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The Surprising Film That Influenced The Latest Episode Of Fear The Walking Dead

Spoilers for season 6, episode 4 of Fear the Walking Dead to follow!

Before season 6 of Fear the Walking Dead debuted, fans knew they were in for something a little different within this zombie apocalypse spin-off series. It was announced over the summer that season 6 would follow an anthology format where each episode would focus on a different main character as they settle into their various walks of lives in their Virginia communities.

The change in format allows for a wide array of stories to be told, so that not every week ends up being about strictly zombie survival. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Ian Goldberg described one episode of season 6 as "Die Hard with zombies." It appears as though the classic film inspirations doesn't end there. The latest episode of season 6, "The Key," borrows heavily from another movie beloved by cinephiles. 

In this fourth episode of the season, John Dorie (Garret Dillahunt) stumbles upon a mysterious death. As one of the rangers in his town, he sets out on an investigation to solve this case, and in the process, he ends up questioning everything about himself, which should give you a pretty good clue as to what film the episode used as inspiration.

The showrunners paid homage to Chinatown on the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead

Season 6, episode 4 of Fear the Walking Dead played out like one of the best mysteries in cinema historyChinatown. Any allusions to the film you picked up on throughout the episode were definitely intentional. When showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss sat down for an interview with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the newest episode, they talked about how they've been using various movies as inspiration for the new anthology format (including last week's Die Hard episode). This time around, they wanted to put one of the most popular characters on Fear the Walking Dead in the shoes of Jack Nicholson's character in the classic film. 

"The genesis of this one from the beginning is we really wanted to tell John Dorie's Chinatown," Goldberg told Entertainment Weekly. "Both on sort of the crime investigative aspect, but also kind of in the position of the JJ Gittes' character in Chinatown; where he's haunted by his past and finds himself destroyed by a crime in the present. So, it was just that kind of scaffolding has been really exciting for us as we're crafting these episodes. To be like, 'wouldn't it be cool to tell Chinatown with John Dorie?' And everything kind of extrapolates from there."

A murder mystery set in the zombie apocalypse is already an intriguing prospect, but as Chambliss points out, the setting provides a unique twist on the set-up that gave them a lot of room to play with. As he puts it, "And I think one idea that we've always kind of had in our back pocket is it was always said, like, 'Wouldn't it be interesting to investigate a murder in the apocalypse when the murder victim can get up and walk away?'"

It's unclear if future episodes will continue looking toward films of the past for inspiration. However, it's important to keep an eye out for every last detail and Easter egg on every Walking Dead property (of which there are presently three) in the lead up to the Walking Dead movie