Fear the Walking Dead is such a strange title for a spin-off. It's literally just one word added to a preexisting title, and it's a very reasonable word at that. Of course I'm going to fear the Walking Dead. You've given me 5 Seasons of The Walking Dead to do that! In the run up to The Walking Dead Season 6, "Fear" seems to have no desire to upstage its sister show. We've only been drip fed information, with but a few pictures revealed and a couple of mission statements from Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman, and show runner, Dave Erickson.
The story of Fear the Walking Dead will centre around Travis and his girlfriend Madison (two of the most TV names I've ever heard) attempting to start a family before the outbreak. It seems that, from everything we can gather from the masterminds behind The Walking Dead, one thing is all but certain.
The Walking Dead Season 6 will have nothing to do with "Fear"
Yes this is always the first thing that comes to mind upon the creation of a spin-off. We all loved Buffy and Angel, and loved them even more when they crossed over for complex intertwining episodes, but it seems that just won't be the case with The Walking Dead Season 6. The most obvious reason for this is that Fear the Walking Dead is set in LA (because that's just where things are set, apparently), while The Walking Dead Season 6 is staying firmly in the South East. A bigger issue for potential crossovers is that fact that Fear the Walking Dead will act as a prequel of sorts. Dave Erickson had this to say on the matter.
It's more a parallel story than a prequel. It's kind of it's own strange hybrid thing. I wish I had a better word.
This generally speaks to me as a lack of vision. If you can't even name what your spin-off is functioning as, then I don't know how to treat your show. "Fear" also has a challenge to overcome, broadcasting alongside The Walking Dead Season 6, in that it's retreading the whole zombie outbreak from the start. With "Fear" allegedly taking place while Rick Grimes was in a coma, we're being shown the exact thing that The Walking Dead thought necessary to cut out. Season 6 has a fan base well versed in the logic of this series. Does "Fear" really need to have characters exclaiming "what are these things?" all over again?
How The Walking Dead Season 6 could cross over with "Fear"
So that whole being set in LA thing is a real hurdle for anyone wanting these shows to cross over at some point. Also an issue is the fact that The Walking Dead Season 6 is set way WAY ahead, but when you think about it, those two things could cancel each other out. Season 6 is almost two years into its own timeline, and that's plenty of travelling time for a bunch of characters from the other side of the country. With Rick and his group firmly intrenched in the (ready to fall apart) Alexandria safe zone, characters like Travis and Madison could easily be added to the mix, providing they're still alive.
"But spoilers!" you might decry. Well, in a sense, yes. Having characters at opposite ends of the Walking Dead timeline would technically be spoiling the earlier story. However, these characters appearing in both shows would provide a wealth of ready character backstory in The Walking Dead Season 6, and a sense of anticipation and dread in "Fear".
Kirkman and Erickson seem insistent that Fear the Walking Dead is its own product, but how much can they really resist the temptations of tie-ins? We will have to wait until the summer when "Fear" premieres, and till October, when The Walking Dead Season 6 arrives.