Major spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet seen Fear the Walking Dead's Season 5 premiere.
Fans of AMC's Dead-verse have already been anticipating a major crossover in Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 in the form of the flagship series' Dwight, with actor Austin Amelio joining the spinoff's cast. What fans probably didn't expect, however, was for Fear's season premiere to introduce a direct connection to the mystery surrounding The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes and his "rescue" via helicopter.
Not only did this moment bring up a startlingly awesome realization, but it also led to a character getting taken away and put in presumed danger. Now let's dive into the details, shall we?
The basic set-up: half of the survivor group took a plane out to try and save a survivor named Logan, but the plane crashed in an undesirable area. At one point, a walker wearing a black protective uniform confronted Al, who had trouble taking the attention-grabbing zombie down.
On a growing hunch, Al returned to the site later that evening along and against others' wishes, naturally and took a closer look at the walker's outfit and gear. She found that the uniform itself was curiously all wired up, and then she discovered a small bag full of potential clues.
One was a paper map that featured the very same three interlocking rings symbol that was first seen on the outside of the helicopter that picked up Rick and Jadis in The Walking Dead Season 9 during the episode "What Comes After." That installment was Andrew Lincoln and Pollyanna McIntosh's final episode, obviously making it a supremely major episode within the canon.
That wasn't all, though. Al also found a set of plastic cards that were marked with what looked like state counties or some other kinds of boundary-marked areas. Each one of the cards was also marked with the three-ring symbol, adding fuel to the mystery fire.
Unfortunately, viewers didn't get to find out what happened with Al. Right as she was calling to Morgan to confirm that she was right about the situation needing more research, another person decked out in the protective uniform suddenly came in and zapped Al with a stun gun. The episode ended with the new character looking into Al's camera. (Not exactly a barrel of laughs.)
That's obviously going to be the $64,000 question for this universe in the near-to-distant future, with fans seeking to figure out what the three symbols mean, and who might be leading this new group. There are two theoretical foundations to base those guesses on.
The easier-to-understand angle is that the soldier-esque people Al engaged are indeed part of the same group that Jadis was in contact with on The Walking Dead. Fans have already suspected that the ringed symbol looks enough like the traditional biohazard symbol that it probably indicates radioactivity in the area. Combine that with the teases fans have already gotten about potentially radiated walkers in Season 5, and it certainly throws an interesting wrinkle into the narratives of both shows.
The harder-to-buy angle is that while the map-carrying characters in Fear the Walking Dead are legitimately tied to the three-ring symbol, whoever is flying that helicopter on The Walking Dead might not be. I wouldn't be completely surprised if the shows offered up the explanation that Jadis' "friends" had stolen that helicopter from whatever group had it before, and that there's an overarching confrontation happening between the groups.
While it's obviously hard to guess something straight up, it's possible that Fear the Walking Dead could be removing Al (or another major character) out of the spinoff's narrative in order to also bring them into AMC's upcoming Rick Grimes movies. On the flip side, the franchise's overseer Scott Gimple may have figured out a way to use Fear as a proper introduction for Rick's movies, as opposed to trying to force it into the Virginia-set drama.
At this point, it's tough to grasp exactly who might be under those helmets and heavy uniforms. The fact that they matched, however, is a big sign that they're part of a well-supplied organization. I mean, The Kingdom soldiers shared similar "armor," but this is on another level entirely.
The fact that they were carrying symbol-marked maps and other materials is also a sign of this mission being much larger than just two people. Are they part of a larger group that's going out and taking stock of where the country's nuclear plants stand in terms of security? I suppose those county maps (if that's what they are) could indicate what areas would be the most heavily affected due to nuclear fallout.
But who could this larger group even be? Will it indeed end up being the Commonwealth community from The Walking Dead's comics? As fans of the source material are aware, there is a super-community out there that's seemingly the most advanced location in the country, as run by one Governor Pamela Milton. It's the same community that fans assumed Jayne Atkinson's Georgie hailed from whenever she appeared in Season 8. Could she be the next TWD character to appear on Fear?
Perhaps the more pertinent question for the near future is, "What will this new character end up doing to Al?" Maggie Grace is a series regular, and it's known that Season 5 will dig deeper into her collection of video interviews, so I wouldn't think the show intends to kill her off in the immediate future. That said, this is the show that kept Madison's fate a secret in Season 4 only to reveal that she'd somewhat needlessly sacrificed herself to save others, so...anything can happen.
What if these characters The season premiere already set up Matt Frewer's potential new villain Logan, as well as those kid characters that automatically seemed untrustworthy. So technically, this could be a case where Fear the Walking Dead is introducing another protagonist or two, as opposed to yet another threat.
Either way it goes, we've got another 15 episodes left in Fear the Walking Dead Season 5, so there are a large number of ways this entire plotline could shake out. The connection to Rick's future may be built up in huge ways, or it may not even be connected at all.
With the new horror adaptation NOS4A2 as its primetime companion, Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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