According to Fear The Walking Dead's showrunners, season 4's new villains are more of a philosophical threat compared to previous villains in the franchise. Fear The Walking Dead returned recently with a heavily marketed crossover event that saw Morgan Jones travel over to the spinoff from parent series, The Walking Dead. As well as bringing in Morgan, Fear's season 4 premiere introduced two new characters in John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) and Althea (Maggie Grace) and only featured the show's regular cast in the final scene.
Second episode "Another Day In The Diamond" went some way to explaining what Madison and her family have been up to since season 3 but just as the survivors were beginning to look comfortable in their baseball stadium community, a new set of villains appeared. Referred to by Strand as The Vultures, the group gave Madison two choices: either hand everything over and join them, or starve to death and be picked clean afterwards. As their name implies, The Vultures simply camp outside Madison's community, waiting for them to either submit or die naturally.
Fear The Walking Dead's showrunners, Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, have now explained exactly why The Vultures are a different type of threat compared to other villains in both Fear and The Walking Dead. Speaking with EW, Goldberg stated:
"What we find interesting about the Vultures is that unlike a lot of the other adversaries that we’ve seen characters come up against on Fear the Walking Dead, or even The Walking Dead, their threat is not one of violence. It’s more of kind of an existential, philosophical threat, which is they move around from place to place... We see the Vultures as sort of like doctors delivering bad news.
When they show up and Mel, Kevin Zegers’ character, talks to Madison outside the stadium, the way he looks at it he’s trying to warn her. He’s seen this situation play out many times before. It always goes the same way. There’s sort of a cynicism and an inevitability to the way that they see things, so they don’t need to attack. They can sit. They can wait because they know what the ultimate outcome is."
"They kind of see themselves as the good guys who are just trying to do the right thing and just trying to explain that this is the way the world works now. I think that’s the thing that will make what Madison and her family have to do so difficult because it really is almost like they’re fighting a force of nature."
Although The Vultures have only just debuted in Fear The Walking Dead, it's already clear that the group aren't standard enemies for the franchise. Many viewers would have expected them to either storm the baseball stadium or be forced back by gunfire, only to regroup for another fight later in the season. As such, it was quite surprising to see The Vultures simply sit and wait in the stadium's parking lot, making no aggressive moves whatsoever. The scene in which Luciana is allowed to walk up to The Vultures' camp, deliver a book and return unchallenged drove this point home even further.
The Walking Dead often faces criticism for falling into a pattern of 'Rick's group finds peace, evil group emerges, Rick wins, repeat' and since Fear's time jump forward, the same could be said of the spinoff. Because of this, it is somewhat refreshing to have a different vein of enemy in season 4, particularly one that looks and feels diametrically opposed to Negan and the Saviors.
With that said, there's only so long a group of thugs sitting patiently outside a community while the people inside fail to grow turnips will make for compelling television and, at some point, Madison's group and The Vultures will undoubtedly come to blows in a traditional hail of bullets. Until then, however, it seems The Vultures will be offering a breath of fresh, post-apocalyptic air in Fear The Walking Dead.
Fear The Walking Dead season 4 continues with "Good Out Here" on Sunday, April 29th on AMC.