FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Monster”

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Airtime: Sundays at 9PM on AMC
Episode: Season 2, Episode 1 (S02E01)

TB-TV-Grade-B-

Tweetable Takeaway: @FearTWD’s second season kicks off with a bang but then returns to its usual slow pace. 


The first season of was quite divisive amongst fans coming over from its sister series, The Walking Dead. Some found it too slow, some disliked the characters, some found the time jumps irritating.

Those who are still on board for its second season premiere may find things a little more exciting this go-around, but the dull, quiet moments are still quite present.

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The episode began with an exciting beach sequence, though it was no invasion of Normandy a la Saving Private Ryan. The survivors are trying to collect some supplies to take to Strand’s yacht, the Abigail. They are also apparently there to collect the body of Travis’ ex-wife, and Chris’ mother, whom Travis shot in the head at the end of last season after learning she’d been infected. She asked him to do it, but this is something Chris, we gather, does not understand and hasn’t moved past. He stares at his mother’s dead face, bullet wound in her forehead, mourning. And when some zombies reach the sand, as is fire-bombed in the background, he refuses to leave her side, endangering everyone on the beach. Travis come close to being bitten before Madison ends the attacking zombie with a giant rock to the head. Eventually, they board the small motorized raft that Nick has learned to operate (under the guidance of Strand, we gather) with the Lisa’s body and make it back to the Abigail safely.

From here the episode is largely quiet and rather dull, though we get the sense the are planting seeds for the entire season (this one will contain 15 episodes, more than double what its first season had). For instance, Madison notes to Daniel Salazar that Strand hasn’t been sleeping. They are also headed down the coast towards San Diego in hopes of finding safety there, but Daniel posits Strand has ulterior motives. Strand continues to be the most combative character, butting heads with Madison, Travis, and Alicia in just this episode alone.

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The one member of the family he didn’t butt heads with was Nick, who helped escape from the military jail last season, claiming to admire him for his intelligence and strength gained from struggling with drugs. Besides the little hint about Strand having taught Nick how to use the boat, we get the sense Strand is really taking Nick under his wing in a scene in which they discuss Nick’s past drug addiction. It’s a little obvious that Strand is being set up as a father figure for Nick (he calls him “Nicholas” and they actually discuss Nick’s father), which Travis has never been able to be… I smell conflict down the line.

Strand also casts such a hard line when it comes to life on the boat. When the ship encounters a tiny raft with a dozen or so survivors on it, Madison wants to help them. Strand of course says no and steers the ship away. When he finds out that Alicia has been communicating via radio with a guy named Jack, he grills her on what info she’s given him and then plainly states the three rules of the boat, all of which amount to “It’s my boat.” Jack is a down to earth, friendly voice on the other side of the radio that Alicia spends a lot of time talking to and warming up to. The scenes would probably work a lot better if it wasn’t completely obvious where this was going… Jack is clearly going to turn out to be a bad guy, gathering their whereabouts via bits of information Alicia gives him. And sure enough it turns out that, when he radios her that their ship is sinking and she has to tell him they can’t come to help, he says he’ll see her soon anyway. Soon after that they encounter floating zombies and what appears to be an attacked ship. Is Jack’s ship headed towards them, with intent to do the same to the Abigail?

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The only other part of the episode that was semi-interesting was when Chris suddenly dumps the body of his mother overboard at their memorial service, then punches his father Travis in the face. We know Travis is a pacifist because he does not pummel the hell out of the kid. He just closes the door and goes on. Later Chris dives into the water, worrying everyone. Nick dives in after him, but Chris explains he just wanted to swim. That’s when the water zombies show up. Is Chris going to be the Carl of Fear the Walking Dead? Constantly putting others in danger? We’ll have to find out.

At least with the arrival of the potentially dangerous Jack, we should have some more exciting sequences in next week’s episode. But for a season two premiere, the episode was fairly lackluster, lacking any particularly memorable moments. The B- is mostly giving credit to a talented cast that just doesn’t have much to work with. Hopefully the show finds a better groove in the coming weeks.

TB-TV-Grade-B-

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Paul co-created and writes for SHOWoff, a game that lets players predict what happens next on their favorite TV shows, earn points for what they get right, and see where they stack up against friends and the world (free in the iOS App store).  Check out the SHOWoff app at playSHOWoff.com

Twitter: @PaulGulyas / paulgulyas.tumblr.com

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