It’s no secret that the most recent season of Fear the Walking Dead did not sit well with most fans. In fact, Scott Gimple recently addressed that backlash, suggesting that showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss have been playing the long game. Season five was a set up for season six, Gimple argued, and that after season six airs, viewers will somehow retroactively better appreciate season five.
While The Walking Dead is hitting on all cylinders under the direction of Angela Kang, and while the new spin-off, The World Beyond, looks legitimately compelling and exciting, I remain skeptical about Scott Gimple’s ability to resurrect Fear the Walking Dead in its sixth season. A lot of things have not been working with Fear — it’s never had a compelling villain; the new showrunners can’t bring themselves to kill off characters; the series leans too hard on Morgan; there are terrible continuity issues — but I genuinely do not believe that anyone has ever suggested that Fear the Walking Dead needs more stand-alone episodes.
That appears to be the direction the showrunners are taking Fear in next season, according to Scott Gimple.
“Structurally, the show is going to change quite a bit. There’s going to be a great deal more focus within the stories, a little less vignette-y in telling 16 little movies,” Gimple told Entertainment Weekly. “The guys are out of the gate wonderfully with the first two episodes, and it is a differentiating thing. It’s something that separates that show from the other two shows, telling these 16 little movies, being a bit more anthological. It still is a serialized story, but it’s told through these very focused perspectives.”
I wasn’t entirely sure what Gimple was trying to say with that statement until he offered two examples of the kinds of episodes that they intend to make more of next season. “There’s these episodes like Al and Isabelle or June and Dorie that were super focused episodes, that were some of our favorite stories to tell, and we’re leaning into that a little more.”
Gimple is referring to a couple of stand-alone episodes that didn’t really advance the plot one iota in the last season of Fear. The problem with that is that Fear has never been particularly good about advancing the plot. It meanders. Stopping to dwell on one or two characters at a time — particularly for a series with entirely too many characters at this point — will necessarily rob focus on some of the more compelling characters, like Alicia, who has been reduced to far too few appearances where she now paints trees.
Fear, like The Walking Dead, works best when the entire cast is not separated, when they work together toward a common goal. Season six sounds more like characters dealing with the consequences of season five on their own. Granted, it makes some sense to operate this way. With The Walking Dead as good as it is right now, and with the shiny new spin-off series and the Rick Grimes movies coming, stand-alone Fear the Walking Dead episodes allow AMC to sideline Fear‘s presence in The Walking Dead universe. Scott Gimple has already stated that the broader universe will mostly concern itself with the Rick Grimes movies and The World Beyond, so it makes sense that Fear can quietly do its own thing, providing a bridge between The World Beyond and season 11 of The Walking Dead over the summer but not much else.