The gut wrenching season finale of The Walking Dead last Sunday still has fans reeling, with a cliffhanger that has spawned outrage even to the degree of petitions to the show-runners to reveal who fell victim to Negan’s blow. It is the kind of television that, love it or hate it, has people talking. October is a long time to wait so AMC planned the West Coast companion piece, Fear The Walking Dead, to roll out its second season premiere the very next week.
Let’s get one thing out of the way, if you are looking for a straight up recap of S2E1, this isn’t it. Sure, we will touch on events from last night’s episode but I want to discuss a much broader matter. The Walking Dead is so popular because it excels at one very important television category: character development. From the very first episode, the viewer gets invested in the plight of Rick Grimes, Morgan Jones and his son Duane. In just a few episodes, the series introduced a number of characters that remain with us (hopefully) to this day. The show has never shied away from pulling the rug right out from under us by killing main characters, but at the same time building to a fever pitch of suspense and drama rarely seen on network tv. There have been lulls and plot holes of course, but as the ratings and internet buzz shows, it keeps them coming back for more.
Enter Fear The Walking Dead. The Los Angeles version has never made me feel involved in the players save one, Madison Clark. She has the sense to understand that when the world falls apart, it is time to switch on the survival instinct. Madison is a true leader, much like Rick, and will stop at nothing to protect her family. But that is where the similarities end. Season one ended with the group looking to escape on the mysterious Victor Strand’s yacht. We are finally treated to a few dangerous walkers but even that escape seems simple. For the next 45 minutes, there is talking. On a boat. Madison’s daughter Alicia strikes up a conversation with a gentleman via radio, easily giving up their position to a complete stranger. She would have died in the first scene of TWD. Madison’s son Nick is still a messed up junkie who couldn’t be more annoying if he tried. He would have died by the first commercial break on TWD. Madison’s gooey-hearted fiance Travis and his son Chris ? They would be a walker Thanksgiving feast by the end of the first episode.
**Mild Spoilers Ahead**
In a bit of a recap, the gang has made it to Strand’s yacht, where they bury Travis’ ex-wife Liza , deal with the dark brooding of Chris, have Alicia basically tell the Saviors of the sea the location of their floating Alexandria and get pointers on survival during the zombie apocalypse 101 by Strand. In the finest moment in the episode, he explains to the guests of his yacht who seem to want to pick up every floating survivor on the high seas, there are three rules to remaining on the yacht. All three are that this is his boat. Alicia in her infinite wisdom tells her radio pal that they won’t be coming to the rescue but nonplussed, he informs her that he will still be seeing her soon. As I said in my intro, 45 minutes of nothing leads to some cool water walkers…swimmers? It would appear that another refuge boat has been laid waste to by Alicia’s boyfriend and they are coming about for more.
The finale of The Walking Dead is so painful because I care who lives or dies in the group held hostage by Negan. Any one of them would be a heartbreaking loss, especially in the manner of death they endured. The season premiere of Fear The Walking Dead, with the exception of Madison and Strand, makes me feel indifferent if the rest become fish bait.
1.5 eels out of 5