The Walking Dead spin-off Fear the Walking Dead is about to begin its third season, and while it has developed a handful of interesting characters, like complicated recovering addict Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), inscrutable capitalist Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) and tortured good guy Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), whose best wasn't good enough, it lacks a charismatic leader like The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
Rick Grimes is the center of The Walking Dead's ensemble, and no matter how big the world gets, at its core the show is Rick's story. Rick is the patriarch who leads his makeshift family of cast-offs and loners drawn to him for his fierce loyalty, ability to get s--- done, and sense of right and wrong, which at times wavers but always returns to true north. He's the only truly indispensable character, the man who keeps us coming back.
Fear the Walking Dead, on the other hand, is leaderless. It's a truer ensemble in that most of its main characters are equally important. But its family has remained small, and part of that is due to no one in the family being someone who brings people into the fold. They remain insular by design.
But there's strength in numbers, and so the family may have to grow. But who in the family will take on that leadership role?
The most likely candidate is Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), who is ruthlessly pragmatic but not cruel. She does what she needs to survive, and so far it's worked for her and her immediate family. She has the most Grimesian characteristics, but so far lacks the personal magnetism.
Her son Nick on the other hand has plenty of magnetism but no leadership skills. His addiction has made him fundamentally selfish, and though he's working to overcome it, he's a long way off from being a reliable leader.
Strand can get almost anyone to do what he wants, but he's a manipulator, not a leader.
And Travis will never be Grimes, because he doesn't have the steely temperament. He's learned that he has to kill to survive, but having to be a brute might break his spirit.
After all of this, though, Fear the Walking Dead is not The Walking Dead, and people who are asking for a Rick Grimes may be asking the wrong question.
"I really hope that people continue to realize that you probably will not ever have a Rick Grimes," Colman Domingo told TVGuide.com. "You're going to have a Madison or a Travis or a Luciana."
"It's going to be something different, because we're not beholden to a comic book at all," he continued, referencing The Walking Dead's source material. Instead, the characters can develop organically, on their own, into whatever they're supposed to be.
They're just taking their time.
Fear the Walking Dead Season 3 premieres Sunday, June 4 at 9/8c on AMC.