Fear The Walking Dead has come to a close, the hyped spin off show and prelude to The Walking Dead, it premiered to very strong ratings and a mostly warm reception, going on an interesting 6 episode arc as we got introduced to the main characters we’d be following as society breaks down and walkers start to swarm, in the premiere we see drug addict Nick (Frank Dillane) as he sees the first walker in the show. In telling his family what he sees, he’s brushed off as acting crazy because he’s coming off a drug high but he knows something everyone else doesn’t. Things start to pick up steam though as word of undead people attacking police starts to spread and so does a video of a man being shot and not going down.
The premiere ended on an interesting note though with a lot of potential for things to go in an interesting direction, the burgeoning chaos to come in LA was clear to see and that was what would make season 1 exciting, seeing an entirely different setting and seeing how things get to the point they’re in at the start of The Walking Dead.
Nick and his family the Clarks are the focal point at the start, with Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey), Travis (Cliff Curtis) and his girlfriend Madison (Kim Dickens), not quite a happy family with Nicks ongoing issues, which adds some drama while we also see the Salazar family, related to the Clarks because of Travis ex-wife Liza.
The 2nd family on first view didn’t quite seem as interesting, apart from the rather cryptic Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades) and Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) who doesn’t quite get that much to do other than be a bit of a stereotypical angry at his parent teenager. When things start going downhill fast however, we see Travis getting the Salazars together and getting out of dodge to meet up with the Clarks, rioting is now in full swing and society is in a bad way, anti-police sentiment is high as authorities try to contain infected people which comes across as police brutality to the uninformed. The way the show did this was interesting but I think it was a stretch that people would start just rioting for the hell of it. There are some dramatic moments like Travis, Nick coming across a 2nd walker at home, Daniel doing the business and dealing with it, while Alicia and Madison come across their now Walker neighbour, sort of representing how the past is now forever changed and there’s no going back, especially with the military who are now in the suburbs and taking charge.
A lot of the season is very character driven, with the Salazars and Clarks together physically but pretty far apart, Nick is taken away by the military, reported on by Travis ex-wife while Alicia is off doing her own thing, though she does have a little adventure with Chris in an empty house in episode 5. The mid-point of the season was sort of plodding away with not enough compelling drama or anything of interest going on for me, we get Madison and Travis as characters, their motivations, strengths and weaknesses, same with Nick in ways but we just haven’t really seen enough of Ofelia, Alicia or Chris, who could all be interesting but definitely need more character development.
Going back to the mid-point of the season, a gripe I had was seeing characters not really doing much other than argue with each other or just be taken out of the action completely with Nick, which I think was a bit of a weird choice for possibly the most interesting character in the show who has a lot of potential to get better.
The tail end of the show definitely kicks things up as we go on a mission, sort of, with the military and Travis as we uncover operation Cobalt and the militaries rather dubious plan to exterminate infected people, then just get the hell out of the suburbs and leave the people left behind to fend for themselves. The penultimate episode ends on on Daniel coming across a stadium full of walkers, we know things are about to get real and it was great. The finale kicked things off in an interesting way as the Salazars and Clarks have had enough and plan to get out of the danger zone in L.A and as a whole, the finale represents how far certain characters had come, including some major milestones for Nick and mainly Travis, with high stakes, some emotional moments and good drama, this is the show that TWD fans wanted but unfortunately it only really came around by the finale.
Finally seeing hordes of walkers and people struggling against them brought feelings of TWD and a sense of familiarity, as did seeing characters finally take some more action to survive but did the show take a bit too long in getting to this point?
Possibly, overall Fear The Walking Dead was a mixed bag, the set up is intriguing and seeing how society breaks down is interesting to watch, coupled with some engaging characters, you have yourself a possibly great show, the season lacked consistently compelling drama for me though and sort of mired in that in 2 or 3 episodes by the mid-point. Nick being taken out of the equation definitely didn’t help and coincidentally, things get better in the finale with him back in action and with the other characters, the finale showed that things in the prequel setting can be entertaining and thrilling and that these characters are finally taking action, important things going forward into season 2 and the future. Fear The Walking Dead had some great ratings and is far from a complete failure, with some nice ideas and interesting characters, it didn’t use its material as well as it could but it showed some signs of improvement by the end.