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Kim Dickens & Jenna Elfman Talk Fear the Walking Dead Finale

The following interview contains major spoilers for the finale. Please watch it before reading.

Fear the Walking DeadTonight the two-part finale of Fear the Walking Dead aired on AMC and AMC Plus. Last week, June (Jenna Elfman), Dwight (Austin Amelio), and Sherry (Christine Evangelista) planned to hand Tracy (Antonella Rose) over to her father (Daniel Sharman), but Strand (Coleman Domingo) messed up their plans. Through the course of the episode, Madison (Kim Dickens) realized that Tracy was lying about knowing where Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) was, and by the end of the episode, Madison went off on her own to stop Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) and hopefully find out the truth of what happened to her daughter. The finale, which picks up there, follows Madison as she continues her mission to find the truth, which ends in a shocking revelation that fans won’t see coming.

Recently, Dickens and Elfman spoke with the press about the finale episode, and specifically to SciFi Vision, about what they would love to see for their characters if they ever were to return to the franchise, as well as the defining moments that fundamentally changed their characters for the better.

Read the full transcript below and watch the finale, now streaming on AMC Plus.

QUESTION:   I am very curious as to what you feel the legacy of the show, message-wise, is going to be now that it's come to an end.

JENNA ELFMAN:   I just think the importance of family, in whatever form it works for you. But it's so important that we are not alone in this world, and in any way we can create a family, a support system, an enhancement tribe. It's just - and I think in the greater that human beings all be that for each other in general. But to me, it's like the show started with family, and they connected with another family, and then they all started interchanging with their experiences and stuff. So, that, to me, seems like the main theme is family, in any way for the purpose of enhanced survival.

Fear the Walking DeadKIM DICKENS:   I can't say it any better than that. I think what we walk away from with the legacy of this ending, I think it's about, how do you reconcile things in your past with who you were when you began, who you are now, how you forgive yourself, how you forgive others. I think it's about resilience of the human spirit, and it is about coming together and following your better angels. I think Jenna nailed it. It's family, whether it's chosen, or whether it's blood, that's what it's about.

QUESTION:   How do you feel your character legacy will be in The Walking Dead universe now that we're coming to the finale, specifically your character?

JENNA ELFMAN:   I think, for June, I feel like she always was aiming to do the right thing and always coming from a good intention as a human being. I think she always wants - I think she's well intentioned. I think she's just one of the helpers. That’s important to her. It's who she was before the apocalypse as a trauma nurse. I think courage and bravery is also something, but just the decency, the inherent decency in her. Despite all the trauma that she's gone through, she always was trying to just stay connected to her decency. Then, if she could, if she could always help or stay connected to her true self, then she felt that she was still existing in the world like she was still present. Like, she hadn’t lost her mind.

KIM DICKENS:   I think, with Madison, she's a controversial character and always has been. She didn't always do the right thing, the morally correct thing. I think when I think back about when the show started and what we set out to represent, [it] was, you know, East LA, and I think we did. Also, we started with a family, but it was a broken family. It wasn't like a picture-perfect family. It was a mixed family. There was drug addiction in it. There was suicide in it; there was divorce in it. I think that that imperfection, and yet still being a family, I think it was nice to sort of have that as our legacy, like, it's okay. It's okay; we're just all gonna do the best we can. And I remember meeting fans at some of the conventions and mothers coming up to me and saying, “Thank you for showing what this is like to have a drug addicted son,” and they would cry, and there's a “Hey, I have a kid that's addicted to drugs right now, and it's not easy, and sometimes I have to be tough.” So, I'm just really proud of us for showing trauma, because everybody goes through it. And you don't always get to see that, and I think art is effective when you can see it, and you feel a part of something. Then, it's art, you know what I mean? And I think if we were able to reflect sometimes things that were painful or not perfect or not the typical, then that's what I'm proud of.

JENNA ELFMAN:   I just want to say on that too. It’s just I thought of it when you were speaking Kim. Just as mothers, like motherhood, what motherhood brings out in you, it brings out your best qualities, but it brings out some of the ugliest parts of your personality too. Especially if you're, you know, like with Nick, when you have a child that's struggling like that, you can't help but feel you failed as a mother, and that brings out the ugliest side of you. Because mothering is all about making sure the future survives, and when the future starts not surviving, it does something to you inherently, in your very core as a mother. I like that they explored all of those sides of mothering, you know, the love, the care, the ugliness. 

KIM DICKENS:   Failing.

JENNA ELFMAN:   Yeah.

KIM DICKENS:   Sometimes it’s like I think those primitive experiences of motherhood that you don't always see, and I think resonate with people and families. I was proud of our show for having the courage to sort of do that, shine the light there.

QUESTION:  I want you to talk about what it was like to make the transition, because of the world the characters existed in, to be more heroic - I don't mean the action stuff, but  to really do heroic things, sometimes for the greater good and sometimes not. But they made that transition. Talk about that.

KIM DICKENS:   Well, it was a tough road for Madison to get there. I think her intentions were always to do what's right for the greater good. I think she loses herself along the way, especially when she's working for PADRE and stealing children, the very antithesis of what motivated her survival and her goodness, [it] was the children, and now here she was doing the exact opposite. So, to come back from that was a very - I mean, it's like, you’ve got to be pretty limber, as an actor. [laughs] Like, we were jumping through some hoops here and there, going back and forth, and just like really just exploring the psyche and the heart and the soul and what would make someone do this. So, we were really getting our workout as actors. So, to be able to go all the way to the bottom, as I think Madison does in season eight, and somehow find her way back up, is sort of poetic.

JENNA ELFMAN:
   

Yeah, I think, for June, I think some of her bravest moments come in trying to honor John Dory, honor herself, honor the right thing. Sometimes it seems it can just be so easy to give up, when clearly all the cards are stacked against you. Why bother? And to honor, to have honor towards the right thing, requires sometimes tremendous bravery. So, I think, when I look at the big sort of brave moments June's encountered, they were in her trying to honor John's life, [like] when she murdered Ginny. His death had to mean something. For her, it couldn't exist without some, you know, equal action or her trying to honor her own truth by going ahead and doing that surgery when there's so much at risk for her sanity and for life. So, I think in June's journey of bravery, it had to do with honoring the right things, and that's hard.

SCIFI VISION:   So, obviously there's been multiple Walking Dead shows, and there may be more in the future, we don't know, but if the two of you were to go on one of the spin off shows, what's something that you would really like to see explored in your character that throughout this journey you haven't gotten to see yet, specifically for yourself, for your own characters, for both of you.

KIM DICKENS:   
My God, I feel like Madison has done everything. I mean, I think it'd be nice to see her try to finally rebuild a family in a place like she wanted PADRE to be or what she intended for the stadium to be. I'd like to lean into that a little more. I mean, I only got a little taste of that at the stadium. You know, it all seems to always go to shit, but I don't know. I’d go anywhere Madison needs to go. It's such a fun character, and they always surprised me. So, I'm pretty open.

JENNA ELFMAN:   Just in terms of a character quality, I'd love to see, June having gone through so much, I'd love to see, if she were to come play somewhere, this full-out courage. You know, there's something when you've been through everything and nothing can surprise you anymore. You have a lot of knowledge in your pockets. You get to that point where you just can tolerate anything and take it, not just in stride, because there's a lot more emotion connected to it than that, but to have the adventure of courage and to be someone who's like, “You know what? Let's go,” and finds this beauty encouraged, to lean into moments, to reach into anything, because let's just find out what this is. I've been there, I can take it. I know I can pull myself out. I know. Like, “Let's go.” Then, to just see this courageous energy, I think to just to have that as a starting point, I think, would be really fun.

QUESTION:  So, [you] mentioned all the heartbreaks along the way. Nick didn't make it to the end. John Dory didn't make it to the end. But Alicia came back in the final episode. What was that moment like, for Madison reuniting with Alicia? And in Jenna’s case, I know you guys did not have a moment to reunite, but would you have liked to reunite with her at the end?

KIM DICKENS:   That moment was really, really special. I think that's what the dream was when Ian and Andrew pitched the end of season seven and season eight to me. The dream was to bring them back together. I mean, for me, I thought, how can I come back without - I mean, how can I miss both of my children? You know what I mean? I felt like we needed it as a story. So, it was very rewarding to have that moment. We happen to love each other as people. So, it was also very fun to be together on set again. I mean, we've been together since, what year was it? I don't know. 2015? So, we've known each other for quite a while in a lot of different - LA, Vancouver, Mexico, Austin, Savannah, you know, it's quite a journey. So, it felt really great to be together, and we had a lot of laughs, and we had some tears too.

QUESTION:   I didn't get what your question was for me on that with what character? I'm so sorry, if you don't mind?

QUESTION:  Absolutely. So, Alicia decides not to reunite with the group at the end, and she lets them all go their separate ways. So, would you have liked some kind of resolution with Alicia at the end?

Fear the Walking DeadJENNA ELFMAN:   I think it was done perfectly well. I think it absolutely happened the way it needed to happen. I think June in the end of season seven, treating Alicia when she was trying to wrangle everyone, and me observing these health things about her and taking note, and then implementing them into helping others, using the radiation factor to help other people with the PADRE experiments, that was Alicia, you know, in that regard, coming in. So, in a way, that was June's connection to Alicia, using that observation of what was happening with Alicia’s bite and how she was surviving and what the phenomena was, and putting that into June's helper recipe brain. So, I did feel a connection to Alicia in that way, in terms of the story, and I feel like the way it ended with the three of them, the end was just so, so cool.

QUESTION:   From a fan perspective, we take something away from each of them, and I would imagine actors take something away from their characters as well. What did June and Madison teach each of you?

JENNA ELFMAN:   That, as a woman, bravery is frickin awesome, and that we are so strong, and that we are so much more capable than most people expect us to be able to be, and how we sell ourselves short sometimes on the subject of bravery as women. And it reignited a bravery in me. I don't know, I think framing women as brave more often, I think is a good is a good idea, because that's what we are.

KIM DICKENS:   Yeah, I agree, because what I took away from it was, “Wow, I could do that. I could do all of that,“ and it did take courage. I'd never led a show before. I was never the lead on the show before, much less a genre piece that was an action piece, but you know, it's okay. I just showed up every day. And I think that's what it reminded me to do, is just, like, you just show up every day. It doesn't matter if you don't know how to do something, just show up and learn. Also, we had to be so flexible as performers, because we really were asked on a daily basis, or script by script, to sort of sometimes have a different agenda than we'd had before, or a different emotional response then we'd had before, and make big changes. So, sort of being that limber and adapting, it keeps you - you have to be on your toes. So, I love walked away feeling like “Yes, I did it.” And I think Jen is right, the bravery, to frame women as sort of equals in that way - which I think we do on our show, on this show. We never sort of - I don't think any of the females ever felt like we were at any moment undervalued or not treated as equal or just as strong as anybody else. So, yeah, and we'll carry that. We'll all go and carry that into whatever other job, whatever the other set we walk onto. It's that those eight years or those four or five years, they’re in us. We’re changed now.

QUESTION:   Do you have any big watch party plans for the final two episodes, and your friends and family?

KIM DICKENS:   Jenna, do you want to come over?

JENNA ELFMAN:   Sure. I’ll find a plane from Austin, and I'll come on out. I hadn't even - I watched the last two on screeners by myself at night, last night in my kid's bed. He was in the top bunk, and I was all cuddled up with my headphones and darkness and the dog at my feet, and that's actually how I like watching these things, because there're so many nuanced emotional memories upon filming these, from your whole creative process as an artist, to the personal experience of having gone through this journey. I don't know, I don't feel like I enjoy going through it in a public environment with all my friends, because it's like, I like to process it. Like, “Oh, so how did they edit that?”  I know what I was trying to play that moment, what tape did they use, and what communicates. It's so personal and intimate. So, I enjoy watching it all cuddled up alone in the bunk bed.

KIM DICKENS:   I think in the past we've done that. I remember when we were in Mexico, and we would all go into somebody's room. It started airing, and we’d somehow hijacked cable to be in our hotel rooms, and we would watch it there. But, Coleman and I talked about, “Let's try to watch it while we're home.” [But] he's like, so busy right now. Oh my god. So, I tried to watch it with some friends when it came back. And it's a lot of questions, and a lot of like, “Oh, God,” so I prefer to just watch it with my partner who understands my job, and we really get to dissect it together. Like, I can say, “Hey, that's when that [happened].” You know, I celebrate it with somebody that gets it. You know what I mean? My mother watches it in Alabama, so I get the text when she's seen it. So, that's it. That's it for me, no big parties. We've done a lot though, through the years.

QUESTION:   When the words came out, “that’s a wrap,” what was that like for each of you? 

JENNA ELFMAN:   Surreal, right, Kim? It's like, surreal. There was a lot of time to process it. We had known for so many months this was going to be the final season. So, then that's its own processing journey, and you're trying to film while knowing this is the last - and so, for me, it was very emotional. I was so discombobulated knowing this was gonna be the last time I was doing this, because I so enjoy it, and I didn't want to be caught up in my own emotions about it. I wanted to be present while I'm doing it, so then I'm actually getting all the sensation of enjoyment while doing it. But when it was actually done, my son was with me on set, and that felt really special to be able to have to share that with him, because your family goes through so much when you're filming these, and they're a huge part of this experience. They live the tiredness with you and the busyness and the pandemic. They go through it. It's a shared experience. So, to have my son with me - and he wants to be a filmmaker, and he's really interested in camera - and for him to watch that ending, to watch Mikey give that end speech, I don't know, for me, that was like an extra bonus, but it was super bittersweet. I hated the idea that I'm not going to be able to have “action” and start acting alongside everyone again. I hated that. I hated it. But I was trying to also be like, so happy with the experience that I did have. So, it was like multi-dimensional sensations.

KIM DICKENS:   Yeah, fortunately we knew the end was nigh. We knew it was coming, and there's a real disservice when you shoot a season, and you think you're gonna see each other again, and you get axed in the break. That's never fun. So, the great thing, the great honor of this, was that we did get to finish it properly. But still, even though we knew it was coming, it was just like, “Really?” This has been a long time, and it was the dead of night. I think we wrapped it in a very civilized hour of 1:00 a.m. actually, so it wasn't too bad. It was a little chilly. And Mikey gave the speech, and then, I mean, I was crying; I really was. It's been a profound experience for me. This whole season, everything about it, this whole series, and working with all the people, from soup to nuts, the production office, to the actors, to the directors to the showrunners, to the executives, to everything, and I mean, I'm leaving it changed. I'm leaving in a better person. I'm leaving it a stronger person, more humble person, maybe, I don't know. And it was good, because the way we got to let it go, we got to say goodbye, and that's all you can ask for, and we got to do that. Then, I remember going from - I don't know if you saw them, Jenna, at the end, but when we left the set, we'd all hugged, and we're in the mud and hugging and saying goodbye. Then we got out of the van at base camp, and Lauren, and Lindsey, the two Pas, were sobbing. They're in their early 20s. They were sobbing, and I was just like, that's how profound this experience was for them, and especially them, for these young women, to see all these creatives come together like we did, and we're all such good eggs. We’re all professionals. We all deliver right away. We all are pleasant to each other and to everyone, and it was just a beautiful experience, and the greatest gift of all was getting to say goodbye properly.

SCIFI VISION:   Earlier, you talked about how they've changed and that they displayed a lot of bravery. But through the series, what are some of the defining moments that you think changed them for the better, that made them become the way that they are now, for both you.

JENNA ELFMAN:   I think June's encounter with John Dory. That's game changing, obviously, his benevolence, the contagion of his benevolence, like how contagious goodness is, and generosity of spirit, and how healing that can be. Like, you know, when you've had a crap day, and someone looks at you, like, “Are you okay? How are you” and you really feel their sincerity, and you're just like, “Aahhh!” You’ve been keeping it in all day, and then that caring gaze lands upon you, and it all comes out. I just think John Dory’s benevolence was such a beautiful theme that became a contagious driving force through these different characters. You know, to lose a child, you don't ever heal from that, like in a normal loving world, let alone in an apocalypse. I just think, for June, to be able to find herself again, because of that love and generosity and benevolence and what it did for all the characters, I think that was a really defining time.

KIM DICKENS:   That's a really hard question for me. I mean, so much happened. I think it's almost like at the beginning and in the end. And we spoke about Cliff Curtis in another interview today, Jenna brought him up. I think probably by starting with the love of Travis and his sort of unconditional love for our broken family, sort of gave Madison the courage and set her off on a mission, gave her that sort of confidence, being loved. I think another really defining moment would be at the end, ironically, from Troy, who, by lying, gave Madison a reason to live, and that was by thinking that Tracy was her granddaughter. And for whatever reason, even though it wasn't the truth, it changed things for Madison.

QUESTION:  Do you think Victor Strand is a better man, a changed man, at the end?

KIM DICKENS:   Yeah, I do. I do. I mean, when Madison meets him, and he's speaking German, and trying to hide every bad thing he did at the tower, I mean, I think we have to believe it. We have to - you know, no one's gone until they're gone. I think you have to give him that benefit of the doubt, that what Alicia said to him, what she did for him by acting, you know, as a way of showing him how to be, changed him maybe. I mean, because he did everything he could to keep me from going off the deep end. I don’t know. I mean he was a man of many, many masks, but I have to believe he's changed, but I'm a sucker like that. I'm an audience member that’s like a sucker.

JENNA ELFMAN:   I don't think June was exposed to a lot of his redeeming scenes that the audience is privy to. I think June [was] limited and was not having any of it. But as a viewer, I do feel he's changed, because he never betrayed love. He never betrayed Frank and Frank’s son that he brought into his life, and they brought [him] into theirs, and he never betrayed them since he met them, and, to me, that showed that he is capable of change. I think if he had betrayed them, then it's like, “Yeah.” Then, I mean, you just signed the check, that's done. I don't think it’s possible for him to change. But he never betrayed that, and he always cared and maintained a devotion to that love. That, to me, said a lot about him.

KIM DICKENS:   I think you're right. I think that's the tell of who the real guy is.

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