Frank Dillane as Nick Clark is back in season three of Fear The Walking Dead.
Frank Dillane as Nick Clark is back in season three of Fear The Walking Dead. Richard Foreman Jr/AMC

TV Insider: Will Walking Dead spin-off rival the original?

HAS Fear The Walking Dead become a worthy rival to the original series?

When The Walking Dead spin-off screened its first season the consensus was it would be short-lived. The characters weren't likable, the story delivered far below fan expectations and it seemed as if AMC missed what was a goldmine of potential.

FTWD's second season gained respect, and by the end of the year had improved out of sight.

The story unfolding around each of those members - the people they meet, the predicaments they're caught in and how that affects the individuals - has improved.

Judging purely on the opening episodes of the third season, FTWD could be in for quite the year.

We pick up the story of Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), Travis (Cliff Curtis) and Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) as they are led into what looks like a formidable facility.

Flanked by armed guards (are they soldiers or did they find some gear?), they are led inside to be "processed".

We meet some new characters, one of whom feels very much like former TWD villain The Governor (David Morrissey). The way he talks to and acts around Madison and Alicia is unsettling, and that's never a good sign in what is a post-apocalyptic world with no rules or law.

FTWD still has to overcome the challenge of making the central cast more likable. No number of family reunions will do that - the second series picked up when Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) was alone and forced to fend for himself.

Nick may be the most compelling individual in the series.

His evolution from a drug addict (who was well known to police), to a person trying to overcome withdrawals as the world changes for the worst, and now a man doing his best to survive in a world populated by far too many people who have adopted a "shoot or be shot" mentality has been an interesting development.

Colman Domingo's Victor Strand is the other strong member. The Clarks left Victor behind at the end of the last season, and the tale of how he handles the role at his new home could be another strong storyline.

He has been a powerful yet grounding voice of reason from the start, but was powered by a determination to reunite with a loved one. With that now gone, Victor's goal is simply to survive.

Fear The Walking Dead returns to Foxtel's FX on Monday at 7.30pm.

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