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'Fear the Walking Dead' Is Torture for 'The Walking Dead' Completists

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 15, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 15, 2023 |


There aren’t many of us left, but there are a few poor souls who have endured the torturous journey of 11 agonizing seasons of The Walking Dead, suffering through two miserable seasons of The Walking Dead: The World Beyond, enduring one inexplicable season of Tales of the Walking Dead, and seven excruciating seasons of Fear the Walking Dead. That’s 21 seasons of television, thus far. We’re fully aware of the sunk cost fallacy, but we can’t break free. We feel compelled to soldier on to the bitter end. What’s 12 more episodes (plus, brace yourselves, at least three additional spin-offs and another season of Tales)?

If the season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead is any indication, completing this season will be a challenge. It’s beyond bad. We’ve had six long months since The Walking Dead concluded its series finale and nearly a year since the last episode of Fear aired, which was almost enough time to erase the memory of how abysmal it had become. Alas, Fear served as a painful reminder of the dreadful state of the franchise.

Let’s refresh our minds: The seventh season of Fear plunged us into a zombie and nuclear apocalypse, courtesy of the season six villain who unleashed a nuclear missile. Alicia, one of the three remaining cast members from the inaugural season, met her demise at the end of the season after battling a zombie infection for an indeterminate length of time—days, weeks, months, who knows? Throughout the season, Grace, plagued by radiation poisoning, experienced the trauma of a stillbirth, but miraculously, the deceased baby absorbed all her radiation, allowing her to survive. Grace and Morgan took custody of another abandoned infant, left behind by a deceased couple. A war with Strand erupted, leaving no winners, only losers—primarily the viewers.

As the season drew to a close, Morgan (and eventually the other survivors) did what they should have done 16 episodes earlier: they hopped on lifeboats and sailed away from Texas, steering back toward Georgia. Upon arriving at their destination, Morgan stumbled upon Madison, Alicia’s mother who supposedly perished in season four. The show’s desperate need to resuscitate its anemic ratings prompted them to resurrect Madison, equipped with an oxygen tank that became a necessary accessory due to her puzzling death/undeath in a fire. Madison turned out to be a member of PADRE, a despicable organization that snatched babies from their parents and raised them in a community, supposedly to teach them survival skills.

However, Madison conveniently experiences a sudden change of heart after meeting Morgan and helps him escape with baby Mo. As punishment, PADRE confines Madison to a prison cell for seven years, subjecting her to monthly blood drawings without any explanation for her or the viewers.

Following the time jump, Madison encounters an eight-year-old girl named Wren, while still languishing in her prison cell. With little reason or logic, Madison promptly deduces that Wren is the stolen baby, Mo. Madison escapes and resolves to reunite Wren/Mo with Morgan, only to be met with an utterly bewildering response. In a baffling turn of events, Morgan shockingly demands Wren/Mo’s return. Madison is incredulous.

Nevertheless, amidst a swampy river overrun by walkers, Morgan, Madison, and Wren find themselves in a bad situation. Wren, despite her age, experiences traumatic flashbacks to a past she could barely recall as an infant. Madison, equipped with an oxygen tank only when it’s convenient for the plot, fights off hordes of zombies, only to be saved by the sudden appearance of Grace, a deus ex machina who effortlessly shoots down the zombies.

Morgan ultimately decides to return Wren/Mo to PADRE. PADRE also chooses to return Madison to her former solitary confinement. Meanwhile, Morgan, who had spent the past seven years abducting babies for PADRE as a “Collector,” is retired from his role of Collector and returned to PADRE headquarters.

In an attempt to inject some semblance of growth, eight-year-old Wren/Mo conveniently overcomes her post-traumatic stress disorder and acquires the ability to swiftly dispatch zombies.

It’s bad. The acting is bad (especially the child acting). The writing is atrocious. The logic is nonexistent. Things that might have been interesting occur off-screen. There is no plausible reason for Morgan and Grace to switch sides, give their baby to PADRE, and start kidnapping more babies. Nothing makes sense.

It is worth noting that, after the seven-year time jump, Fear the Walking Dead has caught up with the events of the rest of The Walking Dead universe. The showrunners of the series, however, insist that is only a coincidence.