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Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Fear The Walking Dead |SERIES FINALE| /w Executive Producer Michael E. Satrazemis

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I used to say that Fear The Walking Dead was a completely different show than The Walking Dead, but that's not accurate. Though the characters and setting are different (and there's no source material to draw upon), it's still about balancing pragmatism with Tikkun Olam (fixing/building a better world). As we say goodbye to the series that has brought many of us together with such joy, it bears repeating: you may not have gotten what you wanted, but you liked what you got.
Since we livestreamed this discussion, for the most part, there's no unedited episode recording available for streaming; however, Tip Us to support our hard work and/or join a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon for as little as $1 /month!

Michael E. Satrazemis:
David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

The End of Fear /w Executive Producer Michael E. Satrazemis

  • Sherrandy arranged our surprise visit by Michael E. Satrazemis, who expresses gratitude towards the hosts of SQUAWKING DEAD for their unwavering support and for helping to propel the story.

  • He mentions that creating a successful show involves a lot of thought, care, and attention to detail and, even still, acknowledges that there are always things he wishes he could have done better in each episode.

  • He appreciates how SQUAWKING DEAD and their listeners understand the intentions behind the show's decisions and recognize the effort that's made to deliver it to the world. He usually hides from interviews and discussions but didn't want to miss the opportunity to express his gratitude.

  • Michael praises our cleverness for catching details and predicting the trajectory of storylines. He feels a connection with SQUAWKING DEAD and their listeners and considers them part of #FearFamily / #TWDfamily, especially when we catch easter eggs and references in the show, like the various book titles we manage to find in every episode and analyzing seemingly innocuous lines that have tremendous relevance. 

  • Creating a selfless and collaborative environment is important for success in the entertainment industry. Removing egos and the word no allows for more creativity and innovation. Encouraging everyone to contribute and bring their own ideas elevates the storytelling. The prop master's contribution of Scrabble pieces that spelled out the words I love you, was a beautiful surprise addition to episode 4x05, Laura, enhancing the story. Allowing emotional involvement from all departments raises the bar, technically. The project involves many hands and each person brings something creatively to the table.

  • The end of the show is a bittersweet experience, having to say goodbye to loved ones and processing the end multiple times after the final scenes have already been shot. He was very thankful when interviewers focused on his time on The Walking Dead or other aspects of Fear The Walking Dead besides the the finale. The end of the show means the end of playing (with) certain characters, which can be emotional.

  • Throughout the course of FearTWD's run, the television landscape has changed, as long-running broadcast shows have become less and less prevalent.

  • Speaking of the end: during the wrap parties, Michael mentioned frequently wanting to escape or run away rather than have to say goodbye to the cast and crew. Dave likens this to what He-Man says in the live-action movie Masters of the UniverseDon't say goodbye; say good journey. Michael's version is, I have to go to the bathroom. Dave invokes how often he and Rachael shy away from wanting to watch series finale episodes or even want to record their breakdowns.

  • Michael also notes the bond SQUAWKING DEAD seems to share with their audience, to which Dave explains is a result of people seeking a podcast that was willing to give all shows they cover a fair shake. He then goes on to say that, as a result, it dialed-in on SQUAWKING DEAD's purpose, which subsequently allowed for even more perspectives to be heard.

  • Michael then goes on to compliment Dave's way of analyzing the show on a film-making level and suggested he should be making films, himself. Dave responds that he's always been a slave to the story and wanted to show the audience the intentions behind certain choices on a technical level. And, to be fair to Michael, Dave also explains that SQUAWKING DEAD always tries to do it's best to balance embracing the show's virtues while analyzing it critically (finding the humor in everything along the way).

  • While Dave prepares to actually start the livestream, Sherrandy divulges her FearTWD spin-off script involving June Dorie. Everyone takes a jab at the notion that she and Carol Peletier should open an orphanage together (considering how the children in their care tend to die).

  • After Dave launches into the intro, for the livestream audience, Michael unexpectedly recaps his praise towards SQUAWKING DEAD. Along with how honored and happy he is to attend our final breakdown of FearTWD, he reaffirms how important it was to him that we be thanked and acknowledged for our dedication to the show.

  • While reiterating the challenges and decisions that go into creating a television series, he wanted to thank SQUAWKING DEAD and their audience's intelligence in understanding of the filmmaking process: the cast and crew's dedication and perseverance throughout the show's eight seasons cannot go unacknowledged. Michael expresses gratitude towards Fear The Walking Dead family - the cast and fans - in light of an evolving television landscape that has shorter and shorter attention spans.

  • Michael also admires the support and care he's seen within the Fear The Walking Dead community towards one another, to which Sherrandy explains that the show and its audience has fundamentally altered her life.

  • Michael goes on to say how grateful he is for the friendships and sense of family that formed throughout their time on the show. Never wanting the story to end, he reveals his desire to continue creating stories with the people he's worked with, as a team. In response, Sherrandy mentions - this time, while streaming - her spin-off idea (that doesn't involve a character named Dom or Dawn Dorie).

  • Michael reflects on his journey of self-discovery and reinvention through his time on the show: leaning into how receptive people were towards smaller, character-focused episodes and the increasing desire to shoot scenes in a more cinematic fashion. When he was first brought on as Executive Producer, he was basically bushwhacked over how deeply involved he would be in the series, moving forward.

  • Because of this discovery, Dave shares his tumultuous time podcasting the events of Season 4 with his, then, reluctant co-host, Carol, and how it forced him to make changes to the podcast's format, as a result. This eventually brought in a more diverse set of voices and perspectives in SQUAWKING DEAD's episode discussions. Along with crediting FearTWD for this change, he also acknowledges that this was also due to his stubbornness: refusing to give up allowed him to find dedicated people who were willing to work through tough times.

  • Michael discusses experimenting with composition and editing in the fourth season, which emphasized the power of visual storytelling. He also imposed limitations on himself to inspire more creative output, like the decision to initially limit camera movement and focus on specific cuts and framing techniques to enhance the emotional impact of a given scene. Division of labor and technical challenges came with this approach, but it was a beautiful exercise in revisiting cinema and the fundamental basics of filmmaking. While it's important to have a great story, the greatest story won't have as much of an impact without the visual storytelling to undergird it.

  • Michael was blessed to be able to collaborate with talented cameramen who helped with the development of the filmic language of the show. It's important to build a place (both behind and in front of the camera) where everyone holds tight to the beauty and doesn't let go, even in survival situations. We mention that we learned a lot about the importance of how much prep work a Director must undergo from our interview with Phil McLaughlin: to not only capture as many of the shots you intended to capture, but to trust you're all speaking the same film-making language, considering each individual role the cast and crew have in making it come alive. Michael explains that the goal of transforming into a cohesive and effective team is hoping that everyone operates from the same filmmaker brain. Dave mentions that it's a lot like forming Voltron: not the original one, but Voltron Vehicle Force (because of all amount of individual units). Yes, Dave is a nerd.

  • Thomas O' Mara, in the audience, asks about the experience of having cast members direct different episodes, but Michael never has a chance to answer due to a loss of internet connection.

Fear The Walking Dead's SERIES FINALE:

Episodes 11 & 12: Fighting Like You + The Road Ahead

  • Basking in the afterglow of Mikey's high praise, Bridget discusses her time on Talking Dead but, most-importantly, how Dave made up for them not sending The Commonwealth Christmas sweater they promised on air while she was visiting New York City for New York Comic Con. We also briefly mention when Bridget and Sherrandy joined the fold on SQUAWKING DEAD: another indicator of how this show brought us all together.
  • Speaking of, we decided to record our reaction to watching the final episodes and stitched them all together to make a compilation to give folks all our first impressions in advance.

    • The title sequence of the show was impressive and featured all the main characters.
    • The log slamming Troy Otto's truck off the road at the beginning was a thrilling moment.
    • The reintroduction of Crane, a character Rachael predicted would return, was exciting and well done.
    • Tracy Otto is not the offspring of Troy and Alicia Clark, which is a huge relief.
    • Madison Clark's dispatching of Troy was not only consistent with her quest for revenge, but leads her further down a dark path that mirrored that of her father's.
    • Alicia's unexpected return was a pleasant and truly unexpected surprise.
    • June and Dove riding away together provided a happy conclusion to June's story.
    • Daniel Salazar reuniting with Skidmark was an emotional moment.
    • Victor spotting the blue bonnets in the truck, as well as Alicia, Madison, and Tracy in the rearview (the three force ghosts at the end of the original Star Wars trilogy) was particularly touching.
  • Sherrandy still wishes Madison was dead, but the show provided satisfying-enough endings and redemption for most characters. And speaking of how grateful we are to the cast and crew for creating the show, the thank you montage from the actors to the fans at the end of the episode was particularly moving. The show may not have delivered the ending that everyone wanted, but we liked what we received.
  • Some in the audience echoed similar frustrations we've had about some of the original characters, mainly Madison, who stole screen time from other characters. And how about the Madison's fake deaths? This actually brought us to Alicia, who was generally beloved by most throughout both iterations of the show. Alicia grew on Dave over a long period of time. As he was watching, he questioned whether it was really Alicia's voice, at the end, and even upon seeing her, he couldn't believe it was her.

  • We bring up The Alicia Cosplayers and how Alicia is sort of their Jesus: Alicias Christ and her three Apostles, spreading her gospel. But this does bring us right back to how disappointed that Sarah Rabinowitz couldn't be even somewhat involved in returning amidst the action scenes where PADRE was surrounded by walkers: why introduce new characters when we could've (re-)utilized existing ones?

  • This actually brings us to the title sequence and how relieved we are Sarah & Wendell, among many others, were present. Some believe that they were added to quell fan backlash, but many of us disagree. After all, Andrew Chambliss had explained in multiple interviews how they intended to introduce a storyline for Sarah in the final season, but it had to be scrapped for what little time the network gave them to flesh out the final season. Our hosts argue whether even mentioning them would've been the right move: doing so might've showed that they cared, but would also close the book or limit any possible opportunities they might have in a future cameo or spinoff.

  • This actually makes Dave angry about prior speculation from's Walking Dead Wiki (now edited/corrected) mentioning that Strand confirmed Wendell, Sarah, and Rabbi Jacob Kessner's fate in Anton (8x07), which all the entertainment journalists ran with at the time and took as fact. It made him upset because he watched the same episode and did not come to the same conclusion: it ended up heavily affecting the rest of our hosts and the way that episode discussion was handled. Thankfully, our head-canon lands on Sarah, Wendell, and Rabbi Jacob searching for Tess and the kids (Annie, Max, and Dylan)... oh, and Ranger Samuels and Mickey... and as long as we're bringing back characters, how about Eli's partner, (not-)Wayne, as long as we're bringing people back from the dead? ...and, why not, if Emile LaRoux can have a twin Josiah LaRoux (and never return after Season 7), let's have Tracy have a twin called Stacy Otto?

  • Takeerah, in the audience, had read about Daniel Sharman feeling disrespected with the way his character was handled, but it turns out that this was just a rumor. This does prompt us to discuss his arc and the irony in how he mirrors Madison in many ways: we see him gradually desiring redemption and wanting to help people, especially his sworn enemies (the Clark women) by the end. Madison killing Troy actually elevated his performance and made it easier for folks to side with him and accept his journey towards atonement.

  • Before Troy coming back to the show, we would've easily said he was more insane than Madison but, by the end of the series, Madison seems clearly more disturbed. When Madison's past is revealed near the end of Season 3 (and reiterated in these final episodes, to Tracy), how and why she had murdered her father long before the apocalypse, it was already a clear sign that her moral compass had always been wonky. Knowing that she subsequently trained to became a high school guidance counselor seems strange, but Dave suggests that sociopaths(/psychopaths?) often study human behavior in order to function in society. After we argue about the differences between sociopaths and psychopaths, we decide that we really enjoyed the show wrecking our perception of protagonist and antagonist.

  • The show, in its own way, retreads a lot of its own canon: Madison is shot by Tracy (to protect her "mother", like Madison was trying to protect her own mother from her father); Nick Clark was shot by Charlie in retaliation for killing her protectors (like Madison kills Troy in retaliation for killing her daughter); Madison was believed to be dead (mixed reviews on whether people wanted this), but ended up being alive (mixed reviews on her return); Nick (beloved by all) was killed with no possibility of returning (much to everyone's chagrin).

  • And then there's Crane's return. Rather than look for her kids, Crane reveals how Madison survived and manipulated her to trust he and Shrike. Everyone loved the way Crane unexpectedly reappears and lays traps for all these groups, the log trap being the highlight of the episode. Crane's over-the-top performance was entertaining and he became a mirror for the behavior exhibited by many characters.

  • The antagonistic behavior between some of our protagonists this season was disliked by some. Contrasting this with Season 6 - which focused on them fleeing Virginia and seeking out one another - there's so much friction and, in some cases, hate between them, which made it hard for some to buy-in to the story. Although the group splitting up at the end felt sad, it thankfully contained hope as each individual heads their separate way.

  • In a shocking admission, Rachael felt Kim Dickens' acting was elevated in the last two episodes, reminiscent of the Madison we knew in the early seasons, though she still doesn't like Madison and will never understand why people loved her so much. Madison can be seen as both hero and an anti-hero; however, one can also see her as more of a force of nature. The return of Troy shows Madison under a whole other light, showing the audience how much she has intentionally not tried to make things right, compared to when we last saw her in Season 4. Madison's decisions become worse as she learns more about Alicia's murder and starts to resemble Troy. Madison killing Troy for no reason ultimately spotlights how unhinged she's become. Madison is playing out the concept of cyclical melodrama to a tee, a concept Bridget had mentioned in earlier episodes.

  • Although Madison has surely aged after 10+ years, the passage of time seems to have not affected Alicia at all! Going back to what was said earlier, Alicia felt like more of the main protagonist of the series, though the focus shifted to other characters over time, much like Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. Some have suggested that the show started out from Madison's perspective, but eventually shifted to Nick's; it might've continued that way had Frank Dillane not requested to leave the series. It's noted that both TWD and FearTWD contained main protagonists (Rick & Madison) who made some poor decisions.

  • It has been said that Madison would do anything for her children, good or bad. Although Madison's refusal to help Strand protect his family and, instead, prioritize finding her dead child highlights her selfishness, it also accentuates Victor's character development in the final episodes and how far he's willing to go for his own family. And speaking of family: even though Dwight & Sherry had told Odessa & June that they were family in Sanctuary (8x09), but end up splitting up at the end of the finale, it was nice to see June and Dwight find happiness. After all, family is still family wherever they are, however far away. Still, there are some who found Dwight & Sherry's return to The Sanctuary questionable, as it was established in TWD's 9th Season that not much would grow there.

  • This does bring us to - what Carol mentions to Daryl Dixon in the penultimate episode of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon's 1st Season - who might've returned to Alexandria Safe-Zone or The Commonwealth. Although it's uncertain whether we'll see any of our FearTWD characters ever again, there are quite a few characters who might be the person they are mentioning, like Morgan Jones or Dwight.

  • We take the time to go through who exactly is depicted in the title sequence: at first we debated whether their relevance was based on their proximal relationship to Madison or The Clark family, but we landed on the obvious reason being their relevance to the series on the whole. And though we struggled with some, here is a list denoting whom each silhouette represented.
    1. (Baby) Mo / Wren
    2. Odessa / Dove
    3. Victor Strand
    4. June Dorie
    5. Dwight
    6. Charlie
    7. Sherry
    8. Grace Mukherjee
    9. Travis Manawa
    10. Althea Szewczyk-Przygocki
    11. Alicia Clark
    12. Madison Clark
    13. Nick Clark
    14. Morgan Jones
    15. Chris Manawa
    16. Luciana Galvez
    17. Wendell
    18. John Dorie
    19. Sarah Rabinowitz
    20. John Dorie Sr.
    21. Ofelia Salazar
    22. Daniel Salazar
    23. Wes
    24. Skidmark
  • We also note that the only title sequence that appeared in the public airing is the one featuring all the major protagonists, since they aired both of the final 2 episodes in a single viewing; however, when you rewatch both episodes, individually, on AMC+, you get to see the intended title card for the 11th episode containing Troy as the main silhouette.

  • We take a moment to remember the state of our characters in Season 4, prior to Madison's departure. Some were annoyed with Madison's demeanor change and even Nick's agoraphobic panic attacks. Madison's questionable decisions and attempts to make up for them led to both the dam explosion and the subsequent collapse of the stadium. Some viewers, like Sherrandy, may have liked the Madison in Season 4 because they were unaware of her decisions in seasons past. That being said, Madison's character has at least remained consistent throughout the series: always convinced of her own decision-making abilities and determined to do what she believes is right, no matter what the cost, despite her best/worst intentions. What's worse is that she continues to come back and make matters worse despite acknowledging some of the more terrible decisions she's made in the latter half of Season 8.

  • Will Madison will truly stay gone? In the scene where they are sinking into the swamp, Madison echoes one of Troy's statements about how people like her and Troy should be erased from this world, which raises interesting points about the value of ideals and our perception of them (and the people who represent them) being alive or dead. For example, they seem to both land on the idea that No One's Gone Until They're Gone actually led to the deaths of their loved ones. This is met with criticism: we automatically dislike people who refuse to help when they have the ability to do so; however, Madison's decision to prioritize finding her daughter's remains over helping her friends represents the audience's own skepticism towards doing good in a post-apocalyptic world, which has often shown to lead to their own demise. This inherently highlights the challenge of perceiving idealized versions of ourselves in zombie horror shows, where characters are often placed in difficult situations and are forced to make difficult and, ultimately, questionable decisions.

  • This leads us to how characters on Fear The Walking Dead are put through tremendous grief and extraordinary circumstances, especially in the latter seasons, rendering it unrealistic and impossible to expect them to always make perfect decisions. Even in our waking life, without the pressure of survival and scarcity that exists in an undead world, family feuds persist without the possibility of reconciliation, highlighting the complexity of human relationships and the impact of loss. Human emotions are fickle and the way we react in certain situations because of them emphasizes how difficult it is to just get over it. Daniel Salazar's willingness to commit to horrible acts against Troy and his daughter (and how shocked we were at this) is a perfect example of this.

  • We take a moment to discuss the erroneous rumor of Daniel Sharman being disgusted at how Troy was discarded. Even if someone works on something they consider total crap, the connections and experience are still valuable. Besides, most people would maintain a healthy amount of industry professionalism rather than burn their bridges: you never know who you might offend and how that offense might limit future prospects. It's so easy for viewers to lose sight on how, much like taking care of an infant, there's a need to collaborate on set and respect one another in a working environment. Actors do their best to have fun with one another, since they're spending so much time together, along with the desire to elevate each others' performances to have the most impact on the audience.

  • Peggy Schott, who played Tess in Season 5, shows up in the audience to send her love and praise, as well! Viewers/Listeners may remember the interview we did with her a while back. Thanks to Peggy's appearance, it caused us to reflect a little on earlier seasons. Sherrandy expressed gratitude for Dave's discussions on Judaism in Ner Tamid (5x12), featuring the first appearance of Rabbi Jacob.

  • The argument between Daniel and Strand in the garage instantly made Rachael think of Dave because it's a theme he often brings brings up: You hate in others what you hate in yourself. In response, Dave takes off his headphones and runs around the room for a while. At the same time, in doing so, the show's characters actually address some of the grievances and frustrations that audience members had with certain questionable character decisions made during this season, up until this point (Daniel going down a super dark path, for example). For all our frustrations, an example of good writing is the show planting certain seeds at the beginning of the season and those seeds blossoming into payoff, by the end.

  • All of this goes to something that Sarabeth Pollock had mentioned in a conversation she and Dave had about Fear The Walking Dead's overall trajectory and how it would probably coalesce at the end, making more and more sense over time. This makes us want to do an overall series review, although Sherrandy still refuses to watch the first 3 seasons.

  • Dave discusses Strand and Daniel's reconciliation at the end - a conclusion to the argument they had in the garage - and the meaning behind a the German phrase Daniel recites to Victor before they depart, Ich bin Krieg mΓΌde (I'm tired of war). In an ocean of complaints, this season, over the lack of show, don't tell and even the tell part containing throw-away dialogue, Daniel's conversation with Victor - especially this one line - is pregnant with meaning and makes use of an economy of words (something we mentioned was missing amidst our discussion of 8x08, Iron Tiger), by contrast. But back to the quote, Dave cross-referenced the phrase and found a podcast reviewing the graphic memoir titled Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home, which discusses the idea of marking history by good times rather than by conflicts and tragedies. Generational trauma is also mentioned, which reminded us instantly of the final episodes of TWD: Daryl Dixon and Daryl's family history. Something that was mentioned earlier on in the discussion is that Chambliss & Ian Goldberg worked very hard to write and rewrite these end scenes to reach what we perceive to be a largely satisfying conclusion and it really shows.

  • Much praise goes to Antonella Rose for her portrayal of Tracy Otto, with her being described as a "kick-ass" and "Spitfire". Sherrandy notes the scene between she and Strand in the RV (the RV, itself, a callback to John Dorie Sr.'s RV from Season 6) where Strand mentions Madison had to do something monumental to restore Tracy's faith: specifically Tracy echoing Strands words in the form of a question, My faith?

  • This all kind of takes us back to the theme of Sanctuary (8x09) and how it ties into both this episode and the overall season. When Dwight first appeared on FearTWD, he was first motivated to do good - thanks to John & June - in order to find Sherry. The very next episode, Morgan taught him to redirect his anger in order to see and make better choices, which helped him in throughout all the latter seasons. As it pertains to Sanctuary, the original trauma still needed to be addressed - not just for Dwight, but for all of our characters - in order to move forward. Along with how difficult that was to watch this unfold throughout Season 8, what was most difficult to come to grips with is Madison never having received the same benefits and growth (through struggle) as the rest of our gang, which explains so much of the chaos she inflicts along the way and the messy way she finally crosses the finish line: without the struggle of helping others in order to help herself or the ability to redirect, Madison's bitterness grew and her delayed grieving caused even more problems.

  • We take a moment to express our dissatisfaction with the explanation of how Madison managed to escape the stadium fire and the absence of the events that unfolded prior to Season 4, just after the damn explosion in Season 3. Although that does bring us back to our coverage of Season 4 and how accurately Carol was able to predict Madison's departure from the show in Another Day in the Diamond (4x02). And although there's still some inconsistencies in geography and had to explain why there were moments when characters could and couldn't communicate with one another, we appreciated the way the show finally managed to further develop Luciana's character.

  • We take a moment to expresses gratitude to our audience for saving and supporting this podcast. You responded to our refusal to submit to defeat. The addition of new voices, like Sherrandy and Bridget, have made this podcast so much better and in ways we could've never envisioned so many years ago. We love that we come in with differing opinions and it is incredibly validating when the audience reciprocates with their energy - be it in the chat, during a livestream or premiere, or in the comments section to a podcast update or a YouTube video. More than anything else, that Michael was able to show up and further validate the feelings, theories, thoughts, and predictions we've maintained throughout our episode discussions made all the dark nights of the soul throughout SQUAWKING DEAD's struggles worthwhile.

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