Shocker – none of the kids are supportive of Madison and Travis’ new live-in situation; matter of fact, they’re downright bratty and hostile, and Chris even refuses to see his father for his weekend visitation. The world becomes a bleak, never-ending nightmare where everyone’s infected and only the strongest (or those with the coolest weapons/hair/eyepatches) survive.
The central difference of the two series, however, is family vs. community, and the difference between Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead is as wide as Ordinary People compared to Stagecoach.
Sunday night’s pilot episode didn’t present a definitive answer for why this story needs to be told, but it did set the tone for what to expect over the next six weeks.
It’s there that we are introduced to the rest of the cast: Nick’s mom Madison (Kim Dickens), his sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey) and Madison’s boyfriend Travis (Cliff Curtis), who just moved in with them.
The series opened with a character named Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) waking up with a hangover in the middle of an abandoned church.
Cal gets upset that Nick thinks (or knows) the drugs were laced and takes him for a ride to a culvert. Signs of his issues quickly surface in the premiere: He has a bad relationship with Travis, he’s been restrained at the hospital, and he’s been expelled from school. Undeterred by her injuries and sudden new cravings, she goes after Nick, who narrowly escapes by sprinting into the street.
What makes this episode great is that it’s in the already established The Walking Dead world but has nothing to do with it. This takes place in the past, when the outbreak starts to happen and there’s no familiar characters, so anyone, even folks who have left watching the main show or those brand new to the world, can enjoy what’s going on here and not feel lost in the woods.
His name is Tobias. That is something that has been explored in any given number of films in the genre. Madison Clark is a true believer in the transparency of the U.S. government. Meanwhile, Travis wants to help, so he goes to the church that night armed only with a flashlight – because that’s safe – and I guess he didn’t find anything gruesome enough to go to the police with, although there was someone there screaming not to kill him. The building was empty, but Madison stumbled upon her son’s belongings – including his drug paraphernalia – in a heartbreaking, chilling moment of realization that her little boy was in trouble.
Our entry into the saga is via Nick, who awakens in that aforementioned church after getting stoned. Surprisingly, Nick eventually confides in Travis about what he saw, and understandably, Travis says it must have been hallucinations from the drugs. The words of author/journalist Jack London tell us about man’s willingness to fight against nature. To not die! GET IT? A quiet that we will long for in subsequent episodes. In what version of America do we dismiss reports of a deadly flu spreading across five states?
This is a special year for zombie outbreaks. Similarly, the show adds zero commentary when a viral video goes around showing an unarmed (and undead) suspect being shot multiple times by police.
She stands up before him, blocking out the sun from Nick’s view, a knife sticking out of her side, but Nick knows something is wrong even if he doesn’t know what that something is. Then we’re ushered along to Alicia, who rolls her eyes at the whole thing and calls it fake. Nick meets up with his drug dealer, Calvin and Calvin wants to kill him, but somehow, Nick gets the upper-hand and Cal gets shot.
Dillane is one of the first “Fear the Walking Dead” characters to encounter a Walker, too bad no one believes him. It was frightening and fascinating at the same time-a succinct distillation of why millions tune in for this stuff every week, including me.
Madison’s family is forced to come together when Nick reappears, now in the hospital after being hit by a vehicle. In this, the writers and directors again seem to be hinting at not only the end of the world of the living but also a scraping away of a false normalcy, the veneer of civilization being washed away into the chaos of addiction, resentment, survival, and greed.