It’s been almost two months since the season finale of The Walking Dead, and serious fans of the series are no doubt already getting withdrawals. But fear not (pun intended), as the companion series Fear the Walking Dead is almost here, and showrunner Dave Erickson has revealed some pretty sizzling new details to The Hollywood Reporter.
We already knew that the show would be based in L.A. and would not be a prequel, but rather a parallel of sorts, existing in the same universe. It will follow what’s happening on the other side of the U.S. at the onset of the zombie apocalypse, from around the time when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was in a coma. According to Erickson, this was over a four or five-week period. He confirms that much of season one will take place over this month or so, ending just about the time that Rick finally woke up and realized that the world as he knew it had come to an end.
We also knew that leading the cast would be Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Sons of Anarchy), Cliff Curtis (Missing, Live Free or Die Hard), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam Carey (The 100). But Erickson has dropped plenty of new tidbits to reel us in.
First, the series will give an interesting perspective since we never really got to see how things began in The Walking Dead – the first episodes were viewed from Rick’s perspective, and any other images of the onset of the infection were only shown briefly through flashback scenes. Just as in the comics, this series won’t point to the cause of the outbreak. But we will see how people reacted once it was clear something was happening.
The main storyline, Erickson says, will follow the family dynamic of the lead characters, and what happens when you, quite literally, throw a bunch of flesh-eating zombies into a tense, blended family mix. Curtis and Dickens will play a recently cohabitating couple dealing with their respective kids and their individual issues. Plus, Curtis has an ex-wife with which to contend. It appears that it required nothing short of the apocalypse to finally bring the family together. And, very likely, it will be this same apocalypse that will tear them apart in more ways than one — eventually.
But what will really help differentiate this series from The Walking Dead is the chilling realities of the onset of such an apocalypse: we get to see, as Erickson puts it, how people would react when the co-worker they had lunch with the day prior is now actually trying to eat them. And would you really believe they meant harm if you saw them dragging toward you, arms outstretched and blood dripping from their mouths? Would you think they’re just sick, or on drugs? It’s a lot to take in. And while we saw the characters in The Walking Dead struggle with learning how to kill them, by the time we were introduced, they were mostly zombie-hardened. Not so in the new series.
Erickson also confirms that we likely won’t see any governmental involvement, so don’t expect a return of the CDC or FEMA. The show, rather, will focus on the “ground level looking up” perspective.
“There’s something far more overwhelming and beautiful,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter, “about your next-door neighbor and people you know trying to understand the apocalypse. It’s really quite daunting.”
As for crossover characters, since this show takes place along the same lines as The Walking Dead, we could indeed see some of our favorites actually still alive. (Cue the “Bring Back Hershel” chants.) Though, Erickson says, one would have to wonder how they’d get all the way to L.A. from Atlanta. He’s not ruling it out, but the logistics don’t quite add up.
Fear the Walking Dead will begin on L.A.’s east side, so it’s quite probable given the size of the city that the family may initially be completely oblivious to what’s going on. And the infection will, of course, spread like a cane fire. “Every time you show a part of a city,” Erickson continues, “it’s that [moment] of the audience knowing there’s millions of people here, all of whom are about to face something horrific, and many of whom are soon going to die.”
One thing die-hard fans will appreciate is that Erickson confirms this series will not lose that element of humanity that we see in The Walking Dead, which is often described as being less about the zombies and more about the people, how they adapt, and the tough decisions they make. Erickson says many people move to Los Angeles to start over, and leave skeletons in the closet. We’ll get to see these skeletons revealed as the series unfolds. And, just like in The Walking Dead, no character is safe. Which means, while the show will likely live on past its first season (Erickson anticipates at least 5 or 6), there’s no telling which characters will make the cut.
Erickson insists the show will stand on its own, rather than be a copycat, and will operate more like a single movie every season versus the drawn-out new-villain formula we’ve seen in The Walking Dead. He also alludes to the Rick and Shane (Jon Bernthal) dynamic from The Walking Dead as one of the most compelling, and says there may be a similar relationship in Fear the Walking Dead. Indeed, many felt Shane was killed off way too soon. So this may be a chance to let a similar dynamic fester a bit longer.
One thing Erickson did not confirm is when exactly we will be able to feast our eyes on the new show – while we know it will debut this summer on AMC, there’s no specific air date yet. But make sure there’s plenty of room on your DVRs, as all signs point to the fact that Fear the Walking Dead will live up to its predecessor and then some. There’s a lot riding on the show, so let’s hope that’s the case.