Season 1/ Episode 1/ AMC
AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead aims to tell a completely different story than what we’ve seen on The Walking Dead. With the premiere of the prequel series, we’re taken into previously unseen parts of The Walking Dead‘s universe as we’re shown the events that occur just prior to the zombie outbreak in a completely different part of the country. While everyone in the original series has been confined to the Southeastern region of the U.S. (Georgia and Virginia), Fear the Walking Dead takes place in Los Angeles, California.
The premiere episode of Fear the Walking Dead starts off by introducing us to Nick Clark, a young man that’s squatting in an abandoned church to support his heroin addiction. When he wakes up, he calls out for a woman named Gloria. After walking through the church barefoot and bare-chested, he stumbles across blood and a body with its neck ripped open. As he continues to investigate, he finds Gloria, who’s eating the face off of another dead body with a piece of debris – most likely used as a weapon – sticking out of her chest. As the zombified Gloria starts to walk in his direction, Nick runs out of the church and into the street where he’s then hit by a car.
In other parts of the city, we meet Madison Clark, Alicia Clark and Travis Manawa. Madison is a high school counselor at the same school where Alicia is a senior, preparing to go to Berkeley in the coming fall. Travis, a teacher at the same school, is Madison’s husband.
Travis gets a call saying that Nick is in the hospital and the family goes to see him. They find him tied down to his hospital bed being interrogated by police about the local drug scene before Madison asks them to leave. Travis then has to leave the room because he gets a call from his ex-wife, Liza, asking if he’ll be able to pick up their son Chris that weekend like he planned. After Chris gets on the phone and tells Travis that he doesn’t want to be around while Nick is in the hospital.
Madison has to go check in at the high school so Travis volunteers to stay behind with Nick.
When Madison gets to the school and updates the principal, Arty, on Nick’s condition when a student named Tobias walks in and sets off the metal detector. Madison stops Tobias as he tries to walk away and claims that his loose change set off the alarm, just to drag him to her office. Once there, Madison demands Tobias gives him a knife that she knows he was carrying in his pocket. When she asks why he had it, he starts to seemingly ramble on about a string of murders across the country that no one seems to be connecting. He also says “We’re safer in numbers.” Madison reminds him that he shouldn’t risk his chances of going to college and should stop spending so much time on the Internet but he only responds by saying that no one’s going to be going to college any time soon.
Back at the hospital, Nick tells Travis that he was in the church to take his “junkie communion” and recounts what he saw by. After finally coming to terms with what he saw by saying, “She was eating them.” He tries to convince Travis that he wasn’t just hallucinating as a result of the drugs, but that may mean that he’s going insane.
Travis decides to go investigate the church on his own that evening, where he comes across a pool of blood and a terrified man that begs him not to kill him.
The next day, everyone in the family heads back to the school. Travis teaches his class (which includes Leon Thomas!) a lesson of man versus nature while the principal listens in through the intercom. On the roof, Alicia talks to her boyfriend-type-person, Matt, about Nick and how he should try and get into the art program at Berkeley when he graduates a year after her. The two agree to meet at the beach after school and then head back to his place because his parents aren’t home. But when she goes to see him, he’s nowhere to be seen and not answering her texts, which includes one that reads “You better be dead!”
Nick manages to convince a nurse to untie one of his hands so that he can use the bedpan. As he tries to untie his other hand after she walks away, he knocks over the bedpan but no one notices because the old man he’s sharing a room with went into critical condition and got everyone’s attention.
When they come back to check on him, Madison and Travis ask the same nurse where Nick went and she says she has no idea and that they should call the police. Madison demands that Travis take her to the church to see if he went back. Travis realizes that the bodies are gone and Madison has an emotional breakdown after she finds Nick’s needle in the room where he slept. After that, they go and ask Nick’s friend Calvin if he’d heard anything. Calvin says he hasn’t but if definitely willing to make some phone calls to try and help. While they drive around looking for Nick, Madison has a vulnerable moment where she tells Travis that she occasionally gets tired of dealing with Nick’s addiction. To which Travis lets her know that only means she’s human.
The next day, even more students are absent because they’ve either contracted what’s believed to be some sort of flu or are staying home because of a recently leaked viral video of a man waking up while on his stretcher and attacking paramedics and police officers, even when he’s beaten and shot multiple times. The district even calls a half-day and the school immediately closes for the day.
For the past day, Nick has been using a burner phone to call someone asking about his most recent score, trying to make sense out of what he saw. He walks into a diner and we see Calvin sitting in a booth. It is revealed that Calvin is actually Nick’s drug dealer and is upset that his parents came around asking questions. So Cal deceives Nick and says that he’s going to give him more heroin to help him forget what happens. But instead, he drives him down to the Los Angeles River and get a gun from he trunk. Out of fear, Nick fights back and Cal is shot in the struggle.
Nick calls Travis for help, who brings Madison along. When he tells them what happened, they drive down to the river to investigate. They find Cal’s car and gun, but no body. As they backup through the tunnel, they see a zombiefied Calvin with a bullet hole in his torso. After he tried to bite Madison and Travis, Nick backs the car into Cal, just for him to stand back up with broken bones and even bloodier. Nick then accelerates forward, sending Cal’s body forward by a few dozen feet. Now missing half of his jaw, Cal turns his head at Nick, Madison and Travis, who look on in disbelief.