[Spoiler alert for the Fear the Walking Dead series finale.] Fear the Walking Dead ended with a new beginning for Madison (Kim Dickens) and Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey). The first hour of the two-episode series finale followed Madison as she sought to avenge the daughter that Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) said he killed, having taken the skeletal remains of her amputated arm as a trophy. "This is all I have left of her," Madison told Troy... only to then stab him with the bones still protruding from Alicia's severed arm. In the end, Troy died by Madison's hand (and, technically, Alicia's).
But that wasn't the only twist. With blood oozing out of his mouth, a dying Troy told Madison the truth about his daughter, Tracy Otto (Antonella Rose). She's Alicia's daughter, and Troy took her infant offspring to make up for losing the daughter he would have had — if Alicia's philosophy of helping people didn't get his pregnant wife killed. That's why Troy killed Alicia, and that's why Troy's dying words were asking Madison to fight for Tracy like she fought for her own kids.
After losing faith in the belief she instilled in Nick and Alicia when the stadium fell — "no one's gone until they're gone" — Madison decided to save her granddaughter rather than risk their lives saving PADRE from being overrun by a walker herd. But when Tracy shot Madison as revenge for killing her father, Madison made an about-turn to save Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and everyone on the island the same way she did before: by leading the walkers into PADRE, setting it aflame, and locking herself inside so the others could escape.
However, Troy lied. It turned out that Troy left Alicia for dead after a bloody fight that ended with Alicia impaling her attacker (explaining why he had her arm). The truth is that Tracy is Troy's daughter — not Alicia's — and the girl's mother, Serena Otto, did die because she believed what Alicia believed: no one's gone until they're gone. That means Madison, who survived sacrificing herself and was pulled from the rubble by... Tracy.
In the show's final moments, Alicia returned (alive!), reunited with Madison, and revealed she heard the story of Madison's sacrifice from MADRE: survivors from PADRE who mobilized to help people in Madison's name. With Alicia and Madison both believed dead and inspiring people in death, their legacy is one of hope. Madison, Alicia, and Tracy then set off to where they could help people most: Los Angeles, California. "It's never gonna be what it was," Madison said. "That doesn't mean we can't start over." As Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" played viewers out in the closing moments of the series finale, the Clarks headed home to Los Angeles to end Fear the Walking Dead.
Showrunners Explain Fear the Walking Dead Ending With Alicia Clark
According to showrunners and episode writers Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, it was always the plan to end Fear the Walking Dead with Debnam-Carey's return to the series and Alicia's reunion with Madison. Debnam-Carey departed the Walking Dead spinoff last year after seven seasons — just one episode before Dickens made her own long-awaited return after being "killed off" in season 4.
"It was always a dream of ours," Goldberg exclusively told ComicBook about the Alicia cameo. "We had started talking about it in season 7 when we knew we were going to bring Madison back onto the show. And we were talking to Alycia about it all the way back then, just planting this seed of an idea that we had for how they would ultimately come back together and reunite in the end. And it's ultimately why we built season 8 the way that we did, and in particular 8B, this question of Alicia and Madison's legacy."
"It felt undeniable to us that the show had to end with a reunion between the two of them," Goldberg added. "And we are so, so happy that everything worked out."
On Alycia Debnam-Carey's Return for the Fear the Walking Dead Finale
Because Debnam-Carey went on to lead another series (the Dominican Republic-shot Saint X), were there logistical issues with bringing the Australian actress to the Georgia set of Fear?
"It was always a concern that schedules wouldn't line up, but we just tried to stay in communication with her and keep her up to date on the direction the story was heading. And then as we got closer to the actual production dates, we were fortunately able to work it out," Chambliss revealed. "But yeah, she was working on some other shows. She was in Australia, so it was a lot of phone calls and just trying to stay up to date, but we made sure that we were going to be able to make it happen because it was that important to us."
Kim Dickens Reacts to Alicia Cameo: "Alycia Wanted to Come Back"
The plan to bring Dickens and Debnam-Carey back to end the series with a Madison and Alicia reunion dates back to 2020. AMC announced in December 2021 that Dickens would guest star in the final episode of season 7 before returning as a series regular in season 8, but Debnam-Carey's series-ending cameo was kept under wraps: throughout the final season, Alicia's fate was left a mystery after a seven-year time jump.
"It felt like Alicia coming back had to happen. I think I would've been really disappointed if she didn't. But given that, when we were first discussing it in 2020, Alycia had left the show," Dickens told ComicBook. "She'd done the show since . I believe she started when she was 21 and was finishing at 29, basically. So, that's a lot. A lot happens in your 20s, and it's a lot of growing. We've all grown in this show, personally and professionally and everything, but I think for her growth and her next step, I think she needed to go do other things. And I respected that and we talked about it and everything."
"When I talked to Ian and Andrew, they were like, 'Alycia left, but we put it in her head that we might ask her back for something doable.' And I think she was like, 'Give me a minute and chat to me later.' So we really didn't know," Dickens added, revealing that she and co-star and producer Colman Domingo — who helped facilitate Dickens' own return to the show — were asked to approach Debnam-Carey about potentially reprising her role one last time.
"Colman and I were asked to make a phone call. It was in the script and they're like, 'If you guys could make the phone call,' and we're family — we are. And so the truth is that I don't think we needed to make the phone call, because Alycia wanted to do it," Dickens said. "It felt really good to her to come back and finish it, too. She's loved the show. She wanted to do it right, too. It just feels good in our heart. It's like we put so much into these characters and these shows and some of them really hurt when they're ended prematurely or what have you. We're artists and sometimes it feels really good to see it through. So I think Alycia wanted to come back. I know she did."
After all, no one's gone until they're gone.
Read our Fear the Walking Dead finale postmortem Q&A with showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss and our series finale Q&A with Kim Dickens.0comments