‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Season 1, Episode 1 Pilot Recap: Did They Get It Right?

Finally, Episode 1 of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead has aired. For the network, they have had a very interesting line to toe. They have an established universe already in The Walking Dead, and they had to bring something new to the companion series. AMC have done this by initially placing Fear the Walking Dead in an entirely different location. They have also put it at the onset of the outbreak Walking Dead fans didn’t get to witness thanks to Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln) being in a coma. But will that be enough to placate fans — new and old — with Fear The Walking Dead?

Warning: Spoilers are contained within this article. If you have not viewed Episode 1, Season 1 of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead in its entirety, please proceed with caution.

Let’s break down just how well AMC succeeded in presenting Fear the Walking Dead to the world and how it compared to The Walking Dead.

For starters, the family aspect so heavily publicized in the Fear the Walking Dead premiere lead up is present in the first episode. Nick (Frank Dillane) is a drug addict and his mother, Madison (Kim Dickens), seems to both love him and hate him at the same time. Travis (Cliff Curtis) is the stepfather everyone seems to dislike — including his own son. However, Nick does side with him when Travis shows some belief in the outrageous story he is telling about people rising from the dead, so through this relationship, the audience is able to start to warm to a character that was initially presented as a bit sappy. Alicia, (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a character who is the overachiever to Nick’s underachievement. It will probably take a while for fans to warm to her as a result of this although there was a scene with her and her boyfriend that shows a softer side and begins the gargantuan task of making the audience like a character who is so obviously beyond her years. As for Madison, her character has been often billed as a “strong female protagonist,” and it is possible her character has come across in the first episode as too strong. She seems very hard and unyielding. Although, towards the end, she does come to the party in regards to being a caring mother.

Fear The Walking Dead promo still Madison EW

Considering many of the fans watching Fear the Walking Dead already know the outcome, thanks to The Walking Dead, there was the potential for this series to lose its edge in relation to creating a true sense of “fear” that the title suggests. However, knowing just how badly everything turns out seems to work more to AMC’s advantage than not. There are some very clever scenes where things in the background let established Walking Dead fans know just how quickly things are about to turn ugly. For example, the sick man in the hospital bed next to Nick. Fans know what happens if he dies. They can also see Nick is in restraints after his car accident, so the anticipation builds slowly but surely to the point when you know something will go wrong. Of course, it does, but AMC manages to write Nick out of a bad situation — just to place him into an even worse one.

The public hysteria scenes seem a little overly amped up in the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead. While there is the potential for footage of people rising from the dead to spread like wildfire across the internet, it doesn’t seem as likely that government officials would be closing schools quite so quickly as occurred in the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead. However, things like the panicked look on the nurse’s face who had attended the code blue on the patient next to Nick and the fact that people like Tobias (Lincoln A. Castellanos) are already aware of a creeping infection like no other could indicate we are entering the infection stage in Fear the Walking Dead later than first anticipated and, therefore, the public hysteria might actually be warranted.

While Rick is in a coma and misses the initial outbreak, considering he is across the country from the characters in Fear the Walking Dead, there is the potential that Rick’s area had no idea anything was happening until it was way to late. Likewise, if things started quietly in L.A., a reporting of a flu epidemic here, a strange shooting there, then it is likely it is already too late there as well and the audience has missed the first few slow months of the outbreak unfurling. On the flip-side, however, we know the virus reanimates people after death, so once this started occurring, perhaps the outbreak would, indeed, occur pretty quickly and create this immediate sense of panic.

Surprisingly, blended in with all the scares, there were moments of humor in the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead. Most notably was Travis announcing that there were no bodies present where Nick said they were, then mentioning the fact that it wasn’t like they “just got up and walked away.” For Walking Dead fans, this was hysterical.

Fear the Walking Dead promo pic 8

As for the undead, Fear the Walking Dead starts and finishes its pilot episode with a zombie. Both times Nick is present and both times the reaction is expected from people who live within a universe that have no zombie literature. It is interesting to see Nick’s progression from his first encounter with Gloria (Lexi Johnson) to the encounter with Calvin (Keith Powers), his drug dealer. Calvin sees Nick as irrational towards the end of the episode, and even though it appears they were friends before they were in the drug scene, he tasks himself with killing Nick rather than risking Nick exposing him. When Nick sees the gun, a struggle ensues, and Cal gets shot. Once again, the delicious creepy fear factor is used to full advantage here as fans wait with anticipation for Cal to rise from the dead. This, of course, doesn’t happen until Travis and Madison return with Nick. It takes several hits and Madison almost getting bitten for everyone to realize that maybe Nick wasn’t hallucinating about Gloria to start with.

You can watch the Episode 2 trailer for Fear the Walking Dead below.

What did you think of the first episode of Fear the Walking Dead? Let us know by commenting below!

[Image credits: AMC / Entertainment Weekly]