The opener of Fear the Walking Dead was a perfect little masterpiece in itself - beginning like an episode of The Walking Dead, then pulling out to reveal that this world of Los Angeles was still teeming with human beings, and thus a big, significant step before the world of The Walking Dead.
And the episode continues in that fine, frightening vein - beyond frightening, because we the audience of course know all too well what's going on, and what Nick experienced is all too real. But no one, including Nick, quite knows that yet, and the arc of this first episode bends slowly towards Nick proving to himself and his mother and her man that what he saw in that drug den - his girl friend turned into a flesh eating zombie - was exactly what truly had happened.
And this is beginning to happen all over Los Angeles and in at least five states. The police can't control zombies who get up and come back at them after being riddled by bullets. Hospitals can't treat an illness which leaves the deceased all to read to actively spread the disease further and further. We've seen the ultimate result of this in The Walking Dead, and that knowledge makes this prequel even more blood curdling.
Indeed, what we know invests every encounter with the potential for unimaginable danger - or, peril that we can indeed not only imagine but have seen on The Walking Dead. A school administrator is hunched over his desk, non-responsive. Has he already turned? No, in this case he's just listening to some audio. But it may happen next time we see him, and may have already happened to some poor soul who walked by one of our central characters in the hall.
And the ending leaves provocative questions, too. Were Nick's mother Madison and Travis bitten in their encounter with the newly-minted zombie? In The Walking Dead, our characters know to look for that. In Fear the Walking Dead, no one yet knows what to look for, which means anything can happen.
One of the big reasons I'll be watching next week.