Fear the Walking Dead: Proof Nick and TWD's Rick are parallels
Fans of the zombie drama The Walking Dead couldn't wait to sink their teeth into the show's companion series, Fear the Walking Dead and, well, the premiere certainly gave everyone a lot to chew on.
While the slow-burn style of the show left much to be desired for some TWD watchers who've grown accustomed to the original's blood-and-guts-by-the-scene pace, there is something to be said for character development.
Particularly the development of what looks to be shaping up as the show's lead or, rather, who — Nick (Frank Dillane), the troubled tweaker son of guidance counselor Madison (Kim Dickens) and her teacher/new husband Travis (Cliff Curtis).
To its credit, the show was fighting an uphill battle. Prequels always do, right? As much as we'd like to pretend we won't, we will inevitably compare it to the original. In this case, that makes for some pretty big shoes to fill. Despite the leisurely build, though, Fear the Walking Dead's inaugural episode contained plenty of suspenseful moments sure to compel even the doubters to tune in next week.
Not surprisingly, most of those scenes revolved around Nick. This begs the question: Is Nick the new Rick Grimes? Granted, the two appear to be polar opposites on the surface level. But the more you mull it over, the more it seems obvious that the prequel is setting up Nick to be the Rick of this series.
Let's explore the myriad ways this makes sense, shall we?
We meet Nick at proverbial zombie ground zero
In the first three minutes of the Fear the Walking Dead premiere, we see Nick stumble around in the haze of a drug-induced hangover trying to figure out where the hell he is — and more pressingly, where his girlfriend Gloria is. The obvious similarities are there. I mean, clearly Rick had not just partaken of druggie communion in TWD's premiere, but he was in a bit of a drug-induced haze (thanks to waking from a coma). Both characters stumble out of their hospital beds, and both are the first lens through which we see the infected.
He makes us question our moral compass
From the get-go, we know Nick isn't what you might call a savory character. And while Rick started off as an upstanding character, the evolution of his character has included progressively toeing the line of sanity. In TWD's premiere, Rick is the first character to do something that makes us uneasy — he almost immediately shoots a little girl walker in the head. In Fear the Walking Dead, Nick kills Cal. Yes, Cal was a drug dealer and presumably going to kill Nick, but it's difficult to watch nonetheless (particularly given how darn cute Cal was). Still, despite any morally dubious behavior, you find yourself emotionally invested in Nick. Remind you of anyone?
His mind is his own worst enemy
Nick is an addict. This we know. As if stumbling upon the start of the zombie apocalypse wasn't disorienting enough, Nick can't trust his own mind. He tells his stepfather early in the premiere that either what he saw was a byproduct of the drugs he took or he is insane — and he's worried the latter is more likely. Rick similarly struggles with the frailty of his own psyche, which was especially evident immediately after Lori's death... and next season's TWD trailer hints that Rick is beginning to unravel again. Although we can assume Nick will get clean, the question is will he stay clean. Or, even if he does, how will his addictive nature manifest?
He isn't exactly a paradigm of strength
Shortly after we meet Rick, he is shot in the chest. Once he wakes up, he soon dissolves into a huddled crying mass on the floor of his former home. He is wounded — physically, mentally and emotionally. He isn't the man you'd imagine would segue into the main protagonist and natural leader of his makeshift band of walker-whackers. Shortly after we meet Nick, he is hit by a car. After escaping from the hospital, he melts down in his drug dealer's arms whilst huddled in a cafe booth. Again, not exactly the stuff heroic visions are made of.