Monday, October 5, 2015

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: When the Good Man Has Bad Writers

The freshman season of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD reached its ignominious end tonight with an overly long hash of cliche, chaos and randomness entitled "The Good Man."

Last week, we learned that the Evil Military was secretly preparing to initiate "Cobalt," a plan to "humanely" liquidate the civilians living in the safe-zone. Though this random plan acts as the spur to action for everything we see from the central cast tonight, no further mention is made of it. Rather than pouring into the safe zone the force necessary to carry it out, the military simply packs up and leaves. This allows our heroes to, in a budget-conscious way, drive, without opposition, right out the front gate, which "Mayor" Travis, still bucking for that Larry Vaughn Award For Excellence In Public Service, leaves standing open, exposing his neighbors to the army of the undead he's about to unleash.[*]

The military, you see, has conveniently established a facility right next door to the stadium full of zombies Daniel found last week and has even been kind enough not to post any guards there. Our heroes' plan--they've obviously seen "No Sanctuary" from last season's TWD--is to unleash these zombies and allow them to overrun the base. The base they wish to infiltrate in order to rescue Nick and Liza.

Yeah, FTWD is that kind of show.[1]

Much shooting and random chaos ensues. Ofelia's boyfriend Cpl. Andy, whom Daniel spent last week torturing, tells Travis and co. exactly where to go in the facility to find the holding pen where Nick had been stashed but when they arrive at the pen, Nick has already escaped with Strand.[2] Though the doctor with whom she was working tells her how to get out, Liza just spends a lot of time running around the facility as it collapses. Strand's escape-plan goes wrong and he and Nick do the same. The characters all just sort of aimlessly run around the massive, maze-like facility until coincidentally running into one another just in the--forgive me--nick of time for a last-minute save! Hooray!

Or maybe not.

Prior to leaving home, Travis had deduced--probably correctly--that Daniel intended to kill Andy and, being the soft-hearted guy he is, set the man free. As, near the end, everyone runs to the parking garage to escape, we get an overly familiar moment when a clearly-angry Andy suddenly appears with a gun.[3] He's pointing it at Daniel, which makes sense--even in the random world of FTWD, it seems, torturing a fellow will leave him with a bad impression on your character. But then FTWD reasserts itself and he shoots his girlfriend Ofelia instead! This is supposed to provide for a big dramatic cliche moment when Travis decides he isn't so civilized after all and pummels Andy half to death but the randomness of the shooting had me laughing out loud. It's the end of the world and for no reason at all he's suddenly going to shoot his girlfriend?

Everyone escapes--in a budget conscious but inexplicable development, the army of zombies simply vanish--and makes their way West to Strand's big home by the sea, passing through some cheap effects shots of Los Angeles, a city from which all the people and most of the zombies seem to have disappeared. There's some more emoting and over-the-top melodrama and one more death before the end--Liza was somehow horribly bitten on her torso by a zombie during the escape and didn't even realize it!

Overall, this season of FTWD was a perfect 0 for 6, an across-the-board failure absent a single redeeming merit. A creative abortion on the scale of Glen Mazzara's TWD. Awful characters, awful writing and a series that seemed absolutely determined to avoid at all costs the one story it had.



 [*] 5 Oct., 2015 - Reader Steve Johnson notes that, as our heroes are preparing to leave their neighborhood, "Madison justifies not warning her neighbors that they will be killed by saying something like, 'My neighbors don't know. They did nothing when the soldiers came for us.' In her moral indignation, she has apparently forgotten blocking her daughter from helping other neighbors earlier, when zombies were eating them."

[1] Though it provokes not even a moment of reflection, this plan results in horrible death for hundreds, perhaps thousands of innocent people, not just those Evil Military guys.

[2] Last week, Strand, the cool-and-collected guy in the holding-pen with Nick, traded some cuff-links for the kid's ass, asserting that, because Nick was a junky, he'd have skills Strand could use when it came time to escape. As Lebeau over at Le Blog noted last week, "aside from stealing morphine drips and mussing his hair, I wasn’t aware Nick had a skill set." And tonight when Strand escaped, no skills by Nick were in evidence.

[3] His becoming an arguably bad decision that comes back to take revenge is one of the most tired cliche's in movies and television--TWD did it only last season.


  1. Its funny how none of the characters are afraid of zombies, like its only been 2 weeks and no one even bats an eye at the zombies. Even the most hardened person in real life would be terrified at fricken dead people walking around. But not once did any character show absolute terror at the undead. That is unbelievable, like you keep saying this show avoids all the interesting parts of a zombie apocalypse, and our 'heroes" just killed a whole bunch on innocent people and no one was like 'Opps' we are the reason all these people are dead. and they left without telling anyone in their neighbor hood that the military left and everyone is on their own, it would make sense if they had spent 5 episodes fighting for their lives and facing true evil in other people but they rode it out in relative comfort. Rick and his crew havent even gotten to the point they would massacre countless people,but someone our "heroes" are allowed to cross that line without remorse.
    and you have said it from the beginning the cheap budget has ruined any interesting parts of this show.

  2. I wouldn't call my mother a TWD fanatic. But she's devoted enough to not see the show's flaws. And yet, she's steered clear of FTWD all season. Putting aside FTWD's deficiencies, I wonder how many TWD fans simply don't have enough room in their zombie apocalypses for another set of characters.

    1. Don't know. It's safe to say that nearly the whole of FTWD's viewership is made up of TWD viewers--the series certainly isn't doing anything to attract anyone new--but looking at it from the other end, it only draws a portion of TWD's audience (which I believe has peaked).

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