Fear the Walking Dead finally found its stride in Season Three, delivering high quality episode after high quality episode, and earning the title of best Walking Dead show of the year in 2017. In 2018, Fear the Walking Dead is taking aim at bigger titles and compliments, as its fourth season is set to make a splash in the Dead universe like never before.
The first episode of Fear the Walking Dead's return relies heavily on The Walking Dead Season Eight's story. Picking up where Morgan Jones leaves off, the character begins a journey to both find and isolate himself from the problems surrounding him on the east coast. His first encounter with the characters residing in Fear's pocket of the Dead universe is deliciously unexpected, while it's the newcomers Garret Dillahunt and Maggie Grace who accompany much of his initial journey.
With the Season Four premiere being heavily influenced by Morgan and his journey from The Walking Dead, the AMC show doesn't require in-depth knowledge of original series to be enjoyed by newcomers or returning Fear fans. Morgan is now very much a character in Fear's world, regardless of where he came from. A brand new and compelling journey is initiated for him in Episode 4x01 (which is admittedly supplemented by knowledge of his previous journey but has no required knowledge). For those The Walking Dead fans following him, it's a beautiful build onto what they've known. For newcomers or returning Fear fans blind to his earlier days, it is a genuinely intriguing new character arc.
Morgan is not the only interesting face. Garret Dillahunt commands every bit of screen time given to him, which begins with the first moments of the new season. Quickly, his John Dorie and Maggie Grace's Althea present refreshing and acceptably outlandish characteristics to the Dead universe, like an uncanny gunslinging ability and a truck rigged with intense weaponry. They are an absolute blast to watch as their characters launch their own intriguing threads with just enough of the curtain pulled back to demand interest.
When the returning characters from Fear the Walking Dead take the screen, though, it is all about them and their new home. A significant amount of time has passed since they were last seen in the Season Three finale. As it turns out, after the dam exploded, most of group washed up in Texas and have crafted a pleasant little slice of life for themselves.
An advancement in time means characters like Alyica Debnam-Carey's Alicia Clark and Colman Domingo's Victor Strand have evolved. The former is on a journey toward equipping herself with the leadership skills her mother Madison (Kim Dickems) strives for while the latter attempts to find solace in real relationships rather than leverage. Frank Dillane's Nick Clark, however, might be the least recognizable when the show returns. Tremendous writing in the early episodes promises this will be, like the others, a compelling journey for characters as they become focuses going forward.
Continuing on Fear the Walking Dead's trend of taking on locations which seem sensible in the apocalypse (previously: a boat, an island, a hotel, a doomsday prepper ranch), the group has settled down in a baseball stadium. It is a tremendous and fortified feat which is a marvel to look at in itself but also something outsides will envy -- and they do.
A new group of enemies, complete with a sarcastic charm and surprising ability to get what they want unlike previous threats in the Dead universe, are going to be hungry to take on what Madison Clark has built.
Through an intriguing feat of timeline manipulation and cross country journeys, Fear the Walking Dead borrows one of The Walking Dead's best characters for a delightful mix of themes both new and old to the show. It's first two episodes are masterpieces and absolute must-watch television.
Above all else, Fear the Walking Dead is proving it can stand on its own legs without The Walking Dead's help. The Walking Dead's Morgan joining the characters is a true enhancement to an already strong story. Any hope of future crossovers of merging of the shows might just be erased when the Fear the Walking Dead unleashes all that his has to offer, independently.
Fear the Walking Dead has completely changed the game. It has maintained the elements and characters which helped it become one of the most surprising shows of 2017 to become something better. Now, Fear the Walking Dead is deserving to be praised as one of the best shows on television, with non-stop twists and characters who are truly fun to follow. Evolution will be key for its future, as both its world and cast expand, but thrilling, character driven mysteries should help it get there.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead will debut its fourth season after The Walking Dead concludes its eighth, at 10 pm ET on April 15. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.