To call Fear the Walking Dead uneven is a gross understatement. At the best of times, it’s an ensemble show that meditates on zombie-apocalypse-related concepts that The Walking Dead never took the time to explore. At its worst, it’s a bleaker, more ponderous clone of its parent show, populated with incoherent storylines and villains whose motives make absolutely no sense (you’re going to wait for communities to run out of resources and then...take their resources?).
Since it’s a show that, like its predecessor, changes settings and cast members on a regular basis, it’s hard to know what to expect from Fear at the dawn of a new season. But if the trailers and various news snippets making the rounds are to be believed, it seems there's a lot to look forward to in Season 5. Here are five of the most promising elements we’ll be getting in the upcoming season.
A brand-new premise with a more procedural bent. Once the cast defeated last season’s final boss (thanks to the healing power of beer), they set their sights on an abandoned denim factory and resolved to make it their home base as they cruise the countryside in search of people who need help. (Think Highway to Heaven, but with a very different outlook on life after death.) How long Fear will actually stick with this premise is anyone’s guess, but completing even a few successful missions would inject a lot of optimism and hope into a universe that’s never had much of either.
A chance to see more from the latest additions to the cast. One of the biggest surprises of Season 4 was a pair of breakout characters: Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) and Sarah (Mo Collins), a pair of street-smart siblings who brought much-needed snark and a unique set of problem-solving skills. Season 5 should give them more room to play off of each other as well as the rest of the cast. They haven’t yet had a meaningful opportunity to face off against the much drier wit of Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), for instance. They’re definitely going to annoy him, and it’s definitely going to be fun. Another character with the potential to annoy is Charlie (Alexa Nisenson). The murderous tween who took out Nick Clark has been promoted to main cast this season, and there may still be unresolved tension between her and Nick’s little sister, Alycia (Alicia Debnam-Carey).
On a more serious note, Morgan (Lennie James) seems to have settled into his new role as de facto leader of the group, which is a far cry from the tortured soul who vacillated between wanting to kill everyone and embracing the way of the peaceful warrior throughout his tenure on The Walking Dead. He’s found a measure of equilibrium and purpose with this new group; it remains to be seen how long that will go unchallenged.
Speaking of crossover characters…
Another crossover from The Walking Dead is coming. Much like Morgan, in Dwight’s final appearance on The Walking Dead, he announced he would be going on walkabout himself, although when Dwight departed, it was to search for his long-lost wife rather than an attempt to find himself. There hasn’t been any report of a crossover for Sherry, so it’s probably safe to assume his search was unsuccessful, but if his brief appearance in the trailers are to be believed, he appears to have found some sort of community since leaving Virginia.
The show appears to be banking on Dwight and Morgan to have plenty to say to one another, which is interesting given that their paths rarely crossed on The Walking Dead. The collision of these two characters should realistically feel more like the meeting of two people who went to high school a few years apart: a lot of the same friends in common, but not much shared experience. Hopefully they’ll give the other characters some minimal amount of context and just move forward.
The return of Daniel Salazar. There are only so many times a show can give us fake-outs when it comes to a character’s death. Since Daniel (Ruben Blades) already had a pretty epic non-death in Season 2, it would have been totally fair to assume he’d actually been killed in the Season 3 finale, especially since the last time we saw him, he’d been shot in the face and then engulfed by a wall of water. But not only did he survive, he seems to be thriving, and the story of how he survived and what he’s been up to since Season 3 is bound to be great. (Actually, it’ll be great to learn what anyone was doing in the aftermath of the dam explosion; we were never really told.)
There’s a mysterious airplane. This may have been a bigger reveal before we saw a helicopter whisk Rick Grimes away in Walking Dead Prime (not to mention watching Travis Manawa swan-dive out of one in Season 3 of Fear), but it appears that at least the first half of the season will revolve around what appears to be a North by Northwest-esque crop duster. Working technology on this level suggests a fairly functional community. The question then becomes: will this community have evil intentions, or will they be somewhat benevolent, and therefore ripe to be inadvertently destroyed by our protagonists like so many communities before them? Either way, there’s plenty of potential.
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