Fear The Walking Dead: How season one SHOULD have ended

Shawn Hatosy as Corporal Andrew Adams and Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar – Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

THIS is how the first season of Fear The Walking Dead SHOULD have ended.

In my opinion, the first season of Fear The Walking Dead is the biggest blown opportunity in The Walking Dead Universe.

I think there was so much potential in that first season of the show that was simply not capitalized on, that I would be remiss if I ignored it. Just re-watching the pilot (For the purposes of another article I hope to have out later this week), it feels so much more frightening than later seasons (As well as some later season of The Walking Dead), mostly because it centers on people who are in no way prepared for the zombie apocalypse, at a time when the world is in no way prepared for it. Even the theme song (For lack of a better term) is frightening.

Yet, when it came down to it, the ball was dropped. I think at one time, Robert Kirkman said how he didn’t want to focus on the how of the zombie apocalypse, but, even with that, it felt like Fear was intentionally on fast-forward, skipping past some of the most important parts of the outbreak. I always assumed Kirkman meant he never wanted to focus on what caused the outbreak, not that he wanted to skip over the outbreak entirely! If they were going to do that…why even have a show set at the beginning of the apocalypse in the first place?

Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/AMC

And, I think that is one the biggest issues with the first season of Fear (And, if I’m being honest, the entire series): It went way too fast.

I know that’s odd, considering that, if my calculations were correct, season three of the show started approximately a month into the apocalypse or something like that, but, I genuinely believe it to be the case. It felt like the group had just adjusted so quickly to the world they were thrust into, and civilization seemed to have collapsed so fast as to have it happen without us even seeing it, that a good bit of the fear factor of the show seemed to have been drained.

Though I know I’ve railed against it before, I feel like there is no greater illustration of this then the fact that, from the end of episode three, to the beginning of episode four, we jumped nine days. NINE.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: “When do we get to how season one should have ended?”  Well, the answer is “Now”.

Image of a zombie, The Walking Dead 101 "Day's Gone Bye". The Walking Dead (2010). Photo credit: AMC/Gene Page

Image of a zombie, The Walking Dead 101 “Day’s Gone Bye”. The Walking Dead (2010). Photo credit: AMC/Gene Page

You see, the first season skipping over nine days would have been fine, if it weren’t for the fact that, within those nine days, a situation so horrendous happened that it convinced the government that Los Angeles was untenable, and needed to be destroyed.

This wasn’t some arbitrary decision made by some cackling supervillain, but, a decision made because something so terrible happened, that the government realized that Cobalt was the only thing they could do.

The thing is: We know what that terrible thing was. We know…and we never saw it.

In the penultimate episode of the first season of Fear, we heard about an operation the National Guard were going to carry out called “Cobalt”, and learned it was the government’s plan to firebomb L.A. (In fact, if I recall correctly, in the days leading up to that episode, the promotional material was the question “What is Cobalt?”), in the hopes of destroying as many of the infected in the city as possible.

We also learned why they decided to do it: Because the arena in the city, which was being used to house refugees, had gone haywire, leading to thousands of people being turned into infected.

Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Justina Mintz/AMC

THIS is how season one should have ended. Not with us being told about this incident, but, with us seeing this incident.

Imagine, the episode follows Adams and his unit, collecting refugees, checking them for bites, and then bringing them to the arena (Kind of like what we saw in Huck’s flashback in episode seven of World Beyond). Then, maybe about a third of the way through the episode, someone gets sick, dies, and then quickly turns, biting someone in the neck. Panic ensues, people get trampled, now more people are turning. Adams and his team have to flee, realizing there’s nothing they can do with all the chaos. More people are dying, more people are turning, and the last quarter of the episode is just Adams and his unit trying to stay a step ahead of the horde, doing whatever they can to slow them down.

Finally, they manage to escape, with Adams holding up the rear, and, just after they close they the doors, he has the wherewithal to chain them shut, as some of the survivors make it to the doors, screaming in pain as the infected descend on them. Lieutenant Moyers tells his superiors (Maybe Dr. Exner) over the radio that the arena has fallen, and we hear this answer him back: “Prepare for Cobalt.Then, Adams and his friends look at each other, as the hand of an infected reaches through the gap in the door, as if to drive home just how necessary this order they’re dreading really is.

Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

It would’ve been a great cliffhanger, even making the whole “What Is COBALT?” teaser that much more effective, as it would have been the last thing we heard before the episode and the season ended. It would have fit in with the whole idea of the show (Or, at least how it was presented in the buildup), as it would have been the epitome of “everything breaking down”, which, again, was kind of presented as a theme leading into the show’s debut. And, it would have been scary as hell, watching an arena full of people descend into chaos, as more and more people became infected, and the soldiers in charge of protecting it could only flee in horror, narrowly escaping with their lives, and even more narrowly averting disaster by locking the doors behind them. I don’t know about you, but, I will contend, to this day, that that is how the first season of Fear should have ended.

But, what do you think? Do you think the first season of Fear The Walking Dead ended just the way it should have? Do you like mine better? Would you have done something different? Let me know! And, if you want something different, specifically how to survive the zombie apocalypse, why not pick up a copy of my book, The Rules: A Guide To Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse! You can also get it at Amazon here, on iTunes here!