This piece contains minor spoilers from the first two episodes of Fear the Walking Dead.
When I heard that the popular AMC series, The Walking Dead was getting a spin-off (or companion series, as everyone’s been calling it) I was kind of “meh” about it. But then I got some more information about the show that got me interested.
Firstly, it’s set in the U.S West Coast, whereas the original series is on the other side of the country. That in itself is an interesting dynamic, as those two areas look and feel very different, bringing a unique aesthetic to this show.
Secondly, we found out that Fear the Walking Dead would be set just at the time that the breakout was just starting, and we’d actually see the world descend into chaos. We didn’t get that with The Walking Dead because our main character there just wakes up and the world’s already been shit for quite a while.
So I was fully on board because of these two show facts, and although I got a late start, I’ve now caught up on the first two episodes.
The way we get introduced to the world is awesome: through the eyes of a drug-addicted young guy, Nick. This is perfect in terms of mirroring the surreal nature of a zombie apocalypse. I love this character! He is so well balanced (if you actually listen to how self-aware he is, despite being a druggy), and to me he seems like the type of person who sucks in normal society, but is a total badass at surviving in an apocalypse.
He’s definitely hugely flawed as a human being, and that’s what makes him interesting, as he has a lot of issues to overcome. I never felt frustrated by the things he does; often in these types of stories, it’s easy for a character’s level of denial to become annoying. Like dude, there are walking corpses trying to eat you. Their eyes are fucking weird-looking. They can’t talk. You should RUN!
And Nick damn sure does a lot of running in this episode, which makes him likeable, because he’s NOT that dumbass who’going to explore the attic in a haunted house and stick around after he hears and sees the baddy.
I was really expecting a slow burn with the first couple of episodes. If there’s one criticism I have of The Walking Dead original series, it’s that it can be damn slow at times.
This can often create good character arcs and just a reflection of what humanity can become in these circumstances, but it can also be really frustrating just sitting in a room watching two characters talk while the world is going to shit outside.
To be honest much of this is what has made The Walking Dead so popular; because it’s more than a zombie bloodbath, it’s actually character driven so we get a cerebral and visceral element to the whole thing. Different strokes for different folks I guess.
Travis (Cliff Curtis) was somewhat unofficially presented as the main protagonist. This was probably as a result of the internet trying to project a Rick Grimes counterpart into this new series to make more sense of the world and characters.
But to be honest, the feeling I got was that this is more of an ensemble story, with the screen time being split more evenly between characters. On top of this, Madison (Kim Dickens) is a way more captivating than Travis. I’m pretty sure that this is a mixture of her great acting ability, and the fact that her character just happens to have more interesting scenes and lines. She’s definitely in a deeper state of denial, but it’s played out in a manner that’s not too frustrating.
Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a fairly inscrutable character, but hey, aren’t all teenagers? She and Nick, who I’ve talked about earlier definitely have a lot of growing to do, which should be a really interesting journey.
Their step brother, Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) is my least favourite character so far. He’s the dumb kid who goes up into the attic. He’s the one that’s going to slow everything down and cause the tension that makes a show like this work. These characters are a necessary evil I guess.
Me No Likey
As I mentioned before, Chris is a lame character. He should just die already, and they should find other ways of creating tension. Another thing I noticed and disliked about this series is how many black characters they’ve already killed off.
They’ve already killed three (2 confirmed and 1 assumed), properly introduced, speaking black characters in only two episodes. Seriously! At least The Walking Dead took T-Dawg all the way to season 3, and Michonne is still alive.
The Fear the Walking Dead showrunner, Dave Erickson has already defended this pattern which was picked up by many viewers and critics, and has suggested that we just keep watching and things should get better? Yeah, lame.
And before you get on my case about this, yes, it’s important that black characters are treated as human beings with substantial parts in fictional series. This both reflects the nature of our society and simultaneously creates the most updated version of reality in our society. So let’s work on getting this right, people.
Overall, two episodes in and I’m liking this show. I am a sucker for apocalypse, horror, and science fiction movies, and let’s face it, zombie flicks are kind of an amalgamation of those things with the world ending, the presence of flesh-eating corpse monsters, and the fact that it’s probably some science experiment that caused this.
I’m hoping that along with the chaos of the descent of humanity, we get some insight into what actually caused this whole mess. We’ll have to wait and see I guess.
What are your thoughts on Fear the Walking Dead so far? Check out the trailer for the series below:
About the Author: I’m Stephen, editor in chief here at BTG Lifestyle. I’m also an aspiring filmmaker, so if you’d like to get involved in my latest project, please check out my campaign here: #BreatheEasy2016.