Photos by: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC. http://www.amc.com/shows/fear-the-walking-dead/extras/fear-the-walking-dead-season-2-character-photos#
Theme: Current obsessions, What I’m watching
Three episodes into the second season of Fear the Walking Dead and it’s beginning to get really good. It took a little time finding its feet and taking that illusive leap from ‘okay’ to ‘excitement-inducing good’, but with its latest episode (2×03 “Ouroboros”) Feartwd managed to do so for me. The building blocks for so many potentially arresting character beats and intriguing relationship dynamics have been skilfully laid out in the first three episodes, and I am 110% ready to see the emotional journey each of these characters will take throughout the season.
Feartwd has been criticized quite harshly for being too slow and cluttered with stupid and unlikeable characters. Characters who haven’t instantly sharpened their katanas and gone out into the streets slicing through heads of the undead. The critical voices shouting about the show’s lack of zombie gore and the supposedly lack of charm in Feartwd‘s character roster have mostly done so from a point of comparison with The Walking Dead – a show in its sixth season, which quite frankly took a while to truly establish any memorable characters of its own.
Anyhow it is not this piece of writing’s purpose to delve further into any comparison of the two shows, other than to say that I find it an utterly useless way to approach Feartwd. If you are watching a TV show in the hopes of it perfectly emulating your experience of another, it will only end in disappointment. These two shows may share the same universe but the point of Feartwd even existing would be completely lost if it merely imitated the rhythm, look, and character experiences on The Walking Dead.
I am an avid viewer and fan of both shows and a main part of my enjoyment lies in the distinctiveness of the two. I am beyond appreciative of the creative team’s efforts to establish Feartwd on its own terms. They did this relatively successfully in the short six episode opener last year. It was by no means groundbreaking TV or the best drama I watched last year, but it was intriguing, visually beautiful and a good teaser for a fully fleshed out 2nd season where the show could truly take off.
Character-driven apocalyptic drama? Yes thank you!
Of the many shows I follow on a weekly basis, Feartwd is quickly becoming the show I am most excited about. Simply put, I am loving the direction this season is taking. The action has been amped up, without compromising the show as a primarily character-driven drama.
Speaking of the characters; I’m on board. I’m on the goddamn boat! I am in it with these characters. I am involved, I am there, I care, and I am excited for where they are going. The claustrophobic and yet open seas setting of the second season is a perfect way of isolating these characters with one another and yet allowing them to interact with a variety of situations as they approach dangers on and off shore. The most interesting aspect of Feartwd for me is the coming together of an enclosed group of people, with and without familial ties to each other, whose approaches to the apocalypse and the horror that confronts them are vastly different. Amongst the characters is a refreshing diversity of moral starting points, arguments and reasonings on how to react and act in this newly walker-infested world, rooted in each character’s own personal background and experiences pre- and post apocalypse.
It is important to remember when watching Feartwd that this is just the beginning. We are at a completely different stage of the apocalypse than The Walking Dead. That is what is so exciting. We get to witness the moment ordinary civilians become people with weapons, murderers, and worse. We get to witness the moment humans move from an old world trust in your fellow man, as being united in this terrible thing against the zombie hordes, towards realising that more often than not, other living people are the ones you’ll truly need protecting from. I want to see the gradual realisation of this. I don’t want every single character to magically become a ruthless badass overnight, forgetting compassion and only thinking of survival as soon as everything goes to shit. Feartwd actually gives us both. We get the immediate badass survivalist characters alongside the stuttering ‘ordinary’ souls placed in a harrowing situation. And the show seems determined to explore the grey areas in between. The evolution of everyone and where they fall and shift on this scale of ‘survival no matter the cost’ vs ‘holding on to humanity no matter the cost to survival’. Trapping these characters on a boat in a hostile world is a glorious setting for what could be great drama, with the ability to explore the constantly evolving push and pull of morality and survival for each individual character.
I hope they continue down this route. I want character progression rather than shocking deaths. Let Feartwd be different, let it be its own thing, let it be the smaller more intimate character-driven version of the mother show.
So, where to go from here for the characters of Fear the Walking Dead?
Why is Strand so prepared and ruthless, only days in to the apocalypse?
Is Madison willing to completely bend and break her pre-apocalypse suburban principles to protect her family?
Will she lose the faith and respect of her compassionate daughter Alicia in this pursuit? Will Alicia be able to combine her seemingly boundless protective and empathic instincts with survival in this new world order?
How will Chris deal with the heart-breaking mercy-killing he performed in the last episode?
Will Travis ever realise that his own son now carries the same weight of having taken another human being’s, life as he himself does?
Will Nick thrive and find a renewed purpose in this broken down society that suddenly outwardly reflects the reality he has been living for years as a drug addict? Will Nick become addicted to zombies in pursuit of new fixes?
Will Ofelia ever truly trust her father and will Daniel’s protective instincts expand towards the rest of the group or remain isolated towards securing Ofelia’s safety?
Will Alex return with a vengeance?
Can you tell I’m really excited to find out all of the above and strapping myself in for the ride?!