Fear TWD season 6 preview: Brick by brick the walls come down

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6 - Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC
Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6 - Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC /

Fear TWD season 6 delivers on the promise of darker stories with higher stakes

No one is safe and nothing is sacred in Fear TWD season 6, which returns October 11 on AMC. The survivors who once traveled through the Texas countryside trying to help the helpless have now found themselves in peril unlike anything they have ever seen, and the new season brings all of the suspense, chills and gore that The Walking Dead fans have come to love from the franchise.

“Brick by brick, my fellow citizens, brick by brick.” Emperor Hadrian might have been talking about rebuilding Rome in that quote, but the reverse of it is absolutely true of what showrunners have pulled off in Fear TWD season 6. In previewing season 6, if you’ve wondered why the story shifted so much over the past few seasons you’ll get an answer in season 6.

You have to build everyone one up in order to tear them down, and that’s what makes Fear TWD season 6 dark, gruesome and downright chilling.

Whereas there was hopeful optimism before, now there is desperation and desolation. It’s jarring and gutting, thanks in large part to spending so much time feeling safe. Showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg have laid the groundwork to take the show in a new direction, and season 6 is the fulfillment of that new direction just as surely as season 3 was a drastic departure from the first two seasons.

Season 6 arrives with a brand new look. It’s darker, sure, but it also has a very different feel compared to the past few seasons. It’s reminiscent of season 1 in a lot of ways as everyone struggles to come to terms with their “new normal.” (There are some other new things about the season but I won’t spoil them for you…you’ll see one of the big changes almost right away)

It’s no secret that seasons 4 and 5 have been divisive for fans who came into the series later on and wondered what happened between season 3 and 4. The tonal shift was needed to create a new world for the show, one which I believe came straight from AMC and their desire to introduce crossovers between the TWD Universe, something that had been ruled out early on when Fear TWD was initially announced.

I’ve been a supporter of Chambliss and Goldberg’s vision from the beginning because I could see that they were playing the long game. The stories being told in season 6 are only possible because of the revision found in seasons 4 and 5, and it works. It absolutely works.

Each of the three episodes made available to the press in advance are very different from each other, but they follow the same larger narrative that will (presumably) be the overarching theme in the first half of season 6. The scope is massive, and the anthology framework helps to keep track of individual stories much more than trying to fit the whole ensemble into an episode.

Lennie James shines in the season premiere, “The End is the Beginning,” which was directed by Michael E. Satrazemis. The key art features the phrase “The past is dead” and that encompasses the “new” Morgan that fans will see. This is a whole new Morgan. Alycia Debnam-Carey steps into her own as Alicia Clark takes control as a leader and it’s something fans have been excited for since she lost her mother in season 4. Colman Domingo is in his element, too, and fans will enjoy watching Strand navigate the complexities of his new environment.

The first episode is Morgan’s story and it’s surprising in so many ways. The second episode of the season, “Welcome to the Club,” was directed by Lennie James and follows Strand and Alicia as they navigate Virginia’s community and the rules. The third episode, “Alaska,” is directed by Colman Domingo. Each episode really does feel like a short film, and the viewing experience is enhanced as a result.

I understand that there are any number of reasons why some fans will be cautious about watching Fear TWD. I’ve never minced words when it comes to my appreciation for the story and what was being built, but I know that some people walked away from the show just as many fans left The Walking Dead in season 7. However, just as season 9 was a shift in tone for TWD, so too is season 6 for Fear TWD. This season will be one that fans talk about as one of the great seasons packed with some of the biggest performances from the cast that we’ve seen yet.

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Fear TWD season 6 is a return to the horror of the zombie apocalypse, but as we all know the walkers aren’t always the worst aspect of the apocalypse. That’s what makes season 6 even more chilling. And it is dark, so very dark.

Fear TWD returns for season 6 on Sunday, October 11 at 9pm on AMC.