Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow…


As someone who thinks Fear the Walking Dead definitely got better with each passing season, while also recognizing that it never existed without flaws (the plot would often drive the story more than the characters, meaning the characters would make unbelievable and/or bad choices so that certain story elements could happen) “What’s Your Story?” nicely reinvigorated the show with a shakeup-slash-overhaul.

I’m resisting the term “reboot” here, but the series shot us way ahead in time so that Morgan, from The Walking Dead, could join the story.

Keep in mind too that Fear the Walking Dead’s Season 3 finale ended with a huge action beat and a massive cliffhanger where many characters’ fates were unknown. Sure, you can look at the press materials and trailers for Season 4 and spot who survived the dam explosion, but it’s still a bold move for a show to leap way past the aftermath of such an event. For sure, it’s possible that future Season 4 episodes will fill us in on what exactly happened following the dam collapse but this premiere episode, “What’s Your Story?” pays it no mind at all.

But… the final beat at the end, with Alicia, Luciana, Nick and Strand all popping up on that road to (presumably) hijack Morgan and his new pals was a hugely satisfying moment. We definitely needed time away from the Clarks. More to the point, they needed to catch up to Rick’s very “lived in” zombpocalypse world. A world where they don’t have to keep discovering things O.G. Walking Dead characters learned years ago (though kudos to Nick for figuring out the “guts” trick early on, and using it frequently).

Basically, we needed Madison and her brood to “see some s***” and by the looks of things at the end – man, they have seen some s***. Original Fear showrunner Dave Erickson, toward the end of his tenure on the show (before officially handing the reins over to Season 4 showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg), spoke about how Madison could easily turn into a villain in this world. Given how she came into it as someone ready and willing to make extreme choices, without much inner-argument, to protect those she loved, Erickson saw her as someone who could, say, become a Governor-type down the road.

So that background programming made the end moments of “What’s Your Story?” extra cool. Are the Clarks now desperate Highwaymen? In the years since the Mexican dam incident, have they all turned? Honestly, aside from Alicia (who may be the most moral of the bunch), I can see this clan turning sour. Madison will straight up kill anyone who gets in her way while Nick and Strand have, in their own way, been shady as hell over the years. One was a junkie and the other a con man.

This was a really awesome ending. And the way Morgan was brought into the series was very cleverly done. Not only did the show start off as if it was an episode of The Walking Dead (is this the first time Fear’s actually aired after Walking Dead?) but Morgan met up with two new people first. Two new characters to the show. It wasn’t just Morgan stumbling across Madison and her kids, it was this entirely new clique of crusaders bonding, traveling, and fending off bad guys before eventually falling into a Clark trap (intriguingly without Madison) right at the end.

One thing I’ll miss about Fear is the very distinct landscape. Sure, Texas is different from Virginia and the east coast elements of Walking Dead, but it’s not as unique and defining as Mexico and the American Southwest. Morgan may have traveled over a thousand miles to Texas (driven by some undefined need – and also that “You Know What It Is!” phantom command), but it never truly felt like he entered a different realm. Was Morgan the best way to bridge these two Dead universes? I can’t say for sure, but what is apparent is that Morgan is such a hollow and damaged character that he easily brings out the chatterbox in others.

It’s a neat trick actually. We follow someone who has no intention of making friends or sticking around so anyone he meets is then almost, by default, a robust and fascinating character. Admittedly, Maggie Grace’s Althea feels a little too pre-designed to rub Morgan the wrong way, as a former journalist committed to capturing people’s stories on camera (good thing she comes with her own freakin’ Cobra HISS Tank). She’s basically the last person Morgan, as closed off and shut down as he is, wants to interact with.

It’s a good thing Garret Dillahunt’s John Dorie is more than happy to unspool his life for Althea.

Man, Dillahunt is so damn good.

John got to open this episode, and this season, and the moment Dillanhunt spoke no more than three lines, which were him just speaking out into the darkness and commenting on how he hadn’t used his voice in a year, I thought “This is already a better show.” Just because he was on it. He is able to grab your attention and make you care about him within seconds. Aside from the ending, Dillahunt’s character was the most riveting part of this season premiere.

Sure, John’s a tad anachronistic, as a friendly moseying cowboy (who even comes with a lost love!), sharpshooting villains with an antique pistol (he’d prefer not to kill, but he ain’t above it), but if we can put up with the garbage people at the Heap for two years, surely we can watch Roy Rogers mow down swaths of zombies. I mean, we’re still looking for Fear to be a different show, right? It’s hard to feel like it is right now given that Rick and Carol were in the opening minutes, trying to convince Morgan to stay, so any and all off-kilter elements are welcome.

There are questions, most definitely, right out of the gate, but not an overwhelming amount. “How did the Clarks turn into rabid animals?” for one. Then, an extension of that, “What happened at the dam years back?” After that there’s the question of the “Numbered Markers” that Althea mentioned. What do they signify? Morgan and his new “friends” made it past a group of tricky customers this week, but what’s the overall villain situation like? Also, are there any camps to be found anywhere? Althea and John seemed fascinated by Morgan’s life back at the Hilltop and the Kingdom – enough so that you wonder if they’d ever seen a place like them.

The Verdict

Fear the Walking Dead was smart to have Morgan join up with a few new characters before he collided with Madison’s crew. It allowed us to meet some new faces (including Garret Dillahunt’s instantly-great John) and get to know them within the context of Morgan’s terse moodiness before the hammer dropped at the end and the ultimate connection to the former cast, and story, was revealed.



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