Madison’s return is being looked at as a potential opportunity for AMC to save Fear the Walking Dead. For a long time now, the show has received frequent criticism for the handling of certain storylines and other issues. It’s also suffered from some major character exits and deaths.
One of the deaths that hurt Fear the Walking Dead the most has just been undone. Killing off Kim Dickens’ Madison Clark and replacing her with Lennie James’ Morgan Jones was a controversial call that has been regarded by many as one of the show’s worst creative choices. And after years of rumors and teases from the showrunners, Fear the Walking Dead took back its biggest death and confirmed that Madison was on her way back into the main characters’ lives. Her long-awaited return finally became a reality in the Fear the Walking Dead season 7 finale, where she was revealed to be a PADRE operative. Though she was initially at odds with Morgan, the episode ended with her in a position to help Morgan’s group fight PADRE in Fear the Walking Dead season 8.
Madison’s arrival at the end of the season has raised questions about what her presence can bring to the series going forward. As unfortunate consequences of actors’ decisions to leave the series, Fear the Walking Dead has already had to part ways with Garret Dillahunt’s John Dorie, Keith Carradine’s John Dorie Sr., Maggie Grace’s Althea, and most recently Alycia Debnam-Carey’s Alicia Clark, who was without question the show’s biggest loss since Madison’s exit in season 4. Losing Alicia ahead of Madison’s return was far from the best setup that could have been offered for the next season, but her inclusion still comes with plenty of interesting storytelling opportunities that can work wonders for the show.
What approach Fear the Walking Dead takes with Madison in the first few episodes of season 8 can determine whether or not her return can save the show from its recent problems. Madison was a beloved part of the first three seasons, which is why it’s so important that FTWD avoid changing her too much. The work she’s been doing with PADRE proves she’s not the same Madison who led the main characters in season 4’s flashbacks, so if the show continues with this depiction of her, it would risk ruining her return. Instead, the spinoff series needs to bring out the elements of Madison’s character that made her so popular in the first place.
Staying true to who Madison was in Fear the Walking Dead’s early seasons is one of the keys to the show’s future, but there’s still a concern that her return is happening too late regardless. After all, Alicia is out of the picture now, which unavoidably lessened some of the excitement for her appearance in the finale. That being said, Fear the Walking Dead can still make the most out of her shocking team-up with Morgan by using the characters it still has available. It can offer some compelling new stories through her interactions with Charlie, Morgan, Strand, Daniel, and more when the show returns. If it does, the show will have a chance at rejuvenating interest in the series and breathing new life into the characters.