Season two of Fear the Walking Dead (Personally, I like calling it The Walking Dead: West Coast) premiered Sunday. To say it was remarkable wouldn’t be accurate, but to say it was bad wouldn’t be fair either. The first episode lands somewhere in the middle.
The first scene of the episode started in true Walking Dead fashion-Los Angeles burning, jets dropping ordnance on the city, and the last members of the group trying to escape the beach. Yes, we’re jumped right into the middle of the action.
Normally, this isn’t a bad thing. However, the opening scene lead viewers to believe we were seeing a flashback. In the past, or at least in The Walking Dead, this usually means we get a scene afterwards that will tie the episode together. This wasn’t the case in the season premiere. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re suppose to believe all hell broke loose moments after Travis shoots Liza. Somehow the gang had enough time to gather supplies and a few of them even managed to get to the boat. Like I said, we’re jumped right into the middle of the action. Coming off the first season, where things happened quickly with no exposition, we should be use to this type of storytelling.
There was some tension as the group escaped to Strand’s yacht floating in the bay. The obligatory zombies who almost chomped Travis and Madison filled the zombie quota for the episode was somewhat intense. Nick’s race to save them from the beach also lent to the tension. It wasn’t enough to make us think that any of them weren’t going to make it the boat, but people fleeing from a burning city does create a nice visual.
The middle of the episode was pure filler. Filler isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some filler serves as a pause between dramatic scenes or to slow down action to allow the audience to take in what occurred in the previous scene. Thirty minutes of filler, on the other hand, is a waste of everyone’s time. By the time the episode gets to anything meaningful it’s actually anti-climatic.
There was too much time spent on reestablishing character types we already knew from last season. Madison was still acting high and mighty. Travis was still wishy washy and Carlos was still the moody teenage son. Strand was still the man no one trusted who controlled the group’s destiny. Daniel was still the old man giving advice and Nick was still the guy trying to make things right. A typical boring character establishing episode.
The only real moments in the episode that offered any kind of value were the scenes involving Alicia and her faceless radio friend. Let’s be honest though, even these scenes were pretty bad. The attempt at making viewers think this was anything but friendly dialog or there was a potential new character joining the team was an utter failure. Perhaps, because the vast majority of viewers are Walking Dead fans, we’ve become programmed to know that new characters or voices are never a good thing. It could be that the set up for a coming confrontation wasn’t very subtle.
The fact that we know what’s coming isn’t a real problem. How many superhero movies have we seen that are pretty much the same? All action movies pretty much follow the same standard formula, but we still flock to the theater when a new Fast and Furious movie drops. The problem is that anything Fear the Walking Dead has to offer was seen weeks before in The Walking Dead. Fear the Walking Dead needs to bring something new and different to the table if it wants to succeed.
Succeed doesn’t necessarily mean huge ratings. Succeed also means a story worth talking about the next day. Putting the story on the ocean is a step in the right direction. However, if it stays on the ocean for too long it risks becoming Waterworld or another version of The Last Ship. Neither scenario is an option I want to watch every Sunday.