Season one of Fear the Walking Dead is in the books. Frankly, I feel a little cheated. True, every article that came out before the series premiered stated the series was not going to be about the virus. We were never going to learn what caused the virus or how it was released into the general public.
This makes sense from a storytelling point-of-view. It would be very unlikely if a virus of biblical proportions were to hit the United States you and I would ever know the complete truth. More than likely, if the series focused on the virus, it would be more of a medical drama than anything else. I’m not saying this would be a bad idea, but television has enough medical dramas.
In the place of a story about the virus, we were supposed to get a story about the collapse of civilization. Fear the Walking Dead missed the boat on this one. The series jumped from a family not sure of what was going on to living in a military controlled DMZ.
What happened in the days between seeing zombies in their backyard to living behind a barbed wire fence? Did the neighbors fight against their freedoms being stripped from them? We know Travis became the de facto mayor of suburbia, but what lead to up to his appointment? What was going on in the rest of Los Angeles?
There were many different options for further development, but the showrunners decided to skip straight to military occupation. One could argue this was done because of the six episode season. I would argue within in six episodes there could be enough drama, confrontation, and zombies to make viewers happy. Then in season two Travis and the gang moves out of suburbia for the desert. However, what we got was a story that stumbled over itself and plodded along at a slow rate.
“The Good Man” was arguably the best episode of the series (leave it the showrunners to save the best for last), but this was mainly due to the action during the rescue of Nick and Liza. A lot of action can make up for a lot of things, but once the action is done what was left in the episode?
The “action” itself was typical, not bad, but typical. The same action scenes can be seen in pretty much every action movie. However, when you see the same type of action every week in The Walking Dead it becomes old hat when it’s played in Fear the Walking Dead.
However, the action was a direct result of the crew’s screw up not of something that occurred weeks or months before. Travis and Daniel couldn’t have known the military was ready to roll out at the same moment they planned Nick and Liza’s jailbreak. It should have been apparent that the military had everything on lockdown. Which the military did until it was decided to free every zombie and herd them towards the compound.
The two men were directly responsible for a lot of deaths. It may have seemed, when the writers were around the writing table, to be a good idea. How else were they to get Travis and company from point A to point B within one episode? Again, they could have done all this next season.
The lack of character development continued to be a problem in “The Good Man.” Soldier boy Andrew returning to seek a little revenge on Daniel was predictable. What wasn’t so predictable was Travis’s response to the attempted murder of Ofelia. Maybe there was always a dark side to Travis we never saw or even got a hint of in the previous five episodes.
Chris and Alicia, who has been nothing more than window dressing, weren’t moved along in the character department. Neither was Liza who seemed to only be in the series to create drama between Maddie and Travis. The attempt at drama never really materialized. It’s too bad, a little drama could have developed the character more than what they were in season one.
After all of this, “The Good Man” left the series on a good note. The mysterious Strand should prove to be an interesting character in season two. There will be two interesting characters in season two as long as Daniel remains in the series. The final scene between Nick and Maddie, touching as it was, seemed to have cleared the air between the two characters. It should provide a clean slate for season two to work on. Finally, what will happen to Travis now that we know he’s been holding some bad stuff inside?
What’s left now that the gang is out of suburbia? The series is no longer about what happened before or even during the zombie apocalypse. It’s now a series of life after the zombie apocalypse, an area The Walking Dead owns. If there were complaints about this series being very familiar to its parent series those complaints will only grow next season.