The following post contains spoilers from Fear the Walking Dead on Sunday April 10,2016. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, come back later. You’ve been warned!
After the extremely frustrating season finale of The Walking Dead we’re flying back in time to where the madness all begins. Fear the Walking Dead takes place in California at the start of the zombie apocalypse. Today’s post isn’t a recap but more of a discussion on actions and missed opportunities in storytelling.
Season two begins shortly after season one ends, with our new band of survivors attempting to reach a yacht that’s out on the Pacific. I normally don’t watch Talking Dead, but I did catch the beginning last night. The show runner who was on last night (sorry, missed which one!) stated that they are testing the “I would just go out into the ocean” theory many fans have about escaping zombies. Fine, but it feels a little backhanded, like an angry kid saying “I’ll show you!” to his parents.
The episode starts out okay, if a bit disorienting. I didn’t feel the rush to the raft was as exciting as it could have been. Burning LA to the ground was the best part. I have nothing against LA, but I think there was a similar event in Atlanta. It was good to see something that was only previously described.
The propeller to the face guy was an eye roller for me. I’m all for gore, but these are fresh walkers, not the squishy rot bags we’ve come to know and love. Having grown up on a boat, all I could think was “that’s going to damage your outboard motor.” Of course it didn’t, oh well.
Now we’re on the boat, known as Abigail. Suddenly a show about zombies becomes a drama about people living on a yacht. The conflict between the characters about saving people didn’t really work for me. I believe Strand was acting on his character’s instincts and that part was believable. Madison, however; felt like she was only saying it because it’s the right thing to say. The only person I believed was conflicted was Alicia, because we actually got to see her struggle with this before reaching out via radio. (Show vs. tell, people!)
I also feel like not attempting to rescue people is a missed opportunity. I’m not saying they should have rescued them, but I’m saying attempting to rescue them could put our heroes in a situation where there is action. Even if they got close enough to discover they were too late, the people are being attacked by walkers and they drive away to leave them to their fate, it would have put a much darker twist on the story.
My biggest issue with Fear the Walking Dead is inaction and missed opportunities. During season one I wanted to see the zompocolyps happening. Instead, we were hanging out in quarantine. All of the conflict relied upon drama and mystery. If The Walking Dead never existed, that would have been suspenseful. Instead, it feels like repetition because the audience already knows the truth. We understand that the characters don’t know, and we want to see the world falling apart instead of trying to solve a puzzle.
Before we get outside the fence the transformation is already over. The riot in the streets is the closest we came to the true action, and the majority of that is experienced while trapped behind closed doors. It was a missed opportunity to really show the masses becoming the horde.
Now here we are again, floating away on a yacht and passing by opportunities for action and conflict.
As for last night, Chris’ grief was the most believable part of the drama. He also creates conflict through his actions. Nick plays hero and goes in after him.
The water isn’t safe. A capsized vessel was nearby, clearly attacked by people with guns. Finally the show is getting interesting, not because our characters did the right thing, but because they did something stupid. Characters making mistakes is important to storytelling. When Nick attempts to check if someone needs rescuing from the boat, he encounters the weirdest walker ever as it stops attacking to listen to Travis shouting. I hope they expand on this later.
Alicia also wins an award for making a mistake that will hopefully cause action. The Walking Dead has long given us living villains, and the slow revelation that the originally friendly voice on the line is actually not very friendly is a good sign (for us, not our heroes.)
A story about everyone being safe from the danger and playing it safe isn’t interesting. Floating zombies aren’t that scary or threatening. We already know they can’t climb. Unless people fall overboard a lot, zombies in the water are just that. Wave as you sail by, they will probably flail back.
My questions for this season:
how and when will the survivors of Flight 462 get brought into the mix. How will that work with the new no rescue policy?
Do the pirates wear eye patches?
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment!