Fear The Walking Dead Season 1
Fear The Walking Dead is similar to its big brother in that it is the downtime that is most intriguing. The undead are a bit more active in this offshoot from AMC, and subsequently take a lot more killing, but they still exist as merely a mirror to hold up against humans and human nature. The zombies could be anything that causes people to react in the way that only people can. And it’s this examination of character that makes the genre so appealing and so open to as many interpretations as it currently is subject to.
Whereas The Walking Dead threw the viewer right into the heart of the crisis (who could forget Rick’s jaunts into zombieful cityscapes?), Fear The Walking Dead takes us right back to Day Zero. We watch as a junkie awakens in a drug den only to find his girlfriend chewing on the intestines of some guy (sounds like sex talk) and then we experience the slight annoyance of no one knowing what is going on as all the while we are shouting ‘it’s bloody zombies, you fools.’
It is that feeling of frustration that is perhaps the thing that Fear the Walking Dead needs to combat the most. Two thirds of the way through the series we are still witnessing the main characters almost hug zombies while saying things like ‘it’s okay’ or ‘are you still in there?’ The frustration that we feel is not only because we have witnessed season after season of the ensuing chaos, it is also because the characters seem to adopt an unreal level of empathy, especially after they have witnessed the undead rip bodies apart. The characters seem uneven because the writers want a cheap way of creating drama. And it feels like cheap drama at times.
Fear The Walking Dead is super interesting though when it comes to examining what the collapse of the infrastructure would look like and how survival instincts kick in. It’s the lack of loss of humanity in the central characters that grates so much against the tearing up of the social contract that is going on all around them. Rioting, murder, martial law, but still we are hugging the undead. This annoyance is swept away when the actions of the authorities clash with the desires of the badly drawn characters, most notably the Hispanic Rambo dad (like in Lost, foreign people know who to torture dudes). And as in The Walking Dead (and popular culture since the beginning of time) we discover that humans are the real subjects to fear.
It was a good start. The pace is slow and the annoyances, heavy-handed characterisation and soap opera elements (at times) can be a bit of a turn off. But it has something to say and it has zombies and it is worth watching. It is not as strong a debut as The Walking Dead, but it also was not able to have the instant drama that was afforded to a show that opens in the heat of the battle. I look forward to the next season.
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