Fear the Walking Dead 503, "Humbug's Gulch," revealed newest addition Dwight (Austin Amelio) has been on a one-man search mission for roughly a year, putting Season 5 of the spinoff about six months before the start of The Walking Dead Season 9.
A time span of 18 months separated The Walking Dead's Season 8 finale and its Season 9 opener, during which time both Dwight and Morgan (Lennie James) left Virginia and headed west: Dwight following a paper trail to missing wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista), and Morgan running from people following the defeat of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the dissolution of his army.
By episode 902, another month had passed with the construction of a bridge erected to physically and symbolically link the Virginia communities, putting the current action of Fear about seven months before before The Walking Dead episodes 902 — 905.
That means by the time Dwight and Morgan coincidentally reconnect in Texas, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has not yet been rescued-slash-abducted by Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) and the three-ring helicopter group following his presumed death in a bridge explosion.
This shadowy group with far-reaching resources has since surfaced on Fear, tied to the disappearance of Althea (Maggie Grace). Because that mystery is still unfolding, Fear showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg and Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple played coy when addressing Fear's exact setting in the timeline during a convention appearance in April.
"Morgan left Virginia about... a couple months after the events of episode 816. On Fear the Walking Dead, maybe a few more months have transpired. And Dwight also left in 816, took the long way, so if you count a few more months at the beginning of this season... I put it to Andrew and Ian," Gimple said.
"We've got a calendar in our office with the exact date and year," Chambliss added. Said Goldberg with a laugh, "Down to the minute."
There has since been speculation unidentified voices that come over Anne's radio in TWD 905 belong to Morgan, Dwight and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), further intertwining the spinoff and the flagship series. Could the search for Al ultimately lead the Fear group towards Virginia, placing them in Rick's vicinity immediately before his disappearance?
Post-Rick disappearance, present day action on TWD puts it six years after Fear's current storyline. The aftermath of Rick's abduction will play out across a now in the works movie trilogy that could feature appearances from Lincoln's former TWD co-stars Corey Hawkins (the long-missing Heath) and Danai Gurira (Michonne).
New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.