News

Here's What You Need to Know About Fear the Walking Dead

Prepare for a slow-burn zombie outbreak with paranoia, tension, and anxiety

by | August 19, 2015 | Comments

What’s better than a show about the zombie apocalypse? Two shows about the zombie apocalypse! One Walking Dead show just wasn’t enough, so AMC created Fear the Walking Dead, a prequel set in the same universe.

Last month, the cast and creators spoke to the Television Critics Association via a panel that included Dave Erickson, David Alpert, and Adam Davidson, along with cast Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, and Mercedes Mason. Plus, we spoke with stars Alycia Debnam-Cary and Elizabeth Rodriguez at a press roundtable and screened the first episode so we could share these nine things to expect when Fear the Walking Dead premieres this Sunday.


WEST COAST, BABY!

The Walking Dead is so Georgia that you can go crazy from the chirping cicadas in the background of every scene. Fear the Walking Dead has a different sort of ambiance. It’s set in Los Angeles and begins just as people are starting to turn into zombies from the outbreak. Only the first episode was actually filmed in L.A. The rest is in Vancouver, but Vancouver is used as L.A. more often than L.A. these days, so it actually works.

Don’t worry if you’re part of the 99 percent of the viewing public who also doesn’t live in L.A. Debnam-Cary moved here from Australia and said that the show captures her impressions of L.A. well.

“I hated L.A. when I first got here, hated it,” Debnam-Carey said. “Now I think I’ve welcomed it finally when I found this bizarre charm to it. It’s this huge city, but it’s got these kind of cracks that are just bursting with so much life and story. It’s very romantic and artistic in many ways. The palm trees, the sunsets… the sunset’s made out of smog by cars. I think the show does a great job at finding that.”


IF YOU THOUGHT THE GRIMESES WERE DYSFUNCTIONAL…

Way back in season one of The Walking Dead, when Rick reunited with his wife and son, it was only to find out that she’d been sleeping with his best friend, Deputy Shane. Give her a break! She thought Rick was dead. On Fear, the Clarks are a mess before the zombies even show up. Madison Clark (Dickens) is in a relationship with Travis Manawa (Curtis), and their respective kids from previous marriages do not get along. Alicia Clark (Debnam-Cary) is a straight-A student with a boyfriend and Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) is a drug addict. When Travis goes looking for his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), he’s got to get through his ex-wife Liza (Rodriguez) first. Jeez, we’ll take our chances with the zombies.


YOU’LL KNOW A ZOMBIE WHEN YOU SEE ONE

They’re not called Walkers, because why would Los Angelenos use the same name as southerners? The producers say these are just the early stages of infection, so they’re not full-fledged zombies yet, but we’ve seen the show. We can guarantee that you won’t mistake zombies for early stages of the sniffles.

Since these are the first Walkers, what we don’t see are fully rotted corpses or severed torsos re-animated. So they save a little time on makeup, but all it takes is a rotted jaw snarling and biting, and you’ll know you’ve got to stab ‘em in the head and run.


SOME OF THE GORE IS JUST GOOD OL’ MEDICAL ACCURACY

We witnessed with our own eyes some gory zombie action in Fear the Walking Dead. The actors tell us there’s more, as survivors sustain regular injuries in their escapes, and the same makeup team creates graphically realistic wounds.

“I had to learn, Liza learns, how to do all these medical things,” Rodriguez said. “It was still way too much gore, way too much blood. I wasn’t good with blood, doing medical things, and seeing special effects of bones sticking out of people. It was traumatic. I had to act like I knew what I was doing and play as if I was comfortable with that world.”


THE WOMEN KICK BUTT

The Walking Dead gave us Michonne, Andrea, Lori, Maggie and Carol — all capable women who rose up when their friends and family needed them. Now Fear the Walking Dead gives us more badass women. Debnam-Cary said to watch for her action in an upcoming episode, for which she had to learn a new skill she couldn’t reveal.

“I can’t say that yet,” Debnam-Cary said. “She does have to learn one thing. It’s fun. I liked her edginess. There’s a power within her that’s quite strong that I hope you get to see evolve.”

Liza is not just the other woman. “The fact that I found out that Travis didn’t leave her, that it was a choice Liza made, was a breath of fresh air because she’s not a victim,” Rodriguez said. “She’s not just a scorned woman. She felt really independent and she’s a single mother that’s burning the candle on both ends, making things happen.”

Madison is a schoolteacher, but after a few episodes, Dickens got addicted to kicking ass. “There’s so much excitement and action that I would get a little bit disappointed if I just had a dialogue scene some days,” Dickens said. “I’d be like, ‘Oh, I don’t get to run and jump and fight and scream.’”

You’ll meet Ofelia Salazar (Mason) once the looting starts. Holed up with her family, Ofelia has to grow up fast too. “I think the biggest survival guide is to stop being so innocent, because the nice ones are always the ones who die first,” Mason said. “So she really has to grow a set. I’m a lady, guys. She has to grow a set.”


SEASON ONE DOESN’T CATCH UP WITH RICK GRIMES

Fear the Walking Dead takes us back to the beginning and the first season is only six episodes. Don’t worry, there’s already going to be a second season and it will run 15. So, it’ll be a while before the Los Angeles survivors catch up to the world Rick woke up to, where supplies are already pillaged and human survivors are minimal. We won’t even see that in L.A. until next year.

“You’re going to have to wait until season two,” Erickson said. “I think by the end of season one, we definitely know the world has changed. We definitely know that it is the end of the world as we know it, but we aren’t necessarily at the same place we were when Rick woke up in Georgia.”


FEAR IS NOT A ZOMBIE-FIGHTING SHOW

One advantage to starting so early in the outbreak timeline is that you can tell stories that would be irrelevant by the time the full zombie outbreak happens. Rick and co. on The Walking Dead are pretty much focused on finding a safe shelter, gathering supplies, and dealing with their own in-fighting. Fear still has a society to deal with. Some people know more than others, and some people are still holding onto the civilized world.

“Are we going to get to a place where we’re looking for the next sanctuary and we’re battling our way into the sanctuary?” Erickson asked rhetorically. “That’s not something that I anticipate in season two. I can’t speak for season three because it hasn’t been ordered yet and I’m not that far ahead.”

As we’ve said, there are zombies, but Fear is taking its time getting to them. That’s on purpose. “We will see walkers,” Erickson said. “There will be a build. We tried to slow-burn the story, make it as much about the anxiety and tension and paranoia that goes with this outbreak, as much as it is about the actual confrontations with zombie.”


WE WILL NEVER FIND OUT WHAT CAUSED THE WALKING DEAD

This is good news. The worst part of any prequel is when they explain the stuff that was so mysterious in the original. Luckily, the producers of Fear the Walking Dead have no plans to reveal what caused the whole zombie apocalypse in the first place.

“No,” Erickson said. “Short answer, no. We’re not going to be looking at it from the people who are trying to find the cure, find the solution. It’s really very much the ground roots. We’re never going to tell the story from the perspective of someone at the CDC or someone in the military. It’s not the generals, not the politicians, but how we see a military presence and we will get a sense of how first responders reacted when things started to go sideways and what they did to protect their own families.”


NO CROSSOVERS, SORRY

If this is before the end of the world, it means that Shane and Lori are still alive, as well as our other favorite characters! But they’re all the way in Atlanta, so it would be really hard to have them meet our new L.A. heroes. The point of Fear the Walking Dead is that it is a new stand-alone story, so unfortunately there won’t be any crossovers.

“There’s no crossover plans right now,” Erickson said. “[By] telling parallel narratives that live under the same mythological umbrella, I think the instinct for me would be… to see those stories conflate at some point but there’s no plans to do so. There’s no intention of having Easter eggs or character references. I’m sure there will be things that come about over the course of the season.”

Another producer contradicted Erickson, so we might get a few callbacks. “There might be an Easter egg or two,” David Alpert said, “It’s possible.”


Fear the Walking Dead premieres this Sunday, August 23, at 9 p.m. on AMC. Read reviews here.

Tag Cloud

Shudder streaming mutant SDCC 20th Century Fox Schedule The Arrangement Watching Series police drama FOX CMT renewed TV shows FX Hallmark south america Apple TV+ Election Mary Poppins Returns NYCC science fiction anthology facebook Sony Pictures Baby Yoda VH1 Reality Paramount Network tv talk AMC Fox News Valentine's Day diversity best Set visit spinoff Reality Competition OWN Mudbound Amazon spain latino Mary poppins 45 elevated horror parents DC streaming service reboot Nat Geo Tarantino Marathons TCA Winter 2020 VICE CW Seed A24 talk show Epix reviews unscripted book cults zombie Emmys Food Network Black History Month OneApp X-Men Cannes IFC Travel Channel dc hist independent Emmy Nominations Polls and Games 2017 Acorn TV cops Marvel Studios Peacock Kids & Family Pop Black Mirror Showtime FX on Hulu screenings BBC America Superheroe Comic Book Women's History Month Trophy Talk ABC Family Stephen King Tumblr Mystery Turner strong female leads jamie lee curtis spanish language green book Pirates Box Office Amazon Prime adventure GoT mission: impossible comiccon franchise Trailer crime drama documentary biography casting cancelled TV shows cooking YouTube Premium sequel Spectrum Originals movies Chernobyl crime thriller Vudu space Sneak Peek Freeform disaster critics The CW 2018 SXSW Winter TV docudrama joker Netflix Captain marvel TV Land series TCA 21st Century Fox slashers mockumentary Super Bowl justice league directors kids screen actors guild political drama Endgame video TV all-time period drama Comedy Central Holidays romance GLAAD CBS All Access Extras versus Nickelodeon adaptation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina ghosts Oscars Academy Awards what to watch MCU Pixar Columbia Pictures Christmas canceled TV shows CNN breaking bad Disney Marvel Television game of thrones Lifetime Christmas movies Opinion Amazon Studios Character Guide A&E American Society of Cinematographers Lucasfilm name the review theme song Spike First Reviews Cartoon Network Sci-Fi boxoffice See It Skip It festivals Toys Warner Bros. Funimation Superheroes television supernatural dark First Look composers E! technology chucky HBO Max Writers Guild of America HBO social media LGBTQ SundanceTV Mary Tyler Moore MTV Comedy Family Interview cats Rocketman singing competition zero dark thirty historical drama die hard Music christmas movies TV renewals Hear Us Out DGA comics Winners Turner Classic Movies ITV New York Comic Con Walt Disney Pictures Awards Tour Grammys YA Avengers aliens USA Network The Purge doctor who sports dceu Fall TV DC Universe 007 zombies Masterpiece finale LGBT Creative Arts Emmys Mindy Kaling IFC Films BBC Star Trek Lionsgate sitcom Horror YouTube Musical scary movies Film Disney+ Disney Plus Action Film Festival richard e. Grant batman Year in Review Calendar Holiday Biopics Brie Larson blaxploitation 24 frames politics 2019 cartoon Television Academy President WGN FXX ABC Crackle TLC Star Wars child's play psychological thriller Starz comic children's TV Bravo Country Rock revenge Photos PBS Musicals BET YouTube Red vampires Disney Channel Discovery Channel Video Games Crunchyroll free movies dragons National Geographic TCM movie foreign cancelled Thanksgiving werewolf ESPN cancelled TV series APB animated miniseries Disney streaming service TIFF Syfy WarnerMedia Lifetime Pop TV Rom-Com 71st Emmy Awards war PaleyFest dogs Best and Worst thriller transformers Esquire Premiere Dates TBS Paramount golden globes comedies Pet Sematary Elton John Rocky Drama concert Logo indie Amazon Prime Video Arrowverse criterion Anna Paquin ratings binge GIFs 2015 harry potter 2016 a nightmare on elm street natural history Classic Film witnail Apple Sundance Now 4/20 based on movie Comics on TV DC Comics spider-man halloween spy thriller stoner E3 Fantasy Pride Month Teen Cosplay teaser serial killer universal monsters Marvel Tubi USA Disney Plus travel cars Tomatazos Adult Swim sag awards TNT Trivia Britbox San Diego Comic-Con hispanic Universal 2020 game show Dark Horse Comics anime Hallmark Christmas movies Shondaland crime crossover robots TruTV psycho nature Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Apple TV Plus CBS The Witch Heroines Awards Ellie Kemper Binge Guide romantic comedy Netflix Christmas movies Infographic award winner toy story RT History true crime DirecTV RT21 Martial Arts stand-up comedy El Rey Spring TV Animation cinemax rotten movies we love Summer Sundance TV Countdown cancelled television The Walking Dead discovery Western Sundance quibi Hulu Song of Ice and Fire MSNBC medical drama Podcast Ghostbusters Ovation canceled Nominations NBC TCA 2017 asian-american Red Carpet dramedy blockbuster Certified Fresh Quiz History