Fear The Walking Dead’s Tower storyline shows a villainous community from the heroes’ inside perspective – an avenue The Walking Dead has never fully explored before. The Victor Strand/Morgan Jones feud has continued throughout Fear The Walking Dead season 7, and now Alicia Clark is joining the fray. As The Tower’s undisputed dictator, Strand channels classic enemy settlements of The Walking Dead’s past – the Governor’s Woodbury, Negan’s Sanctuary, Alpha’s… forest.
During those famous arcs, The Walking Dead would highlight regular people forced to live under evil leaders. The Governor was eventually shot by one of his own disgruntled followers, Negan was betrayed by Dwight, and Alpha the same by Gamma. Occasionally, main The Walking Dead protagonists even join these communities – Andrea’s ill-fated tryst with the Governor, Eugene becoming Negan’s chief science guy, etc. Fear The Walking Dead season 7’s Tower takes this concept to lengths the main series never has, with half of the spinoff’s protagonists – June, Grace, Wendell, John Dorie Sr., Charlie, Baby Mo – all living under Victor Strand at The Tower, most of them willingly.
We’ve seen The Walking Dead characters delude themselves into looking past a community’s darker points (Andrea with Woodbury), or head down a villainous path themselves (Eugene joining Negan), but that’s not what’s happening in Fear The Walking Dead. Almost every character joined Strand’s Tower with their eyes open to the kind of place they were entering. And none are shackled either. June, John, even Grace has license to roam the office block, so long as they keep contributing to its running. Contrary to Negan’s Sanctuary, for example, folks could leave The Tower if they wished… they just wouldn’t be permitted back in. Each of them knows Strand has become irredeemable, and each hold their own grievances against the Tower, but they choose to grin and bear those concerns.
Keith Carradine as John Dorie Sr and Jenna Elfman as June in Fea
Here, Fear The Walking Dead creates a moral gray area The Walking Dead never bothered with. Never has the primary series shown so many main characters jumping in with a bad leader, and their efforts navigating everyday life under a ruthless dictator present an entirely fresh perspective on the classic “good community vs. bad community” setup. Fear The Walking Dead’s is probably the more realistic alternative, and this leads to a fascinatingly diverse range of responses from the heroes who chose The Tower as their home. Grace begrudgingly accepts her fate, John Dorie is trying to talk Strand around, June uses her status as a doctor to curry favor, while Wendell is just happy to be alive and chilling on the roof.
Fear The Walking Dead’s Tower is perhaps most similar to The Walking Dead season 11’s Commonwealth, where every main character aside from Maggie joins Pamela Milton’s sprawling settlement. Again, however, The Walking Dead’s Commonwealth story is a totally different bucket of zombie guts. Pamela’s community is essentially good, but in desperate need of restructuring. It’s the real world remade (warts and all, as Mercer puts it), and the answer is revolution from within, not an invading force of protagonists attacking and taking over. The Tower is completely different, with Strand making precisely zero attempt to hide the bodies being shoved off his roof on a daily basis. Strand is more akin to the Governor or Negan, committing evil deeds out in the open. Rather than revolution, the Tower does require an invading force of protagonists attacking and taking over. Alicia and Morgan are happy to oblige.
There are two reasons The Walking Dead has never explored a villainous community from such a perspective. Firstly, the main show would balk at the idea of sending multiple main characters away into enemy territory for an entire season, whereas a spinoff enjoys more creative leeway. Secondly, Fear The Walking Dead season 7’s nuclear wasteland has created a more desperate environment. If the wilderness wasn’t coated in radiation, perhaps June and the others would give Strand’s Tower a wide berth. That raises an intriguing hypothetical scenario – if a nuke exploded in The Walking Dead and Negan offered the only sanctuary for miles, would Rick Grimes and co. have been forced to integrate with the Saviors?