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Fear the Walking Dead, TV/Film

Fear The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 1 – Recap and Discussion


Fear the Walking Dead opens with an upside down close-up of Nick (Frank Dillane), hinting at the upside down world he just woke up in. Nick, wearing a woman’s sweater, wanders around barefoot with a Jack Sparrow-esque movement. We follow him around a sepia toned church-converted drug den as he searches for Gloria, who he presumably slept with the night before. He hears a noise and investigates.

Nick eventually comes across a blood-covered stair bannister and soon after, a dead man on the floor with his neck ripped out. Nick jets behind a wall and struggles to make sense of what he just witnessed. He coyly checks again. The dead man remains on the floor. Maybe Nick’s not hallucinating. He grabs an iron rod for safety and presses on.

Nick finally finds Gloria. Relieved, Nick rushes up to her urging they have to “leave now.” Gloria jerks her head around, blood and flesh dripping from her mouth with a half-eaten man behind her. She stands to face Nick, cloudy-eyed, drenched in blood with a knife lodged into her chest. “No, no, no,” Nick exclaims as he stumbles out of the church. He hurriedly climbs through a window, sprints down an alley and through a fence. He finally makes it out of the alley, bent over trying to catch his breath. A motorcycle whizzes past inches from his face; he’s on a public street. Nick is immediately struck by a car and hits the windshield. He rolls off the car and people nearby rush to help him.


Nick is a heroin-addicted teen that strayed from the path his mother Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) tried to set for him. Often missing from the family, he is a constant disappointment to everyone. Despite his troubles, life is relatively normal for Nick’s family, who we see going through a typical morning routine. Madison is urging her teenage daughter, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) to get ready for school. Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) Kim’s fiancée that recently moved in is bragging to Madison about fixing a leak. They receive a call from a hospital. It’s about Nick.


Police are questioning Nick in his hospital bed about his injuries and if he could help them bust drug dealers. Madison bursts in and kicks the cops out. Madison suggests Nick should return to rehab, which Nick protests, Travis insists, and both Nick and Alicia attack Travis for getting involved.

Alicia is your average sarcastic teenager. She’s Berkeley-bound and has a jock boyfriend, Matt. Matt seems to be the only one with which she shows any affection towards. She’s cold to her soon-to-be stepfather Travis and can’t wait to go to college in a year to get out. Nick’s drug problems have obviously caused a rift between Alicia and him.

It’s here where we meet Travis’s other family. He briefly steps outside to call Liz (Orange is the New Black’s Elisabeth Rodriguez), his estranged wife. He also gets the pleasure of speaking to his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) who hates him. Travis reminds him about dad’s weekend and he should get along with his new family, but Chris is not having it. “Nick is NOT my brother,” Chris protests. Travis, having also given up on this relationship, informs Liz dad’s weekend is off and to “keep him.” Geez, and you thought the hospital scene was tense.

Madison works as a guidance counselor at the same high school Cliff teaches at. One of the students she counsels is Tobias, a bullied teen who in this episode is stopped by school security for carrying a knife. When questioned about the knife Madison warns he could be jeopardizing his future of going to college. “No one’s going to college. No one’s doing anything they think they are.” Madison asks what he’s talking about and Tobias mentions a virus spreading in five other states. Of course, we know Tobias is right. It’s about as clear as a picture we’ll probably get about the virus origins.

Nick believes he’s losing it. He even tells Travis, “I really don’t want to be insane.” It’s almost perfect that the first infected sighting happened to Nick, because no one would believe him. His reputation as a heroin addict nullifies any testimony he offers. So that helps the story develop and lets us meet each character.

Travis breaks into the church to investigate. After coming across a junkie, he stumbles into a pile of blood and intestines. The next morning, Travis and Alicia walk into the hospital room to discover Madison cuddling Nick in his bed. When Travis and Madison leave for work, Nick laments to Alicia about being a disappointment and how he promises to change. Travis tells Madison about his discovery. “Travis, you cannot enable him.” Madison appreciates Travis caring, leaves for work. Travis goes back inside hospital room, apologizes to Nick. Nick promises he “means it” when he says he’ll quit doing heroin.

Nick escapes the hospital after convincing the nurse to untie one of his hands after the old man next to him started (turning). After he leaves, Madison and Travis show up panicked at the hospital. The nurse says, “I’m sorry, he’s gone.” They head out to search for him at the church and Madison blames herself for the mess. “It’s in the genes,” she explains. Madison breaks down in tears when they find a heroin needle in the bed Nick was sleeping in. They then travel to see Nick’s drug dealer Calvin, who claims he hasn’t seen Nick. Meanwhile, Nick has found shelter under a bridge and Alicia is at Venice Beach, waiting for Matt.

That night, Travis and Madison get stuck in highway traffic and hear helicopters, police sirens, and gunshots. Travis finds a way out of traffic when it seems too dangerous. The next morning, people gather around a leaked police video of the highway scene from the night before. A man was cornered by police, shot, and got up again. One of the staffers mentions an air-born toxin/virus. Alicia and her friends also watch the video, but claims it’s not real. Incoming school buses are mostly empty because everyone in the city is scared. This prompts the school to close early. As Madison files out, she catches Tobias’s eye on the bus for an “I told you so” look.

Calvin meets Nick at a diner to explain he can’t have Nick’s parents snooping around his drug business. Nick brushes it off and tells him the story about Gloria. Calvin clearly sees Nick as unpredictable, and with the cops involved hatches a plan. He takes Nick to an abandoned part of the city by the LA river to presumably kill him. When Nick spots the gun on him, he tackles Calvin and accidentally shoots him.

When Travis and Madison show up, Nick confesses to accidentally killing Calvin. Travis reasons, “It’s self defense.” They return to the crime scene but Calvin is missing. Madison and Travis think Nick has truly lost it. As they begin driving away, they spot Calvin walking towards them. When Madison and Travis investigate Calvin tries attacking them. Nick floors it into Calvin, he gets up, and then Nick hits him head on sending Calvin a few yards back. Calvin’s slowly stands up, but this time noticeably missing his lower jaw. “What the hell is happening?” Madison ponders. “I have no idea,” Travis admits.


What do YOU think of the first episode of Fear? Who are your favorite characters so far and who do you think will/won’t make it??

  1. Papa Dingo August 23, 2015 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Started a little slow(I get it, character and story development) but by the end I was wanting more and can’t wait for the next episode!

  2. Snowtrooper40 August 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm - Reply
  3. EICzerofour August 23, 2015 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    I liked it but it feels like Nick is the main character, as opposed to Travis. Still, good show. Only really care for Travis, Alicia, and Madison are in need of character development, and I hope I start caring about them by the end of the season. (I am sure I will.) Can’t wait for the action figures to come out, Nick will be my first buy. 😀

  4. Shadodwlr August 23, 2015 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Just got done watching Fear the Walking Dead. Show is off to a great start. Not gonna give anything away but I’m definitely going to enjoy this. Love how it drew you in and then slowed it’s pace to really introduce you to the family and how it just sets you up for this slow burn as we get to watch things unravel through the season. Never looked so forward to seeing the shit hit the fan before. Fasten your seatbelts America, because this is exactly what it’s gonna look like when the end begins… #Fearthewalkingdead

  5. carlyyougoonie August 23, 2015 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Glad to finally have the mystery of why Nick is dressed like an old man solved. I was a bit baffled by the wardrobe choice in all the promos.

    Also, he is totally going to be my MVP.

  6. bundyman August 23, 2015 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    “Heroine-addicted teen…” “His reputation as a heroine addict…” “…he’ll quit doing heroine…”

    I’d be addicted to heroine too, if she was a beautiful and heroic woman. Oh, you mean he’s addicted to the drug “heroin”?! Yeah, there’s a difference.

  7. Neutral-Grey August 23, 2015 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Now that was one hell of a premiere! I pretty much liked every character! And it’s a lot of fun seeing the start of the outbreak and how it just sort of “creeps” into being a problem. Starts off small everywhere and before you know it you’re having paramedics being eaten on live news reels.

    Side rant having nothing to do with the episode itself though: I **really** hope they don’t kill Travis off anytime soon. I know people are going to have to die eventually but killing him off is just so cliche. Stepdad, trying to connect with the kids, not part of the “real” family, etc. He’s so perfectly in line for a cliche death so I’m pretty worried for him. Don’t get me wrong, I love TWD but let’s be honest. The regular show does not take as many risks as it pretends to and it certainly doesn’t go out of its way to avoid cliches. If part of the family has to die I’m hoping it’s the mother figure, Madison. I don’t dislike her but I personally think the kids being left with this stepdad they’re not related to would be a very interesting and unique angle.

  8. Candri August 23, 2015 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Fantastic. amazing acting from Frank Dillane

  9. Zoner August 23, 2015 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Fear was a tad slow moving for me, until the last half hour. A great choice of characters! I can so see this show growing on me, as things progress. This will surely be a big hit. I can barely wait for the next episode.

  10. jmoore711b August 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    Let me tell you, I dislike spin-offs on principle. It usually doesn’t matter what the quality is. But I really liked this one. It was a really good move showing 90 minutes (and presumably more next week) of apocalypse buildup. In zombie books and movies there’s usually not a lot of coverage of the gradual buildup of the crisis but I like that part of the story. This was a really good show.

  11. MikeLacey August 24, 2015 at 1:40 am - Reply

    I loved it. I was pretty nervous watching it – let’s face it, expectations have been set pretty high – but those expectations (except for those of us who just wanted a herd of walkers exiting the school to be killed en masse by Maddy and Travis) were pretty much met.

    I was pleased to see that Erickson, Kirkham, Hurd and Davidson weren’t kidding. After the pre-released first three minutes it goes back to normality. And then builds, and builds.

    I liked the way that relationships are being laid out, and without being heavy handed about it. The initial scene at the Clark Home: in the kitchen when the ‘phone rings and everyone freezes for a moment. It looks like a relaxed start to a family day up ’til then, daughter hogging bathroom, a woman chivvying everyone along (Brit slang, means “hurrying everyone along”, but with a pointy stick), guy fixing sink when he should be getting ready to go out… Normal stuff, then the phone rings and they all look at it, even the daughter comes out of the bathroom to check because they all know it’s going to be about Nick.

    Nicely done Mr Davidson…

    Quote Of The Episode: From Tobias in Maddy Clark’s office after she’s just rescued him from being expelled. “No one’s going to college, no one’s doing anything they think they are.”

  12. panbot August 24, 2015 at 7:26 am - Reply

    I went into FTWD with a heavy dose of skepticism; the teasers and first looks hadn’t really done much to get me excited about the show. I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the pilot! The actors were great, the characters likeable/believable and the build up of the story was quite well done. I’m now really looking forward to watching the remainder of the season and not just because it will lead up to the premier of TWD. I think this will be a fun journey that can stand on it’s own two feet, and I’m excited to learn more about the origin of the virus, and the collapse of civilization.

    One quick critique of the article: heroin=drug heroine= brave woman/female hero 🙂

  13. NikkoZombie August 24, 2015 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Well done! Did a great job inf introducing the zombies, and the characters mindsets of trying to rationalize them. In TWD we only got to see that reaction from Rick when he came out of his coma – everyone else we met was already living the fact that zombies existed. Looking forward to more background on how it all started (as Tobias said, no one knows)…

  14. KMac574 August 24, 2015 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Great episode. Can’t wait till next week. Question – I’d have to go back and look, but did they stick to 2010 cars and technology? Recall seeing more tablets and smart phones then were around in early 2010, late 2009.

  15. AScreamQueen August 24, 2015 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I really didn’t think it started all that slow. I always go into a show or film with an open mind, and over the past months I’ve heard a lot of negative predictions about FTWD and how it could never stand up to TWD. It doesn’t need to. It stands solid on it’s own two feet and MORE than exceeded my expectations. I absolutely loved seeing how innocent and shadowy the apocalypse began to spread, right under foot with barely a notice. It also made it apparent that some if not all already have the virus. I like the fact that Greg Nicotero has made it clear they’ll never reveal HOW it started, but we all have our theories. Loved the pilot, positive I’m going to love the show. Good job!

  16. the general of lust August 25, 2015 at 6:13 am - Reply

    To Mis-quote TS elliot. “This is the way the world endsNot with a bang but a whimper (or moan in this case)”

    Really liked the show. . . .feed me more . . .

  17. BASTET. August 25, 2015 at 6:52 am - Reply

    ~ Tobias… for the brief moment we see him, I like him better than most of the other characters. I hope we see more of him.
    ~ Nick… this guy, Frank Dillane, he’s bringing it! He makes Nick believable! He successfully gets me past the sagging pants shit. Superb acting!
    ~ Sirens & traffic noises in the background… maybe that’s typical background noise for LA. Maybe that’s apocalypse related. Maybe both, I don’t know. Either way, that’s a nice touch… better than theme music.
    ~ The video of an infected & people’s reaction to it. That’s what I & most of the people I know would be doing, so I would expect to see that.
    ~ Travis venturing into a junkie crash pad at night. Was he even armed with anything? I can’t remember. Maybe he’s clueless about more than just Zombie 101.
    ~ Travis doesn’t call cops after spotting a big splatter of blood-n-guts. C’mon! Then he has no backbone about taking Madison in there.
    ~ There is no emotion on Madison’s face whatsoever, regarding Calvin being run down, getting back up, & wearing a mangled maw of a mouth. No shock, no squealing, no repulsion, nothing. Even the baddest chicks show all types of emotion & recover themselves accordingly. Not much on Travis’s either. I wanna say shock, but that’s the most passive shock I’ve seen.
    It’s OK. I didn’t expect to be grabbed like TWD’s pilot did. I don’t expect for FTWD to live up to TWD. I’m not enamored with any one character at the moment, but I know that can change with time & these things often do take time (TWD broke the mold). My expectations weren’t all that high but it did meet them. To me, that’s good enough for a start.

  18. Werwolf96 August 25, 2015 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Good pilot, but some questions remained unanswered. For example, what happened to Gloria and two other dead guys in the Church? It was confined area, Nick and Travis had to use windows in order to get it and get out of there, yet when Travis went into Church, made a lot of noise and flashed his flashlight, the walkers where nowhere to be found.

    • carlyyougoonie August 25, 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

      I expect we may see the church again, but as far as the walkers that were there I think they were shuffling around there somewhere and the place is just bigger than we saw.
      I kept expecting Gloria to come to life under the bedding pile and chomp down on Madison though!

  19. BarbaLucy August 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    I loved the way the first FTWD episode started just like the first TWD episode, a guy wakes up in a hospital and has no idea what is going on. I agree that Nick’s character was played excellently. I also noticed that the family and relationship structures of this show are pretty believable. The show left me wondering how far this little circle of people will expand. I am hoping not too far, as a narrower perspective of what happened would make the show more personal.

  20. sbreves August 26, 2015 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Can Nicky be the groups savior? Are there symbols for Marilyn Manson??? Check out the blog

  21. Kal August 27, 2015 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Already a fan watched first episode 3 times

  22. jmoore711b August 28, 2015 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    And here is my speculation. Are we doing that here? Nick is the show’s Rick. He’ll evolve as the lead. The step-Dad will live for a while because he has the conflict with his son. Mom is cool and all, but she’ll be the first to go just to give Step-Dad and Nick / Sister / Son a more compelling story.
    (Producers: Yes, I’m available to join your writing staff.)

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