It’s pretty much guaranteed Fear the Walking Dead‘s premiere will be compared to The Walking Dead‘s first episode. While the latter’s premiere gave birth to a juggernaut, Fear most likely will be unfavorably, and unfairly, judged in the long run. Each show has its own aim. And while the original show set out to paint a bleak and intimate horror, Fear seems to be focused on familial tragedy.
Since there’s such a hefty focus on family melodrama, and there’s a good chance it’ll be a recurring theme of the show moving forward, it’s going to make or break the series if not done well. This show’s going to take its time setting up the zombified world, so I hope the characters will be interesting enough to keep watching week to week.
Fear starts promising enough. Opening on Nick (Frank Dillane) post-drug induced coma in a dingy church, he’s the first character in the series to witness a zombie attack. Naturally, he assumes the woman in question is freaking out badly and runs into a passing car. This sets a pretty great direction for the rest of the episode since the account of the attack comes from an unreliable source. But while we all know there’s an apocalypse brewing, Nick’s mother Madison (Kim Dickens) and her second husband Travis (Cliff Curtis, who’s always hired to play a vaguely ethnic character) have their hands full trying to bring Nick back into the familial fold.
The only problem with this major addiction story is that we’ve seen it all before, and the same can be said for the entire episode overall. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind stories with a lot of set up, but it’s got to feel like it’s going somewhere. It’s pretty much a stretched out version of the first ten minutes you see in most zombie apocalypse films and at times it certainly comes off that way. But there’s certainly enough here to keep me attached as Nick’s story is pretty compelling. Sure it’s going to lead to the whole “withdrawal while zombies attack” or “need for a fix puts everyone at risk” plot contrivance, but focusing the story on an unhinged individual works wonders creatively. Take a look at the Summer’s biggest hit, Mr. Robot, for a better example of that. It certainly could work if done properly.
As the show moves forward and focuses more on this family deals with the impending trauma, the skimpier plots will work themselves out. Nick’s sister Alycia is a well-off student on her way to college and to “escape” from her family’s troubles, but right now she’s focused on her boyfriend that’s gone mysteriously missing. I’m waiting for the inevitable “you ruined my life” fallout, but the longer the show keeps her in a stagnant role the worse it’ll be for all of us. In fact, the rest of the family gets eye to eye with the second zombie while she’s literally sent home. Treating women and minorities terribly was a conceit of the original series’ first couple of seasons, but since one of the problems worked itself out there, I’m hoping the same happens here. Then again, Madison’s entire plot is wrapped around her son. Soooo, I don’t really know what to think.
- There’s a “man vs. nature” speech lol
- Nick starts the show wearing a shirt no human being has ever worn ever.
- Speaking of Nick, Frank Dillane is the best actor of this whole thing. Having him at the show’s center will definitely do wonders for the rest of the cast.
- The urban setting will eventually lead to more Latinos, something the original show’s Atlanta setting never amounted to. I guess non-whites never made it to Georgia since they’re too busy dying all the time on that damn show.
- While I love Cliff Curtis, I don’t like how he’s become the go-to race guy. But at least his character is Maori, too.
- While fans will certainly miss the massive zombie attacks, the ones here are personal. That stings way more than a generic mass ever could.