With a bit of a bang and a bit of a whimper, Fear the Walking Dead wrapped up its first season last night. The infected attacked, loyalties were tested, people were shot, and a city burned. While the short six episode season felt both hurried and listless at times, the new concept gave fans of the original series a look at the collapse of civilization leading up to the impending zombie takeover Rick and friends are living.
Opening in Los Angeles, months before the opening of parent series The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead brings us a group of new characters experiencing the very beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Madison, the tough guidance counselor and mother. Travis, the step dad who just wants his family to get along. Nick, the junkie who has seen things he can’t quite believe. Alicia, the good kid who is finding out all of her hard work might mean nothing in the new world order. And Daniel, the man with a dark past who only wants to protect the people he loves.
Most of these characters evolved very little over the course of the season – SPOILERS! – (Madison starts out a rather tough love mom who would do anything for her kids, and ends her run just the same), while others were broken down and rebuilt as seemingly entirely new people (Travis letting tortured soldier Andrew go because it seems like the right thing to do, then beating Andrew senseless when he returns and shoots Ofelia). Sure at one point we were able to look past the characters faulty decision making skills, but that was only to be met with more questionable moves. Only time, and a longer second season, will tell if the members of this group can become the kind of warrior survivors they’ll need to be to make it now that LA has been overrun by the infected.
While the plot of Fear the Walking Dead picked up the pace from episode two on through the finale, it felt oftentimes like important details were left out and by the last episode, things were happening with little to no explanation at all. The big plan at the end was to release an arena full of zombies as a diversion for the soldiers still at the army base. But how did they make sure the zombies would go directly to the army base and not wander off elsewhere in the city? Later on, when Ofelia gets shot by Andrew, we see Travis lose his mind and beat Andrew into a bloody mess, but we don’t see what happened immediately with Ofelia. Where was she shot? Is she going to live? The next thing you know the group is on the road headed to Strand’s house and Ofelia is with them (Liza eventually tells Daniel she’ll live if they keep watch on her wounds). But we still don’t know what exactly happened. It looks like she was shot in the arm, but it is still never really explained.
Six episodes is not a lot of time to tell a thorough story, at least not in a world as complex as that of Fear the Walking Dead. But where this first season may have failed to fully explain things happening to the main characters, it did do a good job of showing just who the enemy really is when the world starts to fall apart. While some believed they would be safe once the army showed up to contain the infected, the rest of the adult characters questioned their motives and authority from the start. As The Walking Dead has done a remarkable job of showcasing over the years (find full episodes and streaming info here, here, and here), it isn’t the undead menace that is the true evil during the apocalypse – it is the other living and the things they will do to survive. While we have to wait to find out the LA group’s next move, catch up with Rick and the Alexandria tribe in the season 6 The Walking Dead premier Sunday, October 11th.