Fear The Walking Dead: Season 2
There is nothing new about a popular television series spawning a spinoff; this has been a regular part of the business for over sixty years, what is less usual for the shows to run concurrently. The all-important continuity becomes increasingly difficult to maintain compounded by the necessity of synchronization. When AMC scored a major hit with their zombie apocalyptic phenomenon ‘The Walking Dead,' it soared beyond even the status of the cult classic to a part of the zeitgeist. Of course, it did have a fanatically loyal audience to seed its popularity, an intense series of graphic novels. When the producers launched its companion series, ‘Fear the Walking Dead,' that built-in core fan base primed for the extension. The traditional pitfalls just cited were addressed in the construction of its premise. The setting was a continent away from the southeastern United States on the Pacific coast. It was also separated chronologically set at the very beginning of the ‘Walker’ outbreak. This permitted the two series to co-exist in the same universe yet develop along their lines. The series has completed its sophomore year establishing its unique narrative voice. The only downside intrinsically associated with ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is for the foreseeable future it will live in the shadow of its parent series. After all, ‘The Walking Dead’ has recently completed it's nail-biting seventh season giving it a significant lead. The current state of the franchise is keeping it as one of the water cooler standard topics.
With some many vehicles available in film and television depicting the most famous undead creature around, zombies, it is exceptionally rare to see any variation that remotely comes across as original. There is a variety of zombies introduced in this series that is novel to the franchise and the genre, swimmers/floaters. They are zombies in the water rather than the land. Their use provides a welcomed change of pace, but the problem inherent in this technique is it can all too easily become overly use eclipsing the previously established groundwork. A group of survivors of the outbreak, Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and her boyfriend, Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), were both employed by the local high school. They have managed to escape with their children, Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Madison’s straight A daughter, her drug addict brother, Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) and Christopher Manawa (Lorenzo James Henrie), Travis’ son with his ex-wife. Along with several other people they encountered, they have taken refuge on a sizable yacht, the Abigail, owned by a businessman with a mysterious past, Victor Strand (Colman Domingo). The second season picked up directly after the previous season finale. The ragtag group is piloting the ship south along the coast hoping to make it to a prepared safe house. This does provide another opportunity to broad the original scope. Even close to the shoreline the people on the Abigail are forced to contend with self-appointed pirates and political factions determined to assure the survival of their own. The introduction of land-based border lines and the political engagements of international waters. In this second season, the producers were able to navigate through the perils of following an initial success. The time spent on the Abigail serves as the first motivator by transporting the survivors from the United States to the south of the border. This expands the focus typically seen in this post-apocalyptic scenario restricted to a clearly defined location. The immediate goal of this series is to bring the audience to the realization that they are dealing with a global catastrophe.
As the protagonists move towards Mexico, it becomes evident that some of these areas were not places that enjoyed the same authorities that in the U.S.A. there are regions controlled by the draconian iron fist of drug lords became conducive to an almost feudal system of warlords. In one instance they find themselves in the middle of a community of servants toiling for the estate of their master. This series is consistently veering off the expected course to draw the audience in an unexpected direction for the story. In the example of the plantation-rescue household, the moral dilemma apparently should be concerned with servitude, but the morality play enlarges to encompass same gender relationships, self-preservation, and euthanasia set against an archaic caste system. Zombie dramas have traditionally been platforms to address the socially relevant topic, a least since the reinvention of the genre in the sixties by George A. Romero. There are very real dangers that currently exist inexorably modified by the excellent condition of the world. An important piece of the central themes is the widespread nature of the pandemic. Initially, they hoped they could escape the infection, travel beyond the scope of the epidemic but the horrendous truth is inescapable, the undead are attacking people all over the world. It was possible to glean this fact within the context of the original but this season of this series makes it clear; nowhere is safe.
To retain a pivotal connection between the shows, it is necessary to have some aspects of storytelling in common. Achieving it demonstrating that the reaction of the plague has distinctive local variations. In an extended Mexican family, the dead are kept contained. Considering there is are rituals revolving around the dead with a specific day set aside to honor them. How this was handled infused nuances inti the fabric of the story that provides a glimpse of how other people with different beliefs process the unimaginable terror that has become their reality. This broader vantage point is neatly juxtaposed with the microcosm seen in the character development. One of the most dramatic changes witnessed with how Nick reacts, once viewed as a burden on his family due to his heroin addiction. The street smarts he accrued as a necessary part of the undeniable need to score that next fix. As it turned out, he was innately prepared to survive. When he leaves home due to an exaggerated form of family conflict, Nick could walk among them undetected by gutting one and covering his body with the entrails. He later defaults back to this type of isolation when lumbering with the undead is preferable to the living. This is contrasted with the changes that occur with his ‘step-sister’, Alicia was forced to mature extremely quickly and frequently the necessity of presenting the only rational viewpoint.
It was a smart move to force the group off the boat. It was a high-end yacht tricked out with all the modern convinces. From the perspective of the audience, it has a great potential as a perpetual Deus ex machina. By providing a haven, a permanent basis of the former world. At one point the principle characters had to be pushed out of that environment. I am just glad that they got that out of the way so early and allowed the narrative to stabilize as much as feasible. I have heard from some that they felt the show fell short but that requires an over-reliance on comparing it to the original as well idolizing it. It is certainly true that the parent series is better than this one. What must be kept in mind is ‘The Walking Dead’ is exceptional, much better than most what television has offered in the past? When considered on its own merits this series has a valid viewpoint and is entertaining.