelle.
"While we're giving them the Fear the Walking Dead version of a happy ending, we wanted to be clear that it wasn't going to be easy," Chambliss said. "We kind of landed on this idea of having Al's interview that she had done with Isabelle to be playing in the background. It spoke to Isabelle's love for Al, that she's in this cabin watching this tape and she's obviously still thinking about her. "But at the same time, it allowed someone to voice all the practical concerns that they would have to face."0comments
Chambliss added: "What that did was it essentially allowed Al to speak to the fact that their love for each other, the fact that they can be together, can outweigh all of those negatives. This is about the best happy ending you can get in the Walking Dead Universe."
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD and stay tuned to ComicBook for coverage all season long. New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.