All the times ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ was better than ‘The Walking Dead’
If you’re fully caught up with Fear the Walking Dead, you’re likely still staggered by the devastating plot twist of S4E3, “Good Out Here”. Featuring the heartbreaking death of a major character (it’s alright, we won’t say who – in fact we can’t say who without choking back a few tears all over again), the episode showcased why the often unfairly maligned series is actually one of the best genre shows on TV. The moment, which came savagely and unexpectedly, didn’t feel cheap or cynical – something that sister show The Walking Dead has all too often done while killing off any number of main characters on screen. Instead, the death felt earned and poignant. There are a number of ways this is going to impact on the Clark Family and the rest of the gang, which should make S4 an interesting one. But most importantly, the death reflected an ongoing theme of both Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: the undead are monstrous but they’re no match for the savagery of the living.
Admittedly, it’s an ongoing theme that we also believe Fear the Walking Dead has explored far better than The Walking Dead. For one thing, the show has characters that are a little more complex and better drawn than the archetypal stick figures who populate The Walking Dead’s progressively stale universe. That not only makes for a better show overall, but it also raises the stakes considerably. When you know more about a character besides them riding a motorbike and wearing a leather cut-off, you actually give a shit when they’re facing the threat of the undead or the brutality of humanity. Fear the Walking Dead achieves this spectacularly well, but The Walking Dead? No so much so. That isn’t the only reason the AMC spinoff is succeeding over the original. Here are nine times Fear the Walking Dead was better than The Walking Dead.
Warning! Spoilers for S1 to S3 of Fear the Walking Dead.
9. Travis is murdered: S3E2 “The New Frontier”
One basic way that Fear the Walking Dead is better than The Walking Dead is that no character is safe from getting the chop. When Travis (Cliff Curtis) is killed by Qaletaqa Walker’s (Michael Greyeyes) group, his death is callous and without reason. He has no last words and no big dramatic fight scene; he’s simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and receives a fatal gunshot wound to the throat. Would it be conceivable for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) to experience such a death scene? Absolutely not. They drag that damn thing out for an entire season (but realistically, they’ll likely never kill him off anyway).
8. The wedding outbreak: S2E10 “Do Not Disturb”
Overall one of the finest episodes of Fear the Walking Dead so far, packed full of action and swarming zombies. However, it’s the flashback scene of a wedding gone wrong that really packs the biggest punch. Showing the father of a bride suffering a heart attack before coming back to life to gnaw a massive chunk of flesh from her face, it also showed hotel manager Elena (Karen Bethzabe) simply running out and locking the door to contain the guests to a certain savage bloodbath.
7. Brandon and Derek kill Chris: S2E14 “Wrath”
Furthering the “people are monsters” theme, when Travis eventually gives up and lets his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) leave him to hang out with the cool kids (a batch of unruly ruffians with some bad morals), it seems like the young psycho may finally thrive. Except, after Chris sustains an injury during a car crash, his two new buddies decide he’s a now burden and unmercifully slaughter him.
6. Ofelia poisons the ranch: S3E8 “Children of Wrath”
Siding with the Native American Tribe after ranch owner Jeremiah Otto leaves her in the desert, Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) goes off big time and poisons the ranch militia with anthrax. Including her one-time love interest Nick (Frank Dillane) who (thankfully) is such a hardened badass, he manages to survive the whole ordeal.
5. Madison reveals the truth about Alicia’s father: S2E13 “Date of Death”
Proving the show had depth beyond matters of the undead and survival, the scene in which Madison (Kim Dickens) and daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) share a devastating moment of truth elevates their overall family dynamic within the show. Informing her daughter that her father’s passing wasn’t an accident but suicide adds a harrowing layer of tragedy to their dysfunctional family unit.
4. The Abigail gets taken over: S2E4 “Blood in the Streets”
Poor Alicia thinks she’s been sweet talking a potential date over the boat radio (hey, it’s a zombie apocalypse – teenage girls need to find love wherever they can), but actually she’s been conferring with a pirate the whole time (still hot, though). The boat gets taken over by two strangers and a pregnant woman who have been working with the dude. It also starts Chris off on a path of nihilism that will eventually get his stupid trigger-happy ass killed. He didn’t shoot them when he had the chance, but that’ll never happen again.
3. Chris betrays Travis: S2E13 “Date of Death”
Just as he looks to be turning over a new leaf, young psycho Chris meets a trio of frat boys (the same dingbats who will eventually kill him) and chooses to slaughter a farm owner to impress them. Naturally, he feels no remorse because in this new lawless fratboy world, murder is the new beer pong. When two of the fratboys turn against the third member after he sustains a gunshot wound, they decide it’d be best to kill the guy than be burdened by him. In a devastating conclusion, Chris chooses to help execute the kid and to abandon his poor father in the process.
2. La Colonia’s leader wasn’t actually bitten: S2E14 “Wrath”
Alejandro Nuñez (Paul Calderon) – the cheeky leader of La Colonia thought to hold immunity from the zombie virus – is revealed to be a big fat stinking liar. He was never bitten, a fact that becomes apparent when he actually does get bitten by the infected and starts to become ill. At the urging of Nick and Luciana, Alejandro decides not to shake the faith of his community in a cure and lies to them once more about his immunity before urging them to leave.
1. Nick wakes up in a new world: S1E1 “Pilot”
Granted, the first season of The Walking Dead was a great one and the pilot episode was full of horrifying beats and intriguing plot details, but we love the opening of Fear the Walking Dead as it introduced audiences to Nick waking up in an abandoned drug house. The teenager realizes his girlfriend has turned into a zombie, causing him to flee for the streets in a state of confusion and fear that feels harrowingly natural. Wouldn’t we all do the same? The moment is raw, vivid, and superbly acted, introducing the zombie show as being the far darker sibling of The Walking Dead.