Fear The Walking Dead: S02E01: Monster


We begin at the end—the end of last season, that is. The city left behind by our survivors is ablaze and overrun by the Walking Dead; with all sides brimming with the enemy, the only refuge is the sea. As usual, it isn’t quite that easy; the dead, it seems, are driven not just by their craving for human flesh, but also by an unrelenting urge to destroy any hope of comfort. 

Chris, understandably still in shock after the death of his mother Liza, refuses to leave her behind even as Travis urges him to move to safety before the walkers fall upon them. With little more than branches, stones, and perfectly coiffed hair, Travis and Madison are able to hold the hungry horde at bay until Nick swoops in to break up this beach-side barbecue. Nick gets Badass Kill™ of the night by making mash from a walker’s skull with a motorboat propeller. 

Daniel surely gets Badass™ runner-up with that glare as he stands at the stern with a shot gun.

The episode slows down quite drastically after that point. It seems the stage is set for a season-long meditation on the question of whom to trust when the world has come to an end. This moral quandary is conveyed quite explicitly when our survivors pass a crowded boat of pleading strangers. Strand has evidently taken the hard line of quid pro quo; Clark and Travis espouse the opposite stance, hoping to help as many as possible. Strand makes it abundantly clear that his boat will operate under his rules.

For the most part, the rest of the episode alternates between scenes of the group staring at the burning land and Alicia talking to the mysterious Jack, a charismatic fellow survivor on the high seas with a love for David Bowie (I’ll avoid any macabre jokes here).  

Was I the only one surprised to see they had Liza’s body aboard during the funeral? As the episode winds to its end this, Chris jumps in the water and Nick dives in after him, reasonably worried this might be a suicide attempt (instead of an afternoon swim, as Chris later explains). Their swim is of course cut short, because: 

This further proves that the walkers (swimmers?) can smell hope and comfort, and will stop at nothing to infect it with their pestilence. The group realizes that these are the bodies of the passengers of the ship they passed earlier, and we are left to wonder whether their death is the work of Alicia’s new friend Jack; his cryptic “see you later” right before the bodies are found lends unsettling credence to that theory.

This episode lagged in the middle and felt a bit like the writers/director leaned too heavily on solemn looks and music to express their ideas, though I am happy to get a break from the constant fight scenes of the last season of the parent show. Hopefully Fear will convey its ideas with a bit more subtlety than the endless spectacle of violence and horror which The Walking Dead has become (though the sense of threat intimated by Jack doesn’t exactly give me confidence that the show is headed in that direction). The acting this episode was solid: Colman Domingo is pleasure to watch, I’m not sure if that is helped or hurt by how much his character reminds me of Idris Elba’s Stringer Bell on The Wire. I hope to see the cabin fever build up as the group remains stuck in close quarters: I think it would be an interesting way to play with the elements of the zombie apocalypse without relying entirely on death and mayhem.

My final thoughts on the episode?

NEVER hold a gun like this.

Harvey Thornton is an avid alliterating autodidact. He is currently considering continental conquest while watching too much TV in the progressive Mecca that is Ohio.