‘Fear the Walking Dead’ season finale review: Who here is worth saving?

10.05.15 2 years ago 131 Comments


A few thoughts on the end of “Fear the Walking Dead” season 1 coming up just as soon as I let you keep the watch…

After keeping the zombie action – aka the thing that this franchise tends to do best – to a bare minimum for most of the season, “The Good Man” finally gave us walkers by the arena-ful, in a way that at least explains how the relatively well-fortified military presence in LA fell. (One wonders if there were versions of Daniel Salazar all across the country, unleashing thousands of zombies on the local cops or soldiers in order to protect individual family members.)  Those sequences in and around the garrison were well staged, and Daniel and Ofelia coming upon the pile of ash – not only compounding their grief over Griselda, but making Daniel recall atrocities from his homeland – was powerful.

Six episodes in, though, Daniel and Strand are the only characters I feel any attachment to, and I was prepared to accept the loss of Strand (who's a mannered and weird character, but played charismatically by Colman Domingo) if it meant that Nick was actually going to die on the other side of a locked door from his mother. The blended Inawa/Clark family is meant to be the heart of this show, so it's not good that I'm rooting for all three kids to die because of how poorly they've been written, is it? (On the final podcast, Fienberg and I talked for a while about the reasons teenage characters are so often bad fits on adult genre series, and “Fear” unfortunately is checking all of the wrong boxes.)

Travis's savage beating of Corporal Andy was meant to be a big cathartic moment for the one character who had tried to be the good man of the episode's title, helping others and keeping the peace even as this terrifying new world made clear that everyone now had to look out for their own people first and foremost. But it didn't land because it made such little sense that Andy, once set free, would have hung around to get his revenge on Daniel, rather than hightailing it to somewhere that might be safe. It was a moment clumsily manufactured to let Travis unleash his inner caveman.

These six-episode introductory seasons have done neither “Walking Dead” series any favors. It's not impossible to satisfactorily develop characters and tell a story arc in that span – “Rectify” and “Catastrophe” have both done it pretty recently – but it's hard when you're a show with as many moving pieces, and spinning off of another show with as long a history of spotty characterization as “Walking Dead.”

The idea of riding out the fall of civilization on a yacht, which walkers theoretically can't reach (though we don't know for sure, since it hasn't come up much on the parent show) is at least a different direction from what we've seen on original recipe “TWD,” and perhaps a longer season and the inevitable learning curve that comes with any new series, even a spinoff, will lead to a more compelling second year for “Fear.” But there wasn't a lot here to get excited about, beyond Ruben Blades having some strong moments the last few weeks.

What did everybody else think? Are you in or out on “Fear” going forward?

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