Fear the Walking Dead 2×09 ‘Los Muertos’: From death

FtWD 2x09 Cover

The issue with spinoffs is that they rely on the original story to give it life.  More often than not, people see them as a moneymaking tactic, and in the case of The Walking Dead, they’re probably not wrong.  It’s not like AMC has many series with high ratings; Halt and Catch Fire is fantastic but has abysmally low ratings, and the same goes for Better Call Saul.  The Walking Dead, for all of its very, very noticeable flaws, still rakes in a TON of viewers, and Fear the Walking Dead has the capacity to do the same, even though its viewership is tanking.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

But the biggest, most gaping issue with Fear the Walking Dead is that we don’t really know these characters.  Alicia, Ophelia, Madison, Strand, nobody really has a personality to speak of.  There was some interesting juxtaposition going on in the first season, but the second season just feels muted, with no real characters to speak of.  The plotting doesn’t even feel like anything is happening, which is really the central issue with any zombie drama.  It’s an interesting way to explore existential dread, but Fear the Walking Dead barely even touches that as a concept.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

Case in point: Twenty-five minutes into “Los Muertos” and nothing has really happened.  Nick sees that his new group sacrifices the dying to the walkers and goes on a supply run, and Madison’s group just kind of hangs out at a hotel.  This series, the same as The Walking Dead, does very well when it narrows the focus, but completely drops the ball when its scope expands even a little bit.  “Los Muertos” is a great example of this; nothing of consequence happens, and even when it attempts to make a thematic point, it tries to hammer the audience over the head with it.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

Alicia has a conversation with Ophelia where she tries to convince Ophelia that you need to have hope in times of turmoil, and it rings so ridiculously hollow.  It’s just words, no character behind them, as we don’t really know enough about Alicia to know why she’s being the tough one right now.  It also doesn’t help that the series has people do stupid, stupid things to keep the narrative moving.  Nick trying to steal snacks from vicious gang members is one of the dumbest, most ridiculous things the series has had anybody do yet.  It’s entirely possible that Nick has a self-destructive streak, like Madison says here, and that Nick wants to live his life right at the edge of death, but it’s still an absurd thing to have happen.  The moment he shares with the little girl as a result of that theft, however, is a good one.  The show just needs to understand how to get those moments without manipulation.

If Fear the Walking Dead wants to improve, it needs to tell us who these people are.  When Madison talks about her family, we hear about her past, but we don’t get any sort of nuanced understanding of how she approaches that past aside from “sadness”.  That’s just not good enough, and it’s going to ruin this show if it doesn’t change.  Fear the Walking Dead acts like it has something to say.  It says things all the time.  But until it figures out something specific, something complex, something nuanced to say, it’s going to have a difficult time being relevant or worthwhile as a television show.
What did you think of the episode?  Do you think Nick is going to make it through the end 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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