The Walking Dead will enter its 9th season in a few weeks, and comparatively speaking, it still almost feels like Fear the Walking Dead is in its infancy. But Fear will wrap its fourth season next week before limping into its fifth season next year. Five seasons is as long as Breaking Bad. It’s a season longer than The Wire. It’s as many seasons as Boardwalk Empire.
Fear, however, has never really felt like its own show. It’s always carried the label of companion series, or spin-off. It’s never been able to live outside of the shadow of The Walking Dead. It’s cycled through showrunners, a lot of different characters, and several different settings, but Fear always feels like a show still searching for its identity, still trying to separate itself from the parent show.
I genuinely don’t think that’s the plan anymore. New showrunners, new characters, and a new setting could not kick new life into Fear. The ratings have not rebounded; in fact, they continue to slowly decline. It used to be that Fear had great ratings compared to everything else on basic cable except The Walking Dead, but now it’s slipping behind some of the FX shows and is in danger of becoming the third highest-rated show on AMC, behind Better Call Saul.
I think the new plan might be that Fear is a five-season origins story for a handful a new The Walking Dead characters. Morgan may have gone to Fear to help boost viewership numbers, but now I think he’s there to act as a bridge for the surviving characters of Fear to walk into The Walking Dead. The idea of Morgan returning to Virginia seemed like a passing thought seven episodes ago, when Morgan unsuccessfully attempted to recruit the rest of the Fear characters into making that journey with him. But now? These characters don’t have a home to return to in Texas after a hurricane wiped them out, and now that the characters have bonded, they’re all onboard. Virginia is their exit plan.