During Fear the Walking Dead‘s first season, I frequently requested for Nick to be killed off as soon as possible. The show spent a lot of time developing the idea that a drug addict like Nick was uniquely suited to life in a zombie apocalypse. I’m still not buying into that thesis, but I’m not asking to have Nick meet his demise either. Although Nick himself seems like he would be perfectly okay with being one of the walkers. The midseason premiere of Fear the Walking Dead was devoted to Nick’s solo journey and to my surprise, I was digging it.
Madness reigned on the midseason finale of Fear the Walking Dead. The characters arrived at the Abigail compound last week and it was immediately apparent that despite the lush surroundings, this place was about as safe as your average death cult. The matriarch of the family, Celia, was clearly off her nut. So there wasn’t a lot of point in settling in to their new digs. Sure enough, within a matter of days, the whole place is going up in flames and the blended family has been scattered to the wind.
In theory, Fear the Walking Dead is the story of a blended family trying to keep it together during the zombie apocalypse. But the Clarks and Manawas would have been stuck in Los Angeles were it not for the introduction of Strand late in season one. While the drama has centered on the mixed-up family dynamics, the plot has been driven by Strand’s desire to… well, we weren’t real sure what Strand was up to. Ever since his introduction, the show kept Strand’s motivations shrouded in secrecy. Turns out, he really did just want to return to his loved one.
Strand’s quest to get home has been the driving force of the show’s second season. In this episode, the group finally arrived at their destination. And it was the Mexican equivalent of Hershel’s farm.
A common criticism of Fear the Walking Dead is that most episodes consist of “filler”. The writers concoct all manner of diversions in an effort to run down the clock while holding off on the good stuff for later. The “good stuff” presumably was the pirate threat which was brought to the forefront last week. In “Captive”, we finally get some measure of payoff. But if this is the “good stuff”, the show has a problem. Because even the episode’s big prisoner exchange which culminated in a zombie attacking his brother was remarkably light on dramatic tension.
Blood in the Streets, the second episode of the second season of Fear the Walking Dead, picked up right where the season premiere left off. The pirates who were tipped off to their location by Alicia trick their way on board the Abigail. Meanwhile, we get glimpses into Strand’s mysterious past via Lost-style flashbacks.
Wait. What do you mean this is the fourth episode of the season and not the second? How can that possibly be? Oh right, they pissed away two hours on absolutely nothing.
As the second season premiere of Fear the Walking Dead demonstrated, there is an inherent problem with setting your zombie show on a boat. Zombies don’t swim. So unless something happens that brings your characters back to dry land, you’re stuck with characters on a boat discussing their feelings. Character development is Kryptonite for writers of The Walking Dead, so every episode since the season premiere has found some excuse to bring the cast ashore.
On occasion, I have accused The Walking Dead of running in place. The zombie show frequently pads out its runtime with filler. It’s reached a point where I am pretty certain a viewer could watch the premiere and finale episodes skipping everything in between and not miss a thing. But with the second episode of its second season, the spin-off series, Fear the Walking Dead, has managed something I don’t think the original show ever did. It actually ran backwards.
Following an infuriating season finale for the parent show, the question going in to season two of the spin-off was how bad would it be? The first season of Fear the Walking Dead contained all of the shortcomings of the parent show without the benefit of likable characters. The spin-off seemed to exist to make The Walking Dead look good by comparison. But now that the parent show has reached new lows in its sixth season, perhaps Fear the Walking Dead won’t seem so bad any more.
Did the season finale of The Walking Dead piss you off? If it did, shame on you. I realize that ending the season on a major cliffhanger is an infuriating decision. It’s a big, fat middle finger to the show’s fans. But it’s also typical of the show and especially the show’s sixth season. After I don’t remember how many episodes of The Walking Dead teasing viewers with Glenn’s fate in the first half of the season, you really can’t be surprised when the season finale promises to deliver a major death and then makes viewers wait sixth months to find out who it was. We collectively are Charlie Brown and The Walking Dead is Lucy pulling away the football at the last second. The question is, when Lucy comes back in October and asks us to kick the football, will you fall for it again?
When I am scheduling articles for my blog, I set up blank drafts as place holders. When The Walking Dead is on the air, every Monday gets a recap. If the title is available, I go ahead and pre-fill it. More often than not, the working title of the episode changes and I have to update the name of the article before I publish it. I mention this because the original title for “East” was “The Calm Before.” When I saw the title, I had a pretty good idea of what the episode was going to be. “East” is a time-waster before season six gets to its buzzed about final episode.
After a run of not-bad episodes, The Walking Dead made up for lost time by amping up the stupid. Twice As Far featured two storylines in which characters who are supposed to be intelligent begged to be killed off in idiotic ways. One of them got their wish while another character made an important decision that was completely inconsistent with everything we know about her. This one was bad even by the show’s low standards.
Counting this installment, we have four episodes left of The Walking Dead for season six. Yesterday, I recapped the season to date along with the differences between the show and the comic book it is based on. The reason for my timing is that the show has essentially used all of the comic book material available before the arrival of Negan. AMC has all but confirmed that Jeffrey Dean Morgan will make his debut as the show’s next big bad guy in the season finale. So that leaves us with a few episodes of material created specifically for the show.
It’s been a little while since I did an in-depth look at the differences between The Walking Dead and the comic book it is based on. As we near the end of season six, I thought it would be a good time to check in on the ways in which the TV show differs from its source material. Obviously, this article contains spoilers for past episodes of the show and the comic book.