The Fear the Walking Dead pilot answered several questions, namely: 1) Will it really be different from The Walking Dead (Yes); 2) can it continue the success of The Walking Dead (Yes); and can it do so without damaging the mothership (probably).
However, one question that wasn’t addressed, and that may never be addressed, is arguably the most important question from in the series: How did Gloria contract the zombie virus?
In case you’ve forgotten, here’s Gloria:
There’d been some suggestion last week (from the actress who plays Gloria) that she would be Patient Zero. That’s certainly not the case nationwide (Tobias reported that there were reports of a mysterious infection in at least five other states), but it might be the case for Los Angeles. She could’ve been the city’s Patient Zero.
Now, if you’re an epidemiologist, it’s your job to trace an epidemic back to its source, as Patient Zero is often who holds the key to discovering a cure. Find out how she contracted the virus, and maybe you can develop a solution. So, if you’re an epidemiologist in Los Angeles knowing what we know watching the series, you’d want to trace the infection back to Gloria.
But that’s where it gets tricky, because there are a few possible ways she contracted it. The first, and least likely, is that she was infected by the drugs she was given — this is fairly easy to rule out because Nick took the same drugs and, so far as we know, wasn’t infected (likewise, those in the other states with the infection probably didn’t take the same drugs).
The second scenario is that she was infected by another zombie in the church drug den. If so, where did that walker come from? And why did he infect Gloria and not Nick, who was passed out next to Gloria?
The third and most likely scenario is that she overdosed on the drugs she was given and died, and she was then reanimated as a zombie.
That’s interesting because, as we know from The Walking Dead, anyone who dies comes back as a zombie. That must mean that this was the case early on, as well. The man in the hospital next to Nick may suggest that, too. We don’t know why he was in the hospital, but, assuming it wasn’t related to the zombie virus, he likely died and was reanimated as a walker (or at least, he appeared as though he were about to be reanimated). Likewise, Nick’s drug-dealing buddy Calvin wasn’t infected by another zombie. Nick killed him, and he was reanimated.
This has potentially huge implications for the show because it suggests that, somehow, an entire population came down with the virus at the same time. If you can die from anything — overdose, old age, pneumonia, car wreck — and return as a zombie, then the virus is already out of control. You couldn’t contain it, even if you wanted. Because everyone is infected with it, it simply lays dormant in those who haven’t died yet.
How is it possible that everyone gets it at once? The water supply? That wouldn’t make any sense because those are closed systems; most municipalities across the country have different water supplies. The electrical grid? I don’t think so, because then back-to-landers would be sitting pretty — not only would they be isolated from the rest of the population, but they’d be free of the virus, so even if they were to die, they would not come back as zombies.
The source of the infection has to be something bigger. Something airborne. Or something that’s been lying dormant for years, or decades, that’s somehow been activated. How is that possible? Aliens? Genetics? God?
One scene may offer a clue. See, a regular zombie virus could potentially be contained. Or slowed. You could drop a nuclear bomb on a city and contain it. But a virus that everyone in the world has at the same time? That’s f*cking biblical. It is, as Travis foreshadows in talking about Jack London’s short story To Build a Fire, something in “nature.” Nature has shifted; it’s turned against man.
And as Travis tells his classroom, “Nature always wins.”
The virus isn’t just any infectious agent. It is the creation of a higher power. Of Mother Nature, who perhaps got tired of letting humans crap all over her planet, so she did something about it. Mother Nature unleashed a virus that would end humanity. This is some nasty The Happening business right here.