Fear the Walking Dead Final Season Review: No Show's Gone Until It's Gone


In 2015, Fear the Walking Dead co-creator Dave Erickson described AMC's original companion series to The Walking Dead as an "apocalyptic journey, showcasing the horrifying breakdown of society through the perspective of a dysfunctional family": Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), a strong-willed matriarch, her troubled son Nick (Frank Dillane), who struggles with drug addiction, and her daughter Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). The early seasons of Fear depicted the Clark family's harrowing travels across Los Angeles, Mexico, and Texas, navigating through a world infested with the Infected. Along the way, they encountered additional survivors of the zombie apocalypse, including Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), Luciana Galvez (Danay García), and others.

However, the landscape of Fear the Walking Dead underwent significant changes by its semi-rebooted Season 4. Showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg took over from Dave Erickson, with creative input from Scott M. Gimple, the overseer of AMC's Walking Dead Universe. During this transition, much of the original cast, including Nick and Madison, either departed the show or met untimely ends. As a result, the series, which initially explored the domestic struggles amidst societal collapse, experienced an identity crisis. With each subsequent season, Chambliss and Goldberg reimagined Fear, first as a Western, then as a genre-blending anthology of mini-movies, and eventually as The Walking Dead set in a post-nuclear zombie apocalypse.

There were distinct eras in Fear the Walking Dead: Madison's Fear and Morgan's Fear, and fans felt a clear turning point when the original spinoff seemed to fade away with Madison's departure. (Dickens returns as a series regular in the Season 7 finale, revealing that Madison survived her presumed death in a stadium fire swarmed by zombies in Season 4.) Fear the Walking Dead's eighth and final season (premiering on AMC+ on May 11th and on AMC on May 14th) presents yet another transformation: a fusion of sorts. Having had the opportunity to review three episodes, it appears that Chambliss and Goldberg have reconciled the two halves, creating a merger that should satisfy fans of both Fear eras.

Following a time jump of seven years, Madison, Morgan, and the rest of the group embark on a mission to find PADRE, a place where they can settle. During this period, significant events have unfolded, and AMC kindly requests that spoilers remain undisclosed until the episodes air. (The post-jump timeline is filled with unexpected twists and surprising revelations.)

Since we last saw them, Morgan has spent the past seven years as a [REDACTED], while Madison has assumed a new identity as "Lark" and taken on a [REDACTED] role. Daniel has become the leader of a [REDACTED], and Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista) are determined to [REDACTED] from [REDACTED]. Surprisingly, June (Jenna Elfman) has been engaged in [REDACTED] for years due to [REDACTED]. Some characters remain missing, their fates unknown to both the characters and the audience, while others are revealed to be [REDACTED], and certain individuals find themselves [REDACTED] for [REDACTED].

It's no secret that Morgan and Grace (Karen David) have now adopted an eight-year-old daughter named Mo (Zoey Merchant), who, along with other children, has been taken in and indoctrinated by PADRE. This new order has created a dystopian atmosphere reminiscent of Hunger Games, and it has subjected the very people who previously rebelled against oppressive regimes led by Virginia (Colby Minifie) and the villainous Victor Strand. Parenthood serves as a thematic thread that connects all the characters to PADRE, prompting profound questions about their legacies and what they truly live for beyond mere survival.

It's a dark and gritty narrative, without the sadistic Negan-style violence that turned away numerous viewers from the flagship show, and it maintains a somber tone without descending into a joyless slog. Season 8 immediately plunges into action at a relentless pace, fueled in part by its shorter run of 12 episodes—half the length of The Walking Dead's 24-episode final stretch over three parts.

Fear the Walking Dead's ultimate season will inevitably invite comparisons to the concluding season of The Walking Dead, which ended on a note of well-deserved hope and nostalgic sentimentality. However, The Walking Dead's impact had diminished—despite fans being aware that Daryl, Carol, Maggie, and Negan would live on in spin-off shows, the fear of no one being safe or the possibility of anyone meeting their end had faded. Even the introduction of a new intelligent variant of walkers reminiscent of the early Atlanta days couldn't resurrect the suspense or imminent danger felt in earlier seasons. Ultimately, almost everyone managed to survive.

While characters from Fear could potentially continue their stories and crossover into the broader TWD Universe, AMC has not announced any spin-offs stemming directly from the original spinoff series. Unlike the flagship show, which adapted creator Robert Kirkman's comic book that concluded after 193 issues in 2019, Fear the Walking Dead lacks source material to draw upon.

This gripping and dark final season carries an edge that hints at heart-wrenching farewells to come, and the unpredictability of what lies ahead is undeniably exciting.

The Season 8 premiere, titled "Remember What They Took From You," effectively showcases the talents of Dickens and James, particularly in their roles as Madison and Morgan. Their sometimes combative dynamic allows them to seamlessly transition between allies and adversaries, often within the same scene. Whether it's a tense sequence set on a waterlogged houseboat in a zombie-infested swamp or witnessing the struggle between Madison and Morgan like a metaphorical tug-of-war, the season kicks off on a strong note and progressively improves with each subsequent episode. With the season divided into two parts of six episodes each, there's an evident momentum by the midway point of Season 8A that promises an even bigger and better experience going forward.

Fear's final season embraces the essence of The Walking Dead, and as AMC's TWD Universe enters the next phase of spinoffs, these initial episodes of Season 8 reaffirm that the original series still has plenty of life left in it. To borrow Madison Clark's words: "No one is truly gone until they're gone."

Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 is set to premiere on Sunday, May 14th, at 9 p.m. ET on AMC and AMC+.

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