AMC's Fear the Walking Dead returns Sunday, June 2, for Season 5 after spending the fourth season almost completely reinventing itself.
Following Dave Erickson's departure as showrunner, Once Upon a Time alums Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg took over and spent the first half of Season 4 drastically changing the landscape of AMC's other zombie series. The most dramatic adjustments pertained to casting with exit of series regulars Kim Dickens and Frank Dillane (Madison and Nick Clark) and the addition of Lennie James' Morgan, whose presence marked the highly anticipated first crossover between Fear and its sister show The Walking Dead.
Along with James came Jenna Elfman as the haunted nurse Naomi; Garret Dillahunt as the sharp-shooting former cop John Dory; Daryl "Chill" Mitchell and Mo Collins as trucker siblings Sarah and Wendell; Maggie Grace as journalist Althea; and Alexa Nisenson as Charlie, the young girl responsible for Nick's death. Alycia Debnam-Carey and Colman Domingo (Alicia Clark and Victor Strand) were the only two cast members from the first three seasons to survive the show's reimagining.
But beyond the casting, the drama's premise was twisted. Instead of following the Clark family as they tried to find physical and spiritual purchase, the end of the fourth season saw the characters embark on an organized mission to seek out and help other survivors. However, there are several other details that will be important to keep track of heading into Season 5.
Season 4 Had a Hurricane, Season 5 Will Have Nukes
The Season 5 trailer made it clear Fear the Walking Dead is barreling ahead on a scale neither it nor The Walking Dead has attempted. Whereas Season 4 introduced extreme weather in an unprecedented fashion by siccing a hurricane on the survivors, Season 5 will involve more nuclear problems -- literally. One shot features a sign warning about potential radiation, which would make sense if the survivors have found themselves near a nuclear power plant.
The potential danger inherent in a world filled with nuclear power plants now going unmanned due to the apocalypse was actually something Last Man on Earth explored in its third season. However, Last Man on Earth didn't have radiation-poisoned walkers, something else the Fear trailer promised. During the drama's WonderCon presentation, Chambliss hinted at the implications behind such horrors and they sound appropriately chilling: "A walker threat that might be able to hurt them beyond just a bite. So perhaps some of the most dangerous walkers they’ve faced yet."
In addition to the radiation signs, the trailer also featured something else we haven't encountered on either show: a plane crash. We don't have any information about who was piloting the plane, but its central positioning in the Season 5 key art implies the plane (or the crash) will play a huge role. Walking Dead Chief Content Officer Scott Gimple actually went so far as to say that it would be connected to a storyline that began on The Walking Dead. Whether that means it will somehow involve the arrival of the second Walking Dead crossover, Austin Amelio's Dwight, or if it could connect to the mysterious forces that whisked away Rick and Jadis away in the first half of Season 9 remains to be seen. But speaking of Dwight ...
The Second Walking Dead Character Crossover
As announced in 2018, Austin Amelio will reprise his role as Savior double-agent Dwight. When last we saw the conflicted survivor, he had been exiled by Daryl for his previous crimes (RIP Denise) and begin a search for his estranged wife, Sherry. In his final episode of The Walking Dead, Dwight headed to his and Sherry's meeting spot and, finding a note from her, promising her survival and a desire to reunite.
Whether that reunion actually happened or was as positive as Dwight hoped has yet to be established. No mention has been made of Sherry or the return of actress Christine Evangelista, so it's possible they either didn't stay together or Dwight never found her. Despite that Fear the Walking Dead is clearly attempting a more optimistic tone, it's asking a lot for the introduction of another happy couple on a show that already has a storybook romance. It's more likely Dwight will arrive poised to join Morgan's band of misfits on his own quest for redemption.
What's the Mission Again?
When Morgan encountered Sarah and Wendell, they claimed to be on a mission of mercy, using a big rig to drop along the road boxes of supplies scrawled with the words "Take what you need, leave what you don't. But as Morgan learned, they actually poached the rig and the backstory from a man named Clayton, who used his fleet of trucks and supplies to operate a network of helpers, for lack of a better word. After the season's antagonist, Martha, picked off his drivers, and Sarah and Wendell left Clayton stranded, that system broke down.
But at the end of Season 4, Morgan became inspired to use his new team to get the network up and running again, in an effort to allow everyone the chance to seek redemption through good works. In her attempts to document the apocalypse, journalist Althea collected tapes on which survivors recounted their stories. Morgan suggests they use the tapes to locate possible people in need of help, as well as to make use of Clayton's network of well-stocked truck stops to provide supplies to anyone they find. Much of Season 4 focused on the characters grappling with their personal demons and the guilt that dogged them, and Season 5 will be driven by their desire to ameliorate it.
Alicia is the Last Clark
The first half of Season 4 straddled the past and the present, and slowly told the story of Madison's death, and the fall of the stadium that provided the Clark family with a stable home. After an attempt to transform it into a sustainable community open to newcomers, the staidum was infiltrated by the Vultures, antagonists who sought out failing communities to galvanize the remains. The spy, Charlie, informed them the stadium's crops had been attacked by weevils, and food was in dangerously short supply.
Eventually, Madison was able to get everything back on track, but not before she clashed so severely with Vulture leader Melvin to induce the latter to send a massive herd of walkers her way. The residents of the stadium panicked and attempted to escape, despite Madison's insistence that the walls would hold. She was eventually forced to sacrifice herself to lead the walkers inside the stadium so that her family could escape. Nick and Alicia searched for her relentlessly in the aftermath, which is how the group eventually came into contact with Morgan. Unfortunately, however, when they encountered June again, she informed them of Madison's demise. Then, to add insult to injury, Charlie discovered Nick after he killed her Vulture guardian Ennis, and she shot him in the chest. The deaths of her mother and brother make her the last surviving Clark; the exits of Kim Dickens and Frank Dillane also made Alycia Debnam-Carey the only remaining cast member from Season 1. Well, until now.
Daniel Salazar is Back
Rubén Blades returns in Season 5 as Daniel Salazar, the former Salvadoran junta operative whose unique skill set allowed him to not only survive, but to thrive in the apocalypse. Unfortunately, his wife Rosa and daughter Ofelia weren't so fortunate: By the end of Season 3, they had both perished. After losing his family, Salazar found himself head of security for Lola Guerero at the Gonzalez Dam, but the last we saw of him, he'd been shot in the face by Strand after the latter attempted a hostile takeover of the water source. Salazar was presumed dead after Nick used explosives to blow the dam.
However, Daniel survived, only to cross paths with Victor Strand once more. We know next to nothing about what happened to him in the time elapsed, or why and how he encounters his former frenemy. We can speculate that Daniel probably won't be terrifically interested in joining Morgan's crew of benevolent travelers. That's not to say we wouldn't like to see Morgan attempt another convert -- those two couldn't be more different when it comes to values, so their potential meeting is very compelling.
Premiering Sunday, June 2, at 9 PM ET on AMC, Fear the Walking Dead stars Lennie James, Colman Domingo, Alexa Nisenson, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Garret Dillahunt, Jenna Elfman, Austin Amelio and Karen David.