Major spoilers below for Fear the Walking Dead's latest episode.
Fans of The Walking Dead franchise know that no one is safe forever, and Fear the Walking Dead proved that ten times over by killing off O.G. survivor Nick Clark, as portrayed by actor Frank Dillane. As it turns out, the decision to further destroy the Clark family unit wasn't one that was specifically crafted by new showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg in an effort to emotionally pummel us. It was actually spawned by Dillane himself, who was looking to exit Fear the Walking Dead as early as last season. According to the showrunners:
ANDREW: I mean, it was a couple of things. Primarily, during Season 3, Frank Dillane had asked to leave the show. He wanted to pursue other projects and some other things. So when we came about Season 4, the first thing we were tasked with was finding a way to send Nick off.
IAN: So what we really wanted to do was to honor the journey of Frank's character, and to give Nick as emotional a send-off as we possibly could.
An answer like that should do a lot to keep audiences from wanting to rail on the Fear the Walking Dead creative team, particularly those for whom Frank Dillane was one of the show's main draws. Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg weren't merely seeking out ways to shock fans by taking out the remaining original stars, which possibly bodes well for the other veteran cast members.Or maybe not. (Where's Madison?!?)
In delivering their explanation on Talking Dead following the Fear installment, Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg shined a light on how major TV decisions sometimes go down in ways that aren't entirely germane to the story being told. Would Nick have definitely survived and lived to see the rebirth of civilization had Frank Dillane not voiced his intentions to exit the show? We have no idea, but his eventual death probably would have happened in a way that wasn't quite so sudden, and there might have been a more concise explanation for how and why it all went down.
In "Good Out Here," Nick chased down and eventually murdered the Vulture Ennis in the present day, clearly shouldering a major grudge for some presumably disturbing events that went down at a point in the timeline that's still a mystery to us. And he was then shot by the young Charlie, who was the subject of some debating between Madison and Nick earlier in the episode, over whether the girl was fully with the villains or not. There are clearly unanswered questions at play here, which the showrunners say will be addressed as the season goes on, particularly concerning what Ennis did to Nick that earned him the brutal death-by-antlers. It was a truly interesting way for Fear the Walking Dead to handle a big death, but it doesn't feel complete just yet.
Fans watching the episode no doubt noticed some of the Walking Dead callbacks that popped up during the installment, particularly Morgan's affinity for peanut butter protein bars. But what about the way the episode worked those blue wildflowers into the death metaphors? Could that have been an indirect reference to the famed "Look at the flowers" line that Carol delivered in one of The Walking Dead's most brutal episodes? Here's what Andrew Chambliss had to say.
Maybe it was subconscious. I'll say that one of our favorite episodes of The Walking Dead is 'The Grove.' And you know, Michael Satrezemis is our producing director, and we sat down with him to see if he wanted to come aboard, and we talked about 'The Grove' a lot. So maybe it's somewhere in there.
I don't know how I feel about Nick's death having such tangible connections to Lizzie Samuels' death on The Walking Dead, although I do appreciate the twist of the child killing the adult in this case, and how the "villainous" intentions behind it are murky. Still, it sucks to see Frank Dillane go.
Head to the next page to see what Frank Dillane's final message to everyone was on Talking Dead.
During Talking Dead, Frank Dillane got a moment to say goodbye, both to those behind the scenes of the show and to those in front of televisions at home. In his words:
It's been one of the great pleasures of my life to be on this show. So grateful to all the people who watch it. Thank you all for everyone working on this show. I'm so grateful, and your hours are much longer than mine, and your dedication and your willingness to work is not unnoticed. I love you all, the Originals. Alicia, Coleman and Kim, you taught me so much. I know you'll smash it. I'll see you all soon and I love you very much.
We'll likely be seeing more from Frank Dillane as the season goes on, though our hearts will be heavier when it happens. Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other shows will be hitting the airwaves soon, possibly without shocking deaths capping episodes off, head to our summer premiere schedule.