‘fear the walking dead’: everything you need to know about your new nightmare

Next Sunday (August 23), AMC will take yet another bite out of Nielsen ratings when “Fear the Walking Dead” makes its bloody debut, nearly five years after the OG ratings behemoth arrived on the scene and became a cultural icon.

MTV News has already screened the (very bloody) pilot — you can read our review here — and while we can’t tell you everything that went down from amuse-bouche to dessert, we figured now was as good a time as any to tell you everything you need to know about “Fear the Walking Dead” (but were too afraid to ask):

The time is approximately “Rick’s Coma.”

We don’t know how long, like, to the day that Rick Grimes was lying comatose in that Atlanta hospital, but we do know that it was at least a month… probably longer. Basically, all of the world-ending madness that Rick slept through will be covered in grisly detail on “FtWD.”

The setting is Los Angeles.


Every zombie-fiction fan knows that a metropolitan area is pretty much the last place you’d want to be during a zombie apocalypse, but that’s exactly where we find ourselves in the premiere of “FtWD.” If the band of presumed survivors we meet in episode one are smart they’ll eventually hit the road, but who knows how far they’ll get — after all, it took regular “Walking Dead” nearly five years to leave Georgia.

The Walkers are better-looking.

And no, it’s not just because they’re from Los Angeles.

Many of the walkers on “The Walking Dead” have been rotting for years at this point, so Greg Nicotero and the rest of the visual effects gang have been able to do really grotesquely creative things with them. (Think Well Walker.) “FtWD” deals instead with zombies that have only been dead for hours, to the point where you can’t really tell if some of them are even gone — you’d have to get close enough to see their eyes, and at that point, you’re already dead.

The characters are not hardened warriors.

If you come to “FtWD” looking for more Daryls, Michonnes, Ricks and Carols, you’ll be sorely disappointed: being that the show is currently set years before “Walking Dead” is right now, none of its characters have had time to learn the zombie-killing ropes yet.

“The reality is many of them don’t know how to defend themselves, they don’t know how,” showrunner Dave Erickson told EW. “Their inclination is not going to be to beat down if it’s a walker coming at them. It’s not going to be to kill them,” he said. “And when they get to a place where that has to happen — as it does towards the end of the pilot — what is the weight, and shock, and trauma that that causes.”

In fact… let’s meet these characters right now!

The new “Rick” is Madison Clark.

Fear The Walking Dead
Played by beloved “Deadwood”/”Sons of Anarchy”/”Friday Night Lights”/”Treme”/”Gone Girl” actress Kim Dickens, Madison is only the new Rick in that she’s the de facto star of the show.

Madison is also a guidance counselor in a Los Angeles public school, which — coupled with her “complicated” family life — should make her a decent candidate for long-term survival in a zombie apocalypse.

The new “Lori” is Travis Manawa.

Cliff Curtis as Travis and Kim Dickens as Madison - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC
Okay, so we don’t know if he’ll have a sort of justified affair or, you know, die, but he’s Madison’s significant other, so the shoe fits.

Travis (played by Cliff Curtis) is a teacher at the same school where Madison works, and from the pilot, he seems like a pretty stand-up dude who is just trying to make ends meet and combine two dynamic families. He’s just moved in with Madison and her kids when the action picks up, but something tells us they’ll be moving locations once ish goes down.

The new Daryl is… maybe… Nick Clark?

Cliff Curtis as Sean, Kim Dickens as Miranda and Frank Dillane as Nick - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC
Okay, maybe the comparisons should end here, because Daryl is such a unique “Walking Dead” invention that even the “Walking Dead” comics couldn’t think of him. But Nick is a rugged, handsome-in-a-strange-way youngster who finds himself in the middle of the zombie action way before anyone else, and it’s easy to see the show pitching him as your new zombie apocalypse crush.

He is also much, much younger than Daryl (around 20), a voluntarily homeless heroin addict, and Madison’s eldest child — though in real life actor Frank Dillane is Stannis Baratheon’s (Stephen Dillane) child, which is undeniably exciting. ZOMBIE STANNIS CAMEO?!

The “person who will probably adjust most poorly to the apocalypse” is Alicia Clark.

Madison’s daughter/Nick’s sister Alicia seems like a lovely girl — straight A’s, nice boyfriend, promising college career ahead of her — and she’s played by “The 100″ alum Alycia Debnam-Carey so we like her, but we’re also a bit afraid that the high achieving teen might not have the true grit needed to survive on this show. (Think Andrea’s little sis, back in season one.)

Though, come to think of it, she could also go the total opposite route and pull a Carl…

The new fave is (probably) Liza Ortiz.

Liza, who is played by “Orange is the New Black” star Elizabeth Rodriguez, was a clear fan-favorite at the “Fear the Walking Dead” San Diego Comic-Con panel.

She doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time in the “FtWD” premiere — she plays Travis’ ex-wife, who seems to be on good terms with him — but we feel strongly that, knowing Rodriguez, she’ll quickly become a character to root for. (And also a much-needed one, given that she’s a nurse. Have fun being the amputation go-to, Liza!)

Chris Manawa is there, too!

Elizabeth Rodriguez as Liza and Lorenzo James Henrie as Chris - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Travis has a teen son with Liza, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), whom we meet briefly in the pilot — but there’s not really enough time to form a solid impression. All we know is that things with dad are not great, Bob.

The rest of the cast are gorgeous, but we don’t meet them in the pilot.

Alycia Debnam Carey as Alicia, Frank Dillane as Nick, Kim Dickens as Madison, Cliff Curtis as Travis, Elizabeth Rodriguez as Liza, Lorenzo James Henrie as Chris, Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar, Patricia Reyes Spíndola as Griselda Salazar and Mercedes Mason as Ofelia - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
A whole other family, the Salazars — played by Mercedes Mason, Patricia Reyes Spíndola, and IRL Latin jazz musician Rubén Blades — are listed as regulars and attended the panel at SDCC, but they don’t make an appearance in the series’ first episode. We’ll just have to keep on guessing!

Oh yeah, and there’s a Patient Zero, too!

On “The Walking Dead,” all we know about the apocalypse is that it happened, it sucked, and its survivors will, in death, succumb to the disease that wiped out Planet Earth. In “FtWD” we’ll at least learn a bit more about how the whole thing went down… and there’s even a Los Angeles Patient Zero, in the form of poster girl Lexi Johnson.