Fear the Walking Dead, S2 Ep1 – Monster

Fear the Walking Dead began its second season with a bang, with the main characters fleeing from a Los Angeles in flames. They sought refuge in Strand’s yacht, The Abigail, and the fiery horizon they leave behind is a truly stirring sight.

The energy, unfortunately, doesn’t pick up until the final minute of the episode. Instead, the plot moves at a meandering pace as the characters get accustomed to the peaceful life aboard The Abigail and reflect on their world falling apart around them.

Fear the Walking Dead, S2 Ep1 - MonsterSince the zombie apocalypse is still in its early stages in this show, the characters are still slowly getting used to the harsh realities of their new world. And though their development is understandably gradual considering the succession of traumatic events they have endured, as a viewer I found it frustrating, a feeling that I think hardened fans of The Walking Dead will share. We are so used to seeing characters act in pragmatic and almost vicious ways in order to survive that watching the people on Fear the Walking Dead make ill-advised decisions and have foolish ideas only serves to exasperate.

Granted, the passengers of The Abigail still have some remnant of their humanity left in them as they contemplate saving others by going to their rescue. Strand lays down the law pretty decisively and shows that he is the only one in the group so far competent enough to survive in this world. My money’s on Nick and Daniel as the other persons capable of the same feat.

Fear the Walking Dead, S2 Ep1 - MonsterBut the others continue to wallow in their misery and terror. So they end up making dumb decisions, like Alicia believing the story of some guy she heard over the radio and the others insisting on helping other people. Then there’s Chris, whose loss is still raw and is understandably disturbed by everything but who randomly decides to go for a swim. Then Nick goes in after him?

I can totally understand why Strand is staying awake to make sure no one does anything stupid. But there’s only so much one guy can do, especially when his passengers seem to be planning a mutiny. I’m on his side on this one, though. They would have been dead (or undead) were it not for his help. And they are still unable to appreciate the fact that they have enough food and water and clean clothes and shelter. They don’t know how good they have it, while the guys in The Walking Dead had to endure way grittier circumstances.

Fear the Walking Dead, S2 Ep1 - MonsterThe last few minutes of the episode are suitably tense as the characters discover walkers in the water. So that answers the question of whether walkers can survive in the open ocean, and it’s a terrifying notion that drives home the idea that nowhere is truly safe. And walkers aren’t the only threat the group will have to face. Strand worries about another boat heading in their direction, and he surmises that the people on this vessel might mean them harm. The walkers in the water were victims of live humans, as their boats are riddled with bullet holes. Trouble is never too far away in a world gone mad.

Fear the Walking Dead isn’t based on any existing comics so it doesn’t have any source material to draw from. The show is therefore free to explore the same world in different ways, and this new, marine setting is a interesting direction to take and distinct enough from the main show to still be intriguing. But if the characters are ever to be as engaging as those in The Walking Dead, they will need to adapt much faster to their gruesomely evolving world.