AMC‘s Fear The Walking Dead Monster TV Show Review. Fear the Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 1: ‘Monster,’ picked up where the first season left off – with the embarkation to Strand’s (Colman Domingo) yacht, Abigail – which brought with it both good and bad tidings for the show.
On one hand, given the relative slow start to the series, maintaining the notable upswing in momentum (from the closing episodes of season 1) was kind of a necessity. I don’t think fans of TWD franchise actually have the patience for a slow-boiled backstory in progress, regarding the war of survival – already in progress – that they’ve gotten used to. The fact that I can say that about any casual viewer (not just Dead fans) points to another intrinsic problem the show may have.
A consistent criticism of the show has been about the caliber of the characters – primarily, how consistently stupid & unlikeable a number of them (if not all of them) have been. Personally, I had made allowance for this, from the get-go, because of one relatively inconvenient truth: under these circumstances, IRL, I’d regard the characters of FTWD as the rule – not the exception. ‘Civilized’ folk have demonstrated a depressing lack of sense, when the trappings of civilization is abruptly taken away from them; and it sometimes takes a good while (and an acceptance that their preferred way of life isn’t coming back) before they re-evaluate their priorities. Add to this the fact that no zombie story ever takes place in a world where Zombie Apocalypse is a part of the everyday zeitgeist, and the characters of FTWD are to be considered entirely ignorant of the ‘rules’ to surviving it. They’re in the dark about pretty much everything, and learning to survive from scratch – including learning to appreciate Daniel’s (Rubén Blades) experience – which should make them more relatable to most viewers. Unfortunately, most of these viewers – whom I think would likely not survive the first year of an apocalypse that doesn’t follow the rules – want to see characters that fight the odds, instead of just getting caught in the tide, clinging to useless baggage. They don’t want to see themselves for what they may very well be, on a show like this.
On the other hand, I can’t really hold that against them. I like my elected officials, soldiers, managers, teachers, bosses, etc. to be better qualified than me – otherwise, what’d be the point of paying/ deferring to them? I also watch a lot of films/ TV series specifically to see people do things I can’t – knowing if someone like me were to suddenly appear on screen, it’d be as an extra, gag, or victim. If we’re to accept that FTWD is riding TWD’s coat-tails, then we must accept that fans of the latter have grown too used to its lean meanness to accept the pampered fat the former has to carry forward.
‘Monster’ had more than its fair share of pampered fat moments – starting with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) putting everyone on the beach in jeopardy over his mother’s corpse, only to go emo over dealing with it, later. There was also the matter of taking Abigail for granted (as a humanitarian resource); Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) talking to strangers – using communication channel observation as a means of repopulating her social media (and taking Abigail for granted); group dinner, like nothing’s happened, after a lot of drama over their circumstance; Chris deciding that smoke on the water signals impromptu swimming; and Nick (making like a Nirvana album cover) approaching floating strangers, and fancying some seafaring reading as worth a whole lotta risk. Sigh.
So after all I said, about its built-in handicaps, the worst I can say about this episode, specifically, is that nothing happened until the final act. Worse, much of that act turned out to be a demonstration of just how much fat really needs to be trimmed, before this cast can even think of making the transition to being survivors, from having just survived.
I think the interpersonal drama, running through Travis’ (Cliff Curtis) two families, has been pretty well established; so more of the same really wasn’t necessary. Strand & Daniel remain the two most interesting characters; but I fear that may be due to their peripheral, and guarded past status. If the show felt the need to take a character break, after picking up last season’s action, then revisiting the same dynamics did the episode (and maybe the series) no real favor.
All-in-all, a pretty infuriating way to kill off the very momentum the show needed to keep, while setting up the first marauder encounter of the series (if we’re lucky). If the showrunners intend to win over fans demanding more semblance to TWD, then they really should stop relying on carelessness & outright stupidity to drive plots. Melodrama: surewhynot; but not the actual plot.
At this point, if neither Strand nor Daniel bring something interesting to the impending encounter (showdown, if we’re lucky), then I’m holding out for an infusion of less frustrating characters – marauders or not.
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