This week’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead gave us a sneak peek into Strand’s complicated backstory. Serving as arguably the most mysterious character on the show, Strand’s past only led to more questions. Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross recently sat down with Fear TWD Showrunner David Erickson to make sense of Strand’s backstory and what we can/can’t trust about him.
EW: Let’s talk about Strand. He abandons the ship, he takes off in the raft and gets shot at, and then we start to get some flashbacks. So obviously he’s been a mysterious guy, and we’ve got a few clues here about his past but not much. So tell me about the decision now to show us Strand’s backstory.
DE: It’s part of the larger arc for the season. It was important at a certain point. What I like is it’s really a story between Strand and the audience at first. It’s really a story about him in a position where he thinks he’s going to die. His raft is going down, hypothermia is beginning to set in, and it’s him remembering what got him there, and it’s also laying track for what’s to come down the road. But we revealed that Abigail is a man. Abigail is another person in his life that he met and fell in love with and built this relationship with, and then essentially became business partners — partners in life, partners in business — and it’s really setting the stage for the revelations that are going to come later in the season.
I think [Colman Domingo] plays those moments really beautifully and it was just an interesting relationship and an interesting backdrop for an understanding of who he is, because up to this point we’ve introduced a Strand who is somewhat maniacal when he needs to be, and can be incredibly cold when he needs to be, and this is an indication of a more emotional side to this guy.
And seeing that side of him, you begin to better understand his relationship as it develops with Madison moving forward, because we will see a friendship growing between the two of them. Up until this point it’s been more political. It’s been, how do we manage this? How do we maintain this fragile alliance for the betterment of the entire group? And eventually we’re going to see that relationship evolve as well. I think it was important that we began to see him as somebody who had vulnerability, somebody who actually had a person in the world, one person in the world who he cared about. I think it layers in something that in my mind balances off who Strand is.
EW: Because Strand does have the scam artist feel to him, especially with the way he steals Thomas Abigail’s credit cards, there was a little part of me watching this saying, “Is this all a scam? Does he actually love Thomas or is he just using him?” But you’re confirming that yes, he does have legitimate, real, human emotions and feelings for this person.
DE: Yeah, and what’s interesting to me about that dynamic is — and he says it later on — it’s almost as though Abigail and Strand, coming off of their first encounter, had something of an understanding. And when Abigail shows up later and they discuss what Strand has done with the card, I mean, the reality is Abigail never turned the card off. He never called the company and said, “My card has been lifted.” So I think there’s sort of an unspoken agreement between the two of them. And when Strand says in that subsequent scene he’s going to pay it back with interest, I think that was his intention all along. Deep down I think that they both wanted to reconnect at a certain point, and they did.
EW: Well, clearly we haven’t seen the last of that story line. So we have Travis and Alicia separated from the rest of the group now. What can you tell us about what we will see in next week’s episode?
DE: There’s a big shift that goes on between episodes 4 and 5 starting with the fact that Madison — when everything comes to a head and Travis is gone, Alicia is gone — she still stops to rescue Strand. I think there is a practical side to that because she knows the endgame, which is Mexico. She knows that the endgame is this compound, this home that Strand has promised them. So I think we see a redefinition of the relationship between Madison and Strand.
And then we’re going to get some answers to those questions you were asking before about how did Jack and Connor and Reed know so much about the Abigail, and how did they seem to know it as intimately as they do? A lot of that will come into sharp relief when we get to episode 5.
Can YOU trust Strand? What surprised you the most about his backstory? Let us know in the comments and check out the rest of Dalton’s interview over at Entertainment Weekly!