Why Madison Broke Bad in 'Fear the Walking Dead'

"She makes mistakes because of that love and loyalty and not being able to see beyond that. How can you not?"


The zombie apocalypse is hell no matter where you are. While AMC’s The Walking Dead occupies the suburbs of Atlanta, the summer prequel series Fear the Walking Dead has been nomadic, traveling down the Pacific coast and into Mexico during its second season.

Kim Dickens, who plays high school guidance counselor turned survivor Madison, recalls one of her favorite scenes in the lush Mexican locales: Getting plastered with fellow survivor Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), in the season’s ninth episode “Los Muertos”: “We’ve been out to dinner in Mexico a lot! We’ve done enough rehearsing with drinking, I suppose,” Dickens jokes.

For a good chunk of Season 2, Dickens was separated from longtime co-stars Cliff Curtis and Lorenzo Henrie, who play her boyfriend Travis and his son Chris, respectively. Though she hated being away from people she thinks as family, the space allowed her to dig in on what made Madison tick. Of note was the boozy afternoon with Strand in the Rosarito, the abandoned four-star hotel on the Mexican beachfront. “How our characters got drunk and bonded, I really love that,” Dickens says. “By separating the characters the way we did, it gave me a chance to delve in.”

In anticipation of Fear the Walking Dead Season 2’s release on Blu-ray, Dickens spoke with Inverse about Madison’s evolution, recalling decisions like her shocking mid-season murder of a poisonous influence.

Kim dickens in 'Fear the Walking Dead' Season 2.


Madison grew leaps and bounds in Season 2. What do you see as the biggest change in her from the first time we saw her last year and now?

I think she jumped into a leadership role. It was reluctant at first, but I think she’s always had that streak in her. She’s started to own it, especially when Strand was wounded and he sort of tossed it to her. That’s the biggest difference. Her core is the same, she’s conflicted morally and gets in her own way sometimes. But I think she definitely is jumping into the leadership role.

Madison had to make a lot of life-changing decisions in Season 2. What do you think was her hardest?

When she was convinced to stop searching for Nick. It’s the thing we see in Season 2 that breaks her. She makes mistakes because of that love and loyalty and not being able to see beyond that. How can you not? Mother-son [bonding], that’s understandable, but not a great tool in the apocalypse. I think that’s the hardest. The moment she walks Celia in with the dead, that too was an effort to save her son. She thought was a terrible, deadly influence. I love that scene, though. At first when I read that script I was like, “What?! Maddy is going to be a cold blooded killer?” I liked that that’s now one of her secrets.

Madison (Dickens) leading Celia (Marlene Forté) into a trap in Season 2 of 'Fear the Walking Dead.'


Will there ever come to a point that Nick is just too much for Madison?

I think she’s not ever going to give up the search and the hope he’s still alive. I don’t know what will come of it. This apocalypse is definitely changing people.

Fear the Walking Dead is a very nomadic series. What do you think that does for these characters to always be on the move?

It means they’re not grounded and there’s no security, there’s no safe home base. I think they’re trying to recreate that. That’s what Madison was trying to do at the hotel: start over. As dark as things get for us, the human instinct is to fight, to be resilient. Their instinct is to find a way to start over and that’s what they try to do at the Colonial. I think that’s what you see, is picking up and moving, picking up and going if we have to go.

Being on location in Mexico has really given us so much. There’s such a vast diversity in plains and terrains. It’s been beautiful shooting there. We have the shore, the Pacific Ocean, the coast, vineyards, vast deserts. It’s all really added to that nomadic feel for sure.

What do you think separates Fear the Walking Dead from The Walking Dead? Is it that nomadic element?

We were encouraged from the beginning to not be beholden to the style of their show and to just realize we’re a different story. Because we’re in a different place [and] a different time period. Therefore, it should look and feel different, how they evolve in this apocalypse and I think that was a real gift to us from AMC and from [creator] Robert Kirkman and everyone that that sort of liked us to be different, for better or for worse. Our show looks different. It’s executed in a different way and yet, it’s the same apocalypse.

Any ideas for what’s in store for Season 3?

You know, I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s going to be different. Like you said, we’re nomadic. I think it’s going to be different the same way the second season was different than the first. I think it’s going to keep moving in a natural progression. I don’t know what it’s going to be.

Fear the Walking Dead will be released on Blu-ray December 13.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

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