8 Takeaways From the 'Fear the Walking Dead' Season 4 Premiere
[Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about the Season 4 premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, and some about the Season 8 finale of The Walking Dead.]
Now we know. The Walking Dead's Morgan Jones came to Texas—and Fear the Walking Dead—by way of the Heaps, a backfired Rick Grimes pep talk and a whole lot of, well, walking. And yes, the shows' timelines do align, at least for now.
But I’m hard-pressed to call the relief brought about in finally knowing those things the best part of FWTD’s strong Season 4 opener. Because, as promised, we have ourselves some more new characters. And the two we met tonight are pretty great.
So with Morgan not eager to bond, Garret Dillahunt’s gunslinging John Dorie desperate to bond and Maggie Grace’s nosy journalist Althea not caring one way or the other as long as they talk about it, here are our top 8 takeaways from Fear The Walking Dead’s Season 4 premiere, “What’s Your Story?”
1. Victory or otherwise, Morgan’s done with Virginia and everybody in it.
As we begin, TWD's Carol (Melissa McBride), Jesus (the shifty Paul Rovia one, played by Tom Payne) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) all pay a visit to Morgan, who is camped out in the Heaps. Though each try a different tack, their message is pretty much the same: Morgan saved people, he cares about people, he belongs with people and they would still really like to be those people.
“You can hide, but you can’t run,” Rick tells him—twice, even, so Morgan knows he means it.
Morgan runs, anyway. With more verve than he’s exhibited in a while and seemingly more spurred on by that whole “you know what it is” deal than Rick's double-dog-dare. Yeesh, Dead Gavin. Way to ruin a guy for good.
I'm guessing there are precious few Fear fans who've never at least dabbled in The Walking Dead. If you happen to be one, you'll probably fare just fine with the takeaway that Morgan's a troubled guy from Atlanta who talks softly and carries a big stick, like Garbo would really like to be alone, eschews killing ... and really should have known that shot to the knee was coming.
2. Texas is so big that you can go a whole year without finding anyone to talk to.
Ain’t that right, John Dorie? That’s right. So, when Morgan pops up behind the walker Garret Dillahunt’s book-reading, popcorn-loving, quick-shooting model of devotion shoots down, the cowboy’s downright delirious for some human company. So delirious that he follows Morgan into harm’s way over and over again.
Seems that after talking only to himself for an entire year, he "started to enjoy the conversation a little too much" and he's not about to let that happen again. He misses words. Platypus. Pasta. Potable. Verbose. Even when Morgan rejects him a third time, he still gives the guy the gift of socks—ones with popcorn boxes on them—and then follows his reluctant new bestie, anyhow.
3. John Dorie Is One Lovesick Cowpoke.
Seems a woman named Laura showed on his doorstep one day (pre- or post-apocalypse he doesn't say) and stayed just long enough to play blackjack, teach him to tolerate licorice and steal the cowboy’s heart. Somewhere out there, she still has a pearl-handled pistol that matches his own.
Their story didn’t have a happy ending, but it will. He’s sure of it. Or being sure of it gets him by, which, at this point is just as good. Hope disguised as love is a win-win situation.
Am I the only one who wonders if JD’s Laura could be Negan’s Laura? Enough to search the web for a picture of Lindsley Register’s neck tattooed badass toting a white-handled gun?
Nope. Just black ones. But she proved herself a good egg in the Season 8 ender and who knows what she has stashed in her hope chest? There are lots of ladies' names to choose from, but Fear's writers still picked that one ... and it would be some kind of fun to think Register might join Lennie James in his new TV home.
4. I feel much better about being a journalist should a zombie apocalypse transpire.
Yeah, I'll still probably go out in the first wave.
Given her apparel, familiarity with an armored vehicle and solid negotiating skills, Maggie Grace's tough-cookie Althea is Fear's version of Christiane Amanpour—seasoned in the ways of war and not afraid to get, or play, dirty.
But left to her own devices, she's an asker, not a fighter, trading cigs and spicy ramen for people's personal tales. What they've seen. Who've they've met. Where they've been. Where they're going. John Dorie is happy to talk; he hasn't done so in a year. Morgan, not so much.
What she aims to do with all this info is a mystery ... but one that lends a fresh approach to the apocalypse—and to a show badly in need of something new.
5. The bad guys are, thus far, not too bright. And they, too, attended The Rick Grimes Academy of Lousy Aim.
For as long as John Dorie went without encountering another soul, he and Morgan sure encounter some weaselly ones quickly when Morgan creeps away in the night and John tracks him down.
I hope against anything that the episode's writers named the lead redneck Leland after Dog the Bounty Hunter's son, but in either case, Leland and his little band of marauders give John and Morgan some trouble until Althea shows up and saves the day.
And though they're gun-loving Texas fellers, they can't hit a target literally to save their lives, though one does clip Morgan in the knee as he runs at the guy across wide-open trailer tops, because that's smart. Or maybe Morgan's just proving his theory that he doesn't die for the new folks.
Eventually zombies contribute to the thugs' demise, but I give the baddies bonus points for nicknaming the pair Karate Man and the Gunslinger before they go.
6. Yes, that numbered flag at top the trailer means something ... but we don't find out just yet.
The first one we get a peek at is a nice big "51" atop a trailer that imprisons the dead, the passed or the walkers, depending on who in our trio is talking about ’em. Althea says there's more markers like it cropping up, but even she doesn't know what they're for. We get a better hint next episode.
7. Morgan is still convinced his help ... isn't.
"I lose people and then I lose myself," he tells Althea, when he finally opens up (much, much more than I expected him to, but there's backstory to tell). But he's still compelled to test drive his ongoing theory that no matter what he does to be useful folks die anyway, this time on a gravely injured fellow he finds lying in a car.
The hurt guy—who gets downright pissy about Morgan's gift of rubbing alcohol and a bandage—does nothing to disprove that. If you thought the lone and stumbling walker, what with his long hair and flannel, was going to be a vision of Jared telling Morgan he KNOWS what it is, you are not alone. Morgan, too.
And then, when the zombie turned around, if you thought he looked like Dead franchise multihypenate Greg Nicotero—well that one launched a healthy 10-minute debate here in this office. We settled on no. Too narrow in the nose and wrong chin.
8. Strand, Luciana and the Clark kids live!
Back in Althea's truck after all the trouble with Leland, the newbie trio barely get moving again before they spot another being in the road. A kneeling, wailing girl. Oh hey, Alicia! Way to bait the strangers. Hey to you, too, Strand, Nick and Luciana. Be nice to the newbies. They make your show better.
Of our major players, only Madison is now unaccounted for. But she stars in the show's key art and is all over the adds so you know she lives. Next week's episode tells us where, if not entirely why.
So what did you think, Fear fans? And non-Fear fans? Does Morgan's inclusion inspire you to watch the Walking Dead sister series, too?
If you're already a fan of Fear, are you excited about the new characters and what they might bring to the show's newly retooled, stripped down universe? Or does this feel like a cheat — a means of turning a show that was touted early as being an entirely different animal into a virtual replica of its predecessor?
For now, we're cautiously optimistic. We found Season 3's whole deal with the ranch a bloody, dreary, overpopulated dumpster fire. The prospect of the very core of core group coupled with some really interesting newbies (well, and the long march TWD's Season 9 premiere) is, thus far, intriguing. That's our story ... and, for now, we're sticking to it.
Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 10/9c on AMC