RECAP: Fear The Walking Dead, Episode 1×01
The eagerly-awaited first episode of the prequel to smash-hit The Walking Dead just aired on brand new channel AMC. Filled with drama, gore and suspenseful music, it shared all the hallmarks of its older badass brother. Only time will tell if it can survive the curse of the spin off, but the first episode proved promising. Here’s our spoiler-filled recap:
The episode starts with a bang. We’re introduced to Nick, a young junkie and community college drop out, after he awakes from a bender in a creepy disused chapel. In typical Walking Dead fashion, he stumbles across hoards of dead bloodied bodies in his search for a friend and then walks in on said friend eating people.
Like any vaguely sane person, Nick gets the hell out of there. He is promptly hit by a car. It’s an epic opening scene, made fabulous by the choice of fear-inducing mood music. It’s here I breathe a small sigh of relief that Fear might just be as good as it’s predecessor, but it’s early days yet.
In the next scene we’re introduced to Nick’s family as they learn the news that Nick is in hospital. Nick’s mum, Madison, is a school guidance counsellor, his stepdad, Travis, an English teacher with an estranged relationship with his own biological son, and his sister, Alicia, an overachieving model student. All of which are under no illusions as to how Nick ended up being hit by a car, and even Nick has no idea whether what he saw was the result of a crazy-ass trip.
We get our first snippet of concern over the zombie apocalypse we know is coming when Madison comforts a distressed student who brings a knife to school for safety. We know from The Walking Dead what a fat lot of use a knife will do against hoards of the undead, but maybe this kid plays Call of Duty. Madison takes away his knife and says, very reasonably, “the authorities would tell us [if there were a zombie uprising].” She’s obviously never seen a zombie movie herself because she would know those are the most cliched famous last words ever. In TV land, she might as well beg the dead to arise.
Nick breaks out of hospital, prompting Madison and Travis to hunt for him. Travis
visits the drugden, where he finds no bodies (obviously) but a shit ton of blood and the feeling something very bad happened there. The two visit a friend of Nick’s – Cal – for help, and the well-mannered young chap offers all he can to help.
On the way home from unsuccessfully locating him, they are stuck in a traffic jam caused by the walking dead. We then get a few minutes of video footage of paramedics attempting to carry the dead bodies off, only for the bodies to start mauling them. It’s pretty cool to get media footage of zombies when Walking Dead was set too far into the outbreak for any media coverage.
I’m still thinking about what a lovely young man this Cal is when he is revealed to be Nick’s dealer. Nick seeks him out to ask whether the drugs were laced or if he really saw what he thought he saw. Cal is more concerned with the fact Madison and Travis went to him for help. As expected, drug dealers don’t take too kindly to being outed and Cal takes Nick to an isolated location with very bad things in mind.
Cal pulls out a gun but Nick gets there first, and in the ensuing struggle shoots Cal dead. Nick freaks out and calls Travis, who arrives with Madison in tow to witness Nick having an understandable break down. He confesses he killed Cal, and takes them to the body to prove it – but DUN DUN DUN THE BODY IS GONE.
Nick is even more freaked out. His parents are pretty sure he did’t actually kill Cal. Then a zombified Cal attacks them in a dark and creepy tunnel.
The ensuing moments are epic, as all three try – bewildered – to fend off Cal, who is covered in more blood than the gunshot wound should really have caused. Cal keeps rising after being smacked down, even when Nick finally gets a grip and bulldozes him over with the car.
Final thoughts? Fear the Walking Dead is subtler and progressing far slower than The Walking Dead. It is set at the very beginning of the apocalypse and watching the world begin to fall apart at the seams is intriguing stuff. Although we know how it ultimately turns out, the spine-tingling terror felt by the characters as each part of the zombie puzzle unravels is engaging, if more of a slow burner than its predecessor. The series has started off very much a family drama enhanced by the presence of zombies. To be honest, that’s exactly the kind of family drama I want to spend my hours lapping up.