The air won't be crisp with new Fall TV for a few weeks, but fortunately we have the Walking Dead spinoff to look forward to on AMC. The new series, which is guaranteed to help us dive right back into zombie goodness, is set on the West Coast rather than the American South, but it also takes place at a different point in time. When is Fear The Walking Dead set? From what we know, it takes place towards the beginning of the apocalypse, though the timeline of the apocalypse on TWD hasn't always been clear. However, I have a definitive answer for you. According to Executive Producer Dave Erickson in the official AMC press materials, the spinoff takes place about a month before the pilot of The Walking Dead, while Rick Grimes is still comatose in Atlanta:
Fear the Walking Dead is a parallel story to The Walking Dead in season 1. It covers the time frame in which Rick Grimes from the original TV series and from the comic was in a coma. In those stories, Rick is shot, falls into a coma, wakes up 4-5 weeks later and the world is over. Fear the Walking Dead shows the audience what happened in that window of time.
Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd confirms that The Walking Dead takes place four weeks into the apocalypse. Seriously? I thought Rick was in a coma for much longer than that. How does this line up to what we already know about this universe? If you're a gamer, you may know that the Telltale Games Walking Dead video game takes place while Rick Grimes is in a coma, so that seems on board.
Everything we've learned about the onset of the virus via the timeline of The Walking Dead indicates that everything happened at a rapid pace, so okay. That's why scientists at the CDC called it "wildfire." Downtown Atlanta was bombed with napalm a little over two weeks into the outbreak, and Rick learned from Morgan Jones and Dr. Edward Jenner that communication, the electrical grid, and gas lines shut off in a about a month as well. This sounds like a rather dramatic couple of weeks, so I'm looking forward to seeing how these new characters deal with that.
However, there's at least one big discrepancy that I'm hoping Fear The Walking Dead addresses. Speaking of Dr. Jenner, in the Season 1 episode "Wildfire" we learned that our heroes arrived at the CDC are approximately "194 days since Wildfire was declared." That's interesting, because 200 days is over six months, not five weeks. However, and here's why the location of this series matters, Jenner additionally said that it has been 63 days since the virus went global.
Does that mean it was contained in the United States for 18 weeks? How was it traveling in that time? Where in the country did it originate, and then spread like wildfire? Could "wildfire" mean something else entirely? It sounds like the apocalypse had a specific past and/or path that Fear The Walking Dead can shed some light on while introducing us to new characters.
Images: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC