Fear the Walking Dead 2×07 ‘Shiva’: Blood bonds

FTWD 2x07 Cover
I keep trying to diagnose just what the issue is with Fear the Walking Dead, because when compared to The Walking Dead, it is shockingly inferior, despite having the same central thematic drive.  Does it have to do with plotting?  Does it have to do with the story?  Does it have to do with the dialogue, the scripting?  What is dragging this show from the near-greatness of The Walking Dead to the mediocrity of Fear the Walking Dead?
Source: AMC

Source: AMC

Really, it’s a number of things, and it’s things that I’ve talked about again and again, to the point that going over them again would be redundant.  (To be honest, it has probably been redundant up to now.)  But really, it’s the characters, who are partially characterized but are still not as distinct as they should be.  It’s the plotting, which is moving at a crawl compared to the speed of the first season.  It’s the dialogue, which is all over the place, never landing on a distinct theme.  It just isn’t made with the same level of care that The Walking Dead is, because even though The Walking Dead can be deeply mediocre, it is capable of some truly great stories.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

Fear the Walking Dead certainly tries to infuse its characters with intrigue.  Strand’s self-assured nature has devolved into uncertainly and fear, even if he still has a certain pragmatic sentiment about him.  Nick is looking for some agency and purpose to make him while, and he clings to Celia to make retain that purpose, even if it comes at the detriment to his agency.  Daniel is losing his mind, having flashbacks to his childhood as a result of the tragedy around him.  Chris is doing the same, losing his mind because of the violence around him.  And Madison is just trying to hold it all together, even when everything is falling apart around her.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

Well, this is a mid-season finale, so we’re supposed to be faced with some sort of resolution.  And we are, to an extent.  Travis and Chris split up from Madison, Strand, Ofelia, and Alicia.  Nick is off on his own.  Daniel is dead?  The compound goes up in flames.  Madison even leaves Celia to be devoured by the walkers (in what is probably the best part of the episode).  But there wasn’t a whole lot of tension in the first place, not like what happened with Sophia in The Walking Dead’s season finale.  The character arcs have been so sporadic, aside from maybe Chris’s and Madison’s, that very little of what happens here is all that satisfying.  What is interesting about all this is how Madison is so pragmatic now, and it makes for good television to see her transformation happen so gradually and build up to what we see here (Celia’s death and Nick’s rejection).

But really, none of this stands out.  There are worse shows out there, to be sure.  I remember reviewing the first season of Ray Donovan and dreading every single episode I had to write about.  I haven’t gotten to this point with Fear the Walking Dead, but it’s clear that it’s being held to a different standard than The Walking Dead.  It’s clear that the people writing the show are trying, but it’s just not enough to elevate it above mediocrity.  Maybe the back half of the season will raise the stakes, but as of right now, it’s all kind of a bore.  What a shame.
What did you think of “Shiva”?  Do you think we’ll lose any of the cast members in the back half of the season?  Let me know in the comments!
Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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  • George Liapes

    yy

  • George Liapes

    Sorry I didn’t review last week but something strange went on in the comments that kept me from posting. So I’ll keep my review for two episodes.

    Episode six was actually my favorite, though it wasn’t that difficult a task to achieve. I was annoyed that they killed of Luis, the least developed character. But then the plot finally got moving, with our heroes finally arriving in Mexico.

    The reveal that Celia was keeping the walkers in the barn reeks too much of Hershel farm but it was a creepy twist. The scenes between Strand and Thomas reeked of bad soap opera like dialogue but did add to Strand’s character (I’m glad they didn’t kill him off as that would PISS off the LGBT community)

    Chris’ scenes were the best in the episode and I was interested and terrified to see him act as Shane from the parent show. However, I had issue with how fast his transformation was.

    Like you said, the plotting was all over the wall. The first four episodes built up to a Big Bad, only to eliminate him in the fifth, leaving these two episodes to wrap everything up. As a result, Daniel and Chris’ breakdown only felt noteworthy in the last two episodes. The plot for Sophia, tedious as it was, at least was built up to the devastating climax with her death, so at least THAT had the time to blossom.

    Likewise, the midseason finale was also hit and miss. Madison killing Celia was the episode’s highlight for me too. Daniel’s scenes were for the most part effective, despite his rushed arc, as he was always one of my favorite characters from Season 1. I do question whether he survived or not (they said he wouldn’t appear for the rest of Season 2 but he MIGHT be back for Season 3, in what state I don’t know) and also how his decision to burn the place could’ve endangered Ofelia’s life and everyone else’s when you think about it. Travis and Chris’ scenes were also decent and I’m looking to see whether or not their scenes together in the second half are interesting.

    All in all, the first half of the season wasn’t as good as the first was. Like the first season, the second half may be better, but it’ll have a lot of work to do on that one and it most likely won’t wash the bad taste of these episodes.

  • George Liapes

    Sorry I didn’t review last week but something strange went on in the comments that kept me from posting. So I’ll keep my review for two episodes.

    Episode six was actually my favorite, though it wasn’t that difficult a task to achieve. I was annoyed that they killed of Luis, the least developed character. But then the plot finally got moving, with our heroes finally arriving in Mexico.

    The reveal that Celia was keeping the walkers in the barn reeks too much of Hershel farm but it was a creepy twist. The scenes between Strand and Thomas reeked of bad soap opera like dialogue but did add to Strand’s character (I’m glad they didn’t kill him off as that would PISS off the LGBT community)

    Chris’ scenes were the best in the episode and I was interested and terrified to see him act as Shane from the parent show. However, I had issue with how fast his transformation was

    Like you said, the plotting was all over the wall. The first four episodes built up to a Big Bad, only to eliminate him in the fifth, leaving these two episodes to wrap everything up. As a result, Daniel and Chris’ breakdown only felt noteworthy in the last two episodes. The plot for Sophia, tedious as it was, at least was built up to the devastating climax with her death, so at least THAT had the time to blossom

    Likewise, the midseason finale was also hit and miss. Madison killing Celia was the episode’s highlight for me too. Daniel’s scenes were for the most part effective, despite his rushed arc, as he was always one of my favorite characters from Season 1. I do question whether he survived or not (they said he wouldn’t appear for the rest of Season 2 but he MIGHT return for Season 3, in what state I don’t know) and also how his decision to burn the place could’ve endangered Ofelia’s life and everyone else’s when you think about it. Travis and Chris’ scenes were also decent and I’m looking to see whether or not their scenes together in the second half are interesting.

    All in all, the first half of the season wasn’t as good as the first was. Like the first season, the second half may be better, but it’ll have a lot of work to do on that one and it most likely won’t wash the bad taste of these episodes.

  • George Liapes

    Sorry I didn’t comment last episode but something on the comments prevented me from doing so, I’ll keep my review for both episodes

    Episode six was actually my favorite, though it wasn’t that difficult a task to achieve. I was annoyed that they killed of Luis, the least developed character. But then the plot finally got moving, with our heroes finally arriving in Mexico.

    The reveal that Celia was keeping the walkers in the barn reeks too much of Hershel farm but it was a creepy twist. The scenes between Strand and Thomas reeked of bad soap opera like dialogue but did add to Strand’s character (I’m glad they didn’t kill him off as that would PISS off the LGBT community)

    Chris’ scenes were the best in the episode and I was interested and terrified to see him act as Shane from the parent show. However, I had issue with how fast his transformation was

    Like you said, the plotting was all over the wall. The first four episodes built up to a Big Bad, only to eliminate him in the fifth, leaving these two episodes to wrap everything up. As a result, Daniel and Chris’ breakdown only felt noteworthy in the last two episodes. The plot for Sophia, tedious as it was, at least was built up to the devastating climax with her death, so at least THAT had the time to blossom

    Likewise, the midseason finale was also hit and miss. Madison killing Celia was the episode’s highlight for me too. Daniel’s scenes were for the most part effective, despite his rushed arc, as he was always one of my favorite characters from Season 1. I do question whether he survived or not (they said he wouldn’t appear for the rest of Season 2 but he MIGHT return for Season 3, in what state I don’t know) and also how his decision to burn the place could’ve endangered Ofelia’s life and everyone else’s when you think about it. Travis and Chris’ scenes were also decent and I’m looking to see whether or not their scenes together in the second half are interesting.

    All in all, the first half of the season wasn’t as good as the first was. Like the first season, the second half may be better, but it’ll have a lot of work to do on that one and it most likely won’t wash the bad taste of these episodes.
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