Why the newest Fear the Walking Dead/Walking Dead crossover isn’t leading directly to the Rick Grimes movies

Aletha on Fear the Walking Dead
Althea approaches an unknown zombie. Pic Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

The Season 5 premiere of Fear the Walking Dead started out with plenty of action and also dropped a The Walking Dead Easter egg that has many viewers questioning whether another crossover is about to happen and how the AMC series could be trying to tie the two shows together even more than they already have.

The first episode of Season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead introduced a group that, we’ve discovered, leads back to events in The Walking Dead. Because this group was already seen–sort of–in a few episodes of the last couple of seasons of The Walking Dead, and because they directly intervened to keep Rick from dying, many fans and publications are stating that this current revelation on Fear is going to lead directly into the first of the AMC Rick Grimes movie, which is to debut in 2020.

Well… maybe. Actually, probably not.

See, there’s something that a lot of people are missing when they talk about what’s happening in Fear the Walking Dead and how it’s going to lead to stuff that will happen in The Walking Dead.  And it’s something that was bothering me when I went to bed last night and was the first thing I had on my mind when I woke up this morning.

As a well-liked Doctor I know says, “Time is relative.” And time is what we’ve got to look at.

First off, both Fear and The Walking Dead (which I’ll call TWD from here on out) have seen a few big time jumps.  TWD has had a couple: one after the All Out War story ended, and another big one after people thought Rick took a dirt nap.

Fear also saw a time jump occur between Seasons 3 and 4 because they had to accommodate moving everyone to Texas and allowing the arrival of Morgan (Lennie James) from Virginia.  Since then, time for Fear has pretty much moved ahead at a somewhat normal rate, while TWD blasted ahead into the future.

How do I know this?  Over on The Walking Dead Wiki, there are people keeping a close eye on the timelines of both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.  They do this by adding up time passing in each episode and by collecting information from writers and showrunners.

While these timelines may not be 100 percent accurate, I’m willing to say that they are probably as close as we can get without having to sit down everyone who’s ever written a script for either show and ask them, “When did this happen?”

According to these timelines how much time has actually passed within each series?  For TWD, it’s estimated that 3,500 days gone by since the start of the zombie apocalypse–NOT, I should note, the actual start of the show, since Rick’s shooting took place a few days before the full outbreak–which means a total of 9 years, 7 months have passed, placing the time of last episode of Season 9, The Storm, somewhere in March 2020.  From TWD’s point of view, they’re just about on real time with us.

(Note here: Fear established that the zombie apocalypse started in late summer/early fall, 2010.  In Los Angeles, school starts mid-August, which goes along with what was shown, and if the outbreak started in earnest somewhere between August 15 and 30, that would take TWD timeline into late March 2020.  So it does fit.)

The first three seasons of Fear took place during the first two months of the zombie apocalypse. At Season 3 finale titled Sleigh Ride, it’s estimated 64 days had passed.  So while Nick was blowing up a dam in Mexico, The Atlanta Quarry Gang watched the fake CDC blow up at the end of the first season. (TWD timeline shows episode TS-19 happening on day 64 of the zombie apocalypse.)

After Season 3, Fear saw a big time jump, which made it possible for Morgan to make his way to Texas, where he’d meet John and the others. According to both timelines, Morgan left Virginia on Day 628 and met John on Day 794.  Since then, time on Fear has advanced to Day 954.

This means back in Virginia, Rick and Company are 216 days–or a little over 7 months–away from the start of Season 9, and 316 days–almost a year–away from when Rick blows the bridge and is later carried off by Anne and the CRM Gang.

With all that being true, what we’re seeing now is really almost a prequel to what’s going to happen in Virginia in a year.

Sure, Negan and Rick saw the copters before now, but this is the first time–Georgie maybe notwithstanding–that we’re seeing these mystery CRM boots on the ground.  And given that the current date on Fear is approximately the end of March 2013, we’re seven years out of sync with TWD, and it will probably be another year in Walking Dead time after that before we see Rick once more.

So really, no, we’re not seeing the lead-in to the first of the AMC Rick Grimes movies.  That’s going to come from TWD.  At this point in time, the only person we may see is Heath, who was with this group by now and could be in Texas for all we know.

If anything, we’re getting a whole different story about people we’ve already kind of met.  And that’s even better.

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

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