SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you’ve already watched Sunday’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, “Date of Death.”
The rift between good guy Travis and his increasingly bad seed son, Chris, only widened on Sunday’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, titled “Date of Death,” after Chris subdued his father so his new friends could kill one of their own. Chris then abandoned Travis, leaving with Derek and Brandon while his dad could only watch.
However, in a harrowing twist, we saw the two Americans in the very last shot seeking shelter at Madison’s hotel — seemingly without Chris. What happened to him? And what pushed the teenager to the dark side? And will Travis ever forgive himself for losing control of his son? We spoke to showrunner Dave Erickson to get the scoop.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The interesting thing for me watching Chris break bad with these no-good gringos is that instead of him being all wild and yelling at his dad a lot like a typical rebellious teen, he is for the most part actually very calm and almost at peace with his decision as far as the direction he is taking in his life.
DAVE ERICKSON: One of the interesting things about the episode is that you do see a parenting shift, because Travis is trying to take this as a teaching opportunity. He’s trying to convey to Chris why killing the farmer was different than what he did with his ex-wife. He’s trying to explain the distinctions of violence in the apocalypse. And for Chris, he’s finally found a group with whom he feels his place. It becomes pretty simple for Chris in this episode. And by the end of it, it really is Chris that’s trying to educate his father. It’s really Chris trying to say, “This is the world and you need to embrace it. And I don’t think you can. And as long as you can’t, I think it is better that I am with these guys and you’re by yourself.”
Or, it’s actually this gift in some respects, because what he’s doing is freeing up Travis to return to Madison and Alicia, which is deep down what he wanted to do all the time. I think Travis’ intention was always to try to course-correct Chris and then bring him back to the fold. And Chris knows that, and his fear is that his father is never going to come around.
There’s that interaction after the farmer has been shot where Travis asks him, “Chris, where the hell is your remorse?” And he answers, “This is how it works now. I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.” It’s almost like a switch has been turned, right?
Exactly. He built up to it last episode when he shot the farmer, and from his perspective, he was defending his friends. This is the closest thing he’s had to friends or a connection in a long time — and frankly for a couple of years before the apocalypse even started. He’s had his moment of clarity. He really believes that this is the way of the world. And that scene where he dupes Travis, it’s really about helping his friends, but also about trying to protect his father because what you don’t see and what I imagine happened is there were scenes outside of that barn between Chris and Derek and Brandon in which they were basically suggesting that if Travis continues to obstruct, we’re going to have to do something about it. So in some respects that action was really Chris protecting his father. Which is a little bit ironic, but that was the motivation.
Chris eventually leaves with the other knuckleheads. Travis begs him to reconsider. He later blames himself for letting him go. Should Travis have done more to prevent Chris leaving, or was there really nothing he could do at that point?
I don’t think there was anything he could do, but I’ve got two teenage sons as well, and as a father, you will never forgive yourself for that because you will always second-guess, and you will always wonder. The reality is, if he had tried to forcibly make Chris stay, would he have faced a beating? Would he have ended up dead? That’s what Chris is worried about. But whether he should have done more or not — he’s always going to feel that he should and that’s something that Travis will carry now for the rest of the season and into season 3 as well.
And we see the two Americans show up at the very end. I’ll ask you the same question I asked last week after that final scene: Where’s Chris?
Chris is out there. We will answer the question of “Where’s Chris?” in the final two episodes, and that’s part of the story to be told.
For more Fear the Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.