Fear the Walking Dead returned tonight with a solid season three premiere. We’ll cover the episode in detail first thing in the morning, but we wanted to quickly acknowledge a couple of things about the first episode, “Eye of the Beholder,” namely the introduction of a character played by Noel Fisher. The character — to the best of my knowledge — has never appeared in a trailer or promo for the third season, so Fisher’s presence is something of a treat for fans of the actor, known for playing Cael Malloy in the short-lived FX series The Riches; for playing Michelangelo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and its sequel; and best known for playing Mickey Milkovich, the phenomenal character from the Showtime series Shameless.
Unfortunately for fans of Noel Fisher, his role on Fear the Walking Dead was limited. He died in his one and only episode after brutalizing and killing a number of innocent people. He does, however, have a memorable demise. In a series better known for its zombie kills, Noel Fisher played a character who is the victim in maybe the series’ best human kill in a scene that seemed to pay homage to H.P. Lovecraft’s “Rats in the Walls.”
Published in 1924, “Rats in the Walls” is a Lovecraft short story about a narrator who — driven mad by rats in the walls — eats a man named Captain Norrys and blames it on the rats. It’s not an uncommon trope in horror — Stephen King has gone to that well a couple of times (his short story, “Jerusalem’s Lot,” being the best example), but it was a thrill to see it in the AMC series.
In the scene, Noel Fisher’s character — a military man, like Captain Norrys — is disturbed by scurrying sounds in the wall. For reasons that are completely inexplicable, he unscrews the heating vent in the wall, and out pours a “viscous, gelatinous, ravenous army [of rats] that feast on the dead and the living.” As Fisher’s character attempts to escape the rats, his head passes by the hole in the wall again. He is snatched by a particularly powerful zombie, who rips the flesh from Fisher’s face and pulls him inside the walls and devours him.
Both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead often get a rap for eschewing the horror of the zombies in favor of the relationship drama between the characters, but for a couple of minutes anyway in tonight’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead, director Adam Bernstein delivers a bloody, violent scene worthy of Romero.