Fear the Walking Dead is finally back for its seventh season. And after the way Season 6 ended, I couldn’t wait to see what this series had in store next. It premiered a week early on AMC Plus, and will air for the first time on TV on AMC on Sunday, October 17. And while there were certain elements of the first episode that I didn’t agree with continuity wise, it was still quite phenomenal from an apocalyptic storytelling viewpoint.
This article is a Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1 review of the premiere, so there will be MAJOR episode spoilers.
Now We’re Dealing with Two Apocalypses
There’s no sugarcoating this. The show really did dive headfirst into a second apocalypse. As if undead walking weren’t enough, we now have a nuclear apocalypse to deal with too. It’s not quite on point in the realism category. My husband complained a lot when the episode started about how certain measures really wouldn’t have protected people. But still, the image of seeing someone wearing a makeshift radiation suit while scavenging for food and fighting zombies was one that won’t leave my mind soon.
We were introduced to a new character, Will, who had close ties to Alicia. I’m still not sure exactly why Alicia kicked him out, but I guess now we’ll never know. I wish he had stuck around longer, because I enjoyed seeing what a scrappy survivor he was and how he had managed to stay alive with ingenuity alone. Losing him is a loss for the show, in my opinion.
Strand Is an Apocalyptic Dictator
I always thought that Strand would have survived far better if he had never met the Clarks. He’s witty, smart, and he was fully prepared for the end-of-the-world. But then he let the Clarks onto his boat and the rest is history. So when we got to see Strand get a “do-over” where he’s on his own this time, I feel like this is a reflection of where he would have ended up in the first place. He’s an apocalyptic dictator of sorts (because he only trusts his own gut) and he’s created a thriving world in the middle of a nuclear wasteland.
I mean, just look at what he’s done. He has a community that’s self-sustainable. He has food. He has electricity. He has peace. And he has a right-hand man, Howard, who does pretty much whatever he says.
So when he immediately didn’t trust Will, bested him in a battle, and wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep him around, that all made sense. He’s had to let his more ruthless side take over in order to survivor, and for whatever reason he doesn’t trust Will.
But then things took a turn, and I didn’t truly agree with how they started to portray Strand’s character. He left his paradise to follow Will and learn where he found the necklace that he’d given Alicia. But as it turns out, he doesn’t even want Alicia to come to his hideout or find him. He really just wanted to prove that she was wrong about him, but also not befriend him again. It was all a bit … convoluted. In the end, he admitted that he loved Alicia in a sense, but that love is weakness in an apocalyptic world. (Which, once again, is what Alicia Debnam-Carey’s character on The 100 believed, so it also felt a bit like paying homage to that.)
At the end of the episode, Strand pushed Will off the roof and killed him. This is a ruthless move and there was no good reason to do it. Turning on the spotlight to attract zombies that would keep away anyone else also seemed like an overly dangerous move to me. (Unless, like the Whisperers, he has a way to move through the zombies undetected if it’s needed. I guess if he took lessons from Nick, then he could do just that.)
I feel like we are being sold a version of Strand that never really existed until very recently. Yes, he was selfish in the beginning, but he was also a smart survivor. And over time, he was redeemed. Then he literally saved everyone’s lives when he built himself a militia last season and used it to stage a coup against Virginia that allowed them all to live. But no one even thanked him for that, and everyone called him selfish for it. Then in Season 6 Episode 15, he suddenly went crazy and decided to randomly push Morgan into a zombie horde for … no reason at all?
The Strand we have now doesn’t really match up with earliest seasons of Strand. But I feel like a lot of people think it does just because the writers have had the characters tell us so many times recently that “Strand is selfish” and “Strand only cares for himself.” He kind of matches Season 6 Strand, which is a different Strand.
This writer’s explanation from Reddit matches how I feel:
So in summary, I’m having trouble letting go of the redemption arc Strand who, like the writer above said, was conniving and scheming, but still ultimately was a good guy. But if I do let that Strand go, I can enjoy this storyline for the most part. His randomly killing Will was a Walking Dead “crazy leader trope,” unfortunately. But I guess I have to live with that and move on.
We were once told that the original showrunner had planned to turn Madison evil. I guess the new ones are kind of trying to recapture that idea with Strand. I think if it had been done with Madison though (and slowly, over time) it would have made more sense.
Still, if I put my misgivings aside, I do believe that Colman Domingo is going to portray this new version of Strand quite perfectly. He’s an amazing actor, and he can pull off this new crazed-but-smart dictator.
Alicia Looms Large in the Background, Even Though She’s Unseen
The specter of Alicia looms large in the background, even though we didn’t see her at all in this episode. We don’t know if she’s turned evil and dark or if she’s still fighting for good. We don’t know if she’s another apocalyptic warrior like Strand or if she’s chosen a softer approach like Morgan. When the actress starred on The 100, she was a badass apocalyptic leader named Lexa. Sometimes I hope we’ll have a time skip and this Alicia will have turned into a Lexa-like character. I guess time will tell. But I did appreciate how large of a role she played, even though she was never actually in the episode at all.
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