"Fear" makes connections to both its future and its past as it looks to uncover secrets surrounding Rick Grimes' abduction by Jadis and her mysterious benefactors.
Or at least perhaps the first half of this season. If they really wanted to stun fans, they'd air the first half of "Fear" Season 5 and have it lead right into Rick Grimes movie. If you've been keeping the timelines straight, both the parent series and the spinoff experienced time jumps last season.
First, "Fear" jumped to "TWD" present era, allowing Morgan to jump ship and join the spinoff (with Dwight to follow suit this year). Then, "TWD" catapulted years into the future after Rick's rescue by the mysterious organization Jadis was working with.
So with "TWD" long gone from that last shot of Rick in a helicopter with Jadis, that leaves "Fear" to pick up the pieces as they're still in the right era to get involved.
That's not to say they had to get involved, but it looks like that may just be the plan. Already, producers have tried injecting "Fear" with Morgan from "TWD" in an attempt to bolster ratings. The gambit worked, but it also infuriated a lot of long-time "Fear" fans who are still not over the loss of Madison Clarke even as the new season premieres.
Producers have also suggested they're interested in building a cohesive and sprawling "Dead" universe not unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that franchise is all about interconnected story elements. And with this premiere episode, we got a pretty key connection to Rick's story.
It's Not Going So Well
Season 4 of "Fear the Walking Dead" ended on a hopeful note, with Morgan and his new band of friends heading out on the road to expand Clayton's mission of helping those in need. It almost had us believing that "Fear" would be the more optimistic of the two shows, exploring community building.
Instead, it's already about as bleak and depressing as the parent series got. No, we'll take it one step further; it's worse than that. They've apparently been at this helping for quite awhile now and they've so far managed to help absolutely no one. They've also added absolutely no one to their ranks.
Either they're not very good at this, or we're to believe this part of the world is just so depraved and the people so insular and awful that they want nothing to do with a group of people seeking to add some much needed positivism to the world.
Take Back What's Mine
Or maybe they'll just take advantage of them, as Logan did. Whether we believe him or not, Matt Frewer's delightfully practical Logan claims to be the actual owner of the C&L trucks and the denim factory the gang was holed up in. So he tricked them into leaving and took back what was his.
Even better, for him, he did so while no one was at home. So Victor, Wendell, Sarah and Charlie came home to find the gates closed and armed guards holding them at bay. Logan tried to be terrible reasonable about the whole thing, saying he just took what was legally his and really just wanted them to move on.
But we've seen reasonable men on these shows before. Can Logan be taken at face value that he wants no trouble? Or is he the next incarnation of the Governor or Negan. And if he is genuine, does that necessarily make him the bad guy here if Morgan and company steamroll him out of his own factory?
This gray area is actually compelling to explore as good and bad aren't so easily defined in this world. Already, this group has crossed that line several times back and forth -- particularly Morgan and the OG "Fear" trio of Alicia, Victor and Luciana -- so it's nice to continue poking at it.
Our sympathies are naturally going to lie with the heroes we've been following, but wouldn't it be great if Logan actually turns out to be no worse than them. Granted, he didn't have to take that particular factory or do it the way he did, but it would be neat to see them facing off against someone no more or less gray than they are.
It would be similar to when they took on Wendell and Sarah for stealing their truck only to wind up partnered with them. Could Logan be the expansion of their community they've been waiting for?
Something's Not Right Here
But while the foursome back at home are feeling displaced, it's nothing to the rest of the crew. We inexplicably met them this season through a pair of young boys as our "heroes" were crashing an airplane that everyone somehow survived. They they roped the kids into driving them to the truck stop Logan said he was at.
That, of course, was a lie. He claims he just chose one as far away as possible. If so, then it's just a coincidence that our crew finds themselves in a sinister new area that the boys and their sister know way more about than they're letting on.
The place is littered with biohazard signs and they uncovered a road barrier made up of the dead strung together by intestines with dangling dead heads in the tree above. The latter is just symbolic, but what kind of symbol is that? What kid of people are these?
Althea started to uncover the answer during the initial onslaught of the dead when she impaled a man wearing some sort of armor and a helmet. After everything fell apart at the truck stop -- because of Logan's switcheroo -- she went back to the site of the plane crash to examine that walker.
It was a fresher dead than most walkers that had attacked them, but what was most interesting was the paperwork she found. We've no idea why she had to look at it in the rain considering it's paper, but we guess the writers needed to keep her there so she could be tased shortly after by another man in the same uniform.
It's the paperwork that eagle-eyed fans of the "Dead" franchise locked in on, though, as it featured the same tri-circle symbol we saw on Jadis' canned goods and the helicopter that ultimately took her and Rick away. In other words, our intrepid heroes may have just stumbled onto the homebase of the people who've taken Rick Grimes.
Obviously, it would be huge for Morgan to see Rick again. It would be the fourth time their paths have crossed and as he left before all hell broke loose in Alexandria, Morgan has no idea that Rick is presumed dead. While it's unlikely that Rick would appear in "Fear the Walking Dead," save maybe a quick cameo, it's totally reasonable that Morgan might appear in at least the first of Rick's upcoming movies.
Dwight, also, has history with Rick so a crossover between the new film franchise and the spinoff series isn't completely off the wall. While most of the cast may have no idea who Rick is, the fans and enough people on the show will for it to have some emotional resonance and weight.
The same can be said for Daniel Salazar, who will be rejoining the retooled "Fear" after missing out on Season 4. Presumed dead at the dam explosion years ago, Victor is stunned to see Daniel on one of Al's video tapes ... and of course it's the one she asked him to watch to find the guy who can provide them a plane.
Again, most of the "Fear" cast won't know who Daniel is. And of the foursome not already trapped in tri-circle land, Victor is the only one who has history with Daniel. And quite frankly, with that history, Daniel might just kill him before he has a chance to say anything.
A Whole New World
As much as Season 4 was about rebooting the show and pushing in a new direction, the first half of the season was more about closing the chapter on the first three seasons, while the second tried to establish the new group dynamic and status quo. With Season 5, it finally feels like a fresh start.
Fans can jump on here without having seen any of the previous seasons and aside from missing a few references here and there, they'll have no problem following any of the action. And there is already so much going on in this season with so many directions to go from here.
The tri-circle group is clearly going to be a big deal for the truck stop gang, while Victor and company are going to have to deal with a reunion with Daniel Salazar. Their plan is to rescue the truck stop gang before dealing with Logan, which becomes the third major development of the season.
Add to the the strong likelihood that this is also setting the stage for those Rick Grimes movies, and "Fear the Walking Dead" remains a rock-solid piece of this franchise that not enough people are watching.
Here's something to consider. At this point, "Fear the Walking Dead" is everything the original "Walking Dead" was in its blockbuster seasons before they settled in Alexandria and started dealing with the likes of Negan. Our band of survivors is relatively small and they are out in a wild and volatile world. The danger is real, death is real and anything can happen at any time.
This is "The Walking Dead" people couldn't get enough of. The cast is just as varied, just as capable and just as prone to bickering and disagreements. But they're also all likable and compelling in their own way. "TWD" lost its way when it got too bloated and now it's a totally different show, for better or worse. "FTWD" is what "TWD" was.
Ironically, "TWD" is coming off its strongest season in years, but it has evolved into something wholly different than it was. It's nice that "Fear" is here to offer what "TWD" just can't anymore. And the fact that it's also firing on all cylinders certainly helps, meaning that creatively speaking there is no weak link in the franchise right now.
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