‘Fear The Walking Dead’ Returns to AMC

Henry Schecker
Staff Writer

WARNING! Spoiler alert!

Sunday night’s premiere of the second season of AMC’s “Fear The Walking Dead” put the main cast out to sea from a burning, carpet bombed Los Angeles.

We last left our survivors Travis (Cliff Curtis) and his son Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), along with his coworker-turned-girlfriend, Madison (Kim Dickens) and her kids Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) fleeing L.A. with Guatemalan immigrant Daniel and his first generation American daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason).

They had met up with mysterious, wealthy stranger Victor Strand (Colman Domingo) while escaping a zombie overrun military outpost and had fled to his home on the coast to take to the open water on his yacht.

Season two of “Fear” opens up maybe 2-3 hours after season one’s ending, with the cast racing to set sail on Victor’s yacht.

The show displays its smaller budget by keeping its sets small with just an establishing shot to show Victor’s house and all the action shots happening in a small section of beach.

However, the money saved on set design goes into the zombies, which look fabulous.

The zombies on “Fear” are recently dead, so there’s a lot of makeup work to clearly show that they are, well…dead.

There’s more of an emphasis on making them look sickly for the zombies who have no wounds, and an emphasis on wounds for the zombies who turned due to being partially eaten, injured or committed suicide.

Each zombie has a little story to tell on how they ended up being a zombie if you pause it and conduct a little “CSI” investigation.

It’s a small touch, but one that’s appreciated.

Surprise, surprise, the cast survives their beach party with the undead, and we’re off on what’s to be the main set for season two: the yacht.

Named “Abigail,” which I’m sure will come back as a revelation of someone important as the show explores Victor’s back story, there are only three rules on the ship:

“Rule number one, it’s my boat. Rule number two, it is my boat. And if there remains any confusion about rules one and two, I offer rule number three, it’s my goddamn boat,” Victor reminds everyone after refusing to help another group of survivors.

If it’s not apparent by now, Victor is my favorite character, mostly because he’s the only one that seems to be playing by the rules of the zombie apocalypse.

Of course, being so early in the zombie apocalypse, that probably means he’s done some messed up stuff or was a messed up person before the end of the world happened.

The other focus of this episode was the strained relationship between Travis and Chris after Travis was forced to shoot his ex-wife and Chris’ mom Lisa (Elizabeth Rodriguez) after she had been bitten and infected.

There’s a moment where once the group is in open waters and safe, they gather on deck to have a makeshift funeral/burial at sea.

The fact that Travis is giving the eulogy, when he was the one who shot Lisa, infuriates Chris and he unceremoniously dumps his mother’s body overboard and storms off in a huff.

Travis tries to comfort his son, but Chris angrily screams at him and punches him in the face.

Meanwhile, Alicia communicates with another group of survivors, and might have inadvertently given the position of the yacht away to them.

After Chris jumps overboard “for a swim” (it seems like a suicide attempt) and Nick jumps in to save him, our cast finds another ship shot up with bullet holes and partially submerged.

Floating zombies ungracefully swipe at Nick and Chris, but fail to hurt them. It’s a tense scene, and a zombie jumpscare was the last thing I or the characters expected out in the deep ocean.

The episode ends with another ship approaching on radar, our heroes unsure if it’s the survivors Alicia befriended, or the people that shot up the boat; perhaps the two being one and the same…

It’s nice to see that “Fear The Walking Dead” has picked up the art of the cliffhanger from it’s big brother, “The Walking Dead.”

It seems this show has not fulfilled its promise of explaining how the zombie outbreak started, and instead has jumped into full “we’re not following the comics, so we get a free pass” mode.

If I wanted another zombie show with half the budget of “The Walking Dead” and goalless main characters, then I’d watch “Z Nation” or whatever crap Syfy network is churning out these days.

I really wanted to see how the zombie apocalypse started, or at the very least watch the world slowly unravel in a slow season long burn, but by the third episode of season one of “Fear,” we’d already jumped the shark and gone into full zombies taken over territory.

There could have been a much bigger role played by the police or military, but in the beginning of this episode a tearful sounding man reports over the radio “there’s no help from the coast guard, we’re sorry” or something to that effect and it essentially writes off all branches of the U.S. military.

Are we really to believe that in the span of a month the whole of civilization has collapsed?

I understand that there are budgetary and time constraints, and they feel the need to get things going into the zombie apocalypse, but “Fear” would have really benefitted from a much slower pace and a different tone.

Watching this season debut felt eerily similar to the first season of “Walking Dead” tonally, and that’s a disappointment because it doesn’t feel like this show wants to differentiate itself from its big brother.

It feels like AMC wants year long seasons of “The Walking Dead,” but doesn’t want to shell out the dough to the main show. Instead we get “The Walking Dead” and “The Walking Deadlite.”

The use of David Bowie’s song “Five Years” seemed a bit ham-fisted, and was definitely added in post production no matter how much director Adam Davidson insists it was in the scene prior to David Bowie’s passing.

Victor’s “rules of the boat” was my favorite scene in “Fear The Walking Dead” so far. Victor just oozes charisma; dude steals every scene he’s in.

I guess we’re just supposed to forget Nick is going through heroin withdrawal? Seems the writers did.

We really can’t see L.A. being firebombed. Just a few orange flashes on a set backdrop doesn’t make a pretty convincing scene.

Even TWD sprung to have a CGI Atlanta being bombed from a distance. It looked bad, but some effort was put in.

Also, can nobody hear the zombies growling? The zombies sneak up on people pretty darn frequently for such loud lumbering creatures. Heck, the one that attacked Nick in the water was splashing like a kid in a public pool.

Come on people, ears up for crying out loud.

I’m still addicted to “Fear The Walking Dead,” and although I’m disappointed by it, I’m still going to watch it to completion.

Email Henry at:
hschecker@live.esu.edu

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