From AMC and showrunner Dave Erickson comes The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirman’s companion series Fear The Walking Dead. Starring Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Lorenzo James Henrie, Mercedes Mason, and Colman Domingo, season 3 resumes summer 2017.
There’s a sign of the apocalypse in Los Angeles, where reports of a strange flu and the disappearance of people underscore this gritty drama, a prequel to AMC’s uber-popular “Walking Dead.” The story of the mysterious outbreak and its ramifications are told through the lens of high school guidance counselor Madison Clark and English teacher Travis Manawa. Widowed mother Madison is raising two children single-handedly but has recently found love with Travis, who maintains a relationship with his ex-wife and resentful son while trying to become a father to Madison’s children. The challenge of blending their families is exacerbated by unforeseen chaos, and a necessary survival of the fittest takes hold. The Clarks and Manawas must reinvent themselves, or embrace their darker histories.
I was not kind to Fear The Walking Dead’s debut season. I called it a rushed cash grab that was only created to profit from AMC’s other similarly named series… By the mid-point of Fear TWD season 2, I had actually said that I was done with the series entirely after a disastrous and nonsensical mid-season finale that saw the group splintered and wandering aimlessly in different directions. That’s a plot device that they’ve utilised several times in The Walking Dead so when it happened on Fear TWD, it annoyed me. However, by the time we concluded a sprawling second season, which started on a boat and ended in a hotel, I was actually satisfied at some of the darker and violent turns the writers had plotted out.
Over the course of 15 episodes, I’m looking back and I’m surprised at how much ground that they actually covered. We had a string of episodes where our crew was on a boat visiting zombie plagued islands, dealing with pirates, aqua-walkers getting stuck in the engine and then eventually wandering into a cultish compound where they treated the undead like family. Then – in the second half we deal with cartel gangsters, another compound led by someone who says he’s immune to the virus and a hotel loaded with angry survivors and more. If you were worried we’d be spending too much time on a boat driving past the action, then curb that notion because Fear TWD really went for broke on exploring the Mexican landscape.
I’m still trying to figure out who the main character is on this show – I mean, we have Rick on The Walking Dead, so I’m pretty convinced Madison (the mother/former guidance counsellor) is (or was? — avoiding spoilers here) filled that role for two seasons now. But I’m not super interested in what she has to say. I’m far more vested in characters like Strand, played by Colman Domingo. We get some wonderful flashbacks with Strand and his past will definitely be revealed early this season if you were ever curious where his loyalties lie and what drove him to venture into Mexico after escaping LA in season one on his boat with the ragtag crew. I love Domingo as an actor and he really has some high moments this season.
I’m a big Cliff Curtis fan (have been since Training Day) and I’ve been waiting for him to really impress me on Fear TWD. I feel like his character hasn’t been put through the ringer yet but during the latter half of season 2, they finally brought out the best in him as a performer by giving him the juiciest and most captivating storyline of the season as he deals with his borderline psychopathic son who is losing his shit during the apocalypse. They just needed to make us feel for the man, to finally see his side of the spectrum – that life still matters in this world and that you don’t have to be a senseless killing machine with no remorse… His character does something so spectacularly violent and astounding near the end of the season that I was literally jaw to the floor shocked. Episode 14 of this season is hands down the best of the series and even rivals some of The Walking Dead’s finest hours.
I was legit stunned at how violent and uncomfortable Fear TWD got. There’s a moment where Nick shoves his fingers into the eyes of a walker in order to penetrate the brain and kill the thing, and they show everything in awful horrifying detail. The ooze, the zombie screams, the thumbs being pressed deeper and deeper into the eye sockets as chunky red gore emerges around Nick’s hands. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something that violent on television before – I dare to proclaim that walker kill the most disturbing of the franchise (including TWD). I mean… Holy shit guys… You really went for it didn’t ya?
As much as I’ve questioned some of the more asinine character motivations, I started to really get hooked deeper into the second half of this season. If it hadn’t been for the father/son subplot where we see a man struggle to keep his child from losing his sanity — I don’t think I would have been able to stick with the show. The action, the violence, everything was accelerated in brutal fashion all season long (especially after the mid-season finale) but I did have issues trying to care for Nick or Madison’s respective journeys and that’s a big problem considering those two ate up most of the screentime this season.
Overall, Fear TWD was most interesting to me the darker it became. I’m a sucker for sadness and bleak but honest outcomes. In a world where the dead walk and eat the living, it was silly to feel safe and I didn’t get worried for any of these’ characters fates in season one. This time around – there was a sense of danger finally and that anyone could be done for — at any time. Plus — that fourteenth episode my god…. So much violence. I’m a sucker for a show that’s willing to take shit to the next level. Fear TWD has it’s fair share of problems and it’s far from perfect, but I’m also more intrigued this time than I ever thought I would be with this series.
Rating: [star rating=”3″]