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'Fear the Walking Dead' Returns to Life – So to Speak
June 2, 2019  | By David Hinckley

Good news: The Fear The Walking Dead gang may finally be pulling it all back together.

Okay, they’re still living in a zombie apocalypse further compromised by bad people who want to kill them. But at least they maybe aren’t just wandering around in a figurative daze any more.

Fear The Walking Dead, which returns for its fifth season starting at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on AMC, spent the last part of its fourth season looking like a kid who had lost his or her parents in a shopping mall.

The death of Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), who had been the leader of the group and the centerpiece of the show, set everybody else adrift. Equally critical for dramatic purposes, it left the show without a focal point or apparent direction.

For whatever reason, the situation was more acute with Fear than it was with The Walking Dead when Rick Grimes vanished. Rick’s departure reshuffled that deck, but at least there were a few leaders and some sort of loose structure.

On Fear, we had Morgan (Lennie James), he of the perpetual moral anguish, and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey, top), Madison’s daughter, who had been prone to flights of exasperation where she went walkabout. We had John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt), a former cop who is tired of killing. And Althea (Maggie Grace, top), a shrewd survivor whose obsession is documenting the ZA on video.

Plus Strand (Colman Domingo), a powerful man in the old world who has never quite found his footing in the new one. And June (Jenna Elfman), a nurse with a mysterious backstory and a newfound affection for John.

And let’s not forget Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), a young girl who at times has been Chucky and at other times has seemed like, well, a vulnerable young girl caught up in an evil world.

There are others, too, and collectively they’re an interesting bunch. But they were already nomads back when Madison was around to point them in some direction, and once she was gone, they didn’t seem to quite know what to do or where to go.

At Morgan’s urging late last season, they sort of decided to think positive and do good, like by leaving supplies along the roadside for any survivors who might happen by.

Admirable as that was, it didn’t always add up to a great story. So what’s encouraging about the start of the new season is that the group quickly gets sucked into a serious life-or-death challenge. Whether it will add up to a great story, who knows. The Walking Dead universe has had hits and misses.

But Morgan, Alicia, and company have re-engaged with both dead and undead adversaries, and that’s a good start.

We also get some indications the leadership quandary has begun to sort itself out – mostly in the ways we might have expected, but with a few potentially interesting wrinkles.

Among other things, the new season starts with more action than the last season ended. That’s also good. There were times toward the end of last season when the characters seemed to be walking around almost like, well, zombies.

So perhaps it’s fitting that real zombies help wake them up – though here again, as the Walking Dead universe repeatedly reminds us, the most insidious dangers always come from the living.

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