I write a tremendous amount of content surrounding The Walking Dead universe over on Uproxx, and I enjoy it even if I don’t always enjoy the show itself (The Saviors’ role on the show over the last 39 episodes has resulted in a two-and-a-half year storyline that could have been wrapped up in one season, and as a result, the show has felt like one of those middle-season episodes of a Marvel Netflix series for a while now).
I also follow Fear the Walking Dead, and let me tell you: That was brutal to do in the first two seasons, as the show quickly disposed of its original premise and moved its location to … the ocean. Fear lost a lot of viewers in its second season, and rightfully so. However, the show slowly began to find itself in the third season, and while it was still a mixed bag, it ended much better than it began. I found that I was starting to enjoy Fear episodes more than The Walking Dead.
The fourth season of Fear kicks off on Sunday night (after The Walking Dead eighth-season finale), and it has been completely rebooted. It dropped its showrunner, picked up Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss (from Once Upon a Time), brought over Morgan (Lennie James) from The Walking Dead, and cast Maggie Grace, Jenna Elfman, and — this is important — Garret Dillahunt.
It’s a completely different show. I reviewed it in full over on Uproxx, but here’s the crux:
This new Fear, from showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss (who also write the premiere with Scott Gimple), has its own beat, a new tone, and a lighter feel. Even the characters we know from the old Fear — who show up in the final seconds of the premiere — are different, with two or three more years of experience and 2,000 miles of travel behind them. Moreover, the challenges the characters face are unique to Fear. It’s not about winning a battle or claiming a stake in a new territory. This new Fear is about the search for human connection in a world where there are very few humans left, and that is a far more interesting journey than one about mere survival or neutralizing a villain.
Yes, some of the Fear characters from last season will return (including Danay García), but no: it’s not necessary to have seen the last three seasons of Fear to pick it up. This reboot works straight out of the gate, and that’s thanks in large part to Garret Dillahunt, whose character is the perfect combination of his characters in Deadwood and Raising Hope. He’s a gentle, funny and lethal gunslinger, and after only one episode, I think he may be my all-time favorite character from The Walking Dead universe. He’s not the only reason to watch, however. Maggie Grace, who plays a character that nods at World War Z, manages to be both bad ass and instantly likable, and Morgan — gradually freed from that The Walking Dead storyline — exhibits warmth and humor, and he may actually get an opportunity to display what an incredible actor he is.
I don’t know how effective I’ll be here in persuading those of you who have given up on The Walking Dead to give Fear a shot, but I’ll say this: I’m not allowed to give away any of the plot details, but watch the first four and a half minutes. It sets the tone for the reboot. I think you’ll like it, and if you don’t: You’ve only lost four and a half minutes.