How was the follow up to the FTWD pilot?
The teaser at the end of last week's debut episode of Fear The Walking Dead promised a lot: more action, more tension, the downfall of society unfolding before our eyes. Basically, it promised us The Purge: Anarchy. Long-time fans of The Walking Dead know better than to expect that kind of pacing though. And FTWD appears to be sticking to the "don't expect much excitement until the end of the episode, if any at all" formula of its predecessor. After all, if it isn't broken, why fix it?
No surprise, the first 2/3 of the episode is the usual character development stuff. The general populace seems to be growing more aware of the threat except, oddly enough, most of the people who at some point spoke to our main characters. Our female lead Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) has ventured out to find much-needed drugs to treat her son Nick's (Frank Dillane) poorly-timed heroin withdrawals. Meanwhile, Travis (famed character actor Cliff Curtis) heads into downtown LA to find his son, who is currently in the middle of an increasingly unruly mob. Both of these lead pretty much where you expect them to.
So far it's a bit disappointing in a way that more effort wasn’t taken to really set FTWD apart. The decision to stay the course formula-wise seems a bit questionable, especially when the fact that the audience knows what's eventually coming takes a bit of the all-important tension away. And most of the characters have yet to give us much of a compelling reason to care about them, other than the show's focus on them telling us that these people matter. Two episodes may seem a little too early to point such criticism at a show, but everyone knows how high the bar for FTWD was. The creators and writers should know this too.
It's early into a six-episode season, and there's still a lot of promise for things to get exciting. Plus the last 20 minutes of this episode were pretty great, and did a fantastic job setting up the apocalyptic tension for the series. But Fear The Walking Dead's main shortcoming still seems to be developing compelling characters that are worthy of empathy. Hopefully we get this as the series goes on, but for now it feels like it's holding back a bit. Let's hope that when Fear The Walking Dead finally returns in two weeks (no new episode next week due to the holiday) that we finally get to see the show break out of The Walking Dead's long shadow, give us more compelling characters, and ultimately begin to stand on its own.