Fear The Walking Dead: a show where exciting stuff happens to people I hardly care about. The writers give me an interracial gay romance—yay!—and a gaggle of angsty, obnoxious, selfish teenagers with few redeeming qualities—boo! Nick levels up by mimicking the walkers but apparently uses up the jar of smarts because everyone else makes the world’s worst choices without pausing to consider the consequences. At least the water zombies are cool.
The second episode was a fine enough standalone episode, but it pales in comparison to even the worst standalones in its parent property. Episodes 3 and 4 gave Strand and Nick some much needed character development. So far the Los Angelenos have spent more time off the boat than on it. That’s kind of a good thing, as it keeps the Abigail from turning into Hershel’s farm. However it also means that the characters are apart too much. Little interaction leads to little character development which brings me back to little interest in how they react to those thrilling circumstances.
But! I really like the long game they’re playing with Strand, especially with regards to his sexuality. Black Sails did something similar, taking a macho, manly man, brutal pragmatist and revealing his love affair with a wealthy British man named Thomas who has grand ideas on property development. Of course, Black Sails is a zillion times better than FTWD in literally every respect so it’s no wonder that Strand and Thomas Abigail don’t have the same emotional kick. Like TWD, FTWD would rather do some quick and dirty exposition than let a character grow organically, but something’s better than nothing.
Nick also gets more and more interesting with each passing episode. I could see him pull a Carol or Daryl over the course of the next few seasons. He’s practical and people underestimate him, making him an effective survivor. If Maddie can stop being such a whiner the two of them might actually make it through this thing. Everyone else is cannon fodder. Ofelia has done nothing at all and I don’t understand why the writers have kept her around this long. Chris and Alicia’s great contributions thus far are to blunder into dangerous situations and drag as many people down with them as they can. Travis is useful when he’s not moping and complaining, but Daniel’s lack of foresight and strategy is mind-boggling.
This is the kind of show where I end up shouting “You idiots!” to at least 80% of the things the characters say or do. Instead of getting a show with new experiences and different personalities, Fear The Walking Dead is a show built around the worst character types from the early seasons of The Walking Dead. Insufferable, boring, stupid people making an endless series of poor decisions.
Take “Ouroboros” for example. What should’ve been a 15 minute detour to gather supplies on the beach became an entire episode of me threatening to ragequit every commercial break. This is what comes of sending an old man and a bunch of teenagers on a dangerous mission with one weapon and no plan. Sure, the zombie getting eaten by crabs and the shot of Nick smearing himself in zombie blood were kinda cool, but in no way did they make up of all of the awfulness that preceded and followed them.
Or even last night’s “Blood in the Streets.” WHY THE HELL WAS NO ONE ON WATCH ON THE GODDAMN BOAT? They know pirates are after them and that they’re anchored not far from a ton of zombies and panicked civilians. And, what, everyone just goes to bed and leaves the emotionally compromised teenage boy and the girl dying of a blood infection to hold down the fort? Not to mention Daniel sabotaging Strand’s arsenal even though they are FLEEING FROM PIRATES. Is anyone on this show besides Nick and Strand capable of thinking past the next few minutes or their own sore feelings?
And that seems to be where Fear The Walking Dead will remain: a few cool shots/scenarios scattered in between a mess of ciphers, asinine plots, and dialogue that sounds like it was written by that guy from your MFA class. As I’ve said before, I really want to like this show. It’s got so many things going for it—a cool premise, uber diverse cast, great actors, fun locations, intriguing philosophical questions, shocking twists—but never manages to do anything with them.
Ina lot of ways it’s worse than The Walking Dead. That’s a show that occasionally lives up to its own hype, whereas Fear can barely muster a valid reason for why it even exists (beyond it being a blank check for AMC and Robert Kirkman). I’m running out of steam for watching this damn thing. If it can’t right itself by the end of the season, I might finally follow through with that ragequit.
- Nick: “Something is off here.”
Alicia: “Everything is off everywhere.” *eye rolling intensifies*
- “This is the worst it’s gonna be.” Lady, have I got news for you.
- “‘Should I shoot him?’ Piece of advice: if you have to ask the question someone should already be dead.”
- Nick stumbles into zombie blood camouflage. Now that’s the kind of content I want to see—survivors making smart moves to better understand how to navigate their new world.
- You dumbbells. The burned kid is dying. HE’S DYING. Why let him suffer and turn when you could just brain him and put him out of his misery? It’s not noble to keep him alive, it’s ten shades of cruel. Especially when he asked to be killed.
- I’ll give FTWD this much, in an episode partially set in post-Katrina, it was clever to reference that again in Strand’s gated community by having the garages spray-painted with the same symbols they used in New Orleans to mark searched homes and dead bodies.
- I’m assuming Tom is still alive in Mexico because if not what an unconscionable waste of Dougary Scott.
- Strand and Tom are adorable! I want a whole show about them being well-dressed shady businessmen boyfriends. Someone write me some Criminal AU stat! *grabby hands*
- If you didn’t take the hint from the review, Black Sails is the best show you’re not watching. So maybe do something about that. Like now.
- Pop back to Tor.com for my coverage of the May 22 midseason finale.
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.