by Sherry Lipp
In The Walking Dead spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, we go back in time to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse – and it’s a slow burn. The season premiere starts off with a bang as we see young junkie Nick (Frank Dillane) waking up from a stupor to a missing girlfriend and a bunch of strange noises. He blearily walks through the dilapidated church that serves as a drug den only to find dead bodies and his girlfriend eating off the face of one of them.
It’s a cool horrific scene that would fit into any zombie movie. The thrill has to pack a punch because it will be a while before we see another member of the walking dead. This episode is more about family drama. Nick’s discovery of his flesh-eating girlfriend is not the big bang we might expect. Instead of unleashing the walkers out into Los Angeles, Nick runs out into the street and is hit by a car. The walkers go unnoticed for the time being.
Instead we meet Nick’s mom Madison (Kim Dickens), her boyfriend Travis (Cliff Curtis) and his teenage sister Alisha (Alycia Debnam-Carey). The family is up in arms about Nick’s drug addiction and has little interest in his fantastic tales. After all the word of a junkie is unreliable, so much so that even Nick doesn’t quite believe what he saw.
Nonetheless there are plenty of hints that something’s amiss in the world. The principal of the school where Madison is a guidance counselor alludes to a high number of students being out sick and internet rumors about the undead are circulating amongst the students. Eventually things start to escalate, though now as rapidly as we might hope.
The problem is we already know what’s going to happen so the long buildup feels unnecessary and a little frustrating. I had a hard time caring about the minutiae of this family’s problems and found myself anxiously waiting for the real excitement to start. Knowing that most of their problems are going to become meaningless soon made it harder to care. That being said, I’m sure some of the things introduced will play a part in what the future holds for this family. I don’t think it needed to be drawn out quite so much.
What I liked most was that Fear the Walking Dead has a completely different feel than The Walking Dead. The setting is different, the characters have a different point of view, and society still exists. What I’m looking forward to is seeing how things crumble. I’m hoping this show will fill in some missing pieces about whether there is any government left and what happened in other parts of the world. We never learned from the survivors on The Walking Dead what they did or did not know about what happened while Rick was in a coma, though it doesn’t seem like much. It will be cool to see how things unfold as the outbreak is happening.
Fear the Walking Dead has a lot of potential to tell a new story about surviving the apocalypse. I hope it follows through.