By now, most fans have hear: Fear the Walking Dead is really good. The show turned a few million fans off early on by telling a pre-apocalyptic story in a world where fans were looking for something much more brutal but has almost instantly turned things around in its third season.
In fact, about 70% of the viewership abandoned Fear the Walking Dead since its very first episode nabbed over 10 million live viewers. Viewers of the sibling series to the biggest show on cable were expecting more zombie drama and human against human conflict as they had been trained to look for for years but were given blended family drama and aggravating teenagers.
Almost all of those elements of Fear the Walking Dead are gone now. The series has put its foot on the gas pedal and taken off.
Three weeks into showrunner Dave Erickson's final season with the show and everything has changed. The headlines which used to call the show "boring" are now reading "How Fear the Walking Dead Succeeded Where The Walking Dead So Often Fails", "Fear the Walking Dead Has A Unique Chance To Surpass The Walking Dead", and "In Season 3, Fear The Walking Dead Finally Embraces Its Inner The Walking Dead." Each of those are real headlines found online.
This all did not happen without a significant shift in Fear the Walking Dead's storytelling, easily compiled into a list of why the show has become so enjoyable.
A shocking death is always a good way to build conversation around a series. Fear the Walking Dead needed to start a conversation when its third season debuted and did just that. The character many thought was going to be the leader of the series, Travis, was killed by a stray bullet in the first five minutes and the Season 3 premiere's second half.
However, it's not the shocking death which has had a lasting impact. It is the moments which have come after which prove Fear the Walking Dead deserves some respect.
Finally, the show has a clear cut leader. Madison is able to take the reigns and be in control of the series every time she is on the screen without fans wondering whether she or Travis are Fear's main protagonist. Yes, Fear is absolutely an ensemble series with several major supporting characters but this is now Kim Dickens' show.
"The character of Madison is number one on the call sheet, and she is, as people would say, the Rick Grimes of this show," executive producer Gale Anne Hurd said. "It's rare to see the woman's story provided. She's the one who is keeping the family alive, especially now that Travis (Cliff Curtis) is gone. She's going to have to earn that and maintain it."
With the loss of Travis and Ofelia still missing, the door was opened for new characters to fill the voids. Luckily, the new batch of characters are doing a great job of it.
Daniel Sharman, Sam Underwood, and Dayton Callie have all joined the Fear the Walking Dead cast for Season 3. They play Troy, Jake, and Jeremiah Otto, respectively.
Jeremiah was ready for this world. He made a living selling buckets which offered protective items to civilians embracing the end of the world. Having a dark past but a slew of good intentions, Jeremiah's kids represents his dark and light sides.
Jake is the overachieving child who refuses to lose his morality to this new and unforgiving world. Troy, on the other hand, is thriving in this world as he is able to kill without much thought and act without laws.
The complex new family would be the most interesting dynamic on the series had the Clark's not stepped up their interest level this season.
The Dead universe launched in 2010 on AMC. Since then, the zombies of the series have become much less of a threat despite starting out as one of the scariest enemies on television.
Now, it's all about humans and the horrible things they do to one another without laws in place to stop them. Time and time again, new groups are introduced, audiences either can't trust them or are unsure whether or not they should, and it turns out the intuition was right about the group being evil. Then, the group tries to kill the good guys and ends up dead themselves.
Fear the Walking Dead appeared to be doing just that when it returned for Season 3 but, instead, flipped the script and made the apparent enemies into complex and intriguing allies. The Otto family appeared to be just another obstacle for protagonists to dispatch but are transforming into something much more than that which is a more than welcome story beat.
The first two seasons of Fear the Walking Dead elected to follow the characters in the earliest days of the end of the world. The drama didn't come from survival tactics as much as it did from teenagers not enjoying being part of a blended family.
Now, though, Fear the Walking Dead and its characters have fully embraced the grim world they are forced to inhabit. Death and violence are waiting for them at any turn and, as proved in the Season 3 premiere, any character can go at any time.
Characters like Alicia Clark and Chris Manawa were making ill-advised decision early on in the series. Really, they were just being teenagers, but given how much more the audience knew of the world they were living in than they did, it became frustrating to watch silly mistakes. Now, one of these characters has been claimed by the apocalypse and the other has learned to evolve in order to survive.
The high stakes of Fear the Walking Dead's third season and increased feeling of threats in the world fans have known for years helped make the show more compelling than ever, finally rivaling the pace and brutality of its older sibling.
MORE WALKING DEAD: TWD Season 8 Trailer Details Revealed / Everyone Loves FTWD Now / Steven Yeun Up To Return As Glenn Rhee / Ross Marquand Promises A Massive TWD Season 8 / Negan's Complete Backstory Coming In October
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Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season in October with a trailer coming in July at San Diego Comic Con. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.