Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Fear The Walking Dead Boss Breaks His Silence On That Controversial Strand Scene

Much of the first episode of Season 7 of "Fear the Walking Dead" — "The Beacon" — is concerned with introductions. The first character audiences meet in the premiere is someone they've never seen before: Will (Gus Halper), a hazmat-suited survivor who ekes out a meager living in the radioactive wasteland of what was once southeastern Texas. Before long, he's captured by a well-armed group, who decontaminate him and bring him to another character — someone fans have seen before, but never like this.

The group owes their allegiance to Victor Strand (Colman Domingo). The charismatic but selfish survivalist has remade himself in the aftermath of the second apocalypse as the overlord of the Tower, a Houston high-rise building powered by solar panels and packed with luxuries that welcomes survivors of value to the community. Indeed, Strand credits the success of his community to his own carefully honed survival instincts.

It's a version of the character that's familiar, but one that's had his greed and his arrogance turned up to new levels. So far, that's been to his benefit, but Will's arrival challenges these instincts when he shows Strand a medallion that Strand knows belongs to Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Strand leaves the comfort of the Tower with Will to try to find her, and the perils of the journey wind up convincing him that his way is the only way. By episode's end, he takes action that co-showrunner Ian Goldberg told Entertainment Weekly was "certainly the furthest he's ever stepped over the line."

How Victor Strand embraces his villainy in Fear the Walking Dead's seventh season

At the end of the episode, after a journey filled with surprises and double-crosses, Will and Strand return to the Tower having failed to find Alicia. Will tries to convince him that Alicia will come, that they can all work together to improve the Tower, but the excursion has left Strand convinced that's the last thing he wants. After all, his desire to see Alicia again nearly cost him everything. To ensure that it doesn't happen again, he throws Will off the Tower's roof to his death below.

"The journey he took in this episode made him realize that the soft spot he has for Alicia, the validation that he's seeking from her, is the one weakness that he has and is the one thing that could endanger the tower," co-showrunner Andrew Chambliss told Entertainment Weekly. "So in his twisted logic, he does what he thinks will protect him from that."

While he only has Will's side of the story about the newcomer's connection to Alicia and the group in the bunker at the end of Season 6, Strand clearly believes enough of it to realize that killing him will hurt her. Killing Will is his way of symbolically severing that connection to her and defining the role he's going to play in Season 7. "Whether he sees himself as a villain, I think we can say that Strand is definitely one of the chief antagonists in Season 7," Ian Goldberg said.

How Victor Strand has fashioned the next evolution of the character

The showrunners told Entertainment Weekly that the introduction of this new version of Strand was purposefully unsubtle. "We had a lot of conversations with Colman and with our costume department about how we were going to reinvent Strand," Ian Goldberg explained. He wields a cavalry sword and wears a uniform and garrison cap that invokes the history of dictators dressed in military uniforms. "What essentially Strand is doing here is he's writing a new chapter in history for himself," Goldberg said. "And he is at the center of that. ... It really is just this new image that Strand is trying to evoke."

The question for Strand is how will that image stand up to outside scrutiny, especially from people who knew him before, like Alicia or Morgan Jones (Lennie James). Andrew Chambliss promises that Strand's control of the tower –– and perhaps his murder of Will –– is going to make him a lot of enemies, but said that "at the end of the day, he is definitely going to be one of his own worst enemies. He's going to have to keep himself in check to make sure he doesn't lead to his own downfall." Based on the first episode, it might already be too late for that.