Fear the Walking Dead: Season One Review

Fear-The-Walking-DeadSeason One of Fear the Walking Dead concluded Sunday with a gripping finale worthy of the series from which it sprung. The six episode arc imported all of the production values and continuity of the main series while it introduced viewers to an entirely different location and set of characters. Fear the Walking Dead averaged more than 11 million viewers per episode over the course of the season; AMC clearly has faith in the product as the network approved a 15 episode second season some two months ago.

I enjoyed the slow burn that this narrative had to offer — too often in post-apocalyptic television shows or films little to no time is given onscreen to witness the breakdown in the social order. Generally, this is presented as something that happened overnight or in a matter of hours. Personally, I found the approach in Fear the Walking Dead much more satisfying and quite frankly a more realistic representation as to just how exactly events would unfold under such conditions and how regular people who react.

The problem isn’t even recognized for the threat that it is at first but as the story unfolded that ignorance turned to speculation and confusion and then to panic and fear. And then there was that beautiful period of limbo in which the characters attempted to move forward with their lives as best could be expected under such conditions. After all, we inhabit a very large and complicated society — it isn’t likely that all of our systems of social order would simply crumble in a day or two. In reality the decay of our daily routine would be a persistent, steady creep.

I most identified with the characters of Travis and Nick and felt that Cliff Curtis and Frank Dillane were exceptional in their respective roles. Curtis was authentic as the father turned community leader whose aim it was to maintain the peace until order had been restored and Dillane managed to portray a troublesome heroin addict as one of the most likable characters on the entire show. I also enjoyed Ruben Blades’ portrayal of Daniel Salazar as a conflicted man who was prepared to accept the reality of the situation even if it meant he had to revisit the horrors he had committed as a younger man. His performance in Cobalt while he tortured a captive member of the National Guard had substance and provided excellent character development.

The slow but sure erosion of trust between the military and the community was handled deftly as well. Although predictable, if not outright inevitable, the pace was well measured and the viewer was treated to several scenes in which characters on both sides of the fence peeled back the stereotypes and expressed genuine humanity through doubt, remorse, hope and regret. The main characters were treated with respect and those who perished did so in a fashion that served the narrative; no one was simply discarded as a meat puppet. If I have one complaint it is that both Madison and Alicia failed to connect with the audience in the same way that the rest of the cast did. Hopefully, season two will explore these individuals more and thus allow each character to grow.

What secrets will Abigail hold and for that matter what are the true motivations of the enigmatic Stand? What impact will Liza’s shocking death have on the group dynamic? Will Chris blame his father? Will he and Alicia pursue the taboo relationship that was hinted near the end of the season? Now that Griselda’s fate is known and with the group free of immediate danger will Daniel and daughter Ofelia split from the group? Will Nick indeed embrace the madness or will his demons get the better of him and in the process jeopardize the rest of the group?

All fun and interesting questions to ponder and there will be plenty of time to do just that as Fear the Walking Dead won’t return until an as of now unspecified date in 2016.

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