I’m a big fan of the show The Walking Dead on AMC. Of course, I’m not the only one; this show has more watchers than any other show in history. So it’s big news that a new spin-off story has started on AMC called Fear The Walking Dead. It’s the back-story for The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead portrays the destruction of civilization with small bands of wandering people, some good, some with character defects, and some who thrive on the destruction of society. It’s not a show for the faint of heart, yet there is something about it that pulls me to it like a magnet.
The new show—Fear The Walking Dead—premiered last week. When the story begins, society hasn’t broken down yet; all appears normal. One of the major characters, a guy named Nick, is a heroin addict (see, reality TV) in a shooting gallery in a deserted church. That’s pretty ironic too—a deserted church. As Nick says, dope is communion for junkies.
Nick’s dad died when he was 13 years old and his mom is a teacher who has started a new relationship with another teacher, a guy who is a real Mr. Fix-it. That’s not showing disrespect to the man because he appears to be a good man.
His name is Travis. Kim Dickens plays Madison, Nick’s mother and Travis’ new wife. Except for having a drug addict son, all seems well and society rolls on like it should.
In the very beginning, Nick wakes up in the shooting gallery church and starts to look for his girlfriend who was misplaced when he nodded out on heroin. That’s pretty normal for addicts. Nick walks into the main church and he sees his girlfriend leaning over another guy and he calls to her.
She lifts up her head and blood is dripping from her mouth because she had been feeding on the guy rather than making it with him. Nick breaks into mad flight and runs down the stairway into the street. He is totally freaked out because he’s still high and can’t bring himself to believe what he just saw. He can’t tell the difference between what is a dream and what is real.
He runs down the street and then—WHAM—a car hits him. He rolls up onto the hood of the car and falls unconscious in the street.
Nick wakes up in the hospital and the police are questioning him and his hands are tied to the bed. He was raving when they brought him in. He remembers what happened but he’s not quite sure he believes it.
Nick is played by Frank Dillane, a fantastic actor. Everything I have described to you takes place within the first five minutes of the show. Nick wears his troubled emotions on his face; Frank Dillane is great in this role.
It’s ironic that if you’re a Walking Dead fan, you know more about what’s going on with the zombies than with the characters in the story. It makes for a delicious tension. Except for the fact that folks think that if something were really going wrong in the world, “they,” meaning the powers that be, would warn the public—but there is not a word being said about the strange occurrences popping up on the Internet. All appears normal on the surface. There’s no societal breakdown—yet.
One of Madison’s students, a guy named Tobias, is talking to Madison about how people are coming down with this disease and eating people but there’s no official acknowledgement that it’s happening. Madison scoffs and says to Tobias, “Don’t you think the authorities would be warning us if this was really happening?”
The treatment of addiction in this story is well handled. There is a scene where Madison and her new husband Travis are riding home in the car after Nick has fled the hospital and Madison says, “I don’t know if I want Nick to come home.” How many mothers of heroin addicts have thought that or even said it?
There are no spoilers in this review. I can tell you that when Madison, Nick’s mom, gets to school a little late, the principal says to her, “I thought you were going to call in sick with that flu that I hear is going around.”
Madison looks at the principal, smiles and says, “I got my flu shot.” Those of us who know better appreciate the irony.
The pilot of Fear The Walking Dead is 90 minutes long and the tension is exquisite. Robert Kirkman, one of the writers and the creator of The Walking Dead, has done a magnificent job. Fear The Walking Dead is one of the best new shows on the air. You can find it on the AMC channel.