Fear the Walking Dead
The Good Man
August 23rd, 2015
There was a lot of buzz surrounding the companion series and prequel to AMC’s wildly popular The Walking Dead. Was it worth the hype though? Absolutely! Fear the Walking Dead’s premiere snagged an staggering 13.96 million viewers, the highest ranked debut of a cable series ever. By the show’s 3rd episode, that number had dropped to 11.6. Still an impressive feat for a show’s debut season. All the buzz hits a boiling point in the first season finale.
People complained that the show’s debut season, comprised of 6 episodes, moved at too slow of a pace, but people seem to be forgetting that Fear the Walking Dead is set during the early stages of Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead didn’t pick up the pace until the show’s third season. Showrunners Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson had to take a new approach to a storyline that we’ve all become accustomed to having seen 5 season’s of The Walking Dead. We, as viewers, are witnessing the beginning of the apocalypse through the eyes of a dysfunctional blended family, even more dysfunctional than The Walking Dead’s Grimes family.
For viewers of the show that haven’t read Kirkman’s comic books on which the show is based on, it wasn’t until the end of the series’ second season that we found out anyone who dies comes back as a mindless, flesh eating cannibal. This revelation was brought to light during Fear the Walking Dead’s pilot episode. This is a focal plot point of the series. Our cast of survivors on Fear are still learning the ropes, and, on more every occasion, try to reason with their friends who’ve died and came back as walkers. While Travis Manawa is trying to protect his biological family, he unintentionally puts his new family, Madison Clark and her children Nick and Alicia, in danger more than once. Add the Salazar family, Daniel, his wife Griselda and their adult daughter Ophelia, to the mix and things only get more complicated. Add Nick’s heroine addiction to the mix and things get shaken up to a boiling point early on.
While The Walking Dead focuses on what Rick Grimes would do to protect his family, Fear the Walking Dead shares a similar focal point but shifts the focus to a point in time where society is beginning its downward spiral. By the time Grimes’ finds his family in The Walking Dead’s 3rd episode, the apocalypse has been going on for a few months. Fear the Walking Dead, being set during the initial outbreak, gives us a chance to witness these characters come to terms with life as the lights are going out. One of the most harrowing scenes was in Fear’s 3rd episode as the Manawa family are finally reunited and driving back to the Clark home. Chris looks out over the Los Angeles valley and we see huge sections of the cities’ electrical grid shutting off. We saw similar situations in flashbacks’ on The Walking Dead, but no on Fear’s scope.
Even though the Army puts up fences to protect the civilians, the soldiers have ulterior motives. We’re given hints and glimpses during the series’ fourth and fifth episodes. “I can do whatever I want. I have guns,” one guardsman tell Travis. The big reveal of the series comes in the fifth episode when we find out what Operation Cobalt is. Cobalt was the original working title of the series, and serves as the WTF revelation in episode 5.
By Fear’s third episode, the series’ cast tops out at 9 members. When the first season wraps, we’ve lost 2 of the main cast, but gained one more. Our survivors numbers could have grown, but the Clark/Manawa/Salazar family hope to flee the armies’ Decontaminated Zone for the supposed safety of the desert east of Los Angeles.
“You can’t save everyone,” Alicia tells Chris at one point during the finale. A more important questions remains; What defines greed when you’re trying to keep your family safe? Over and over again in both Fear the Walking Dead, and The Walking Dead, this question is posed. By turning Daniel’s prisoner loose, Travis thinks he’s being the good man. This act of kindness comes back to bite Travis in the ass, figuratively. Army doctor Bethany Exner also brings up a few excellent points. As she and Liza Ortiz, Chris’ mother and Travis’ ex-wife, are tending the to the wounded, she tells Liza that she’s trying to save six thousand while Liza is trying to save six. Exner also questions Liza, asking her “What’s family? Blood or bond?” Exner brings up an excellent point.
The acting continues to be spot on. Each of these actors brings to life on screen a character that we can relate to in some way. Whether it’s Nick’s addiction, Alicia and Chris’ resentment towards their family, or Liza and Madison’s love for their children. Through the course of the season, we are drawn to these survivors and their struggles to maintain their relationships and their safety in a world that has literally gone to shit.
As the season ends with uncertainly, it opens the doors for where season two will take us. Season 2 is going to be one helluva ride.
Fear the Walking Dead