This week marks the series premier of The Walking Dead spinoff series, Fear the Walking Dead; in which we learn about the origins of the walker disease in Los Angeles.
The series opens in an abandoned church, which is clearly now a drug lair. One of our main characters, Nick, played by Frank Dillane, is waking from a drug-induced stupor when he realizes his girlfriend is not with him. He brambles off in search of her and finds her having junkie for breakfast. He may be a heroin addict, but coming face-to-face with a walker is a surefire path to sobriety.
We get a glimpse of the family unit, Nick's family unit to be exact. Comprised of his mom, Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), stepfather Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and sister Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey).
I understand we're building a story here, but this whole part is just kind of boring. All of the family buildup is necessary, I know, but in a story about walkers I want to see some walkers.
It's clear this whole blended family thing is not something these people are able to just slide right in to. The tension hangs thick in the air.
As an aside, teenagers are the worst.
We hear the first mention of the end of the world from one of Maddie's students (she's a guidance counselor) who is rambling about viruses in five other states that are killing people. Maddie gives him typical counselor speak and he doesn't buy it. Smart kid.
Nick, having been hit by a car, in convalescing in the hospital with Travis at his side. He tries to tell Travis what he saw and it inspires Travis to have the worst idea ever: going into the abandoned church. Alone. At night. I mean, honestly.
He only finds a junkie and some disgusting blood and guts before the creep factor takes over and he flees.
More plot-building, more family drama, more classes and one very pointed lesson about man vs nature later (nature always wins), Nick escapes from his hospital prison. His family discovers he is missing and, understandably, goes into a panic.
They go BACK to that godforsaken church so that Maddie can torture herself by seeing the squalor her son has chosen to live in. Honestly, I'd like to never see it again. When that doesn't shake out, they go to visit one of Nick's former friends, Cal. He seems straightlaced and cleancut and just like, golden boy material. He's very helpful and cordial. Is it overt? Hmmm...
After an unsuccessful day looking for Nick, Maddie and Travis find themselves stuck in gridlock traffic on their way home. There are choppers overhead and what just appears to be a lot of to-do for a run-of-the-mill highway accident. Naturally that leads me to believe that walkers lie in wait.
There is footage from the highway accident from last night that all the teachers at the high school are watching over the watercooler, and it shows a presumably dead man waking from a coma and then just eating a whole bunch of people. Classes are now closing at the high school, which is literally the precursor to every bad thing ever.
Nick has escaped with his dead hospital roommate's belongings so he buys himself a disposable cellphone. He makes a call and heads to his mystery rendezvous. Oh and it's Cal. Cal is his dealer and he is not at all happy about Nick's family coming to his house asking questions.
Calvin talks him into a craze and gives him drugs to bring him back down. He then gets Nick into his car and drives to an abandoned reservoir that looks like it's straight off of the set of Grease. Nick is flying high, but spots a gun in Cal's hand and fights him for it. In what is the end to what is surely the absolute worst day ever, Nick shoots Cal in the abdomen. He leaves the gun and the body and runs straight to a payphone to call Travis.
Travis and Maddie come to meet him and he tells them what he's done. They go to the reservoir to collect the body, I assume, and, naturally, they find that it's not where Nick left it. They get back in the car, and they see Cal lumbering in the rearview.
Travis and Maddie instruct Nick to stay in the car so they can go out and see if Cal's okay. They lock him in and he starts to freak out a bit since he's really the only one that knows that Cal is now, and what he is capable of. Cal lunges at Maddie for a bite, but she is able to fend him off. After a small struggle, Nick takes things into his own hands and throws the truck in reverse to take Cal out.
Of course, as we all already know, walkers can only truly be killed by a shot to the head. Instead, Nick shoots him off the hood of his car into the reservoir, where he remains alive, despite being completely mangled.
And so it begins.
I won't lie, there were some seriously slow parts throughout this premier. I don't believe it needed to be anywhere close to 90-minutes. But the delicious anxiety that comes with being a The Walking Dead fan is definitely present in this series; and as the outbreak spreads I imagine that anxiety will only continue to build in its tension as we proceed.
All-in-all, I'd give the pilot episode a solid 8. I like the characters and where the story is going, and I look very forward to a more fact-paced feel as the tension mounts.
Also, Nick is played by the same guy that played teenage Tom Riddle (who would later become Lord Voldemort) in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!
Stay tuned to PopWrapped as we continue to recap Fear the Walking Dead throughout its freshman season!