If you know me, you know I’m a big Fear TWD fan. I love that the first spinoff of The Walking Dead is moving through uncharted territory and doing things that have never been done in the other shows in the TWD universe. I had the pleasure of watching screeners of the first two episodes of 7B, “Follow Me” (709) and “Mourning Cloak” (710), and both episodes are a great start to the season.
What I love most about these episodes is that they both move the story forward for two characters in very important ways. I know the anthology format is frustrating to some fans but I think it allows the actors to really dig deep and explore their characters and their characters’ stories in ways you can’t do when you’re trying to juggle a huge ensemble cast. You need this kind of focus to get to where you need to go with these characters, and 709 and 710 do just that.
In “Follow Me” fans have a chance to watch Alycia Debnam-Carey do what she does best: Act her ass off. One thing that actors across the board will tell you is that it’s more fun for them to play roles that offer them a chance to dig deep and portray deep trauma. “Follow Me” gives Debnam-Carey a chance to flex her acting muscles and show everyone why she’s the Fear TWD GOAT.
At long last, Alicia is finally starting to come into her own as a leader, and just like the hero’s journey, Alicia’s journey has been fraught with growing pains, mistakes and, ultimately, revelations about what her purpose and mission really is.
Watching Debnam-Carey be put through her paces is hard to watch, but also so fulfilling because she absolutely owns every scene she’s in, and it’s clear that she’s ready for Alicia Clark to step up and be the leader she was meant to be. She’s her mother’s daughter, after all.
Warren “Wawa” Snipe is a FANTASTIC addition to the show and Paul pairs so well with Alicia in this episode. He’s thoughtful and kind, and he also kicks some major ass. You’re rooting for him the whole way through.
If “Follow Me” is the tale of a young woman realizing her destiny, then “Mourning Cloak” is the story of an even younger woman coming into her own in a world where childhood doesn’t exist. It’s hard to believe that Alicia Clark’s Fear TWD story started when she was a naive high school student, more concerned with her boyfriend and coping with her mother’s focus on her wayward brother.
Seeing Charlie’s journey reminds us that while kids tend to adapt to the apocalypse better than adults, they are constantly reminded by all of the things that “normal” kids used to do in the “before times” that they will never, ever be able to do. That’s what makes 710 so special. In the middle of the chaos, Charlie is still a young woman trying to figure life out in the only way that makes sense to her.
Nisenson does an incredible job bringing Charlie’s emotions to life. It’s not an easy thing to play a young woman who grew up in the apocalypse. It’s not like there’s a handbook out there, and it’s a lot to ask someone Nisenson’s age to reach deep down and channel that kind of emotional trauma. That said, Nisenson plays Charlie so well – especially in this episode – and it’s so much fun watching her figuring things out. Charlie is a problem solver and this episode allows her to really show everyone what she can do.
These two episodes are similar in that they both feature journeys of self-discovery. They’re vastly different in tone and pacing. They’re both very dark episodes with heavy themes, and paired together they resonate with the pivotal season 4 episode “Close Your Eyes.”
One of the biggest takeaways from 709 and 710 is that Alycia Debnam-Carey and Alexa Nisenson have come so far on Fear TWD and their characters’ journeys have led them to very different places. What happens in these two episodes will no doubt play into what’s coming in 7B; there’s no doubt in my mind that things are about to get crazy and I’m here for it.
Fear TWD returns Sunday, April 17 on AMC.