Monday, August 24, 2015

Fear the Walking Dead was Great, and Here's Why

*Spoiler Alert for anyone who hasn't watched the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead*

The pilot episode of The Walking Dead spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead finally aired last night. Within minutes of the credits rolling I began to see social media posts and reviews popping up lamenting its slower pace and lack of gore. I didn't watch the episode myself until late last night, so I went into it expecting a pretty lame show. That is not at all what I got, and I'm thrilled to be adding Fear to my DVR recordings list. So, why did so many find it dull and boring while I found it to be pretty brilliant? In a word, expectations. Here's my assessment:

First and foremost, Fear is not The Walking Dead, and it shouldn't be. Fear is supposed to be the prequel to TWD; it's the story of how we got to the dystopian world of walkers, death, destruction, and the fundamental downfall of the world as we know it depicted in TWD. That being the case, it was incredibly important for Fear to set itself apart from TWD in several ways. We essentially needed to be introduced to the world in which Fear takes place as much as we needed to be introduced to the characters and the plot. I felt that the writers set this stage brilliantly in the opening scene: A filthy teenager waking up in a squallered, dilapidated church to the noise of off-camera clamoring, with his companion missing. As he shuffles around looking for his companion, he hears a scream, encounters bloodied rubble, stumbles upon a dead body with its throat ripped open, and eventually finds his companion (now a walker) eating another person before she chases him out of the church and through an alley.

We got our first walker in less than 5 minutes; calm down, people.
This was deliberately shot to have the unmistakeable feel of a Walking Dead episode. It was familiar and predictable, and downright comfortable. Right up until the fleeing boy gets hit by a car while running away from the walker and is immediately surrounded by normal, everyday people calling 911 for an ambulance and trying to stop the flow of traffic. The camera pans up, and we are greeted with a very normal looking, bustling Los Angeles complete with an airplane casually cruising through the sky. All of this blends together to shock the viewer into recognizing that this is not TWD, and we would do well to leave our assumptions and expectations at the door.

The issues many seem to have with the show is the pace and lack of walkers. Personally, I don't understand where these critics are coming from. As a prequel, Fear has to progress at a slower pace and focus more on character development and story telling. If the first episode were to be full of walkers and death and gore, it would have nowhere to go. We know where this is going to end; we've been watching how this ends on The Walking Dead for years now. This show is about the journey. The zombie outbreak is not likely to happen overnight. It will be swift, sure, but we are not likely to succumb to an all out societal downfall without some sort of fight. That is what this show is about.

To that end, what Fear accomplished in a single, 90 minute episode is pretty impressive:

  • We've met the main characters and have a basic understanding of their complexity and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • It has been established that while the existence of walkers is not common knowledge, people have taken note of a mysterious something that's keeping more and more people home "sick" and that more and more children are going missing everyday. 
  • Hospitals are busy. Specifically, they're busy with deaths, and are treating said deaths a bit more frantically than they usually would.
  • The first people who are being effected by whatever is causing the reanimation of dead flesh are children, the elderly, and the homeless/drug addict population (which is exactly what we expect).
  • Those who are raising questions about the outbreak, or have recognized it for what it is, are being dismissed or ignored.
  • The spread of information about the outbreak is happening via social media and viral cell phone videos. 
Our major players, folks. Place your bets!
What I'm interested to see is how the show depicts the progression from initial outbreak to all out hell on Earth. This is usually the part that gets glossed over in movies in order to get to the exciting zombie killing, and I'm really looking forward to getting a more in depth look at what I imagine will be a fascinating take on how we react to such an off the wall situation as a society, and from the governmental standpoint. I really hope that, unlike nearly every other zombie movie/show, they acknowledge how commonplace it is for people to have a Zombie Evacuation Plan, or at the very least acknowledge that people would catch onto a zombie outbreak for what it is pretty quickly (unlikely considering how it has been treated in TWD, but a girl can dream).

In my opinion, given how fast and loose we as a society are with casual violence, and how well equipt our law enforcement and military are, I imagine the downfall of our society will not be the result of the actual zombie outbreak, but will be of our own doing. More than flesh-eating zombies, it would be the clash between the military trying to step in and control the situation, the citizens who are prepared to do a little controlling of their own, the citizens who would ultimately panic, and those who would see such an outbreak as their ultimate opportunity to finally be able to wantonly walk the streets shooting people in the face that would cause civilization as we know it to crumble. That is the show Fear the Walking Dead appears to be, and that is precisely what I hope we're about to get!


  1. Well put and I am with you in hoping they show more of the progression and how the downfall of society occurs.

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  3. j’aime bien cette article aussi j’ai trouvé sur Serie une episode qui parle sur le meme principe c’est Serie Fear The Walking Dead je te remerice encore fois de bien accepté mon commentaire car je suis amusé de lire votre article