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Fear the Walking Dead Is Better Than Ever with Morgan Jones

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This post contains spoilers for the Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 premiere, “Whats Your Story?”

It was hard to blame anyone who asked, back in 2015 when Fear the Walking Dead first began, why AMC needed two zombie shows. From a ratings standpoint, yes, the answer was clear enough—but were there really that many unique stories to tell in this apocalyptic world . . . and enough faded flannel shirts to costume everyone required to tell them? When it was announced that Lennie Jamess longtime Walking Dead character Morgan Jones would join the series, that question loomed even larger. On Sunday night, however, Fear the Walking Dead proved the naysayers wrong—again. Rather than making the spin-off feel unnecessarily redundant, Morgans introduction to Fear the Walking Dead has ushered in a new era for the spin-off—and possibly its best season yet.

Fears season premiere aired directly after The Walking Deads Season 8 finale—in which Morgan decided to leave the group after (spoiler alert) winning the war against the Saviors. And if his introduction on Fear is any indication, his story is set to go somewhere even more fascinating. The season premieres after a time jump that allows Fear to catch up with T.W.D.—and to leave behind the dam, Proctor John, and all the dangling threads that exiting show-runner Dave Erickson intentionally left behind. So far, new show-runners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg have largely started fresh: at the beginning of the episode, Morgan meets John—a drawling cowboy with an antique revolver who had to stop talking to himself because “I started to enjoy the conversation too much.” Garret Dillahunt, who plays the lonesome cowboy, was a brilliant casting choice: his comedic background, as seen on Raising Hope, allows him to balance out Morgans dour outlook with some levity; on The Walking Dead, too often, Morgan got paired off with people who were just as negative as he was. John, on the other hand, is a perfect foil for Morgan—not quite as intellectual, much more optimistic, and certainly more interested in becoming partners in crime than Morgan is.

And then theres Althea, who goes by Al. As portrayed by Lost alumna Maggie Grace, Al is a journalist who drives a SWAT vehicle with a nasty gun. Her goal? Document survivors stories for whoever is left in this world who might be interested in watching. The trio demonstrated their potential as a team in a quick shoot-out this week, but in the end they might be in trouble: Strand, Alicia, Nick, and Luciana intercepted them on the road, and while its unclear what theyre up to, theyre clearly not messing around.

Its all a promising start for Chambliss and Goldberg. Over the years, Fear has distinguished itself from its progenitor series in a couple key ways: its drama is usually smaller scale, it tends to burn through plot a lot quicker, and its cast tends to stay smaller. This leaner approach allows the series to feel nimble and unpredictable where The Walking Dead can be bloated and lumbering—especially in recent seasons. Chambliss and Goldberg seem to clearly understand that distinction—and even better, seem prepared to add to it a levity thats been missing from both series for quite some time. The dynamic between Morgan, John, and Al is genuinely enjoyable to watch—and unlike some of The Walking Deads newer characters, both John and Al enter the series with clear characterization. Especially for fans who have been with this franchise all along, Fear the Walking Dead could be a welcome sign that, yes, there are actually some interesting stories left to tell in the zombie apocalypse.

Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:What Time of Year Is It on The Walking Dead?

Daryl Dixon

This photo has a lot of layers—both literal and figurative. Clearly, the hat is a nod to the blistering sun—which, ostensibly, is also responsible for the impressive amount of sweat soaking through Daryls shirt. Then again, if its so hot, why on earth is Daryl—the king of bare biceps—wearing this loud button-down shirt? For the love of God, if were going to give him an unnecessary layer, make it a poncho.Photo: Courtesy of AMC.King Ezekiel

King Ezekiel

King Ezekiel looks like hes ready for a snowy hiking trip with Bane in that long, fur-lined leather jacket. Somehow, he barely seems to be breaking a sweat—not that you'd see it through that coat.Photo: Courtesy of AMC.Rick Grimes

Rick Grimes

Its been many a moon since weve seen Rick with dry hair. His perpetually sweat-soaked button-downs and water-logged locks are worthy of the desert—or Disney World in the summer. Yet, there he is, talking to be-leathered, unbothered King Ezekiel. If the rule of good leadership is “never let 'em see you sweat,” Rick should be fired immediately.Photo: Courtesy of AMC.Carol Peletier

Carol Peletier

Carol has taken to wearing a heavy-looking, camel-colored coat. And apparently its so cold in this scene that even the zombie had to put on her cardigan before stalking her prey.Photo: Courtesy of AMC.Sasha Williams

Sasha Williams

I guess its warm? I mean, everyone is definitely less layered than they were during the season premiere, as they all sat in a semi-circle shaking with fear in their jackets and over-shirts and long sleeves. Sashas even wearing short sleeves now!Photo: Courtesy of AMC.Maggie Greene

Maggie Greene

Then again, heres Maggie, in long sleeves and an undershirt with no pit stains! Oh, to have that superpower.Photo: Courtesy of AMC.Enid and Carl

Enid and Carl

I give up. Here are Enid and Carl on roller skates. Enjoy the midseason premiere on Sunday night. Ill be here, staring at everyones clothes and dejectedly muttering to myself.Photo: Courtesy of AMC.PreviousNext

Daryl Dixon

Daryl Dixon

This photo has a lot of layers—both literal and figurative. Clearly, the hat is a nod to the blistering sun—which, ostensibly, is also responsible for the impressive amount of sweat soaking through Daryls shirt. Then again, if its so hot, why on earth is Daryl—the king of bare biceps—wearing this loud button-down shirt? For the love of God, if were going to give him an unnecessary layer, make it a poncho.Courtesy of AMC.

King Ezekiel

King Ezekiel

King Ezekiel looks like hes ready for a snowy hiking trip with Bane in that long, fur-lined leather jacket. Somehow, he barely seems to be breaking a sweat—not that you'd see it through that coat.Courtesy of AMC.

Rick Grimes

Rick Grimes

Its been many a moon since weve seen Rick with dry hair. His perpetually sweat-soaked button-downs and water-logged locks are worthy of the desert—or Disney World in the summer. Yet, there he is, talking to be-leathered, unbothered King Ezekiel. If the rule of good leadership is “never let 'em see you sweat,” Rick should be fired immediately.Courtesy of AMC.

Carol Peletier

Carol Peletier

Carol has taken to wearing a heavy-looking, camel-colored coat. And apparently its so cold in this scene that even the zombie had to put on her cardigan before stalking her prey.Courtesy of AMC.

Negan

Negan

Again: heres our Big Bad, zipped into his leather jacket, which looks like a thick summer sausage casing—and looking pretty comfy. In one episode, we see Negan all layered up and then totally comfy on the porch with Carl—sporting bare arms. One of those two outfits must be uncomfortable, right?Courtesy of AMC.

Paul Rovia (Jesus)

Paul Rovia (Jesus)

Jesus might be the key to unlocking this puzzle. In recent episodes, hes been seen without his beanie and jacket—which would imply to us that its getting warmer. So perhaps its spring? But if that's the case, how are Ezekiel and the Kingdom growing such luscious apples and pomegranates? Back to Square One.Courtesy of AMC.

Tara Chambler

Tara Chambler

Far be it for us to tell a woman how to dress—but why layer two short-sleeved shirts? If its warm, this would theoretically be uncomfortable—and if its cool, wouldnt it be easier to simply wear sleeves? Perhaps long-sleeved shirts are in short supply during the zombie apocalypse.Courtesy of AMC.

Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones

Morgan is wearing the same clothing as Rick these days, yet he produces less sweat. That kind of biological poise is why he belongs in a place called the Kingdom, and Rick does not.Courtesy of AMC.

Michonne

Michonne

Speaking of the Kingdom: my kingdom to whoever can explain to me Michonne and Ezekiel's clearly polar opposite body temperatures.Courtesy of AMC.

Eugene Porter

Eugene Porter

God, of course Eugene wears cargo shorts. Or, wait a minute, are those. . . cargo pants? Rolled up? Somehow thats even more fitting, isnt it? Yet, youll note, as Eugene sweats through his summer look, there's Negan. In leather. Barely sweating a drop.Courtesy of AMC.

Dwight

Dwight

I dont know, man. I just dont know.Courtesy of AMC.

Sasha Williams

Sasha Williams

I guess its warm? I mean, everyone is definitely less layered than they were during the season premiere, as they all sat in a semi-circle shaking with fear in their jackets and over-shirts and long sleeves. Sashas even wearing short sleeves now!Courtesy of AMC.

Maggie Greene

Maggie Greene

Then again, heres Maggie, in long sleeves and an undershirt with no pit stains! Oh, to have that superpower.Courtesy of AMC.

Enid and Carl

Enid and Carl

I give up. Here are Enid and Carl on roller skates. Enjoy the midseason premiere on Sunday night. Ill be here, staring at everyones clothes and dejectedly muttering to myself.Courtesy of AMC.

Laura BradleyLaura Bradley is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.

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