If you watched Season 3 of Fear the Walking Dead, you may have felt a sense of déjà vu during The Walking Dead's Season 9 midseason finale. Your memory is real: the scene in "Evolution" when Henry (Matt Lintz) gets drunk with some Hilltop kids in an attempt to fit in and they show him a walker they're secretly torturing, is very similar to the one in Fear's Season 3 episode "TEOTWAWKI" when Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) gets drunk with some Broke Jaw Ranch kids in an attempt to fit in and they show her a walker they're secretly torturing.
In "Evolution," the Kingdom's princely young hope Henry is apprenticing with Hilltop's blacksmith, and he's all alone in a new place and feeling glum and awkward because his crush Enid (Katelyn Nacon) is dating Al (Callan McAuliffe). So when Hilltop's wayward teens Rodney (Joe Ando-Hirsh), Addy (Kelley Mack) and Gage (Jackson Pace) invite him to hang out in their secret Teen Zone, he goes along. They feed him moonshine which gets him absolutely twisted, and then they bring him into the circle of trust by showing him the walker they trapped in a pit just outside Hilltop's walls and abuse for fun. One of the jerk teens pees on the former human. Henry, disgusted, makes the kid stop and jumps down into the pit to put the walker down. The kid is like "WTF" and Henry says "If I had to explain it, you wouldn't understand." Henry was taught by Morgan (Lennie James) that all life is precious. Henry seems to be forgetting part of Morgan's lesson, though. Morgan carried the message of treating even walkers with respect despite people not wanting to hear it, so it actually is Henry's job to explain it. Addy, who didn't participate in the walker torture, seems likely to be receptive, though.
The counterpart scene in Fear the Walking Dead's "TEOTWAWKI" was almost exactly the same except for how it ended. Alicia had just arrived at the ranch and was feeling awkward and glum when one of the local kids invited her to "Bible study," which consisted of drinking moonshine and taking bong rips in their Teen Bunker. One of the kids then reached into a barrel and pulled out "Geoff," a severed walker head in a birdcage. The grimly pathetic sight made Alicia burst out laughing. Her reaction signified her descent into nihilism at that point in Fear's run. Interestingly, when Morgan crossed over in Season 4, he reminded Alicia that all life is precious at a time when she was slipping back into darkness. If Alicia had been in this situation after she met Morgan, she probably would have reacted more like Henry.
("Evolution" was directed by Michael E. Satrazemis, who also crossed over to Fear Season 4 and helped develop the new look of the creatively rebooted show. Before Season 4, the shows did not share actors or crew, so this is not a case of self-plagiarism.)
So what does it mean that the mothership and the spin-off had very similar scenes beyond the zombie fights you'd expect? It could mean that The Walking Dead's writing staff didn't watch Fear the Walking Dead, or it could mean they did watch and decided it wasn't a big deal to have similar scenes. Maybe it was even a bit of unconscious inspiration. But most likely it's just making the point that teenagers are the same everywhere. No matter what's going on — the world could be in the midst of a zombie apocalypse — kids are still gonna party and make mischief. And this type of scene is an easy way to show that idea. Fear the Walking Dead wasn't the first thing to depict drunk teens with no regard for human life (shoutout to nihilist teen classic River's Edge, which did it the best).
This is just the latest, most direct bit of similarity between the shows. In the past year and a half, both have had much ado about helicopters, blew up bridges or bridge-like structures and lost their main character and their son. This isn't even the first time The Walking Dead has shown people capturing walkers for their own amusement: in Season 5, Nicholas (Michael Traynor) and Aiden (Daniel Bonjour) kept a walker tied up as revenge for killing their friends; and who can forget The Governer (David Morrissey) keeping severed walker heads in a fish tank? As the years stretch out and the world of The Walking Dead world expands, this kind of recycling is probably going to keep happening.
The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead both return in 2019.