AMC's upcoming pre-apocalyptic spinoff/prequel/brand extension Fear The Walking Dead may not premiere until this coming Sunday night, but you can watch the first three minutes of Fear The Walking Dead as of Wednesday, thanks to a recently released preview clip posted by the network on the show's Facebook page. A previous promo clip teased viewers with the sight of Frank Dillane's Nick Clark running away from... something. Now we get to see what elicited that terrified reaction — and it's predictably gory for a show inspired by the blood-spewing, brain-splattering, mega-hit The Walking Dead.
Fear will shift the focus of the zombie apocalypse from the rural southeast months after the collapse of civilization to urban Los Angeles during the first days of the outbreak. As such, our protagonists will be much less battle-hardened — and much more confused. Case in point: Nick, the delinquent drug addict son of high school guidance counselor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens, Gone Girl), who happens to be one of the first witnesses of the grisly phenomenon.
Although judging an episode by its first three minutes is like judging a book by its cover — heck, not even judging a series by its first episode is not always a good idea — this opening sequence might give us an idea of what to anticipate from Fear The Walking Dead's pilot... and the rest of the series.
1. Lots Of Focus On Nick Clark
It's telling that the first face, living or otherwise, we're introduced to is not nominal protagonist Madison or her fiancé Travis (Cliff Curtis), but her druggie son. Could this mean Fear will really be about a group of young adults coming of age in a zombie-ravaged world? Could Fear be about to pull a Game Of Thrones on us, unexpectedly killing off the adult characters in the first season and leaving the younger generation to fend for themselves?
2. Zombies As Addicts?
As Nick clambers to his feet, his drugged-out movements are highly evocative of the slowly shuffling walkers we've come to know and love on The Walking Dead. The best zombie dramas make the outbreak a metaphor for something larger: think Dawn Of The Dead and consumerism or 28 Days Later and anti-imperialism. While TWD has tackled questions of survival and human nature, it lacks an over-arching metaphor. Is Fear promising to be an exploration of addiction through mindless zombies? Or am I reading too much into this?
3. Interesting Wardrobe Choices
AMC's wardrobe department must be thrilled to be able to tackle a show that doesn't involve variations on denim and flannel stained and distressed by months of tromping around the post-apocalyptic wilderness. They certainly take advantage of the pre-outbreak setting in this sequence, giving Nick a distinctive, flowing, white shirt/blouse/halter top/thing. I can't wait to see what else they come up with next.
4. Darkly Lit Interiors
Shots like this one are highly evocative of Fear's antecedent — which is intriguing, given that the world hasn't yet fallen apart in this iteration. But, when we're talking about dilapidated drug dens in the slums of L.A., sometimes it's hard to distinguish between those and the walker-ravaged buildings of TWD. It will be interesting to see how far the show takes the parallels between modern Los Angeles and future zombieland.
5. Copious Amounts Of Fear
If the creators of TWD are good at anything, it's sustained sequences of almost unbearable dread. It's easy to outrun the slow, ambling walkers of this world, so the greatest threat comes from being surprised by one in a confined space. Fear looks to be playing up that fear (appropriately enough) in this sequence, with ominous bloodstains, sudden jolts of noise, and slow pans around corners gradually building to a steady pitch of tension. Hopefully, the writers will be able to craft more slow-burn sequences like this amid the chaos of a disintegrating city.
6. Religious Symbolism
If the zombie/addict parallels weren't intentional, then the religious symbolism on display in this sequence certainly were — the entire opening takes place in a church, for goodness sake! Images of light pouring through stained glass windows and this fallen cross are evocative, and promise to follow through on some of the themes from TWD, where religion has always been an important aspect. (Hello, Father Gabriel.)
7. Fresh Walkers
One of the most distinctive parts of TWD has always been its gruesome zombie makeup, as the creative team goes to greater and greater lengths to come up with increasingly disgusting ways to bring decayed corpses to (undead) life. But since the outbreak is just beginning in Fear, the show won't be able to utilize the same gross-out effects. The only indication that this young woman (presumably the "Gloria" Nick was searching for?) has been turned are the slightly discolored eyes — and the fact that she's munching on a dude's face, of course. Will long-time TWD fans feel underwhelmed by these "fresh" walkers? That's a crucial question that won't be answered until Fear officially premieres this Sunday.
Now check out the full three minutes here, and then tune into the series premiere on Aug. 23 at 9 PM ET.
Images: Frank Ockenfels, Screengrab (7)/AMC