As audiences were still digesting the The Walking Dead's season 5 finale, AMC premiered the first brief teaser for their Walking Dead spinoff - Fear the Walking Dead (above). And while fans may still be split over whether or not they like that title, the network appears confident in their new
zombie walker drama, already giving the series a two-season order.
Much like how Better Call Saul is a spinoff of Breaking Bad but neither show is required viewing in order to enjoy the other, Fear the Walking Dead won't necessarily serve as a prequel to The Walking Dead. The two series exist within the same fictional universe and the events in Fear will occur chronologically before those of The Walking Dead, but the two shows will otherwise be quite separate.
AMC's Fear the Walking Dead will introduce a new group of characters, take place in another area of the country, and focus on a different time frame for the zombie outbreak - its earliest days.
Beginning of the Outbreak
The very first episode of The Walking Dead experiences a time jump of about a month once Rick is in a coma. While unconscious the entire zombie epidemic unfolds around him, and once he awakens the civilized world is no more. Fear the Walking Dead will fill in that time gap, addressing how the country became a post-apocalyptic, no man's land.
When Fear the Walking Dead begins most people aren't aware there's anything amiss. There are rumors of flesh eaters and crazed cannibals, but those are just stories only believed by the insane and drug-addled. For most people, they won't believe it until they see it - and when they do, it'll likely be too late.
This will be the mentality most characters will initially have in Fear the Walking Dead. And this puts the audience in a unique position - we'll know more about what's happening than the characters will. Having the audience "in" on what's really going on will undoubtedly provide Fear the Walking Dead with opportunities to tell different stories, giving the series a narrative unique from The Walking Dead's rinse and repeat formula.
Additionally, a series set in the very early days of the outbreak will offer a look at how first responders handled the situation. How did hospitals initially become aware? What did the police do the first time a dead person kept moving? How does the 24-hour news media cover these incidents as they begin to increase at an alarming rate?
However, the biggest question many have about the zombie outbreak is how did it all start? Chances are Fear the Walking Dead won't be answering that one - at least not yet - but with AMC already committed to two seasons there should plenty of mysteries for the series to explore about the outbreak's earliest days.
The West Coast
News doesn't travel as fast in remote areas of the country, and infection even slower. Presumably, were a disease to wipe out humanity - or in this case, turn them into flesh-eating monsters - the first cases would begin springing up in major cities.
Fear the Walking Dead will start in Los Angeles, a city with the second largest population in the U.S. It'd be easy to assume that with more people a zombie outbreak would spread like wildfire, but actually, a large population allows for the weird and unusual to remain unnoticed for longer. And in the case of an infection that turns the dead into the walking dead, every second nothing is done to either contain or eradicate it is a wasted opportunity with deadly consequences.
L.A. isn't only a city with a large populace, it's also a city with a sprawling urban landscape and areas that are heavily segregated by race and class. For example, the rich live in the spacious Hollywood Hills while the poor are more densely packed into Downtown L.A. As you can imagine, an outbreak of any kind would spread faster and go unnoticed for longer in an area that's densely populated and ignored by the wealthier majority.
Fear the Walking Dead will no doubt take advantage of just how different L.A. is from Georgia. Not only will that affect the kinds of stories this series will tell, but it will change how its characters react to the oncoming apocalypse.
Meet the New Family
Family has always been a crucial part of The Walking Dead, whether it be Rick trying desperately to hold his together or the family that grew out those who managed to survive the longest. And in Fear the Walking Dead, it will again be through the eyes of a family that we'll experience the earliest days of the zombie apocalypse.
Miranda (Kim Dickens) is a divorced mother of two who works as a guidance counselor at an L.A. high school. She's currently in a relationship with Sean (Cliff Curtis), another teacher at her school and fellow divorcee. Miranda's kids are Nick (Frank Dillane), aged 19 and Ashley (Alycia Debnam-Carey), aged 17.
As the series begins, Nick is battling with heroin addiction and Ashley is preparing to graduate high school and go to college. Miranda is doing her best to handle the needs of both her children while still being available to Sean, who is also struggling to maintain a relationship with his own son from a previous marriage. This is a family experiencing many of the same problems as so many others, and it's easy to see how rumors of the dead returning can be easily dismissed when real life is happening.
Of course, once the dead hungering for flesh begins to seep into your real life, then the fact that the zombies are very real and very dangerous becomes impossible to ignore.
Fear the Walking Dead will premiere with six one-hour-long episodes in late Summer 2015.