'Fear the Walking Dead' hastens makeover with surprise twist

The following contains spoilers about the April 29 episode of "Fear the Walking Dead."

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Brian Lowry
(CNN) — The following contains spoilers about the April 29 episode of "Fear the Walking Dead."

The wholesale fourth-season makeover of "Fear the Walking Dead" continued in the AMC show's third episode, with the sudden and surprising death of an original cast member.

AMC has sought to breathe life into the series with several key additions in its latest season, including Lennie James, who was brought over from the flagship drama "The Walking Dead," as the character of Morgan.

But Sunday's episode hastened the transformation of "Fear" into practically a new show with the slaying of Nick (Frank Dillane), who was shot and killed near the end of the hour.

Although the changes appear to represent a strategy to change a series that wasn't quite working creatively on the fly, the producers issued a statement saying the decision to exit originated with Dillane, and that they endeavored to craft a story that was "organic and impactful" and would offer him an appropriate sendoff.

According to the producers, during the third season, "Frank asked the producers and AMC to end his run on the show in order to pursue other opportunities. ... We have loved working with Frank, and while he'll be greatly missed, we're also excited about the storytelling opportunities these next chapters of the series present."

Death has been a fact of life on both "Dead" series, but Dillane was one of the few remaining players from when the show premiered. Kim Dickens and Alycia Debnam-Carey, who play his mother and sister, respectively, remain.

Dillane was scheduled to address his departure Sunday on "Talking Dead," the AMC talk show devoted to the series.

"Fear the Walking Dead" returned two weeks ago behind "Walking Dead's" eighth-season finale. Last week's episode, without the benefit of that lead-in, drew a little more than 3 million viewers, per Nielsen data, which represents marked improvement over the apocalyptic drama's third-season average.

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