I have never watched an episode of The Walking Dead. Due to lack of cable, internet, and a general just way to busyness going on, I just never had a chance to catch on or catch up to the series. It is on my Netflix que and one day I will binge all of it in the span of three days (as one does), but it probably won’t be for a while. I say all this because I want you guys to understand the frame of mind I am in going into Fear the Walking Dead. So far from what I have read from some other bloggers I enjoy, they want to look at the show and compare it to its predecessor and that is okay. When a show you love or have a vested interest in spins off another chapter in its universe, you can’t help but compare the two. I do that all the time with the MCU movies, Agents of SHIELD, and Agent Carter. I can’t do that with Fear the Walking Dead, so I get to come into this show with a fresh perspective. I think that is probably why I like this show better than some of my fellow bloggers.
A quickie recap/premise for the show, there will be spoilers so you have been warned.
Two educators, Madison Clark and Travis Manawa played by Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis, are trying to build a family around their two broken ones. Madison’s kids are the boy addict wonder Nick played by Frank Dillane, and the “perfect” daughter just trying to “get thru one more year” Alicia played by Alycia Debnam-Carey. Travis has an ex-wife, Liza played by Elizabeth Rodriguez, and a son who wants nothing to do with him, Chris played by Lorenzo James Henrie. They all live in the smoggy, dirty city of angels, which in itself becomes another character in the story.
Nick enjoys doing junkie’s communion in an abandoned church and when he comes down from a high, he sees one of his fellow addicts eating the face of another person. Nick then runs into traffic and is promptly hit by a car. “LA is not a pedestrian friendly city” he quips to his mother while he is in the hospital being treated for injuries sustained in the accident. Eventually Nick runs off from the hospital, as addicts usually do when faced with the possibility of rehab, and goes in search of answers to what he saw in the church. Most of the pilot is centered on Madison and Travis trying to find Nick so they can get him into a rehab facility and Nick looking for answers.
We do get some set up for the rest of our characters. Alicia is super smart, is about to go to a big time college, and does not party like her brother. She wants nothing more than to get far away from home and I don’t blame the girl. Her and her boyfriend, Matt (Maestro Harrell), manage to not be annoying. Mostly because they seem to have the no-shit-bad family issues to worry about and not just stupid teenagery stuff. Towards the end of the episode, Matt does not meet up with Alicia for a romantic night together and does not text her back the next day. This does not bode well for him. One of Madison’s students, Tobias (Lincoln A. Castellanos), is the typical conspiracy theorists talking about people getting attacked and giving us a quick view as to how the media is handling some weirdness going on.
Eventually things ramp up to Nick killing his dealer while at the LA River in self-defense and calling Travis and Madison for help. When they go to look for the dealer’s body, it has disappeared. When they go to leave, they see someone (the dealer) walking towards them with the shiny blue eyes and the motor coordination you would suspect someone who is dead, but somehow can walk, would have. After a scuffle, Nick runs over the dealer multiple times and the guy is still moving. Madison, Travis, and Nick are left wondering what in the hell is up.
How the media, social networking, and our cultural indifference to violence could play a really interesting role in the story. There is leaked YouTube video of a Walker attacking police and EMTs then getting shot down. Our characters watch these videos with disgust and angst, not because of what they are seeing, but it is the reaction people have to another police shooting. It makes sense that today’s media outlets would not focus on the strangeness of the guy still going after being shot several times, but the fact that he was unarmed and shot several times. People getting sick is a flu epidemic, strange attacks on other people are a result of drugs on our streets. The lack of information as a whole leads our characters to rely on what they know to look for answers and not the obvious truth of something end of days like is going to happen. It is like what Nick tells Travis about what he saw in the church, “If it didn’t come from the [drugs], then it came from me… if it came from me… then I’m insane… I really don’t want to be insane.” No one wants to see there is something horrible going on because then they have to deal with the new and terrifying normal.
We get a lot of teases for people being “Walkers,” but they remind me of the jump scares in PG-13 horror movies. They are used to ramp up the scares and tension, but mostly they piss you off cause you want to see the real thing. They should have just stuck to the creepy ambient music and the hum of city noise to create tension. When we do get to the real confrontation with a walker at the end, it doesn’t have the same kick.
I walked away from this show with the sense that it will be about a family trying to deal with their problems in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and that is perfect. The best shows and movies are about the human reaction to the whatever and not about the whatever. I am looking forward to the story that is being told here and the fact that everything is taking place in a city like LA just makes it more interesting. LA is a city filled with weird happenings, people crammed into one another, and open hostility, so how the city in general will react is part of why it could be fascinating.
What did you think of the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead? Are you intrigued as to how they are going to lead up to known events? Or are you like me and going into this with no knowledge of the already established universe? I wanna hear your thoughts in the comments section!