Fear The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 1: Pilot Review

fear the walking dead cast photo

After five seasons of The Walking Dead, the survivors have journeyed from Atlanta to Washington DC, struggling to keep and regain their humanity in the zombie apocalypse. AMC’s new companion series Fear the Walking Dead starts off at the beginning of the outbreak, centering on a blended family in Los Angeles.

One of the biggest challenges in creating a companion series is developing its own identity and purpose, but still have a general feel and tone that fits with the original show. As a prequel, Fear can paint a bigger picture of how civilization collapsed which was not depicted on The Walking Dead.  By placing the story at the initial stages of the outbreak, the focus at this point is not on the horrors of survival but on a family trying to stay together as the world falls apart.

If you’re on the fence whether to watch Fear the Walking Dead, continue reading for a spoiler free reaction to the premiere episode.

The series stars Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Deadwood) as Madison Clark, a high school guidance counselor.  She’s a single mother to a high achieving teen daughter Alicia and a college drop-out, drug addict son Nick. Madison’s fiancee is Travis who works at the same high school as an English teacher. Travis has a son of his own from a previous marriage. The pilot episode spends it’s time fleshing out the main characters and their relationships in a believable way.

At first glance, the family members don’t seem to possess any special attributes or skills that would help them survive a zombie apocalypse. It’s nice that none of them happen to be doctors, cops or ex-military. They each come across as everyday people who could exist in present day L.A.  As the story unfolds, Madison is conflicted on how to deal with Nick’s drug problem which may give insight on how she’ll handle more challenging moral dilemmas down the road.

As the cause of his family’s turmoil, Nick is a tricky character to pull off. He’s not written as someone who we instantly connect with but it helps that there are scenes which show the more likable family members caring for him. If viewers find Nick polarizing it’s likely not because of the performance. Actor Frank Dillane does a great job at portraying the mannerisms of a junkie and conveying the fear he could be going insane after what he’s witnessed. 

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While the slow burn of the pilot is especially noticeable in an hour and a half run time, the pacing is working well enough so far. Hopefully taking the time to develop the characters will pay off down the line. There’s a gradual build to the suspense which is heightened by the tense, atmospheric music. Fear’s pilot episode doesn’t attempt to top The Walking Dead in terms of gore and violence. In fact, there’s not much that’ll shock or gross out seasoned viewers. However, setting the series in greater L.A. could potentially set the stage for a disaster that’ll eclipse the original series in terms of size and scope.

Even though Fear can be viewed without having any knowledge of The Walking Dead, it’ll primarily appeal to fans of the original series.  So while Fear isn’t a must watch television series, on first impressions, it’s well acted, has two solid, relatable adult characters and is confidently written. 

Are you convinced whether or not this is a series worth watching? If you have already watched the pilot did you like it or are you disappointed?

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