WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Fear the Walking Dead pilot episode.
It feels like The Walking Dead companion series was announced years ago, but finally Fear the Walking Dead has premiered, and it did not disappoint! It was a little odd to see a whole new set of people contending with a world succumbing to a zombie apocalypse, but already Fear has established itself as a very different show.
In the pilot episode we were introduced to the Clark-Manawa household, with Madison, her live-in partner Travis, and Madison's daughter Alicia. We also met Madison's son, Nick, who is struggling with a pretty intense drug addiction. We were briefly acquainted with Travis's ex-wife Liza, and brooding son Chris, though I expect we'll see a lot more of them in the second episode.
We weren't exposed to much action and violence straight off the bat, though we did see more than I thought we would (especially that last scene with Cal, ouch!). All in all I think the debut episode was very solid, and I'm certainly onboard to watch the rest of Season 1. But regardless of what I think, as always there were things we did notice, and things that may have slipped us by. Check out the top 5 things you may have missed in Fear the Walking Dead's pilot episode:
1. It started with a few cool Walking Dead parallels
Of course with Fear the Walking Dead being a companion series, we should have known to expect some scenes that were similar, at least visually, to The Walking Dead. A lot of these moments came right at the start of the episode, where we had Nick waking up to a building of walkers (or soon-to-be-walkers), much like Rick did when he awoke from his coma. Following that, we saw Nick rushing out onto the road and being hit by a car, a little like Carol in Season 5. Not to mention that Nick was squatting in a church? Something else we saw recently in The Walking Dead. The use of a hospital as a setting was another similarity, though luckily for Nick, he was admitted, and (self) discharged, while the building was still functional - unlike Rick who awoke to a nightmare.
However, while there were undoubtedly similarities, Fear has already carved out a new path. It could have been predictable for the old man in the hospital bed next to Nick to have died, and turned while the nurses were busy. And I almost certainly thought we'd see a scene with a restrained Nick trying to ward off the old man walker, but instead the man coded, and was wheeled away, leaving Nick to escape.
2. The school has already set itself up as a probable main location
It took us a while to get a really useful permanent home in The Walking Dead, but Fear the Walking Dead may have found its version of the prison a lot sooner. The school where both Travis and Madison work, and Alicia attends, seems like the perfect location, and in fact we saw a lot of small details that will certainly come back in future episodes.
First up, we had Tobias and his knife. Aside from Nick, who almost didn't even believe himself, Tobias was the smartest character in the whole episode. After following news reports, the teen had figured out that something just wasn't right with the spate of illnesses and murders across 5 states. Although he followed the classic Walking Dead line of not knowing exactly what was causing the 'illness' ("they don't know if it's a virus, or a microbe. They don't know but it's spreading...People are killing!"), he knew enough to know that he should be armed. Unfortunately for Tobias, Madison locked his knife away in her desk drawer. But much like Rick's/Chekhov's blender gun in Season 5 of The Walking Dead, you bet your sweet ass that we're going to see that knife again, and I'm willing to bet that it'll be save some lives.
Next up, in the school we saw the interesting two-way speaker system that Principal Artie was using to evaluate the teachers through. Later we heard him using it to announce that school was closing early. It seems inevitable that this speaker system is going to be used in future episodes, and while I can foresee it being useful (using it to listen to rooms where walkers might be lurking, or to keep track of people out scouting), I can also imagine a bunch of people being forced to listen to the screams of others who are being eaten alive. Eek.
There were also a bunch of other areas of the school shown - loads of classrooms, and offices, and also the school roof where Alicia and her boyfriend, Matt hung out for the last time before his mystery disappearance.
3. There was some cool stuff being taught
We saw a couple classroom scenes in the episodes, and while you may have been more focused on the characters, the theme of the lessons was also very interesting.
Firstly, we had Travis teaching Jack London's 1908 short story "To Build a Fire." This story is a great example of 'man against nature,' in this example it's a man in the freezing cold trying desperately to stay warm and alive. As Travis says, "London’s trying to teach us how not to die.” The story is also often used as an example of naturalism - the thought that social conditions and environments shape the character of a person. Anyone who has seen The Walking Dead will know that the new savage world will have definitely changed our favorite characters over the last five seasons. Travis's lesson on Jack London seems to almost predict what will inevitably happen to him, and the other characters very soon.
In the second class we saw, Chaos Theory was being taught. This theory studies the science of surprise, the nonlinear and unpredictable, or basically how to expect the unexpected. Interestingly the teacher specifically mentions two things that can be unpredictable and uncontrollable: weather and brain states. Talk about some perfect writing, right?
4. Walkers might not be widespread but the rules are already established
First of all, I think we can agree that "Killshot, bitch" was the quote of the episode.
Though it might have seemed just like teens watching videos on their phones, this short scene between Alicia and her friends established one of the biggest rules for the Walking Dead world zombies really well. While watching the now-viral clip of the highway shooting, they all inadvertently learned the first rule of living in a zombie apocalypse: aim for the brain.
A big part of the early seasons of The Walking Dead was that characters were constantly being killed after trying to kill walkers with body shots. Though we'll undoubtedly see that in Fear, hopefully the main characters all learn the rules early on. With luck this'll happen pretty quickly, because if not, as a viewer who has already seen five seasons of The Walking Dead, that shit is going to get tiresome and annoying very fast. I also predict a lot of shouting at TV screens.
5. It won't be long 'til LA is wrecked
There were a lot panoramic shots of the city, and even though LA is a busy place, there was also a constant soundtrack of helicopters, planes and sirens in the background. To anyone paying attention in the Fear the Walking Dead world, something is obviously going down. Given all the traffic and siren noise I'd guess that in the next episode we'll begin to see the presence of armed forces, which will probably be a big factor in the first season until the apocalypse reaches tipping point.
It seems highly likely those panoramic shots are only leading to one thing - wide scale destruction. Much like how Atlanta was napalmed very early on in The Walking Dead (we saw it being destroyed in a flashback during Season 2, episode 5), I suspect it won't be long at all until LA suffers the same fate. A post-apocalyptic LA? Come on, that's going to look awesome!
What can we expect to see next week?
Check out a sneak peek into next week's episode of Fear the Walking Dead "So Close, Yet So Far."
It's great we get to see more of Tobias next week, but do you think Principal Artie will make it out fine, or is he definitely a goner?