Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched Fear the Walking Dead's Season 7 premiere, so be warned!
With AMC's The Walking Dead having recently wrapped up the first third of its eleventh and final season, the network kept its zombified primetime schedule intact with the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead Season 7. Titled "The Beacon," the installment picked up several months after all the nuclear explosions that closed out Season 6, and focused almost entirely Victor Strand's current whereabouts, via the introduction of Gus Halper's short-lived character Will. And while it definitely checked all the usual boxes for a Fear opener, the episode also offered up plenty of ostensibly curious and confusing details that need addressing.
Some of these are plot-related, some are situational to the characters, and while several of them could probably be explained with a fairly simple response — "That's just how things work in Fear the Walking Dead" — I certainly hope there are better answers as we head towards the inevitable Strand Vs. Morgan showdown. Now let's kick things off with some safety-wear confusion.
Where Did All These Gas Masks Come From?
Does everyone remember all the past Walking Dead franchise scenes where characters explore abandoned buildings, but instead of finding food, drinks and medical supplies, they just find giant trunks filled with working and dependable gas masks? Those obviously never happened, but it's clear that everyone in this universe had easy access to such gas masks prior to the nuclear fallout situation, and chose to keep the masks hidden from view for reasons yet unexplained. I know it's not THAT out there to conceive, but when we're talking about multiple unconnected groups having uniformly similar protective gear, it's quite the lucky coincidence that all those spare masks were available right when they were needed the most. I also need cartographic explanations for what areas are more dangerous than others, and why masks are abandoned in places that still seem dangerous, but that's a whole conversation unto itself.
Are Fear The Walking Dead's Horses Immune To Radiation?
How badass would it be to see a mask-wearing horse galloping over a hill and breaking through a fog? Turns out there aren't giant caches of horse-specific protective equipment in post-apocalyptic Texas — at least none the protagonists have stumbled upon yet — so one has to wonder how these characters have been riding around areas spiked with radiation without their four-legged transports seemingly suffering any consequences. There's something to be said about wildlife's ability to thrive in locations affected by fallout, but the shortened timeline here likely causes hiccups with that argument. Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe science is fully aware of the existence of radiation-immune super-horses.
Why Wasn't Will Already Using The Lighthouse As His Main Shelter?
Before we even learn his name, viewers are shown that Will wasn't living the most comfortable life, sleeping in vans and other non-luxurious settings. Later, he takes Strand to a totally safe lighthouse (which would presumably be located somewhere in the general vicinity of that nuclear submarine, but whatever), and explicitly points out its strengths as a shelter. Which means that lighthouse should have already been cleaned up and full of Will's shit when it was first shown in the episode. I guess the idea was that the walker he killed was the guy living up there, but there was probably space for more than just one person. (And if the idea was also that it was the first time Will had gone into that lighthouse, then he should not have become a total lighthouse savant later on.)
Why Did Any Fear The Walking Dead Characters Stay In And Around Fallout Areas?
With the story picking up a few months after nuclear bombs went off, logic would dictate that Season 7 should have started off with every single character in new locations far, far away from any Texas areas adjacent to those affected by the bombs. It's not as if there's a lack of land and abandoned buildings out there in 100% safer areas. In Strand's case, the fact that he previously thought the Tower would get wrecked by the blast means that it's too effing close to truly messed up areas. (It also bugs me that they're growing their own vegetation, but I guess there are ways to make all that seem less worrisome.) But while Strand's set-up can be justified in part, it's bonkers to imagine people from outside that immediate area choosing to go to a spot far closer to fallout-laden areas. I guess promises of yoga and painting are powerful indeed. Still, though, that doesn't tap into explaining why Will and anyone else — I'm looking at you, new parents Morgan and Grace — is choosing to continue risking their lives within that sour-yellow haze instead of booking it for Louisiana or at least North Texas.
Why Didn't We Learn More About Will Being Ousted From Alicia's Group?
Considering very few actions Will took during "The Beacon" made inarguably legitimate sense, I suppose it's not surprising that the information he gave Strand about his connection to Alicia was roughly 5% of what would actually be helpful in understanding anything. I understood in the moment that foreshadowing was on display when viewers learned that Will was booted from Alicia's group, but after Will died, it seemed far less important for that carrot of exposition to remain dangling in front of our faces beyond the Season 7 premiere, instead of being talked out right then. Will could return in flashback sequences, of course, which would definitely explain why this episode spent so much time focusing on what appeared to be a one-off character. But if that doesn't happen, and we just learn more about Will's story through second-hand info, blah.
Why Did Alicia Leave Such A Cryptic Note?
As confused as I was by Alicia's wall painting, which required its own mutually exclusive sense of disbelief, the bigger mystery within that governmental location was the note left for Will, which merely featured the word "Padre" written in a bizarrely stylistic manner. Will had an idea of what it meant, but said he wasn't fully sure of what Alicia was talking about. So let's see here... We're clearly meant to believe that Alicia still had Will's back despite him not being in her group anymore, considering she left him a note in the first place. But rather than offering up a full message with details, she left behind something so cryptic Will himself didn't even understand it. Who is that even helping? She could have saved herself the trouble of finding an envelope and just painted "Padre" on the wall, too, for all the good it did.
WTF Is Strand's Thought Process Behind The Beacon Drawing More Walkers?
Because the Walking Dead franchise has delivered nuanced villains in the past, I can more easily buy into Strand's "my way or no way" philosophy, especially when he appears to be offering his followers genuinely enviable lives. What kind of "bad guy" would do such things? And I even understand why he wants to keep Alicia away, despite his love for her, and why he chose to kill Will in the end. But after the giant attention-grabbing light was set up, Strand states that he didn't want Alicia to follow the light, and that the growing wall of walkers outside the Tower would stop her from making it. So if Strand is going into this with the knowledge that the outer perimeter will be swamped with walkers, what the hell is he trying to accomplish? There's presumably no way the Tower is set up to be self-sufficient for such extended stretches of time that supply runs aren't necessary, so setting up the walker wall just makes coming and going a hassle for literally everyone, regardless of what Alicia does with her life.
Perhaps some of these questions would have been a little less striking had the episode not been so completely focused on Will and Strand. Giving characters standalone episodes like this is indeed one of the ways Fear the Walking Dead sticks out within the franchise, but viewers aren't usually wading through this much new world-building information in those episodes. And if it wasn't already clear that Episode 702 is honing in on Lennie James' Morgan and Karen David's Grace, I'd allow for the possibility that Fear the Walking Dead could explain away some of my Strand-centric confusion. Maybe Morgan will offer up a stoic, yet impassioned, reasoning for sticking around at the very least.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m., just ahead of new episodes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Check out all the other big shows debuting in the 2021 Fall TV schedule as well!
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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