*** Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Fear the Walking Dead episode “The New Frontier” ***
Fear the Walking Dead wasted no time getting to its first major character death of the season. In the opening moments of the second hour of the AMC drama’s Season 3 premiere, the helicopter Travis (Cliff Curtis) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) were riding in came under attack. During the attack, Travis caught a stray bullet and went into shock, with Alicia soon having to let him go after realizing his wounds were fatal. She finally reunited with her mother and had to break the horrible news to Madison (Kim Dickens).
To get all the details behind the decision to lose Travis The TV Junkies spoke exclusively with Fear the Walking Dead showrunner Dave Erickson. He discussed the motivation for killing off a major character and said that “there was always a plan for Travis to die.” Erickson also detailed how Travis’ death with affect the rest of the survivors, especially Madison and Alicia.
Travis’ story ended with saving Nick
According to Erickson, Travis failed at saving his own son when Chris (Lorenzo Henrie) was killed last season, so he turned his attentions to saving his surrogate one Nick (Frank Dillane). “Once he had done that, this is where the story was going to end,” explained Erickson. By saving Nick, that allowed Travis “to get some degree of redemption” and move on from Chris’ death. Because of that, Travis’ death leaves Nick “feeling a certain degree of guilt and atonement,” said Erickson. The showrunner said that Nick believe that “had I not run away last season they wouldn’t have come looking for me and Travis would be alive.’” While Erickson said “the algebra of that is a little murky, but that’s how he’s embracing and internalizing it.”
Madison makes a stand
As she told Nick at the end of the episode, Madison has decided that her family is going to stay at Jeremiah Otto’s (Dayton Callie) and make a stand and some of that is due to Travis’ death. “It really helps justify some of the accommodations and compromises she’s willing to make as we move into the season,” Erickson told us. He went on to say that staying with Otto and his sons, especially the “murderous, sociopathic and dangerous” Troy (Daniel Sharman), can only be accepted by someone who has gone through “something incredibly earth-shattering, jarring and dramatic.” That exactly what Travis’ death is for Madison who adopts a line of thinking that “‘I’m not moving, we’re going to take this place and make it home because we’ve lost too much to get here. I’m not running anymore.’”
Alicia is left reeling
“For Alicia, she murdered a man to protect Travis and within 48 hours he’s gone so that sends her on a different trajectory,” previewed Erickson. Part of that trajectory is going to have to be answering some hard questions. “It’ll throw her fundamentally and challenge her understanding of herself and this place,” he said.
But she’ll come out stronger for it
“Ultimately, it’ll make her stronger,” Erickson said of Travis’ death’s effect on Alicia. He went on to further explain that “what we didn’t want to do is have Alicia become broken and weepy because of Travis and the murder she committed.” He added that “we wanted her to get to a place where she could own that.” That place may not see eye to eye with her mother. “She’ll begin to question her mother’s actions and how Madison has approached things and start to define herself as a character moving into the back half,” said Erickson.
Saying goodbye is hard
While Erickson admits that Travis’ death, “as a catalyst for the season it absolutely services, from a narrative standpoint, a very specific purpose,” it still wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Curtis. “It’s bittersweet because Cliff is an amazing actor and an amazing person. It was a blow personally for cast and crew to lose him,” recalled Erickson.
What did you think of losing Travis? Add your thoughts below!
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.