Fear the Walking Dead is no stranger to switching things up.
The series has reinvented itself more than I can remember, and the latest attempt finds all of the characters in new and exciting locations.
When Fear the Walking Dead Season 6 concluded, the nuclear bombs had detonated, leaving the characters hiding to avoid the radiation.
TV Fanatic got the chance to chat with Lennie James (Morgan), Karen David (Grace), Jenna Elfman (June), Keith Carradine (John Dorie Sr.), Alexa Nisenson (Charlie), Christine Evangelista (Sherry), and Mo Collins (Sarah) in anticipation of the highly-anticipated new season.
Karen said that this latest apocalypse would change everything for Grace because she thought she was past the worst of it with Fear the Walking Dead Season 5.
“If anyone knows the implications of this nuclear fallout, it’s Grace. So having to navigate through that. And to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the people that she cares and loves, and then on top of that, she has to navigate through her grief from moment to moment with the loss of her baby,” the actress shared, saying that her character has a full plate when we pick up.
As for Morgan, who has cheated death on countless occasions, Lennie James thinks he’s going through a reassessment of who he is.
“I think that the bomb just highlights this kind of new reality for him because it’s not just the bomb. It’s also an acknowledgment that he’s dared to love someone other than his departed wife and has taken on responsibility for a child,” Lennie added.
“And I think that will fundamentally change how he makes his decisions and how he leads this group going forward.”
“He’s just got used to the first apocalypse and kind of understood the rules of engagement,” in terms of how to survive, the actor shared.
Lennie said that Morgan is lucky to have a partner who knows a lot about nuclear bombs, which should help.
“I think he’s thrown off-center in season seven. I think the bombs have genuinely blown him into another world,” Lennie added.
As for what people can expect with the highly teased war between Strand and Morgan, Lennie couldn’t delve deep into the specifics of the plot.
“It’s a really interesting path, and it’s not necessarily what will be expected. And that’s typical of the fact because Strand isn’t necessarily just an out and out bad person or an out and out baddie.”
Lennie said that the clash of these two characters is going to lead to some interesting turns.
Morgan and Grace’s relationship has been tested a lot throughout their time together, and Karen noted that she really digs the dynamic between them.
Grace loves Morgan a lot, but Karen shared some things about him she does not agree with.
“She’s more of a pragmatic, methodical mind. Whereas Morgan represents the light that she so needed. She never knew how much she needed with his optimism and his commitment to seeing the good in others,” the actress added.
Lennie believes the franchise, as a whole, does very well at taking viewers through the nuanced journeys of the characters who get close to one another.
Lennie cites the connection between Michonne and Rick, Dary and Carol, and Dwight and Sherry as examples, and he hopes that Morgan and Grace’s story is up there with them.
Lennie says that he likes how this couple has formed through the most harrowing of circumstances and how they both make choices. They consider the implications of their choices on the other.
We have witnessed many different sides to Morgan, and somehow, the franchise always manages to give us something fresh and exciting for him.
I asked Lennie about what he likes the most about the character being reinvented more than once.
“The thing I admire most about Morgan is his honesty, and I think he is up there with one of the most, both externally and internally honest characters in this whole universe,” Lennie said.
“And I think that’s why I don’t think about his journey as being a journey of someone who is being reinvented or, or different versions.”
“You know, sometimes people ask me, ‘do you like the mad version rather than the peaceful warrior version?'”
“My stock answer to that is they’re both the same person. And that’s what I’m trying to create.”
“He’s not alone in this universe of being someone who is seemingly being transformed, but it has the hold onto, at his core of who they are and what they believe.”
“And I think that that is what I like most about him, regardless of the choices that he has to make, regardless of the situations he finds himself in, regardless of the decisions that he makes he is, he strives continuously, to be honest with himself and be honest with the person who’s standing opposite.”
June and John Dorie Sr. were in a bunker after the deaths of Teddy and Dakota, and when we pick up with them, they’ll be trying to navigate this new world.
“Obviously, it just doubles down on the living hell of survival, what does that extreme challenge mean, from resources to the health of the environment, to one’s mental and spiritual hardiness, how does anyone survive this?” Jenna said.
“And because it’s so intense, it takes characters into their deepest selves, into their deepest fears. I think that’s been a theme, at least since I’ve come on the show, that they will always incorporate every season is dealing with the subject of fear and how fear represents itself.”
“What does fear do to people? How do they change when they’re in the mental zone of fear, and how do they operate?”
“And it explores the ratio of their past experiences and how that informs and strengthens them, compared to the ratio of how much their current environment zaps the life out of them. And that interplay of potentiality is what we explore in season seven.”
As for Keith, who begins the season with June, he likes that John Dorie Sr. found family in his daughter-in-law and how they come to realize what they are for each other in this post-apocalyptic world.
“As Jenna said, it’s going to be a period of discovery and figuring out where they are, how they are, how they survive this and who they’re going to be to one another, and how they’re going to be able to support each other in this circumstance and also deal with the issues that are inevitably going to arise.”
June lost a lot, but she also gained a lot since her time on the show.
“You can’t go through a nuclear experience If you’re a compassionate person, like June, whose purpose is to help others and not feel the weight of loss on an exponential level,” Jenna said of her character.
“When you read anything about people who have been through Hiroshima, et cetera, It’s so strange. Understandably the emotions, they feel the numbness, they feel the terror. Why they go on a mission to try and eradicate nuclear arms from the plane because it’s so extreme and it’s there isn’t anything else like it on this earth.”
“It is its own horrible beast. It hits her very, very deeply. I think when hit with trauma, we’ve seen she used to go down pretty hard with trauma, but you overcome so many traumas.”
“You start building a muscle set for yourself of how to pull yourself up by the bootstraps because it’s either you pull yourself up by the bootstraps or you die.”
“There is no choice. And I think June’s had enough of those where she’s learned that, but she’s different. And this is going to change her in a big way,” Jenna concluded.
The cast was vocal about all of their characters react to this new world, especially after so many years in the zombie apocalypse.
“It’s a whole new level of danger,” Alexa teased.
“And I think for every character, they go on such incredible journeys, and it’s really incredible to see how they’ve all evolved so much.”
“Last season with Sherry, it was just that it was this whole of an internal of evolution for her to really understand what happened and to heal herself and to trust again, and to choose to stay with Dwight and want to stay with Dwight,” Christine said.
“And I think the two of them coming together at the end of last season was really powerful.”
“And then they’re faced with this, in the last few minutes of what they thought their life was last season, when they thought it was going to be over and she really regretted what she had done, and the time that she had wasted, she’s almost getting this second shot at life, but the second shot at life is incredibly dismal.”
“It’s like this amazing intersection of wanting to take that chance that you have at life with your partner and, but then having it be so filled with so many challenges and, are people going to go back to their old ways or are they reinventing themselves in this new way?”
“There’s a whole lot of that, but the show is, I think really strong this season because of all of this inner and outer conflict, more than it’s ever been,” Christine continued.
I asked Mo about what she could tell me about Sarah and Wendell’s journey this season.
“I can tell you we miss each other. They are a life source for each other, so without one another, that’s just a whole other element that they have to try and figure out for themselves,” Mo shared, adding that Sarah and Wendell identify with each other so much.
But there will be many questions about Wendell’s whereabouts in Season 7 because Sarah got on the helicopter and Wendell did not.
The cast understandably had to wear different clothing than before this season on the show because of the nuclear disaster. This meant they were hot on the set because the temperature in Austin was around 100 degrees.
I’ve watched two episodes of the season. It’s a very different vibe but also a refreshing change of pace for the show.
Tune in when it debuts October 17 on AMC at 9 p.m. Episodes will be available a week early on AMC+.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.