If there’s one thing I could say about Fear the Walking Dead, it’s that it tries SO hard to be good. There are some shows that do a great job juggling characters, plot threads, story arcs, and can liven things up with some figurative language, some metaphor and symbolism. And there are shows that don’t see how to weave all of these things together, instead focusing intently on each one before moving to the next. And, of course, this never works, especially when you have a collective cast of around 7 or 8 people, ALL of which need to be characterized properly and deepened so that audiences care about them. It’s difficult to care about people you don’t know, even if you’re a person with a great deal of empathy.
For example: Let’s take a look at Nick. We see him through the lens of addiction. He was a drug addict, something that completely took over his life and caused him to abandon his family. But outside of his addiction, who is he? What kinds of hopes and dreams does he have? What kind of beliefs does he have? Chalking Nick up to one thing makes it difficult for us to care about him, not only because we don’t really know anything about him, but because he’s not terribly original. The reason we cared about Bubbles (a drug addict) from The Wire was because he wasn’t just a drug addict. He was caring, smart, had certain affections for certain people, understood how other people saw him, really just acted like a genuine human being. Nick, as a character, might be getting a little more complex, but he’s still really just an addict. And it’s disappointing that Fear the Walking Dead isn’t working harder to do more with him, and with most of the other characters.
It also really helps not having characters make stupid mistakes in order to get them into trouble. It’s the typical horror movie trope to have a character make a stupid misstep and end up in trouble, and in a world where the only real enemy is a slow-moving, lumbering creature who only attacks with teeth, it’s difficult to find ways in which a group of people would have a ton of trouble. The issue with the portrayal of the children characters revolves around them simply making stupid decisions, and stupid in a way that seems completely unreasonable. Chris has to run off again and make others run after him, and it’s frustrating when being erratic becomes a facet of his character that isn’t tied to a whole lot other than his anger.
It’s also kind of frustrating that Fear the Walking Dead is stalling out on the plot front as well. The episodes this season have largely been single-story episodes, and while that focus can be good, these single-story episodes are more plot driven than anything else. I’m hopeful that these single-story episodes can do more than they have been, because so far they’re really struggling to do very much. The plot in these episodes isn’t particularly focused, and even when compared to The Walking Dead’s shakier moments, it seems more impotent. This is one of the major struggles that comes with not having any material to draw from. Until a big, great idea comes about, there can be a great deal of stagnation. And, for the most part, there’s a LOT of stagnation.
So far, this season of Fear the Walking Dead hasn’t quite lived up to the last one. It’s interesting, for sure, but it’s not as good as it could be, unable to fully develop characters and unable to create riveting storylines. There’s always a chance for it to get better, as we barely know characters like Strand, but so far it’s ultimately kind of boring. And boring is one of the absolutely worst things a television show can be.
What did you think of “Ouroboros”? Do you think the season is getting better? Let me know in the comments!