Anchoring the cavernous Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego Friday afternoon was a one-two punch of AMC's biggest franchise as both iterations of Robert Kirkman and company's "The Walking Dead" shambled onto the stage with new season teases.
The action kicked off with a look at the incoming Season 2 of West Coast spinoff "Fear The Walking Dead." As he does late Sunday nights, comedian and podcaster Chris Hardwick led the discussion of the show which also featured stars Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Lorenzo James Henrie, Mercedes Mason, and Colman Domingo as well as executive producer and showrunner Dave Erickson, executive producer Robert Kirkman, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer Dave Alpert and special effects makeup supervisor and executive producer Greg Nicotero.
After welcoming the cast and noting that Season 2 of the series will wrap with its second half starting August 21, Hardwick kicked the conversation to Erickson, and the writer explained that the arc of their show is heading towards a more wandering existence for the characters as the zombie apocalypse takes them farther and father away from what they consider "home." Hurd added that taking the story to Mexico has opened up all new possibilities for the series. "We're going to see a lot of things you've never seen on TV before," she said with Kirkman agreeing that the strength of the series is how different it is from the original show.
The cast dug into the themes of the show in both serious ways and ridiculous ones. Dickens spoke to the fracturing of the Clark family and what her character Madison will do now that Nick has struck out on his own. "She has no choice now but to let him go. It's interesting. I found moments in the script later where Madison has learned...some things," the actress stopped before revealing any spoilers. Dillane jumped in to keep hope alive, saying, "You can never give up on your family."
The character of Nick will remain one of the more clever members of the show - to gory effect. Nicotero recalled what it was like to pour buckets of blood on the actor to prep him for his anti-zombie adventures. But he won't be the only member of the family getting their hands dirty in upcoming episodes. Debnam-Carey spoke to Alicia's incoming arc, saying that she'll step up in the action of the show moving forward. "Alicia is coming into herself and finally being seen as an equal. There's an interesting mother/daughter dynamic that will change as we get into the second half of the season," she said.
A more ridiculous side of the show was seen when the panel ran a blooper reel that featured the cast not just flubbing lines but also participating in a "Bootylicious" sing-along before the camera cut to Domingo doing a pretty rock solid Michael Jackson dance to "Beat It" on the boat.
Domingo took a more serious track talking about his savior-like captain Strand saying, "I think Strand is going through a whole deconstruction through this whole season," adding that his character reflects the falling apart of society.
New cast will also join the series moving forward including Danay Garcia's incoming Luciano who meets Nick as he travels to Tijuana. The Cuban actress said that getting the part and joining the show has been a whirlwind, but that she's centered herself by digging into the cultural story being told as Mexico becomes a more prevalent. She said that in Mexican culture death takes on a different perception as people feel you experience "The day you die, the day you're buried and the day you're forgotten," but the show has a different set of rules because no one can every be forgotten when the dead walk.
Moving forward, one element of the series that will draw DNA from the original show is that upcoming episodes will focus on characters individually, exploring solo adventures and ideas before drawing things back together.
Things wrapped with the whole cast picking how they'd like to die on the series. Domingo said he'd like to die in a ridiculous way like being stung by a bee, and Dickens took the slightly more heroic out of dying in a high-speed boat crash. And while Mason wanted to swallow a grenade while Garcia wants to go dancing to "Thriller," perhaps it was Manawa who had the smartest answer when he said he wanted his character to die of old age.