11 ways to prepare for ‘fear the walking dead’

The wait for the return of “The Walking Dead” is almost over — even if your favorite characters in Alexandria are still several weeks away.

Nevertheless, we’re about to embark on new undead adventures in a different corner of the same “Walking Dead” universe, thanks to “Fear the Walking Dead,” the companion series premiering on Sunday night. Will you find new Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixons to root for? That’s certainly the goal, but don’t walk into this expecting too many note-for-note similarities between the two shows.

We’ve seen the first episode of “Fear the Walking Dead,” and here are a few things to keep in mind before you lay eyes on it, too:

You can watch the first three minutes right now.


Probably the best way to decide whether or not this show will be in your wheelhouse is to take a gander at the opening scene. Give it a look now, and then we’ll continue on. Hope you didn’t just eat lunch, ’cause this might get a little gross.

Yes, that’s Voldemort.

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Nick Clark, a troubled teen with a drug addiction, is the first character we see in “Fear the Walking Dead,” and you probably recognize him because he looks an awful lot like Tom Riddle. Well, that’s because he is! Actor Frank Dillane plays Nick, and he also played Voldemort’s younger self in “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.” There’s some deviousness inside of Nick, no doubt about it, but it seems like he’s more hero and less Horcrux.

He’s also Stannis Baratheon’s son.

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Frank Dillane’s father is Stephen Dillane, aka the middle Baratheon brother on “Game of Thrones.” Not totally relevant to our “Walking Dead” purposes, but I thought you should know!

Prepare for a change of scenery.

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Goodbye, Atlanta! Goodbye, Alexandria! Hello, California! Hello, Los Angeles! It’s a much sunnier show here on “Fear the Walking Dead,” but don’t expect those good vibrations to last forever…

It’s early days yet.

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In “Fear,” the zombie apocalypse has started, but only very quietly. Walkers exist. They lurk among us. But only a few people seem to know this, based on encounters like the one seen in the show’s first few minutes. “Fear” is about the onset of the end of the world, at least at first, and as such, don’t expect there to be a herd of walkers in need of beheading right away. We’ll get there at some point, I’m sure, but we’re not there yet.

But don’t worry, there are walkers.

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You will see them in the premiere, as those first few minutes make loud and clear. You will see them beyond that scene, too, but you will see them in a way you have not before — from a distance, on newscasts, and through rumors. There’s a quiet sense of menace that’s starting to bubble to the surface in this world, and since we know the full extent of what that looks like via “The Walking Dead,” we know just how bad these people are in for it.

Speaking of these people, you’re going to recognize a few of them…

Yes, that guy is from “The Wire.”

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Maestro Harrell, terrific as troubled Randy Wagstaff on HBO’s historic crime series “The Wire,” has a quick role in the first episode of “Fear,” playing high school jock Matt. We’ll see how important he is as the series continues on, but for now, always great to add another “Wire” veteran to the “Walking Dead” pantheon, right alongside Chad Coleman’s Tyreese, Lawrence Gilliard Jr.’s Bob Stookey, and Seth Gilliam’s Father Gabriel.

Yes, that’s Joanie from “Deadwood.”

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And Detective Boney from “Gone Girl,” and Colette from “Sons of Anarchy,” and from so many other things. Kim Dickens is a pretty prolific actor these days, emerging with guest roles and cameos in all sorts of shows and films. I would say she’s found her forever home here in “Fear” because it’s already green lit for a second season, and one assumes it’ll last beyond that if ratings hold — but this is a “Walking Dead” show, and almost nothing in this world lasts forever.

For now, at least, Dickens appears to be taking center stage as Madison Clark, a high school guidance counselor who needs a little bit of guidance of her own when it comes to the developing undead situation. Give her time; something tells me she’s going to wake up to the full extent of what’s going on before too long.

You know her fiancé, too.

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Cliff Curtis plays Travis Manawa, a teacher at the same school that employs Madison, and the man she’s about to marry. Like Dickens, Curtis is everywhere, having recently headlined “Gang Related,” popping up in movies like “10,000 B.C.” and “Sunshine.” You know the face if not the name, and if you don’t, you’ll get to know him much better on “Fear,” as he’s positioned to be one of the most important characters. Is he this show’s version of Rick Grimes? That’s a simple way of looking at it, and also way too early to know for sure, but he’s one to keep an eye on. In fact…

There is no Rick Grimes.

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Not yet, anyway. The first episode of “The Walking Dead” made it loud and clear that Rick is our guy, our main character, the perspective through which we’ll watch the world burn. There’s no such character on “Fear.” We see Los Angeles through the eyes of a few different characters — Madison, Travis, Nick, and even Madison’s daughter/Nick’s sister Alicia. There’s no definitive protagonist right now, which is refreshing, but also a little terrifying, because…

Anything can happen.

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Not that there are necessarily limits to who can and can’t die on “The Walking Dead,” but nobody really expects Rick to lose his life, or for Daryl to leave the picture anytime soon. (Remember: If Daryl dies, we riot.) It also has a blueprint to follow, in the form of the comic books written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Charlie Adlard. While the show and the comic have followed different paths on multiple occasions, they are often heading in the same direction. Fans of the comics tend to have an idea of where the show is going, if only generally.

Those same fans have absolutely no advantage when it comes to “Fear.” This show is entirely its own story, based on nothing that already exists under the “Walking Dead” umbrella. Whatever happens to Madison, Travis, Nick and Alicia is completely up in the air. One or more of them could be dead within the first few episodes, if not the pilot itself. Expect the unexpected, in other words, because “Walking Dead” is entering completely uncharted waters here.